Sep
08

Online Instruction through Technique Doctor!

TO ALL “COACHING A FEMALE ATHLETE FANS”!!

 

After such positive feedback about our blog, we recently decided to expand our instruction around the globe through Technique Doctor!

 

Technique Doctor, (www.techniquedoctor.com) is a website geared to instruction through the Internet.  You can send in your athlete’s video and we critique it through audio and written responses within the same day!  This saves you the hassle of commuting to our location in Sacramento, CA as well as provides service to those of you across the nation or across seas.

 

We would love to continue to share our knowledge, better your mechanics, and develop your overall game through easy access to our instruction!  Check us out at www.techniquedoctor.com!  We look forward to working with you and your athlete!

                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                             Kelly Jackson and Keri Casas


Sep
02

HOW TO SEPARATE SPORT AND FAMILY

How to Separate Sport and Family

 

This may not be something every parent thinks about, but it is completely necessary to understand why and how a separate relationship for sports and home life is important to every female athlete.

 

Why Separate Sport and Family?

As a parent, you want to be involved in your daughter’s life; be supportive, encouraging, and a mentor.  When your female athlete is young, they will listen to you, take your advice, and let you teach them the basic things about the game.  The issue with teaching, or coaching, your daughter is that they tend to grow independent with age.  When female athletes mature into their sport, they want to listen to their coaches or private instructors, those who have played the game.  And even if you played the sport when you were younger, techniques and styles have changed.  Remember that female athletes tend to be a little more defiant towards their mom or dad trying to teach them than a male athlete.  There is nothing wrong with helping your athlete reach their athletic goals, but it is important to take notice when to step down as their “coach”.

Female athletes strive to learn from others than their parents simply because you’re their parent.  If they have the opportunity to learn from a female coach or private instructor, they have a mentor to look up to; someone that they can work with that doesn’t tell them to clean their room or be home by six.  They have your structure and guidance at home, but let them explore other options when it comes to their sport.

I know it is difficult to let someone else coach your daughter, but it is necessary to divide sport and family.  I have seen countless exceptional athletes give up on their dreams of collegiate softball because their parent was too involved in their sport.  I have seen too many dads coach their daughter to a breaking point where the sport was just not fun anymore.  Aside from that, I have seen families torn apart and parents lose their relationships with their daughter because of constant interference with their sport.   As a parent, you don’t want to be the reason why your daughter gave up and quit something they love.  And most of all, you don’ want to lose your daughter.

 

How to Separate Sport and Family?

 

As I mentioned before, you want to be involved in your daughter’s life by being supportive and encouraging.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing that; your female athlete needs your support in her athletic endeavors.  So how do you stay supportive without interfering?  Don’t give your advice unless she asks for your advice.

After a game, let your athlete talk and share her thoughts about what happened.  This way, you can listen to your daughter’s feelings and ideas without your feelings and ideas conflicting.  Let your daughter know you are proud of her no matter what and have her back 100%.  Female athletes need a sense of security and they need to be able to feel that they can open up about a game or their team to someone.  This is a perfect role for you as the parent; you want your athlete to be able to talk to you and your athlete wants to be heard knowing you aren’t going to critique her.  A female athlete wants you to be their parent, not a coach.

It may be difficult to step aside as a “parent-coach” because you want the best for your daughter, but realizing that the best for your daughter is for you to watch her from the stands is essential in her athletic growth and your parent-daughter relationship.

Aug
19

After Game Talk

How to Give the “After Game Talk”

After years and years of witnessing, being apart of, and giving the “After Game Talk,” it is evident that it plays a HUGE role in team communication, confidence, and attitude. Many coaches fail to really understand the importance of this talk as they simply want to get their point across, (good or bad), repeat their point, and tend to do so over a long period of time.
Now some coaches may give positive feedback after a well-played or won game, but many tend to save their disappointments and frustrations with their team for these talks. This is absolutely the worst place a coach could express those feelings. Female athletes do not respond well to constant, negative criticism. It is understandable that coaches are frustrated after losses, but guess what; your female athletes are frustrated too. They understand when they do poorly and when they don’t have a great game. After a game, the last thing they need to hear, especially from a male coach, is how poorly their game was executed.
Female athletes tend to hold on to things, whether good or bad, and constantly think about them; “Why did I look at strike 3? I can’t believe I missed that ball. I had a bad game.” Things like this constantly go through a female athletes head; we self-analyze and criticize more than any other person could. Already feeling defeated after a game, the “After Game Talk” can be crucial to your female athletes’ mental game.
If a coach tends to talk about all the mistakes, both individual and team, he could make their athletes feel very insecure. No female athlete wants to be put down, or made an example of in a negative fashion. The truth is, they already know if they made a crucial mistake, and their teammates know as well; putting the athlete “on blast” can really hurt an athlete’s confidence and security.
After all that, do any of you coaches feel badly about your “After Game Talks?” Did you notice how I droned on about the negative aspects of the “After Game Talk?” It does not feel good to be constantly criticized and now you can imagine how your athletes may feel.
So how does a coach give a proper “After Game Talk”? Although this may seem ridiculous to many adults, it is extremely important to female athletes; compliments. Compliment the things that they did well and the plays they did right. This does not mean that every talk has to avoid the negative aspects of the game played. A coach can let the female athletes know what went wrong, but focus on the next game and stay positive. Dwelling on the game that just ended will only help the girls carry that negativity into the next game.
Here is a good example of a quick “After the Game” talk:

“Well, ladies, we didn’t play our best in that game. I saw a few mental errors, but they are things that we can fix for our next game. Let’s be aggressive, strong, and put that game behind us. Taylor, great job with that sacrifice bunt; Sarah, nice throw into home; Emily, great pitching today, you fought really hard. Let’s take the good things out of that game and bring it into the next game. Let’s have lots of energy and work hard every play”

Having a talk like this allows for the girls to understand that they need to perform better in the next game, but it also highlights positivity in a negative outcome. It is important to find a compliment for every athlete, as every athlete plays a significant role on your team.
Another good activity in your “After Game Talk” is to have the athletes do the talking. Sometimes it is necessary for the coaches to step back and let the athletes share their feelings about the previous game; this way you can get an understanding of their opinions and thoughts on how they played and what they can improve.
To maintain team unity, it is a good idea to end the talk by having all the athletes say one good thing that their teammates did during the last game. For example, Jordan tells Annie, “Annie, you pitched really well in that game.” Annie tells Julia, “Julia, you had a great hit to center.” Etc. This helps the team stay positive and helps your female athletes to support each other rather than break each other down after a loss.

Key Coaching Tips for the “After Game Talk”

1.) Keep it short and simple. Female athletes will lose your attention after awhile so it is best to make you point quickly while they are listening and attentive.

2.) Stay positive! The more negative you are during a talk, the less they will listen to you. Remember, female athletes do not like to be talked down to.

3.) Be careful with your words. Whatever you say will stick with the female athlete and carry on into the next game. If you want better performance out of your team, do not dwell on a loss and have a strong outlook for your next game.

Jun
22

How to Coach the Natural Athlete

How to Coach the Natural Athlete

 

The Natural Athlete is one that conquers most skills with ease.  They are able to perform actions more easily and quickly than some of their peers.  Even though we want female athletes to be mechanically sound, the natural athlete is able to “get the job done” her own way.  This can be a positive factor for your team, but it does not necessarily mean she does not need training.  The Natural Athlete can field, hit, dive, make remarkable plays, but they do not know how they do it.

You may say, “Well, if they can already perform the action, why do they need to know HOW they do it?”  It is important for your female athlete to know how to do it because they need to develop their mental game as well.  If your natural athlete has a poor game and does not perform to their potential, they may become mentally weak because they do not know why the game did not go their way.  This may also cause a domino effect with the rest of their performance and put them into a slump.  When an athlete does not know what they are doing wrong, the potential for them to pull themselves out of a slump is slim.

This is where you come in as a coach.   You need to help your female athlete hone in on her muscle memory and understand how her body works in order for her talents to shine.  If she does not understand how her body performs an action, she must learn it.  As I have stressed in previous posts, keeping instruction simple is the best way to get through to your female athletes; the Natural Athlete is no exception.  Now as a coach, you cannot teach natural talent, but you can teach mechanics.  Being that she does not know what or how to fix something, it is your job to teach her.  If she does not understand how she hits line drives, explain to her how she is doing it.  The more she understands her body’s actions that produce her performance reactions, the better she will consistently be in practice and games.

Lastly, your natural athlete must be treated as an equal to her teammates.  Even if she is the best athlete on your team, you want to maintain team unity.  When you single out your best player, or compare your athletes to her, it makes her teammates feel self-conscious; they already know she is the best player, they don’t need you to make it even more obvious.  Every female athlete seeks acceptance and if you continue to say things like, “Why can’t you field like Taylor does; did you see how Taylor hit that ball”, you are alienating your natural athlete from her peers.  This could cause major emotional problems among your team.  A great way to avoid such problems is to have all your athletes practice the same drills; your Natural Athlete needs drills just as much as the rest of her team and it helps maintain equality.

 

Key Coaching Tips for the Natural Athlete:

 

1.) Even though your natural athlete can out perform you, it does not mean you cannot teach her.  You have knowledge of the mental game that she can utilize throughout her performance.

 

2.) Teach muscle memory and sound mechanics.  It may be tedious to exaggerate the “little things”, but your athlete will understand her body and performance better with time.

i.) Drills for the Natural Athlete:

A.) One arm swings-switch between top and bottom hand getting the bat      through the zone.  The goal is to hit a line drive.

B.)  Bat toss- Use a wiffle ball bat and when she gets to her point of contact, she should throw the bat.  If it goes up the middle, she performed the drill correctly and is throwing her hands at the ball.

C.) Soft toss with popcorn kernals- Have your athlete hit popcorn kernals to increase hand-eye coordination and focus.  If they are able to hit popcorn kernals successfully, softballs will look like watermelons to them.

 

 

3.)  Just because she is a natural athlete does not mean she will not make mistakes.  Treat her equally to all of her teammates, even if their playing ability is unequal.

 

Jun
17

How to Coach the Bratty Athlete

How to Coach the Bratty Athlete

 

If you have never had an athlete on your team with attitude, you are one lucky coach.  The truth is though, every team has the bratty athlete; the girl with attitude, negative leadership, and lack of respect.  Now, it’s not necessarily your job to understand where the attitude comes from, but it is your job to keep her in check while she is a member on your team.

Many female athletes act out in different ways for attention and acceptance, and that is okay, as long as it does not negatively affect the team.  Female athletes love to be loved and however they can receive that acknowledgment, they will do it.  The one thing you want to avoid as a coach is negative actions to receive attention.  If you have an athlete on your team being disrespectful, not doing what they are told, and rallying her teammates to do the same, she needs to be stopped immediately.  The longer that behavior ensues, the more time she has to take control of the team.  Female athletes can be very clingy towards each other and their want for acceptance among their peers is extraordinary.  If your bratty athlete is seemingly the “ring leader” the rest of your athletes will follow.  Their acceptance among their peers is far more important than acceptance from their coach.

So how do you stop your bratty athlete?  Make an example out of her bad behavior.  This doesn’t mean you need to demean her, but it means you need to show her teammates that her behavior is inappropriate.  The best way to defuse such a situation is, unfortunately, negative reinforcement.  When I say make an example out of her, it does not mean make her run laps while the team practices or give her individual punishment, but rather make it a team effort.  If you were to make the punishment all about your bratty athlete, she will receive the attention she was looking for and still have the control she was seeking.

Here is what you can do.  Before the start of practice, tell your team that you are going to have a hard practice and give them guidelines; i.e. if one person does not hustle on and off the field, the whole team will run sprints.  Once the guidelines are given, the bar is set for everyone on the team, not just the bratty athlete.  If she does not comply with the rules, the whole teams runs.  If she continues to rebel, the whole team will eventually become irritated and disallow her behavior.  By making this a team effort, the bratty athlete is not initially segregated as the “bad apple,” but her behavior in a team activity will be exemplified to her team as troublesome.  Just like her teammates, the bratty athlete wants to be accepted and will learn that acting out is not the way to get attention.  When a female athlete’s peers disapprove, they will quickly remedy the situation until she is accepted once again.

Key Coaching Tips for the Bratty Athlete

 

1.) Do not get on your bratty athlete’s level!  The more she knows she can get under your skin, the more antagonizing she will be!  Remember, she seeks attention, negative or positive.

 

2.)  Make sure she receives the same amount of attention as all the other athletes; treating your team equally will help show her she is not any better or any less than her teammates.

 

3.)  Do not individualize punishment!  Rule out bad behavior by team consequences so the team as a whole will push for compliance.

Jun
06

How to Coach the Scholar Athlete

How to Coach the Scholar Athlete

 

A scholar athlete is one that is very bright and excels in the classroom; seemingly a better student than athlete.  Many coaches struggle with the scholar athlete simply because they do not understand them.  They do not understand how they think and how they relay instruction to action.  For example, if you tell a scholar athlete to “watch the ball hit the bat,” they will think a handful of things instead of that simple phrase.  They will think, “Where are my hands,” “do I need to swing now,” “how are my feet supposed to look,” “where does my bat make contact”.  They are very mechanical thinkers.  Now, most athletes do not analyze such a simple phrase because it is just that; simple.  When a scholar athlete is told a command, they analyze, dissect, and picture everything that is supposed to happen to “watch the ball hit the bat,” instead of just hitting the ball.

How do you fix this as her coach?  To make things simpler for your scholar athlete, you need to try to think how she thinks.  The more you are in touch with your athlete and understand her way of thinking, the better your communication will be.  When you start to think about the swing and break it down mechanically, you will understand how your scholar athlete comprehends your commands.

How do you understand your scholar athlete’s mentality? Ask questions!  Ask your athlete to break down her swing; watch what she does and have her explain what she is doing.  By doing so, your language with your athlete can connect based on how she interprets parts of her swing.  Now once you and your athlete are on the same page and you have strong lines of communication, teach her the same way you would any other athlete.  Allow your scholar athlete to break down her swing mechanically while she is completing drills and dry swings, but as soon as she faces live pitching or a machine, she needs to be in “go mode”.  Let your athlete know that they are allowed to be mechanically and analytical during drills, but have her swing with a clear mind against a pitcher or machine.

We call this, “hitting like a 5 year old”.  This is not meant to be demeaning, but to literally have your athlete think like a 5 year old would.  5 year olds know the difference between right and wrong, and they know if you tell them to do something, they will directly do it.  If you tell them, “Look at that ball, when it comes to you, swing and hit it,” they will do it.  Because you gave them a simple direction, and nothing else, they are able to accomplish the task because it is the only thing on their mind.  Treating your scholar athletes in a similar fashion will prove to be extremely affective in their performance.  Stick to direct commands, small adjustments, and key words and your athlete will overcome mechanical and analytical thinking in the batters box.

 

Key Coaching Tips for the Scholar Athlete

 

1.)  Do not over teach!  If you give your athlete too many points to focus on, their brain will be on overload!

 

2.)  Praise small achievements!  Scholar athletes look to be perfect and when they don’t achieve perfection, let them know their small accomplishments are still great!

 

3.)  Get on her level!  Get to know your scholar athlete and the way she thinks.  The more you understand each other, the better your communication and teaching will work!

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