Category Archives: Best Practices

Bat Care 101 – The Do’s and Don’ts of Maintaining Your Secret Weapon

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Bat care is subject not many people know about. Yes, aluminum bats go bad! Aluminum bats have been upgrading scientifically throughout the years to offer to harder hits, larger sweat spots, and lighter weights. These upgrades have made the bats outer shell metal thinner and more sensitive to the elements. The insides of the bats are even more technical, including many air chambers made to help the ball pop right off the bat. The chambers if not taken care of properly, can bust.

Taking too many cuts with a bat is only one way a bat can go bad. Here are some steps on preventing and prolonging your bat to not lose that desired sweet spot.

  1. When not being used, keep your bat(s) inside. Bats are very sensitive to temperature and especially cold weather. Store your bat in a normal room temperature room. This means no leaving in cars, garages, or any other room that is not typically heated in the winter.
  2. Have a dummy bat. Find a cheap used bat at a yard sale, eBay, or a used sports equipment store. Use this bat during practices, at batting cages, and cold weather events. This way your treasured and more expensive bat lasts longer and has less chance of going bad.
  3. Do not use your bat in cold weather. Use your dummy bat for winter weather practices.
  4. Do not use bats provided at commercial batting cages such as a Putt-Putt or ESPN Zone. Those bats are typically very old, do not have to meet any type of regulation, and are not safe. They have been known to slowly bend backwards after each hit and even break in half.
  5. Only hit game ball quality softballs, whiffle balls, beans, and foam balls on your “good” bat. This means do not hit batting cage balls, rocks, balls with metal, basketballs, or any other ball that is harder or has heavier density than a softball with your “good” bat.
  6. Use a bat bag that is made to prevent slamming the bag to the ground such as a roller bag or the backpack softball bag. This will take away blows the bat may take while being transported to and from the field.
  7. Do not use your bat as a tool to knock dirt off your cleats, especially if you wear metal cleats.
  8. Take note of the warranty expiration date of your bat. This way if your bat goes bad, you might be able to request a replacement.
  9. Do not make contact with balls near bat handle. That section of the bat was not made for balls to make contact and make weaken over time.
  10. Remember to educate other users of your bat so that the bat is not accidently misused.

If a bat goes bad, you will be able to tell by how the balls pop off the bat. If the bat is making a more “thunking” feel when contact is made and balls are not making a normal distance from the plate when hit, then the bat is probably dead. Also, you will feel a harder vibration through the bat when the ball makes contact. Remember, you want the hit to feel clean and effortless!

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6 Fall Ball Must-Have Training Threads

  1. Under Armour Women’s Charged Cotton Storm Slub Pants – Cinched ankle design perfect for turning a normal pair of sweats into capris. Pants are also water resistant and has sweat wicking technology. Can be found at Under Armour, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Amazon.V5-1236054-001_LDF
  2. Classic Baseball Style Long Sleeve Shirt – 10 different colors in in 7 different sizes for $2.50. Who can pass up that deal? Can be found at Boombah.com8-13-2013 5-06-24 PM
  3. Easton Women’s Turboslot III Fastpitch Batting Glove – Perfect for cold weather hitting due to the extra padding. Can be found at Softball.com8-13-2013 5-09-29 PM
  4. Women’s “Easton Pro” Low Rise Softball Pants with Piping – No more granny pants during practice ladies! Softball pants made for girls  who play in this century have finally been made. Can be found at allsportsuniforms.net8-13-2013 5-15-25 PM
  5. Mizuno Wave Rider Indoor Training Shoes – Indoor training is right around the corner. Why not train with the same pair Jennie Finch takes to the gym with her? Can be found at Zappos.com2095110-p-MULTIVIEW
  6. Women’s Heatgear Sonic Long Sleeve – Sweat wicking and anit-microbial technology. Less chances for you to smell while training. Woot! Can be found at Under Armour and Amazon.V5-1233503-577_HTF

Training Cram Session before College Softball Tryouts

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College is right around the corner.  For some softball players that means college tryouts are about to begin! Tryouts can be some of the toughest weeks you will ever go through in college; but will be well worth it once you make the team.  Here are a few training tips on what to focus on before heading off to college.

There are four main training categories for softball: Offense, Defense, Cardio, and Weight Training.

For normal training sessions, I would only do two categories per day and actually only train 3-5 times a week.  But for you, this is a cram session!  Expect to do a lot of running, throwing, and hitting during tryouts; so make that your training focus!  You may run the most you ever run all year during the first weeks of school.  Coaches like to implement lots of vigorous running workouts to test players, get players into shape, and to weed out the weak players.  For your next two weeks, I would recommend running as your main focus.  Make sure to include long distance 1-3 miles and short sprints in your workouts.

For long distance, run outside.  The tryouts are going to be outside so get used to the weather.  For sprints, focus a lot on running the bases.  It is almost guaranteed that you will be timed from home to first.  You may also be timed on home to second, home to third, and around the horn.  Even if you’re not timed, the coach may still just want to see your footwork on the bags; and therefore make you run them.softball-pitching-tips_122553959_s300x300

For weight training, I would not worry on this as much or at all.  Weight training will probably not be included during tryouts.  But, expect it to start immediately once you’ve made the team.  Each team usually has its own lifting regiment it follows, so you may never actually use my recommended lifts.  One again, I would not focus at all on this area before tryouts since it takes days for your body to bounce back after these lifts.  But for future use, here are some of the most beneficial lifts for softball training (Click on links to see videos on how to do the lifts):

Offense training:

Go to the batting cage, hit off the tee, hit softball toss, practice bunting, and take practice swings.  Get your body ready for swinging the bat at practices that can last four hours at times.  Hopefully, at this point you have your technique ready for tryouts. You just need to worry about swinging with endurance and being able to take a lot of consistent cuts.

Defensive training:

Similar to offensive training where you should have you techniques ready for tryouts at this point.  You also need to prepare your throwing arm for long enduring practices.  Find a throwing partner and get a lot of throws in before tryouts. Remember to throw short and long distance.  If you don’t have a partner, grab a bucket of balls, find a target, and throw to that.  You need to build endurance in your arm muscles.  If you are an infielder or catcher, you will also need to build some endurance for squatting.  Take lots of grounders, do timed wall squats, and get used to bending those legs!

After each workout, don’t forget to stretch!


5 Items That Should Always Be in Your Bat Bag

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  1. Some type of hat, visor, or sunglasses to block the sun.  Hats are the best option because they can always be used to block not only the sun, but also rain from your eyes. Sunglasses are handy for catchers to block dirt from flying into your eyes while catching.U1550
  2. Sunscreen  – You may not play softball forever but skin care while playing the game could carry with you for the rest of your life.  Preferably choose a sport block.  Spray-on sunblock is also very handy for sharing with your team.41MU1UiHHXL
  3. Water – Always remain hydrated.  Keep a bottle in your bag even if it’s empty.  You can usually find somewhere at a field to fill it with water if you are in desperate need to quench your thirst.Cascade-Sport-Bottle_3041_r
  4. Medical Tape – Medical tape is useful for many reasons.  You can tape up an injury or us it to cover blisters or new sliding burns.  You can also use it to tape up a bat grip real quickly, for a short time, if yours becomes loose and considered illegal to use. wet-pruf-tape-waterproof-adhesive-medical-tape
  5. Extra Pair of Socks – Keep an extra pair of socks in your bag to keep your feet dry and protected.  Morning games you will typically get a lot of dew on cleats while warming up.  Your feet can also get wet during rainstorms.  Holes in socks are also a pretty frequent occurrence in athletic socks, which can lead to blisters.  Make sure to bring an extra pair of socks if you don’t like wet feet or holes in your socks.

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Advice for Stepping into the Box – The Mental Game of Softball

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I heard this advice from a college softball player at one of the various summer softball camps I took part in.  The advice has been carried with me ever since.  Sadly, I do not remember which player offered the advice or even what camp I happened to be at when it was spoken. 

Softball’s hardest attribute is the mental strength.  I’m sure you have heard the saying “Softball is 90% mental”. Throughout my career have seen time-and-again athletes with the highest physical capabilities on the field not able to produce outcomes when the game is on.

All of you reading this probably assume that the “stepping into the box” is referring to stepping into the batter’s box.  It is not however. Stepping into the batter’s box is only part of the mental issue. The other half can be used for playing defense.

One way to take stress away on the field is by making yourself a imaginary box.  Place the imaginary box onto the field.  You can even physically draw this box on field if you happen to be an infielder.  Place the box where you plan to stand when the ball is pitched.  After every pitch, step out of the box. When you are outside of this box, goof off, say funny things to your teammates, relax, take a breather, look for your fans in the bleachers, let your team know how many outs there are, etc.  Once the pitcher is ready to pitch the ball again, step back into the imaginary box.  The box is where you can put your game-face back on.   Everyone has his or her own type of game-face. Some athletes need to be serious. Some need to be starving with rage. Others just need to be focused.  Whatever your gameface is, this box is where you put it on before a play.  Remember to continue to relax no matter what is on your mind even inside the box and play the game as naturally as you can.

When playing offensive, the batter’s box is your game-face box.  Use the same mentality when stepping in-and-out of the batter’s box as when you are stepping in-and-out of your fielder’s box.  Outside the batter’s box, you can be your normal carefree self. Inside the box, there is only you and the pitcher.

Practicing “stepping into the box” will help you continue to play stress free.  Maintaining a game-face the entire game is very grueling on your mind and can wear you down.  Giving yourself mental breaks throughout the game can change outcomes immensely!

Remember that softball is just a game. Relax and remember to have fun.


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