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Softball Excellence DUGOUT

What People are Saying:
"If you coach softball you should take advantage of the knowledge Cindy Bristow is offering through Softball Excellence. I have been involved in fast pitch softball for more than 35 years as a player and coach, and she is the most knowledgeable coach I have worked with. Cindy's basic approach to teaching sound fundamentals, without a bunch of gimmicks, will greatly assist in the preparation of your players to compete physically and mentally. The material she produces is direct, to the point, and easy to absorb."
- Ernie Yarbrough
Associate Director
Georgia High School Association

"There is a ton of information out there, but I couldn't really tell what was good and what was just selling. Someone recommended softball excellence as a sight for information. I checked it out and have done all the eclinics and bought several hard back books and drills. You are very good at explaining this wonderful sport. You put it all in common sense terms and use video and pictures very well. - Thanks again!"
- Dee Swartz
Fastpitch Softball mom/coach

"I just wanted to write and thank you for the outstanding clinic last weekend. Ive attended many coaching clinics with the likes of Bob Knight, Coach K., Rick Pitino, Doug Collins, Larry Brown, and I have to say that your thoughts and philosophies were every bit as insightful, valuable, and entertaining as were these coaching legends. Thank you also for all that you do and have done for the great game of fastpitch softball and our athletes."
- Mike Maguire
Lake County Liberty
Softball Excellence - Insider Article 0138 - 5 Ways to Bring Out Their Best

5 Ways to Bring Out Their Best

By: Cindy Bristow

Ever wonder if there's more you could do to bring out the best in your players? Ever ask yourself if there's something you should be doing that you aren't? See if you know the 5 Ways to Bring Out the Best in Your Players.

Fastpitch Softball tips to bring out the best in players

The keys to helping your players bring out their best aren't necessarily hard, but they are important as our attitude determines so much about our success.

"The key to developing people is to catch them doing something right"
- Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

The holiday season is a time for giving and for hope. Whatever your religion, nationality or culture this time of year is universal for sharing with others. Your sharing doesn't have to come in the form of something you bought as many of us aren't able to buy all the presents we'd like to give. Often, the best type of sharing is a smile to a stranger in a crowded mall, or holding the door for the person whose arms are filled, or letting the other car take the parking spot and you finding another one. Real sharing is giving someone else something that you would rather have for yourself.

As we enter a brand new year it's a great time for us all to consider "giving" our players that one softball-thing we'd rather have for ourselves. Maybe that thing is more patience, or a better swing, or better fitness, a greater love of practice or even success. The saying that goes, "the more you give the more you get" really does apply. Too often we want our players to be more patient at the plate and select better pitches, and yet we yell at them for the littlest thing. Or we want our players to be in better shape so they hit the ball harder and can stay strong through the game, and yet we're at least 25 lbs overweight. If we would all approach our players with the same "holiday spirit" that we show total strangers we would no doubt receive so much more back. It's a simple message, isn't it? But one that isn't easy to do.

In fact, to help our players really improve this season here's a list of 5 simple things that will really make a big difference in how much they believe in themselves, and in their own ability to be successful:

  1. Catch Them Doing Something Right - Just like the quote at the beginning of this article states, the key to developing people is to catch them doing something right! Instead of stopping practice to yell at a player for missing a groundball or throwing the ball to the wrong base, try stopping practice just to point out that someone did something right! "Hey Cindy, way to risk it on that dive!" "Hey Kristen, that was fantastic explosion through that swing!". The more you notice the more I want to please you and when you notice the good things it creates a culture of success!
  2. Remember That They're Trying to Succeed - I learned this the hard way. I used to be the coach that yelled at her team when they were horrible and had a bad attitude. Then suddenly I realized that my players weren't trying to play bad, in fact they were trying to succeed but failing miserably at it. That's when I realized that my players desperately needed my encouragement instead of my criticism and discouragement. No matter how much or how little your players like softball, nobody tries to be horrible at things so when your players struggle or even fail, they need your support and encouragement to try harder the next time so they don't give up.
  3. Keep the Emotion Out of It - To help ensure your teaching point is heard try relaying your message without the emotion attached to it. Too often we've got a great point but our frustration or impatience creates so much emotion that our point is lost in our emotion. Pull out the emotion you no doubt feel and instead try relaying your message as if it was going to a third party that had nothing to do with the original mistake.
  4. What'd You Learn? - A great trick to help your players eliminate their frustration following an unsuccessful attempt at something is to immediately ask them "what'd you learn?" If they aren't learning something from what they just did their opponent surely is and their opponent will take advantage of that information as soon as possible to try and beat them. So instead of getting mad try asking yourself, "what did I just learn?".Then apply the knowledge to the next swing, or pitch or groundball and watch your performance improve immediately.
  5. Be Nice - I know this probably sounds ridiculous in regards to something that can improve performance but I really do believe that being nice makes a difference in your success. Being nice doesn't mean you aren't going to compete hard and work to beat your opponent, but it does mean you're going to cooperate with your teammates, do what your coaches and parents tell you, respect the umpires and generally have a positive attitude. Being nice means you're going to show up to games and practices with a smile and act like you really enjoy being there. Being nice means you aren't going to hog all the shade and water on a hot day but share some with your coaches and teammates. Being nice means you aren't going to think you're any better than someone else just because you're successful at softball. Being nice means you're going to respect your teammates and coaches by practicing your skills away from team practice so you continue to be able to help your team. Being nice means you might not like the role your coach has given you but you're going to respect your coaches judgment, not criticize her/him behind his/her back and practice your butt off to change your role (if you don't like it). Being nice means you're going to treat your bench players with the same respect you treat your star. Being nice means that you play hard for the entire game to show your respect for your opponent. And being nice means you're going to treat everyone you meet as important as everyone else since it's not our position in life that matters but the life in our position.

For more information and some great exercises for increasing your player's confidence, competitiveness and teamwork check out A Coaches Guide to Creating Team Chemistry.

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