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Playing softball comes with many moments of success and glory whether it’s a home run or a walk-off to end the game. While both are amazing and exciting, many players live for the diving ESPN plays that the best athletes will do. Diving is one of the biggest displays of a player’s effort and competitiveness. As players start getting older there will come a day where your athlete has to learn to successfully and safely dive for balls. This blog will discuss the tips to help your player reach their full effort and potential.
- Learning to dive. We’ve all seen the slip and slide day of sliding and diving practice, but many things can be used to safely teach the technique. Allow your players to get a running start then toss a ball where they have to run and catch it. Players can slide on a flattened cardboard box or a cushioned mat. Many players just starting will be hesitant to go full out when learning, but it is important to remember to run and dive at a good speed to prevent injury. When players run at half speed and dive they won’t slide across the grass/dirt and oftentimes players are more likely to get hurt. Players, don’t be so scared to dive that you cheat yourself out of success. Don’t let your fear of failure keep you from being great!
- Full body layout. When teaching diving whether it’s to the side or forward there is always a worry that it will hurt to hit the ground. Another mistake players will make is trying to brace themselves with their arms or knees before the rest of their body hits the ground. I believe many players feel hitting the ground full out may hurt their body or knock the wind out of them. Start players running at the mat and focusing on creating a sliding motion and flattening out their bodies.
- Superman. If your player is bracing themselves with their arms you’ll want to explain using superman. When superman flies his arms are straight out in front of him which is where the arms and glove should be when diving. Bracing your landing with arms can cause injury including shoulders hitting the ground wrong, or a wrist being landed on or getting caught. Players should also focus on reaching their glove as far as they can to prevent their glove from getting caught on the ground and rolling over their wrist.
- Ground balls. Diving in the outfield can involve laying out for a ball in the air while infielders may dive for balls on the ground. The technique is no different however when diving for a ball on the ground a player will want to think about it as their glove being the first thing to hit the ground.
- It gets easier. Our last tip is that once a player gets more comfortable with diving it becomes a piece of cake! It can also be one of their favorite things about the sport. Diving is a key part of achieving success in softball!
Softball has a reputation of being a scrappy game and that comes with players who can bunt! Bunting is an underappreciated part of our game. While bunting may not be as exciting as hitting a home run, it can be a deadly tool especially for slappers. There are various types of bunt you can do to throw off the defense and give you the best chance to get on base or advance your teammates. In this blog we’ll be telling you the different types of bunt and how to do them.
- Sac bunt. This is your most basic bunt its purpose is to move a runner to the next base. A sac is shown early and it’s important to bunt the ball into the ground to avoid a player from picking off the runner that’s trying to advance. Sac bunts mean the bunter is sacrificing themselves which means their baiting the defense to focus on getting them out rather than the runner.
- Drag/slap bunt. Unlike the sac, this bunt is used to successfully reach the base. A drag is shown very late to fool fielders and its purpose is to get a runner on base. Drags can be done by any player, but usually faster players will have more success. A slap is similar to a drag, the major difference is you don’t have to run through the ball on a drag like you do when a slapper bunts.
- Push bunt. This bunt is also used to get a runner on base. When a person shows a bunt, the runners will charge the ball to field it. A push bunt aims to push the ball past these fielders so there is nobody behind them to make the play. To do this the player must push the ball through the first baseman, third baseman, and the pitcher.
- Fake/pull back bunt. A fake bunt is done when a player shows bunt, but doesn’t have the intention to actually bunt the ball. Players may show bunt to pull fielders in and then pull the bat back and swing. When a person shows bunt the fielders move into their positions, the corners crash and the middles cover their bases so when someone fake shows bunt and then pulls back to swing they’re hitting a ball into gaps in the infield. This gives hitters a better chance of getting the ball through the infield.
- Squeeze/suicide bunt. This bunt is used to score a runner. When the squeeze sign is given the job of the batter is to make contact with the ball no matter where it’s pitched. The job of the runner on 3rd is to steal home as soon as the pitch is thrown. The batter must try to get the bunt fair or at least foul it off so the runner isn’t caught dead stealing.
New to the travel/competitive softball world? Don’t worry we’ve created the tips you’ll need to know when getting your player involved in a more competitive world of softball! Here is our frequently asked questions about travel/competitive softball.
- How to find a team? The easiest way to find a team or even lessons is to look for a facebook page about softball in your area. PlaySoftball.Net has a softball page for just about every state. You can search Kansas City Fastpitch (or whichever city you’re in) and you should find a community page to join or post on. Next create a post stating your daughter’s age and her positions so the team that needs that can pick her up.
- What level should she play? If you’re a state that has USSSA tournaments you may be confused on the different levels or divisions. USSSA has ages ranging from 8u-18u with Gold, A, B, and C classifications. Players at the A/Gold are playing at the highest level. Players from recreation softball will usually start at C and work their way up as they continue to grow as a player.
- What kind of things need to be paid for? For travel softball players will need their own equipment meaning cleats, glove, helmet, or bat unless provided for the team. Expect to pay money for tournaments, renting practice space (this could be a field or an indoor facility) , uniforms, and even tournament gate fees. This sounds like a lot however it is all split by each parent.
- What are tournaments like? Expect to be seeing a lot of softball as teams will play tournaments frequently throughout the fall, summer, and spring. Tournaments can include up to 5 games a day depending how far a team makes it or the total number of teams.
- Do teams travel far? This is really dependent on the team. Many high level teams will travel all over the country, but a team just starting out usually plays in local tournaments.
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