(1) The most important thing is to demand perfection NO MATTER HOW THE PLAY ENDED. You have to instruct and demand that the girls perform correctly on every play. If a girl does something wrong but no harm resulted, you still have to correct her.I'd love to hear how others motivate players to improve at some of their most ingrained bad habits.
(2) If a player fails to perform as instructed, you have to take her out. Don't wait until the end of game. Do it as soon as possible, and tell her clearly why. Have her sit out the remainder of the game. Give her a chance to fix the problem in the next game. If she doesn't do it in the next game, replace her again.
To clarify: When I say, "fail to perform as instructed", I'm talking about a player who makes the same mistake over and over. Any kid is going to throw the ball away once in a while or miss an easy ground ball. However, on every ground ball the kid should be in proper fielding position and should approach the ball correctly. The outfielders may miss a ball on an overthrow, but they should be in proper position to make the catch.
The problems with most coaches:
(1) They don't know how the girls are supposed to play the positions.
(2) They ignore mistakes on the field until it costs them an out or a run and then over-react.
(3) When a player fails to correctly field the position, they ignore it.
I agree with Sparky, but a coach can go farther. You can create an "esprit de corp" in the outfielders if you take the time. Applaud their abilities and challenge them. Make them feel special to play the outfield. Play your OFs shallow and challenge the kids to make the tough plays. Let them use their speed instead of "playing it safe".It must be drilled into their heads that OF is NOT a punishment.
RichK is making a great point. The challenge of softball/baseball is to stay mentally engaged on each pitch. One way a coach helps the kids stay mentally engaged is to make sure all nine of them move every time the ball is hit.As for the game, teach them early that every PITCH is a play.
But, you rarely see coaches asking LF after a routine single to RF, "Were you asleep on that single to RF? Where were you supposed to be? Why didn't you move?"