In a sport that is filled with routines and superstitions, it’s important that softball players learn how to embrace change. Everyone has a favorite throwing partner on their team or a catcher they prefer to pitch to over others, but teams who aren’t afraid to mix things up in practices will be the ones who are prepared for anything and everything on game days.
Softball is a superstitious sport. The athletes are mainly to blame for this but all who participate, coaches, parents, spectators, tend to fall victim to this as well. It could start with playing catch with a teammate before a game. Playing catch and getting the arms loose kicks everything off on game days. If partners have a great over-hand catch session, this will typically carry over to the other parts of the warm-up and into the games.
It’s easy to get caught up playing catch with the same teammate over and over again, especially if things keep going well. This superstition will eventually turn into a routine and the players will develop a comfort with one another and their entire warm up. It’s important that teammates play catch with different partners, even if this breaks the routine.
When softball players take the field, they won’t be making throws to just one teammate during the game. That’s why it’s important that players take turns with new throwing partners so they can learn to receive throws from everyone. Every infielder and outfielder is going to throw the ball differently. Even if coaches stress the importance of good form, it will come out of each player’s hand and fingers differently and some may have more velocity than others.
Pitchers are as superstitious as they come in the sport of softball. The pitching position is based on a routine and the pitcher’s ability to get into her zone during practices and games. Every pitcher has a favorite catcher, someone they build trust with and click with a little more than others. The same can be said from a catcher’s perspective. It’s important that pitchers learn how to throw to and get comfortable with more than one catcher on their team. This is important because the starting catcher could get injured and someone else will have to step in.
It’s also important that coaches find a way to prepare their players for anything that could be thrown their way. Pitching coaches should put their pitchers and catchers through game-like situations and at-bats where the umpire has a small strike zone. It will challenge the pitcher and catcher to work together to adjust because this certainly could happen on game days.
Infielders and outfielders should learn how to take reps from their position when the infield and outfield grass gets torn up and balls on the ground become unpredictable. Softball fields get worn out with use, especially on tournament days, and the field may not be as smooth by the end of the weekend as it was when it started.
Teams who practice out of their comfort zone will be prepared for anything on game days. Coaches, before canceling a practice due to rain, think about how taking a few reps and executing a few throws could be beneficial to your team. There is a good chance your team will play in a game at one point or another where it rains, as long as the athletes and the field are safe. In an outdoor sport where weather is unpredictable, anything can happen on any given day that is out of everyone’s control. If you can mentally and physically get through obstacles in practice, there will be nothing standing in your team’s way on game day.