Softball Coaching Tips – Are You Misplacing Your Hope?

One thing I learned as a softball coach is that placing hope on the wrong things or the wrong people is a bad, bad idea.  This is true not only in softball, but in life.  It’s like when thousands and thousands of people though the government and mortgage companies were going to help them out with the loan modification program.

Almost ALL of those applications got denied and many of the ones that went through didn’t work anyway.  Thousands of Americans thought they would get much needed help.  Instead, they were strung out and denied.  Or they did get their loan modified, but still ended up losing their home even after modification.

That is an example of placing hope in the wrong place, on the wrong things or people.  It stinks.  You get kicked in the teeth.


When you misplace your hope, prepare to get messed over.

In softball, this happens when coaches place hope in just Plan A or in players who lack a track record of reliability.

You’ve probably seen it before.  The coach who has one strategy of attack and when that doesn’t work on a particular day, he has nothing to fall back on as a Plan B.  He mistakenly pinned all his hope on one strategy that, contrary to what he believed, is not the best strategy for every single situation or team you can possibly face in a season.

Maybe you’ve also seen coaches misplace their hope on the wrong person.  The Princess Diva All-Star that…

  • doesn’t work hard in practice
  • shows up late and doesn’t think anything of it
  • only gives 100% when she wants to or when she feels like it or when it’s convenient for her
  • acts as if it’s everyone or everything else’s fault when she struggles (the sun, the rain, the umpire, the catcher that called the wrong pitch, etc)
  • never owns up to any of her errors, mistakes, or faults

This is NOT the type of player you want to place all your team’s hope on.

Instead, choose players who will, regardless of the situation, dig in and give it their best shot.

Players who pick and choose when to be on time and when to try hard are going to be inconsistent in their performance because they are inconsistent in their approach and training.

Often times they will only try hard in drills they think are fun and slack or go through the motions in drills they don’t like doing.  This inconsistency in their training will lead to inconsistency in performance.

Not only that, trying hard only when they like what’s going on often equates to trying hard only when things are going well in the game.  For goodness sakes, that’s the easy part.  Anyone that can be upbeat, energetic, motivated, positive, confident and full of hustle when things are going great.

It’s the players who can do that no matter what that gives your team championship character and championship opportunities.  These players can play their game and perform at a solid level whether they’re in a situation they like or not, whether they’re in a situation that’s easy or not.

If a player can’t even make it a point to give their best in a practice drill just because they don’t like it or it gets too challenging is NOT going to be the one you can rely on during “big time” game situations or when your team gets behind or faces any other kind of adversity.

These players often make excuses for poor performance…

  • The ball is wet today, I can’t pitch like this
  • The sun is in my face, I can’t catch like this.
  • The wind is drying my contacts out, I can’t field like this.
  • The dirt is too soft in the batter’s box, I can’t hit like this.
  • The dirt is too hard on the field, I can’t run and slide like this.
  • The mound is crooked, I can’t pitch this.
  • The umpire is inconsistent, I can’t hit like this.
  • My rubberband isn’t holding my hair back…you get the idea.

Some of those might sound silly, but this type of excuse making is often evident in players who only give their best when they feel like it, who only follow team rules when they feel like it, who only hustle when it’s convenient for them.  They’re not what I hear Coach Heather Tarr refer to as “true athletes.”

Look for players who enthusiastically dig in to any challenge and give everything they got no matter what.  These players, no matter what you throw at them, just jump in and do it.  Whether the situation or task is hard or weird or uncomfortable, they will do their best to get the job done.  Whether people around them think they can or they can’t, it doesn’t matter, they are going to give it their best shot!

Players like this, who give everything they have day in and day out, are the ones you know you can count on!  These are the ones you place your hope in to go out there and play ball!  THESE are the players you put in key roles, not the ones you have to “hope” will show up and feel like playing on game day.

Kevin Eaton

Hello! I’m Kevin – an openly biased Baltimore Orioles fan; a youth baseball parent; an obsessive-compulsive scorekeeper; a travelling ballpark tourist and a taste tester of defiantly unhealthy ballpark culinary offerings. In this space I share my love for the game of baseball and in doing so, connect with other really great people who love the game as much as I do.

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