Fastpitch Softball Equipment to Take Your Travel Ball Team to the Next Level

4 pieces of equipment to take practice to the next level!

Ever watch a practice that looked unorganized? Or perhaps you wish you could feel a little more organized for your own practices? Sometimes a couple pieces of fastpitch softball equipment is all you need for taking your practices from good to great!

fastpitch softball equipment

But as a travel ball coach, your budget may be limited. Been there. So where do you start? (more…)

Book Review: 1-Pitch Warrior by Justin Dehmer

An excellent book for the mental game

If you know that the mental game is important, but you aren’t sure where to start, then this book review is for you! The name of the book is 1-Pitch Warrior (by Justin Dehmer). Keep reading below to learn why I believe this is a must-read for softball coaches.

 

1-Pitch Warrior

I have read other mental training books such as The Mental Game of Baseball by H.A. Dorfman. This book is well-known and is also “information-rich”, but it takes MUCH longer to process. In fact, the book by Dorfman has 330 pages of content compared to the 110 pages in 1-Pitch Warrior. (more…)

Bownet Softball Product Review: How it Transformed Our Pre-Game Hitting

And how it can help you as well...

As softball coaches, we need a certain number of products to run an effective practice. The bownet softball big-mouth product can definitely help you this season…just like it helped me!

bownet softball

Just head to a travel tourney and you will see them popped-up all over the place!

Since this is a website with the goal of helping high school and travel ball coaches, helping you navigate the world of softball products is one more way I aim to help. (more…)

“Intermediate to Expert” Online Courses

10 Reasons This Course May be For You!

If you are looking for fastpitch softball coaching clinics to help you grow deeper as a softball coach, then the Intermediate to Expert Online Courses may be exactly what you are looking for!

Rather than spend hundreds of dollars on hotels, clinic fees, food, and gas…you can experience deeper learning from the comfort of your home for a small ONE-TIME fee! (more…)

5 Practice Items Every Softball Coach Needs

If you are new to softball coaching, you might be asking yourself “where do I even start?”  One of the things you will need to run an effective practice is the right practice equipment.  Following are the first five pieces of equipment that I would purchase if I were beginning from scratch.

If you find yourself in a situation with a very tight budget, keep in mind that while it’s great to have top of the line items to practice with, you can find more affordable options.   Look at places such as Amazon to find cheaper items.  Play it Again Sports may also be a great resource for your program.  I have been on both ends (healthy budgets and no budget).  With some creativity, patience, and frugality you can make it work!

Essential Item #1:  Practice Balls

Right now you might be thinking “duh.”  Yes, while you can do “dry” drills for a while, you will eventually need to incorporate the use of softballs (like ASAP) or your players will hate softball.  So practice balls are your first essential item.

Essential Item #2:  Buckets

While the first thing I would get is softballs, the second thing I would purchase are buckets.  If you have a healthy budget to work with, you can purchase buckets that are designed specifically for softball practice, such as those pictured in this post.  However, if you want to save money, use old paint buckets, grain buckets, etc.

The awesome thing about buckets is that you can use them for multiple purposes in your program (just make sure you have some lids):

  • Easy transporting of balls from one area of the field to the next
  • Sitting on for certain drills (or in the dugout during games) while coaching
  • Practice efficiency: When you want to isolate a skill without players making a throw, simply put the bucket at the end of the line and have them drop the ball in the bucket after they execute the skill
  • Hitting Stations organization (1 bucket of balls at every station)
  • Dividing And Conquering with Coaching Staff: Want 1 coach to work with Infield while the other does Outfield?  Having buckets makes this MUCH easier!

I would recommend at least 4 buckets full of balls for practice starting off.  If you can afford to get more, then do it.  But if you cannot afford that much at the outset don’t worry.  Begin with what you can and go from there.  The beauty about buckets and balls is that you can accumulate them over the years and you will eventually have plenty.  We started with “0” and have built them up over time.

Essential Item #3:  Pop-up nets/Sock Nets

If you have a good batting cage, you can use it for multiple groups doing hitting drills at the same time.   However, if you have a good sock net or pop-up net, it makes setting up stations so much easier.   We typically use 4+ sock nets and one batting cage.  This allows us, at a minimum, to have 5 hitting stations going simultaneously.  Sock nets are essential for accomplishing more swings in a shorter amount of time (and avoiding having girls standing around and getting bored).

Essential Item #4:  Schutt Sliding Mat

If you do have some extra money, I highly recommend getting a sliding mat.  It is probably not essential, but it is extremely helpful.  If you cannot afford it, I have used large cardboard boxes in the past (just make sure you check for staples, etc.).   When practicing sliding, safety needs to be the first concern.   If you can afford a sliding mat, I highly recommend it as the easiest and safest way to practice sliding (especially for beginners).  Schutt makes a great sliding mat that we use for our program in grades K-12.

Essential Item #5:  Hitting Tees

Teams at every level (youth, high school, college, pro) need batting tees to work on hitting mechanics.  I am a huge fan of the ATEC tees for their durability.  Can’t afford a bunch of tees?  Then try to find some used cones!  Every school has them!

Eventually, you might use a lot of other pieces of equipment in your program, but you may need to accumulate these items over the course of a few years.

As a starting point, I highly recommend using your budget money on these five pieces of practice equipment.  Make a list of priorities and start planning your purchases for your program!

Softball Wristband Signals Review: Own The Zone Pickproof Software

How it can transform your offense immediately!

Have you ever been frustrated with players missing signals?   Ever get sick of spending valuable practice time reviewing signals that your players should already know? Me too until I began using softball wristband signals!

softball wristband signals

That is when I purchased PickProof Software by Own The Zone Sports!

This softball wristband signals software completely transformed the way I do offensive signals and now saves me valuable practice time.

We spend far less time working on signals, and we have WAY less problems with players missing signs.

Have you noticed a variety of college teams using softball wristband signals?  When you do you are watching a team that uses Pick-Proof (or one of their competitors).

In our offense, we have roughly 15 different offensive play varieties that we could run at any given moment.

Approximately 10 of these signals are given through the PickProof Software system.  The remaining play signals I give verbally or through a quick hand signal to the runners.

If would like to learn more about our team offense, I cover many of the different plays that we run in my eBook, Scoring More Runs in High School and Travel Softball.

In past seasons, I gave the 10 different “regular” signals up my arms, on my head, on my chest, etc.

It was a complex system that often times made things difficult for my players.  But not anymore!

So how does Pick Proof Softball Wristband Signals work?

It is quite simple, really:

  1. Get your login and password and you will immediately be able to set up your plays.
  2. Name each play (for offense) appropriately and give an abbreviation for each play.  For example, Drag Bunt for us is simply DB.
  3. Once you have your plays assigned and abbreviated, the software will then assign each play to a chart with various numbers.  One chart is for you and the other chart is for the players.
  4. Print multiple charts (4 per page) and give it to your players.
  5. Your players and coaches then put the appropriate chart in their wristband. Wristbands will also need to purchased through Own The Zone.

Since we have four different variations of “steal plays”, we shade these plays in on the chart to make it easier for the players to identify these particular plays. The software has this option so that you can categorize your chart.

This definitely helps your players identify the plays more quickly.

Truth be told…if you only have a couple of different plays in your offense then you don’t need to worry about this type of system. But it might be time to consider adding some team offense options so that you can put more pressure on the defense! Your players will thank you!

When you purchase PickProof Software  you will also have the ability to use the program for your pitch-calling signals.  I have seen numerous college teams using this as well. We have not yet used this aspect of the software, but I am exploring it for next year.

Even if you are just starting out with your team, using softball wristband signals will no doubt save you time and frustration on multiple levels!

Ready to get started? Click HERE to see the different options for both the software and the wristbands!