Fastpitch 411 – The Heart of Coaching

Your virtual fastpitch coaching resource center

Fastpitch 411 – The Heart of Coaching - Your virtual fastpitch coaching resource center

30 questions a well organized coach can answer. Where do you stand?



I cannot stress this enough. If you’re going to coach, have a plan. If you want to have less stress during the season, do the hard thinking NOW so you can stay focused on coaching your players well during the season.

Most coaches won’t do this.  Are you willing to do what others won’t? I think you are.  Otherwise you wouldn’t be here!

I’ll admit, I’ve glossed over this area before.  I always *thought* I was pretty clear on what I wanted and where I was headed…until someone asked me questions like this and I had to give specific answers.  It caught me off guard. I was surprised at how hard it was for me to give clear, solid answers.  Obviously, I wasn’t as clear about where I was headed as I thought I was.

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “Begin with the end in mind.” Well, many organizations (not only sports organizations) fail because they don’t do this. They don’t begin with the end in mind. They get all excited about doing something and don’t bother to do the hard thinking first.

I recently heard someone talk about this lack of preparation in terms of learning to fly a plane.  It’s like taking off, getting up in the air, flying (yippee!), then having no idea where you’re headed, no idea where to land.  You find yourself flying around in no particular direction, watching your fuel supply whittle away, with no clue what to do next.

Well, let’s not crash and burn like that airplane would.  Let’s figure out where you want to land and what you need to do to get there.

Some questions below are more philosophical in nature.  Some are logistical.  I might venture to say that while logistics are very important, it’s even more critical that you get very clear on the philosophical ones because they often dictate how you handle the hands on and logistical aspects of coaching.


Answer 5 questions per day for one week.  Print out this worksheet and write down your answers.  OR type them out in a document and save it on your computer.   OR jot them down on a note on your phone.  OR open up a google doc online and document your answers there so you can access them from any computer with internet access.

You will get through all the questions in 6 days.  If you don’t know the answer the a question, write down your plan of action to get the answer.  Write down the steps are will take to get the answer. Write down when you will have the final answer by.

On Day 7, review your answers.

Optional: Print out your answers.  Review them regularly.  Highlight the ones you still need to get answers to.

Make a schedule to review and update those in a week, in 2 weeks, in a month, whichever is most appropriate.  Put a reminder in your calendar or in your phone or in your planner so that you DO follow up and get these answers worked out before the season starts!

  1. What do you want to accomplish this season as a coach?
  2. Where do you see your team when this season is over?
  3. What is your plan to get there?
  4. Is this a competitive team or a developmental one? Where will your primary focus lie?
  5. What are your hopes for your players as individuals (in what ways do you want to help them most)?
  6. Is this a competitive team or a developmental one? Where will your primary focus lie?
  7. If a player gets just one thing out of this season with you, what do want that one thing to be?
  8. How many times a week can or will you practice?
  9. How long will your practices be?
  10. What are your expectations for attendance?
  11. Who is going to be on staff and what do you expect from them?
  12. What do you expect from parents?
  13. What do you expect from players?
  14. How will you communicate these expectations?
  15. How will you communicate important team information with your parents?
  16. What is your playing time policy?
  17. Who is going to handle all the administrative and logistical planning, paperwork, coordination, and communication?
  18. What league requirements do you need to know and abide by?
  19. Are there league rules your parents need to be made aware of?
  20. What are you going to practice today? This week?
  21. What do you want your team to know and be able to do proficiently by the first game of the season? By the middle of the season? By the end of the season?
  22. What kind of equipment do you have to work with?
  23. Where are your team uniforms coming from?
  24. How much do they cost?
  25. When do you need to order them in order to get them before the season starts?
  26. What will be ordered as as team and what do parents need to get on their own?
  27. What equipment and supplies do you need to do your job as a coach?
  28. Which if these things do you currently have and which do you need to plan to buy?
  29. Does your team need to do fundraising?
  30. If so, or what? How much do you need to raise? What happens if you can’t fundraise it all?

How to stop spinning your wheels and make things happen

Feeling stuck?

Here is something I learned from The Daily Whip. It’s about how to get more done and be more productive. As coaches, we have limited time with our team. It’s important that we make the most of our time, of our season.

Here’s a little strategy that can help you do that.

listMake a Wish List, a Week Goal, and a Daily Hit List.

Wish List
Write out your wish list for your team/program. What do you want for it? Where do you want to see it goal? What’s in your big picture? Don’t over think this, just write down the FIRST 10-12 things that come to your mind.

Week Goal
Look at your wish list and think of ONE thing to want to get done/address this week. Write down this ONE goal.

Daily Hit List
With your Week Goal in mind, come up with 2-3 things you WILL do today that move you closer to your week goal. Do these things as the very FIRST softball things you do all day. Nothing else comes first. Hit this hit list first.

Do NOT list a bazillion things. This is not your “to-do” list. This is simply a list of 2-3 actions you can take today that will help you accomplish your week goal. Keep the list short so it’s DO-able.

IF you happens to finish this list and feel feisty, go ahead and think of the one NEXT thing you can do to accomplish your week goal and tackle that. Finish that? Tackle ONE more thing if you’re so inclined. That’s fine, but remember to make your initial list for the day short and focused!


Note: if you’re one of those people that absolutely cannot reduce the list to just 3 things, use the “A1″ concept :)
(I got this idea from Dave Ramsey)

Look at your list and write a letter “A” next to the 3 MOST important things on that list.  Put a “B” next to the next 3 things, etc.

In the “A” section, think about which task is THE most important, must do item OR the one that will give you the BIGGEST result with the least amount of effort.  Write a “1″ next to that thing.  It is now your “A1″ thing to do.

Do that again and write a “2″ next to the next  most important thing.  The a “3″ next to the last thing etc.  Do this for the B section too.

NOW…as you’re going through your day and “things” come up, before you get off track and start doing things that are NOT on your list, think about whether or not that thing is more important than your “A1″ task.  If it is, by all means, take care of it.  If it’s not, put it aside and HIT your HIT LIST!  Stick to doing your “A1″ thing first.  ;)

HOW > what

Remember, it’s not only about what happened but HOW it happened.

Process is important.

In training, don’t just focus in whether or not a ground ball to 3rd makes it over to 1st.

HOW did it happen? Did you 3rd baseman come to the ball or let the ball play her? Did she use proper footwork to get rid of the ball or did she throw off balance? Did she get rid of the ball quickly and efficiently or did she take too long and use poor throwing mechanics? Did your 1st baseman set up properly on the bag or not? Did your 1st baseman stretch to the ball correctly? Did she receive/catch the ball with proper technique or not?

There’s so much more to a practice play than what happened (the ground ball hit at the 3rd baseman made it to 1st base). The HOW is probably even more important. Pay attention to the HOW. Constantly work to improve the HOW. The WHAT’S will come naturally if you do.

The same goes for wins and losses. If you’re having a tough season and lost “again,” HOW did you lose? What was the number one biggest breakdown your team had during the game? Did you get better at the things you worked on in practice this week? Did you do anything better than the last time you lost? Are your batters making more contact instead of striking out? If they’re still striking out are they at least making better choices at the plate? Or is your team continuing to make the same mistakes over and over and over again.

If the SAME mistakes keep happening, maybe it’s time to DO something different about them. Try a new approach. Try a new drill. Doing the same thing in practice and hoping it works out different in competition when, so far, the results have been the same is not smart!

Again, look at the HOW. It’s SO important for staying on track, making progress. The what doesn’t always tell you what you need to know.

Also keep in mind that even slow progress IS progress.

It’s NO progress you need to worry about!


How to get players to WANT to hear your message


This piece of advice is not just for sales people or business people. It works for coaches too. That’s the super cool thing about success principles, they apply to everything. Learn them in one area of life and you can certainly apply them and benefit from them in other areas too!

You’ve probably heard it before, “They (your players) don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

I can’t emphasize this enough! Now, you do not have to be best buddies with all your players in order to show them you care about them.

I had a super tough, foul mouthed high school softball coach. However, as tough as he was to play for, we stuck around and did WELL because, deep down, we knew he truly cared about us, not just as players, but as people too.

Somehow you must get this message across to your players. If you want them to WANT to listen to you, they have to know that you actually care about them beyond what they can do to help you have a winning season and look good as a coach.

Your players must know that you care about more than just their batting average, how fast they run, or how hard they throw. They also have to know that you really want to help them get better and achieve their goals in addition to achieving team goals.

When they know you genuinely care about them, they will want to hear what you have to say.

How do you get them to know you care?

Show them.

Ask questions about non-softball stuff. That let’s them know your interested in more than just their softball skills.

Show them by knowing what other challenges or big events they may be going through. Is finals coming up in school? Is there a huge community event going on soon that they’ll want to go to? Is a “bug” going around that you can acknowledge and give them tips on how to avoid getting sick? Talk about these things before or after practice in your team meetings.

Acknowledge they they have more going on than just softball and find ways help them balance and enjoy it all.

Simple things like this can go a long way toward making a deeper more meaningful connection to your players. The trick is though, that you can’t just be doing it to get what you want from them. You have to actually CARE!

Then again, you wouldn’t be here reading this article if you didn’t. So you’re already a step ahead of the game. Just be conscious of making choices that show your players just how much you care about them and about being your best FOR them!

FastTip: cookie cutters

No one thing will work for EVERY player. Find what works for yours. Yes, that means a little more work on your part, but it’s your job as a coach to help ALL your players the best you can. Not just help the ones who “get” the approach, explanation, or demonstration you use the first time.

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