Although slowpitch softball is not the most popular sport and many people don’t know much about it, it is a very beneficial activity for those who are looking to get active in a team environment. With this in mind I put together an article about the benefits of playing slow pitch softball and the ten commandments of the sport.
The benefits of playing slowpitch softball
Even though most of us have an image of beer bellied balding men strolling around in the park when we think of slowpitch softball, nothing could be further from the truth. If played well, this game can be very demanding physically, with hitters swinging for the fences on a regular basis, and runners racing around the park in order to arrive home. If you are looking for a fun, yet demanding free time physical activity, slow pitch softball is just the right sport for you.
The lifestyle of sitting at our computers all day long can cause severe health issues such as diabetes, obesity, and a general lack of vitality. Playing slow pitch softball can easily contribute towards making the 10 000 steps each day that doctors advocate as the benchmark of a healthy lifestyle. Not to mention that being in the open, and being exposed to sunlight helps replenish your vitamin D supplies, which is an important prerequisite to vitality.
Softball is also a great sport if you are looking to get active again after a long period of not exercising. The sport consists of regular short bursts of speedy movement, with plenty of recovery time in the middle. This gives you the opportunity to burn a lot of fat while avoiding total exhaustion.
Slow pitch softball is a team sport, which requires regular communication, and working in a team environment. Playing this sport raises your dopamine and serotonin levels. Accurate levels of these hormones are the sign of a healthy social life, and lead to feeling a lot better about ourselves.
Now that you all want to try playing slowpitch softball, here are the ten commandments of the sport:
The ten commandments of slowpitch softball
1. Experiment with your best hitting
One of the most important aspects of playing slowpitch softball is hitting. As with all things in life, it is important to figure out what you are the best at, and concentrating on doing it the best way you can. Practicing lets you figure out what you can do the best, so try out different kinds of hits in training. Are you a contact player, who is best at hitting curve balls that fool the opponents? Or are you better at using the force of your body to hit the ball as far away as you possibly can?
Work on getting the best you can be at your best type of hit. It is alright to not hit the ball a few times if it means that you can get better hits down the road. Yes, this means that it is alright to take a pitch every now and then if it means achieving an overall higher batting average. Realise that swinging at too many throws can lead to a lower batting average in the long run.
2. Have a hitting strategy that benefits the team
Realise that softball is about the long term. This means that you should not change your batting strategy from game to game, but you should find the hitting strategy that benefits your team the most and stick to it. This implies that your best hitting strategy is determined by the team you play in. In some teams a 0.55 hitter with zero home runs might be a better overall fit than a player with a 0.65 batting average and 20 home runs.
3. Be a role player
The second point highlights an important aspect of softball: it is a team sport. In order to be the best player you can be you need to let your ego go and be willing to play for the team. Of course every player can be at his best only if she plays according to her personality, but it is important to restrict your ego somewhat and put that personality into the service of the team.
4. Be a good trainer
Give your all in training. Although training can be a demanding task, and it might not be as fun as playing an actual softball game during the weekend, but the foundations of a good performance are laid down during practice.
Sometimes even showing up to training can be a hard task. We are not making our living from playing softball, so the demands of our jobs, our families and friends often come before showing up to practice.
The times of training are often decided by when the coach can show up, so this makes it even harder for the players. All that a coach can ask for is that you show up when possible, and that you tell him in advance in case you can no attend a training session. There is nothing worse for a coach then to plan a session for a set number of players, and realise at the start of the training that only half of them showed up. This leads to all the previous plans being thrown out the window.
5. Do not be afraid to walk
Some players don’t realise that walking can be beneficial as well. If a pitcher walks you during the game it is very likely that it is down to the way you played in the match before, so in a way you have earned respect. Sometimes you might get walked because your opponent follows the principle of “hit pitches you are good at hitting”. This is an important team philosophy and all good team players follow it. If a player swings at pitches outside of the strike zone she is most likely a weak player, who can not hold her nerves in a pressure situation and is not beneficial to the team.
Balls you should not hit include balls which you can not hit with full conviction, where you have difficulty positioning the ball where you intend to, or you can not apply the hitting technique that you are most comfortable with.
6. Concentrate on the basics
When hitting a ball, you need to concentrate on the basics. The holy triumvirate of hitting goes as: hit line drives, be selective about your hits, and hit where you hit best. A sure sign of a rookie player is sacrificing these principles in order to be a place hitter. The 80-20 rule applies to softball as well: 80% of your results will come from the basic 20% of your efforts. If you concentrate on the basics of hitting, you are almost there. Get the basics right, practice them over and over and add the remaining 20% later.
7. Observe your opponents
It is not enough to know your own strengths and weaknesses in order to be a truly top class player. You can gain a significant edge by observing the opponent team. Who is a strength hitter, and who is a contact hitter? How long does it take for them to get the ball in from the outfield? All of these can give you great information on how to fine-tune your strategy according to the opponents you are playing. All the players should be observing these during the game as players never know when it will be their turn to do some base coaching.
8. Don’t argue with the umpire
Many players alienate the umpire with their constant moaning and arguing, which is ultimately detrimental to the team. Sure, you might be dissatisfied with a decision in the moment, but keep your opinion to yourself. Nobody likes to be criticised, the umpire is no exception from this rule. A team can win a lot more in the long term by keeping the umpire on their side.
The umpire might not know this, but subconsciously he might err against your team in the future if you criticise him too much. For example if you are batting, and the umpire is not sure if it was a pitch or a ball, he has to look for clues to make a split-second decision on what to decide. In this instance if his subconscious is biased against your team, that might sway his decision against your team.
Arguing with the umpire also makes you angrier, which gets you out of your comfort zone, and ability to be on your best game. Being angry is just a distraction from your best game. If the umpire makes a bad call against your team, a shake of the head is enough to show that you disagree.
9. Have a desire to improve
Although playing in a great team can go a long way towards making you the best player you can be, ultimately it is you who has to take responsibility towards your own improvement. This means showing up for training as much as you can, placing your ego in the service of the team philosophy, and being a great team player. Since slowpitch softball is a thinking people’s game, you can only improve by honing your skills all the time.
10. Have fun
You have to make a concise effort and give your all to win, but the purpose of playing slowpitch softball is to have fun. If you don’t enjoy the trainings and the games there is no point in doing it. Don’t take softball too seriously. At the end of the day, it’s just softball…