Here are some helpful hints and tips to make your transition to high school softball a better experience.
- Weather is way, way different at times. Practices and games temps and wind can be downright brutal so make sure you loosen up as best you can and wear layers of clothes. Warmer temps in the summer allow for easier muscle stretching and loosening up. Colder temps mean extra loosening up and dynamic stretching needed.
- The colder temps also mean you will need to do extra care for your throwing arm. If you have an improper throwing motion you will become aware of it during the everyday warmups with cooler temps. General rule is if your shoulder is hurting that means overuse and ice and rest is best. However, if your elbow is hurting that is a sign of improper throwing motion. Make Coaches aware of this so to not aggravate you elbow even more.
- Do not think that just because you only played infield in summer ball you will make it straight on the varsity team as an infielder. Best chance to make a varsity roster is to be able to play both infield and outfield. My suggestion is to work both equally hard in the offseason even if you have played very little or no outfield up thru 14u.
- Commitment and accountability are paramount in high school ball. Attend all open gyms and fundraising functions that you possibly can. Show up early and leave late. Coaches love it when you ask for extra practice after set timed practice. Do not be shy and just go with the flow of everyone else. You earn spots for working extra hard.
- Do not be concerned with ”looking cool”. Players that just go through the motions and try do the least to not mess up their hair or nails are only worrying about stuff that only detracts from playing softball. It’s ok to have a bad hair day at the ballparks and for Pete’s sake do not do your fingernails until season is over! OK, maybe the day of Prom but that’s it.
- An absolute must- Get out of your comfort zone! Learning and getting better is mostly all done when you branch out and work on your weaknesses. Put in your extra time with things that are not your strength. For instance, if you struggle with pop ups- do the extra time to work on pop ups. After practicing it enough that will become more comfortable for you. Once that happens challenge yourself with running to catch fly balls. Take the small steps first and work your way up.
- Making mistakes are going to happen so know that and don’t get too hard on yourself. Shake off your mistakes so they don’t pile up on you. We’ve all been there where it feels like the pressure is so great, we tense up and let our past mistakes create insurmountable doubt in ourselves. What generally happens then- of course, more mistakes. It all goes back to control what you can control- attitude, effort and focus. Sooner you get that the better you will become at shaking off your mistakes.
- Assume your role. Never think that if Coach has you on the bench that you are not an important part of the team. If you do have to be on the bench, be the best bench player you can be for your team. Cheer on your teammates and always be ready at any moment to enter the game.
- Body language. I cannot stress this more but if your body language, intentional or not, looks like the softball diamonds are the last place you want to be at- don’t expect the Coaches to NOT bench you. If you have this problem, then figure out a way to correct it fast. Again attitude, effort and focus are key to having fun playing this game. Be excited and thankful for your chance to play and show it with your body language.
- Make a checklist of everything you need for games. On there should be things like- uniform, water, snacks, gloves, extra clothes, equipment, etc.. Mark off your items as you load them to insure you have it all.
- Get used to bus traveling. Show up early, have make up slips done on time and have everything from your checklist along. Traveling to road games can be long and tiring. Get your rest if needed but always get ready long before the bus stops to let everyone off. Have an extra pair of shoes on so you can put on your cleats after getting off the bus. Make sure to take off your cleats when getting back on the bus.
- Come early to home games and have everything you need from your checklist. Keep your focus on the game(s) and supporting your teammates. After the game you will have time to chat with family and friends that come to watch you.
- I’m telling you that the tennis ball drills are some of the most important drills you can do to make yourself a better softball player and all-around athlete. Take the time to do them. You do not need to keep track of how you are doing but that is a good way to see how you are improving.
- Keep writing in your softball journals. Even if you just use a notebook. Track your practices and games. Make it a part of your daily routine. Take the time to work your mental game that is so important to becoming a better over-all player and person. The grind of everyday practices can be tough but let your journaling be the release of stress that is sorely needed. If you would like a My Softball Journey booklet don’t hesitate to ask me about getting one.
I will try to add to this and would greatly appreciate any players or Coaches input on how to better transition to high school softball.