The most basic elements on defense is throwing and catching a ball. When teaching your players these elements, it is worth the time to make sure they are doing it right. Done the wrong way can lead to injury. The speed and accuracy of the ball, how quickly a player can get rid of the ball from the time it is caught and knowing that they are going to the right base for the situation are key to getting outs.

against the forearm to prevent it from moving. Using the wrist and fingers only, flip the wrist so that the ball rolls of the tips of the fingers to the other athlete.

Wrist Snap

Developing a strong wrist snap is key. We can do that by isolating the wrist while the athletes are playing catch. Have two athletes face each other from about 8 to 10 feet. Bring the ball up to about eye level with the elbow at a 90 degree angle and pointed at her target. If needed, use the glove hand

Form Work

The new softball players should be taught good form right from the start. Have the team partner up and form two lines for catch. Have the person with the ball all on the same side and slowly walk them through each step. First step is transition feet, hips and shoulders so that they are lined up with the target and the ball hand is away from the target. Step two would be getting the arms to t "T" position with the glove pointed at the target and the pall away from the target. Make sure that the shoulder is making a circular motion coming up to get to the "T" position. Step three would be a small step with the front foot and a push of the back foot, forward motion of the arm accompanied with a shoulder rotation. Step four would be the wrist snap and the ball rolling of the end of the fingers and the fingers pointing right at the target. Step five would be a nice follow through with the hand pulling down toward the opposite thigh and the back leg coming forward to square the hips and shoulders up to the target. Take your time and get the mechanics correct while they are young.

Crow Hop

The transition can be accomplished quickly with a crow hop, moving your foot on your glove side toward target and the foot on your ball hand side back. This is a drill I will use with someone who is not getting the concept of the crow hop. Lay a bat on the ground in front of the players toes. Roll them a ground ball; they should be fielding it with the glove out in front of their feet. When they field the ball, have them "pop" up and turn their shoulders, hips and feet all at the same time to line up with the target. When they "pop" up, they should focus on the glove hand/foot being in front of the bat and the ball hand/foot being behind the bat.

Coach Renee Luers-Gillispie, Head Coach University of Central Florida, demonstration of drills using proper throwing techniques

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You Are Important

The coach is the person who communicates with parents, players, umpires, other coaches and your local associations. You facilitate the team by making sure all the equipment is there when it is needed. Most important are the players. You are teaching more than the skills and strategies of fastpitch. The ability to gracefully deal with success and failure, the persistence to keep trying and the confidence that these young ladies learn from you is priceless.

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