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…)

5 Necessities for All Fastpitch Softball Practice Plans

...to make your practices more effective!

As coaches, our fastpitch softball practice plans are a huge part of what will determine the success of our teams on game-day.

Ever watch a practice session where it seemed like the players were kind of floating around aimlessly?  Or maybe they were involved in activity to some degree, but it almost seemed like their involvement was happening at about 40% of full effort?  Frustrating to watch, right? (more…)

Softball Practice Planning

Video #1 in a 3-part series

Softball practice planning is a critical component of having a successful season. Unfortunately there is not a lot of training available for this aspect of coaching for new(er) coaches.

softball practice planning

This is the first of three videos on softball practice planning. If you would like to receive video #2 and #3 click on the link at the bottom of this post!

 

Click HERE to join the email list and ensure that you receive videos #2 and #3 in this series!

4 Keys for Effective Softball Practice Plans

How to Get More Out of Your Practice Time

One of the biggest “pain points” for many high school and travel ball coaches is knowing how to develop effective softball practice plans. This makes sense if you think about it because the majority of coaches have not had any training in how to effectively plan for practices.

softball practice plans

Teachers receive training in making lesson plans, and yet we sometimes expect coaches to automatically know how to make a practice plan. Somewhat of an unrealistic expectation in my opinion.  While it may come naturally to some, it requires practice and guidance for many.

Unfortunately, the reality is that making effective softball practice plans can “make or break” your ability to run a smooth practice.  In turn, this has enormous impact on your teams ability to improve.

While there are various components to planning an effective practice, below are four of my keys for any good practice plan.

Key #1: Have a Written Plan with Times Written On It

Seems kind of obvious I know. But many coaches just try to “wing it.” A plan that is written (or typed) on paper is going to help you stay focused throughout the practice and get much more done. And when you have specific times allotted for each part of practice, you will get even more accomplished.

Basically, your practice plan is like a series of goals that you want your team to get through that day. And we all know that goals that are written down are much more likely to be reached! I go into more detail about the importance of writing down your plan in this article on Practice Plan Necessities.

Key #2: Think Through Your Use of Buckets

Ah, buckets. These are the most underrated tool for practice organization. We have a shed filled with both full and empty buckets. When I get to the field, I will typically set out buckets in the places that I know we will need them in order to keep practice flowing. (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!