Welcome to Discuss Fastpitch

Your FREE Account is waiting to the Best Softball Community on the Web.

Register Log in

Coaching Gaffs

May 9, 2008
How much difference does a coach make? What do you do when your team's coach makes a mistake?

I watched the Michigan vs. Virginia Tech. series over the weekend and can't help but feel sorry for the Wolverines as a team. Their coach blew the third game for them by making a very poor decision to change pitchers in the third inning with the game tied 0 - 0. The starter had just given up an infield bloop single that went over her head and was misplayed by the shortstop who made an off balance backhanded toss that missed 1st base by a mile advancing the runner to 2nd. What was the coaches response? After exchanging tight 1-0 games with Tech in the first two games in the third and final game of the series she's feeling the pressure and decides to change the pitcher!

The starter (a sophmore) leaves the game in tears. The other pitcher (a very good freshman) enters with no warm up and proceeds to give up a walk on four pitches, a single, two more walks and four runs. So Michigan finally gets out of the inning down 4-0 and what happens? The coach puts the original starting pitcher back in the game for the 4th inning! Genius!

Yes, I know the coach has been there for decades, won the National Championship in 2005, knows her team the best blah, blah, blah. SHE SCREWED UP AND IT COST HER TEAM A SHOT AT THE COLLEGE WORLD SERIES. I think she needs to reevaluate her decision making process and apologize to all the Seniors on that team.

So, what do you do when the coach of your team makes a mistake that costs you a tournament?

May 7, 2008
I saw that and have seen it at all levels. When it happens, hopefully the coach takes ownership of the mistake, and the team extends grace.

The coaches make errors too. The team wins together and losses together.

Tanyon Sturtze pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Hernández. Mariano Rivera, the Yankees star closer, entered the game in the eighth for a two inning save attempt. In that fateful ninth inning, Rivera allowed a lead-off walk to Kevin Millar, which would prove to be the turning point of the series. Dave Roberts was then chosen to pinch-run for Millar. With the Red Sox down to their final three outs, Rivera checked Roberts at first base several times before throwing a pitch to Bill Mueller.

According to Roberts, "The first [time Rivera checked me at first base], I felt I got the jitters and then it kind of dissipated a little bit. The second time the jitters were all gone and I was really into it. After the third pick over was a close play, I think the second one was really close also, and then I felt like I had been there from the first inning on."

Roberts added, "At that point I knew, regardless of a slidestep or whatever, once he goes home, I'm going to run on the pitch. If he would have went to the plate the first pitch, I wouldn't have went. Running down that tunnel in October, it's hard to get loose. But that [series of pickoff attempts] kind of helped me out a little bit."

On Rivera's first pitch to Bill Mueller, the speedy Roberts stole second, putting himself in scoring position. Mueller's single allowed Roberts to score, resulting in Rivera blowing the save and the game going into extra innings, tied 4-4.

Both teams threatened for more runs in the 11th inning, but the game remained tied until the bottom of the 12th. Ramirez led off with a single against new pitcher Paul Quantrill, and Ortiz hit a two-run walk-off home run to right field. Ortiz became the first player with two walk-off homers in the same postseason.

Pops, it happens. Coaches are fallible. Let's hope it was a big lesson learned by all.

May 7, 2008
I'd be more interested in the more obvious gaffes that coaches make. A pitching change is usually not something that is an obvious mistake. The coach has to go with the information available at the time of the change, and just because it didn't work doesn't mean it was a mistake to make the change.

The mistakes I'm interested in are the ones that simply can't be defended. An example would be a sac bunt down 3 runs in the last inning. Or not trying to catch a runner stealing on a first/third situation despite leading by two or more runs in the last inning.
We see mistakes like that in travel ball all the time.


Softball fan
Feb 28, 2008
Montreal, Canada
A super experienced professional D1 college coach that makes a coaching mistake - I feel better know about some of the decisions that I might have taken that didn't workout like I had planned.

Softball is one sport where the coach makes A LOT of decisions during a game. You basically decide everything on every play.

On offense, you can tell your hitter and your runners what to do on every pitch and can make whatever offensive changes you want.

On defense, you can move any of your fielders and decided what to throw on every pitch if you call the pitches from the benches.

This much control is much more fun for a coach than sitting in stand watching your tennis athlete play a game.

But it does lead to mistake once in a while :)

Amy in AZ.

Super Moderator
May 7, 2008
I am not sure that I am thinking of the same pitcher (I saw so many games that day), but I thought that Michigan's pitcher attitude stunk from the first pitch. She was showing disappointment in her teammates and not leading by example.

I would have sat her down, too. I thought she was out of control. (moo)

Ken Krause

May 7, 2008
Mundelein, IL
In the Michigan situation, we don't know everything Hutch knows about her pitchers. We haven't seen them all year, we haven't seen them in practice. There may have been a good reason we'll never know.

Something to keep in mind when watching these games is the high stakes involved. I remember reading a story about a top pro golfer who blew an eight foot putt and lost a major tournament -- maybe the Masters. Sometime later he was golfing in a Pro-Am and one of the amateurs asked him how the heck a professional could miss an eight foot putt. He placed a ball eight feet from the putt and told the guy if he made it he'd give him $50,000, but if he missed it he owed $50,000. The guy passed on it. Too much pressure.

It's easy to watch from the stands. It's tougher to be on the firing line. As Mr. Charlie said to me, the difference between assistant coach and head coach is the difference between suggestion and decision. It's an even bigger difference between spectator and head coach.

Ken Krause

May 7, 2008
Mundelein, IL
Now for one of my own best gaffes. Down four runs in the bottom of the seventh. We get a runner on base with two outs. Team seems like it needs a spark, I call a steal of second. Seemed fairly safe since the opponent had struggled with throws down to second. Of course they didn't this time, game over.

In retrospect, bad idea. Advancing that runner would've done nothing for us, even if she scored off an overthrow. Losing the out killed the game. Probably would've lost anyway, but just not the way to go (as Mr. Charlie pointed out afterwards).

I've learned a lot about the value of outs since then!
May 21, 2008
What do I do when the coach of our team makes a bad decision and costs us a game? I wait until the post game pow-wow and then let him have it and rip him right then and there in front of the whole team :D

No, I'm just kidding. I have been the assistant coach on the same team for many years and although I have questioned some of the tactical decisions of the head coach on occasion, I have never questioned him in front of the kids at the post game pow-wow.

I think what you do depends on the situation you are in. If you are one of the coaches of the team you wait until you have time for a private coaches only discussion and talk it all out and try and make sense out of it all.

If you are a spectator and your kid plays for the team you may want to just try and keep it to yourself so as not to jeopordize your kids standing with the coach (unless you know the coach has an open policy, then approach him/her in private).

If you are a spectator and you have no ties to the team then you just yell to the 3rd base coach "what the heck are you bunting for this late in the game, unless I'm reading that scoreboard wrong you're down 4-0" and then excuse yourself and go watch the game from the other fenceline :)
May 5, 2008
Hindsight is 20/20.

What do you do? You learn to live with it and move on. Yes, it sucks, but it's never ONE play or one decision that ultimately loses a game. There are calls or decisions or plays that are more prominent than others, but every game has multiple "coulda, woulda, shoulda's."

I agree with the other poster that pitching changes aren't always so obvious until after. Often times there are things on the field or "vibes" you get as a coach that spectators don't know about.

But definitely, as a coach, I take responsibility for loses.
May 9, 2008

Thanks for all the responses. I think that coaching is probably one of the toughest decision making positions to be in anywhere. Sometimes no matter what you do it's still the wrong thing. Having to deal with the expectations of others and their agendas while keeping a team together and steering them in the right direction is tough. Anyone who coaches knows that it's a lonely profession.

I think some very good points were made in regard to what you can do if a head coach makes a bad decision in the heat of battle. Basically, not much. You've got to forget about it and move on. The real key is recognizing a pattern of bad decision making or leadership and making changes that are right for you and your team in any particular situation.

Thanks for all the input.


P.S. Thanks for everyone not pointing out I made a spelling error in the title of this thread. After all coaches are only human.

Latest posts

Members online

Latest threads

Forum statistics

Latest member