What’s Wrong with Travel Ball?

I’m sitting here enjoying some college softball on television and thinking about how amazing this game really is. Players who have, obviously, worked very hard to get to the highest level squaring off against each other is a beautiful thing. So with that beautiful picture in mind I am going to add to the current discussion of BLAME.

Blaming Your Coach for Your Performance, part 2.

One of the things we touched on in the second installment of this discussion is the overall lack of practice relative to the number of games. In that blog we established that many teams do not practice enough.

But we also established the idea that most travel teams live by. Since we can’t have more team practices we need all of our players to work on their own to be prepared for the next tournament. It’s a foregone conclusion that we need all of our players to be responsible enough to do their work so that we can count on them when the game is on the line. While I hate this assumption, as you’ve already read, we have cast ourselves into the spell of counting on players to do an awful lot on their own..

The point, you ask? Well, we are counting on our players to do the work right? Well, I keep watching players who are clearly not ready to perform. When they play poorly they look for someone to blame for the fact that they are not prepared to play. And, shockingly, none of them (or their parents) seem to ever blame themselves!

To be clear, I think there are some distinctions that need to be made in discussing the players who are not prepared to play.

The first group is the kids who appear to do the work. They spend time hitting on the tee, pitching in the garage, going to the gym, and doing a litany of other things that give the illusion of being prepared. They are working but their effort is misguided. Unfortunately, just spending the time doesn’t mean you are ready to play. The vast majority of these players are investing the time, just too often, not on the right things. When they hit on the tee they spend all their time hitting meatballs right down the middle when they really need to work on the inside or outside or whatever pitch. When they pitch in the garage or at the field, they spend too much time doing the same things they are already good at rather than address a weakness or something that they struggled with the last time out. They go to the gym and get in their workouts but is that really helping them be better prepared to play this weekend. Yes, it’s commendable and a good idea but it isn’t the secret to playing great this coming tournament.

The second group is the more obvious problem. They are the kids who routinely sherk their responsibilities completely. They choose to do anything and everything but their softball work. Sorry but there is nothing else to say about these players except it’s kind of sad. I’ve seen players fake working on their hitting, even to the point of sending their Blast sensor with a teammate to a lesson, to give their coach the impression that they were doing their work. Yes, working harder to not do the work than it would probably be to just do the work in the first place.

Now some kids work very hard on their own and they work on the right things. They have a plan where they are working hard on their weaknesses and you see those players constantly showing out when their team hits the field. And this group isn’t looking to somehow blame someone else for their poor performance.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?