Welcome to Discuss Fastpitch

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

Register Log in

How do you calm your team before and during games?

Aug 20, 2018
73
8
I've never had anything quite like this and I'm really struggling right now with my 14u team. For whatever reason they get tense and put so much pressure on themselves before and during games. This leads to mental errors in the field and over thinking at the plate so they don't swing, swing late or weak contact. Has anyone run into this? Just looking for some suggestions I can try as the coach. At practice I've tried to create drills/games that are timed or other ways to introduce stress/pressure but nothing really compares to a real game. During these drills the girls do really well in the field and at the plate, so I'm stumped.

Any help/suggestions are appreciated.
 
May 17, 2012
2,036
63
Do they only exhibit pressure in bracket games or is it in all games (showcase, friendly's, pool play, etc.)?

Most of the time I find that parents put an insane amount of pressure on their kids either directly or indirectly. I try to balance that out by being positive and encouraging before/after/during the games. So many coaches give these long drawn out post game meetings that suck the life out of a team. Avoid that garbage and move on to the next game.

Save the post game comments and verbal beat downs for practice.
 
Aug 20, 2018
73
8
Do they only exhibit pressure in bracket games or is it in all games (showcase, friendly's, pool play, etc.)?

Most of the time I find that parents put an insane amount of pressure on their kids either directly or indirectly. I try to balance that out by being positive and encouraging before/after/during the games. So many coaches give these long drawn out post game meetings that suck the life out of a team. Avoid that garbage and move on to the next game.

Save the post game comments and verbal beat downs for practice.

I hear you there. Parents can be really hard to deal with and put so much pressure on their kids, often without even knowing that they're doing it. I do hold post game huddles but ALWAYS focus on positive and moving to the next game. I've heard coaches who get all fired up and angry about how their team played, I don't believe that is how you motivate player to play better. Even at practice, I try not to really focus on negative, instead of plan practices to focus on certain skills that were issues during the previous game or tournament.

This last weekend we had a small round robin scrimmage with two other teams. I thought the first game was just a fluke since it was our first time playing this year but then the 2nd game was the same.
 
Jan 13, 2020
991
63
Do they only exhibit pressure in bracket games or is it in all games (showcase, friendly's, pool play, etc.)?

Most of the time I find that parents put an insane amount of pressure on their kids either directly or indirectly. I try to balance that out by being positive and encouraging before/after/during the games. So many coaches give these long drawn out post game meetings that suck the life out of a team. Avoid that garbage and move on to the next game.

Save the post game comments and verbal beat downs for practice.
Agree totally. After the kids have just spent 1 1/2 hours giving their best, I cannot see any benefit in turning a game into a speech.
 
Mar 8, 2016
180
43
When we were 14u we played in a showcase tournament. In that tournament college coaches coached the teams and the coaching staff just watched. Halfway through the game our other asst. coach asked what I noticed that was different. I just shrugged my shoulders. He said listen don't look. It was quite. We had been giving instructions to the defense every pitch. Sometimes from multiple coaches. All of it was done to try and help the girls but it was keeping them from learning the game for themselves. Our head coach was one of those third base coaches who talked to the batter every pitch and talked about adjustments. It was a real light bulb moment for me. Someone on here coined the term joystick coaches. I have shamelessly stolen that term. I have no idea if this applies to your team but it is something to think about. We work the girls hard in practice and do most of the teaching there. In games it is mostly cheer leading, some limited moving of fielders, and other small things.
 
Jan 13, 2020
991
63
When we were 14u we played in a showcase tournament. In that tournament college coaches coached the teams and the coaching staff just watched. Halfway through the game our other asst. coach asked what I noticed that was different. I just shrugged my shoulders. He said listen don't look. It was quite. We had been giving instructions to the defense every pitch. Sometimes from multiple coaches. All of it was done to try and help the girls but it was keeping them from learning the game for themselves. Our head coach was one of those third base coaches who talked to the batter every pitch and talked about adjustments. It was a real light bulb moment for me. Someone on here coined the term joystick coaches. I have shamelessly stolen that term. I have no idea if this applies to your team but it is something to think about. We work the girls hard in practice and do most of the teaching there. In games it is mostly cheer leading, some limited moving of fielders, and other small things.
Maybe have a team discussion with players, parents and coaches that this is an attitude the team should have ???


!cid__662C139E15665843A4D0F3E5DA8AF096@sct-15-20-2387-20-msonline-outlook-af673.jpg

and then


1a3b6f6629469e2e55a6214dcbec3e7a.jpg

and then

Good-Game-Good-Game-I-Hate-You.jpg
 
Last edited:
May 15, 2008
754
43
Cape Cod Mass.
I've never had anything quite like this and I'm really struggling right now with my 14u team. For whatever reason they get tense and put so much pressure on themselves before and during games. This leads to mental errors in the field and over thinking at the plate so they don't swing, swing late or weak contact. Has anyone run into this? Just looking for some suggestions I can try as the coach. At practice I've tried to create drills/games that are timed or other ways to introduce stress/pressure but nothing really compares to a real game. During these drills the girls do really well in the field and at the plate, so I'm stumped.

Any help/suggestions are appreciated.
Dealing with 'pressure' situations requires reframing what the players are feeling. For years I played competitive golf and struggled to 'stay calm' in pressure situations. Eventually I realized that an adrenaline rush was inevitable and the key was in how I interpreted that feeling (butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms, etc). Whenever I felt these feelings they would be accompanied by a sense of dread, "oh no, not this again". I remember reading something Jack Nicklaus said about not playing his best until he got this adrenaline rush and that really helped. The truth is that adrenaline makes you stronger and faster, it increases your alertness, it's a survival mechanism. Unfortunately it doesn't feel very good because it signals potential danger to the ego (death, failure, etc) and we instinctively avoid or block recognizing it.

The key is to reframe the feelings that adrenaline generates from being 'nervous' to feeling 'excited or jacked'. This works for individual players as well as the team. When a player gets up to bat in a pressure situation, winning or tying runs in scoring position, they are going to get an adrenaline rush. If they start focusing on not striking out chances of success go way down.

I have a little story that I have told to individual players it should work with a team. I explain 'fight or flight', the role of adrenaline and the positives it brings, increased strength, speed and alertness. Then; "When a deer meets a tiger in the forest the deer gets an adrenaline rush which helps it escape being eaten. However, the tiger also gets an adrenaline rush when it sees a potential meal. The key for you as a player is to be the tiger, not the deer". In pressure situations I will remind these players to 'be the tiger'.
 
Top