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#AnythingButSoft: Coaching for Different Learning Styles

We believe that softball is more than a sport - it makes players #AnythingButSoft on and off the field. This season, we'll be sharing tips and insights from leading coaches, nutritionists, and parents alike and talking about how softball makes athletes #AnythingButSoft.

Diana Hill has been coaching with North Clackamas (Oregon) ASA for 19 years, guiding teams from tee ball through 16U. She has taught skills as basic as which way to first base to as complex as turning a double play with runners on the corners.

If you want to find success in execution, coach to different learning styles. 

“I'm very aware that my kids are going to learn in different ways, and I try to identify that early on — some need to hear me say it, some need to see it done,” Hill said. “Repetition is very important.” 

Hill is generous with her words. Instead of shouting about the mistake, she prefers to reinforce what was done correctly and offer the player a second chance.

This also includes presenting drills in a variety of formats. Some may pick it up off a diagram on a whiteboard, others may need to see it in action on the field.

"If I'm teaching something new, I like to start with something they already know," Hill said. "Stick with the basics and break it down into pieces. What are we doing with our feet, then you can talk about making the throw, and finally you can mix in game situations."

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“If I see someone getting discouraged, I pull them aside right then and give them some kind words. Let them know it's okay, that's why we practice,” Hill said. “Instead of moving on to the next person or the next drill, I'll give them another chance to be successful in that moment.”

So which position is most difficult to teach on the softball field?

“I find catcher to be the hardest to teach because there is so much to do,” Hill said. “You have to be able to read the whole field, read the pitch coming in, and then there are so many factors about what to do if the ball is hit, if it's missed, if it gets by.”

A former outfielder herself, she also understands the unique challenges of being sent to stand in the grass.

“Mentally, it's probably the toughest, because you have to figure out how to stay engaged with the game with or without action,” Hill said. “Plus, I used to play outfield, and there's a stigma to overcome that that is where you put the people who don't know how to play. I always stress the value of why the outfield is important.”

Hill reinforces the importance of every player on her roster by explaining the importance of each position, making sure everyone feels included and that they are a valuable member of the team.

From GameChanger and David Ball

Softball, #AnythingButSoft, Softball Player Development

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