Welcome to Discuss Fastpitch

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

Register Log in

Teaching skill vs. teaching the game

Apr 20, 2018
La Crosse, WI
Here's the issue I'm facing at the end of our season: I have a number of players on my team (HS JV) who are very skilled players. They can hit, field, throw, etc. but don't always know the game. Example: last night runners on 2 & 3, 3-0 count on the batter and ball 4 scoots past catcher. Player on 3 immediately breaks for home (not unusual at JV level) despite me yelling not to go. She gets in pickle and is tagged out. Runner on 2 was sitting there watching the pickle and broke for 3 after girl was tagged out. Throw to third got her by a mile. Instead of bases loaded and no outs, we have runner on 2nd and 2 outs thanks to the girl who walked advancing to 2nd while everything went down.

So now the question, how much time do you spend teaching the game vs teaching fundamentals? Are there ways to get kids to see the broader picture of the game before disaster and we have a teachable moment?


Jun 8, 2016
This is a a difficult question for me since I learned a lot of situational baseball stuff from watching a lot of games growing up. When you pretty much watch a 9 inning baseball game every summer day from the age of 5 you pick up a lot of that stuff
on your own. That said you can try and go over the most common situational things in practice but there are so many permutations of possible plays a lot of it is going to have to come from experience in games combined with you the coach explaining in-between innings what should have happened in a certain situation. My 2 cents..
Dec 10, 2015
Chautauqua County
I am at the modified level and I am a firm believer in instant feedback. runners would have been given a brief "what to do and why" right then and then a whole team chat at the end of the inning. pattar is right about a lot of it being experience. a lot of it is also repetition and always looking for opportunities during practices to go over things. it's not what they did, it's what they do next that really matters. just my take on it, every coach has their own philosophy.
Jan 28, 2017
In today's world kids think different IMO. 12 year old DD studies and plays the game all the time. Really loves the game but doesn't pick the mental part up fast. She has never made a B and remembers details better than anybody. This seems to be normal.

My 9 year old boys doesn't love the game, rather fish. He walks up and says dad can I try pitching. His wide up looks really good. He said, I saw a guy on TV. Then he said watch this and throws one fastpitch style that was pretty good. Lol. He just understands it and doesn't care what people think. Not normal in today's world.

The normal kid in our area has a hard time expanding on concepts or doesn't have the confidence to try. Seems to be a real problem with straight A student's.
Oct 11, 2010
Chicago, IL
DD played on 18U Team in fall, a 14 YOA tagged up from 2nd to 3rd on fly to RF. We never have practiced this play, she looked great.

I have always told players if you hear my voice yelling something you are late.

Slight disagreement with cvsoftball, if something goes good or bad I will mention it so it is remembered. Work on it next practice if we need to.

Not saying OP doing it but yelling at them for a mistake is no good. Why did you do this is always my 1st question.

(DD has straight As, little bit of a cheap shot. :))
Last edited:
May 1, 2018
I preach over and over "1 mistake not 2" one mistake will usually not put you in a terrible position, the second one will kill you.
Booble a ball, now they have a single. You do that then make a bad throw and they are standing on 3rd.

But I coach situational things every practice. Usually it is what I saw that was incorrect in the previous game. I am lucky both my kids think ball well.
Jun 11, 2012
I agree about working on situations during practice but also want to say that some girls just get it and have softball sense and others even though they've been playing just as long just don't know what to do.
The first practice after the mistake happens use it as a situational drill. Get all the players involved even if it's not their usual position
Jun 11, 2013
I helped coach an 18U team last year and I would say that half the kids didn't know how to tag up. To be fair some had come from rec leagues, but almost all had at least a season or 2 of High School. A couple thought you just had to tag up and could go before the catch. Others just had no idea what it meant. It took the whole summer to get a few to understand that when you are on third you need to go back to tag on fly balls to the OF. A couple of times they would go half way and when you asked why they would say they weren't sure if it would be caught. Even after 4 months there were still a couple that didn't get it.

On the OP I wouldn't say the kid on 3rd made a bad play unless you told them prior to the pitch to not go on a WP. If she read it wrong but acted quickly I'm Ok with that. That comes with experience, but the ones who are aggressive usually figure it out.
Jun 11, 2013
One other thing I would add. When I played little league (back during the dead ball era) we used to have kids coach the bases. I don't know when that changed, but I would love to see rec leagues go back to it at least in 12U and above and make it the TB rule. When we played mostly the older kids would coach but it really taught you to see the game from a different angle. To be fair as someone above posted, we watched a lot more baseball on TV and had a higher baseball IQ than kids today (IMHO), but I a lot of kids would learn the game better this way.
Apr 20, 2018
La Crosse, WI
On the OP I wouldn't say the kid on 3rd made a bad play unless you told them prior to the pitch to not go on a WP. If she read it wrong but acted quickly I'm Ok with that. That comes with experience, but the ones who are aggressive usually figure it out.
Your quote is my dilemma. We are a very aggressive team, stealing a lot of bases and generally forcing teams to have to make plays to get us out. The runners in question are both 10th graders. I, mistakenly, assumed they would have more softball knowledge and make the right play. How can I help someone who has the potential (3rd base runner) to play varsity to start thinking on a different level?

Forum statistics

Latest member