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Coaching Management VOL. XII, NO. 9

A N N U A L

S O F T B A L L

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Coaching Management Softball Edition, 2005

CONTENTS

Vol. XII, No. 9

p. 2

LOCKER ROOM

Bulletin Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 ASA tests new softball bats … Field disparities prompt Title IX suits … Division II closes its season with a Spring Sports Festival … NCAA modifies its rules on lines … Coaches Academy builds skills … NFHS to require batting masks … Fairleigh Dickinson gets a home field.

Q&A

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Assistant Editors R.J. Anderson Kenny Berkowitz David Hill Greg Scholand Laura Smith

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Production Manager Kristin Ayers Asst. Production Manager Kristi Kempf Prepress Manager Adam Berenstain Prepress Assistant Steve Rokitka Ad Materials Coordinator Mike Townsend

COVER PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF IOWA PHOTO SERVICE

Heading For Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

Good Connections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

CATALOG SHOWCASE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

Associate Editor Dennis Read

COVER STORY

PROFESSIONAL GROWTH

ADVERTISERS DIRECTORY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

Editor-in-Chief Eleanor Frankel

p. 31

Smart, aggressive, instinctive base running can make the difference between victory and defeat. Here’s how four coaches train their players to make the right choices on the base paths.

New England Small College Athletic Conference Coach of the Year Kris Herman talks about the keys to her successful transition from Tufts to Williams, her experiences overseas, and the benefits of coaching in Division III.

Publisher Mark Goldberg Circulation Director Mark Shea Art Director Pamela Crawford Art Assistant Dina Stander Business Manager Pennie Small

p. 25

No matter what your communications system, your athletic director is a person you want to hook up with.

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Michigan State shares its exercises for reducing injuries and developing explosive power among its softball players. Softball Field . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37 Grabbing the Gold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Hitting & Pitching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43 Team Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46

IT Manager Mark Nye Production Assistant Jonni Campbell Special Projects Dave Wohlhueter Administrative Assistant Sharon Barbell

Web News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48 More Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 Performance Apparel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 Uniforms & Apparel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50

Advertising Sales Associates Diedra Harkenrider, (607) 257-6970, ext. 24 Sheryl Shaffer, (607) 257-6970, ext. 21 Business and Editorial Offices 2488 N. Triphammer Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850 (607) 257-6970, Fax (607) 257-7328 info@MomentumMedia.com Mailing lists for Coaching Management Softball are provided by the Clell Wade Coaches Directory.

The Coaching Management softball edition is published in October by MAG, Inc. and is distributed free to college and high school coaches in the United States and Canada. Copyright © 2004 by MAG, Inc. All rights reserved. Text may not be reproduced in any manner, in whole or in part, without the permission of the publisher. Unsolicited materials will not be returned unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Coaching Management is printed by Banta Publications Group, Kansas City, MO. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Coaching Management, P.O. Box 4806, Ithaca, N.Y. 14852. Printed in the U.S.A.

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bulletin board ASA Tests New Softball Bats Coaches now have a year with the new bat standards under their belts, but the issue of how high-performance hitting equipment affects competition and player safety isn’t going away. Manufacturers continue to tweak their designs in hopes of making the most powerful bat on the market, and engineers continue to refine the science behind bat standards. The NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations have chosen not to change their rules regarding bat standards for 2005. “I think we’ve got it about where we want it right now,” says Marjorie Willadsen, Head Softball Coach at Buena Vista University and Chair of the NCAA Women’s Softball Rules Committee. “We’ve toned it down a little bit to make it a safer game but still keep the excitement.” The only bat-related issues addressed by the NFHS for 2005 were editorial changes to the rulebook, permitting oval handles and handle grips or wrappings that don’t cause the handle to become flush with the knob. “We had some umpires saying the grips were legal and some saying they weren’t,” says Mary Struckhoff, NFHS Assistant Director and Softball Rules Editor. “So we tried to clean up the language, saying that as long as the knob and handle are not flush, they’re okay.” While there are no changes in bat standards on the immediate horizon, the NCAA is not standing still on the issue. The association has commissioned testing to make sure the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) standards are appropriate for the college game. In setting its standard, the ASA commissioned Lloyd Smith, professor of mechani-

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cal engineering and materials science at Washington State University, to fire softballs from air cannons at stationary bats and measure the rebound speed. Those results were combined mathematically with average swing speeds to get an exit speed. Bats of different ages were tested, rated, and compared to the exit speed—98 mph—of bats from an era when the ASA believes safety and offense were properly balanced, according to Smith.

posite bats, where you have a barrel made out of concentric cylinders, which allows the barrel to be softer but just as strong.” This is not news to coaches. Next season, Mark Wilkinson, Head Softball Coach at Noblesville (Ind.) High School,

they pitch to a particular hitter can be adjusted based on the bat she’s carrying. “The speed of those balls coming off the bat is certainly a concern among coaches,” says Wilkinson. “I know how hard the sanctioning bodies try to keep that under control,

The calculations used the average swing speed of male slowpitch hitters, but Smith believes the numbers are still valid, because what matters is relative speed. In other words, the faster pitch in the college and high school game is balanced by a slower bat speed than that produced in men’s slowpitch. But to help confirm that approach, the NCAA commissioned its own test, using college hitters during the Division I Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City this year. High-speed cameras recorded the bats’ rotational speed, swing height, and forward motion. Results are expected in late fall. “We collected between 50 and 100 megabytes of data for each swing,” says Smith. “We had 35 players, and they each swung a bat 30 times. That’s a tremendous amount of data.” Testing will continue with developments in technology. Bat makers seek out materials and designs that will absorb the energy from the bat-ball collision and return it to the ball—creating the trampoline effect. “If you get a stronger aluminum, you can make a thinner barrel and the aluminum won’t yield,” Smith says. “Manufacturers are now using composite materials for the same reason—they can deform more and they’re stronger. And they’re using multiple walls, in aluminum and com-

The NCAA and NFHS have chosen not to change the rules regarding bat standards for 2005, but to wait for additional test results from a study commissioned by the ASA. expects to have a player on his team who was hit in the face while pitching in an eighthgrade scrimmage this past spring. The hitter’s bat was legal for high school use under the ASA 2004 standard, but the injury prompted discussion locally about the power of modern bats. Wilkinson copes with the bat technology arms race by teaching his pitchers and infielders to note what bats opposing hitters bring to the plate. He tells corner players to back up when a strong hitter comes up with a notoriously powerful bat. Pitchers, of course, can’t do that, but how

but they’re fighting against companies that want to create the hottest bat out there.” Molly Feesler, President of the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association and Head Coach at Pickerington North High School, welcomes the rule as a proactive safety measure. While the pitching vs. offense issue isn’t as contentious at her level as it is in college, she can see the change coming if bats are not regulated. “Five years down the road we could be in the same predica-


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bulletin board ment,” Feesler says. “Our kids are getting stronger and stronger every year as they do a lot of off-season training and weightlifting. As the kids become stronger and the game gets faster—as in any sport—you’re going to run into more issues.” Coaches cope through communication, says Feesler. Players and parents need to understand that only stamped-asapproved bats can be used in games. “They know that it’s a state rule and a National Federation rule, not my rule, and that helps,” she says.

Field Disparities Prompt Suits When Alhambra (Calif.) High School administrators decided last year to spend $900,000 upgrading their three-field baseball complex, they included state-of-the-art electronic scoreboards, a warning track, enclosed batting cages, and bullpens. They paid attention to every detail except one: How would the new construction affect gender equity at their school? That omission has landed the school in court. Without access to a comparable softball field, Alhambra softball players have sued under Title IX.

Former Alhambra Head Softball Coach Tom O’Dell, Alhambra

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The Alhambra suit is one of several high school Title IX cases recently initiated over disparities in softball and baseball facilities. Other cases have been settled in Tennessee, Alabama, and Washington. In the late 1990s, a single suit in an Oklahoma school district led to 13 additional cases in nearby districts. And in Kentucky, more than 70 new softball fields have been constructed after a lawsuit prompted the state high school association to review all of its members for Title IX compliance. Still, Solomon points out, the majority of Title IX cases have been brought at the college level, making each high school Title IX case important. “High school suits are hard to bring because the girls are so young,” Solomon notes. “High school girls often don’t label inequities as discrimination, even though they realize they aren’t being treated the same as the boys.” That means high school coaches must be vigilant and advocate for their athletes, Solomon says—particularly softball coaches, since their sport is one where schools have typically lagged behind in Title IX compliance. “Softball coaches are on the front lines of Title IX enforcement right now,” Solomon says. “They are often the only people who can see from a broader perspective that discrimination is occurring.” When a coach believes his or her team is the victim of gender discrimination, it is essential to make a formal complaint and document it in writing, according to Solomon. “Make sure you state in your written com-

At Alhambra (Calif.) High School, a $900,000 renovation of the baseball facility (top) has prompted a Title IX suit by softball parents claiming that the school has failed to provide a comparable softball facility (bottom). plaint that you believe this is a violation of Title IX,” she adds. Claudia Center, Senior Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center in San Francisco, which also represents the Alhambra athletes, agrees. “A water cooler conversation with your athletic director doesn’t work,” Center says. “You don’t have to be confrontational—in fact, simply expressing your concern and asking for help usually works best. But to make sure your concern is taken seriously, put it in writing and mention Title IX.” Coaches who are not able to get relief from their school should contact an attorney,

Solomon says. Since coaches do not have legal standing to sue the school over discrimination against their team, they will need to work alongside parents, who can sue on behalf of their minor children if a lawsuit becomes necessary. One reason glaring inequities still exist at the high school level may be that coaches are afraid that speaking out about discrimination will put them at odds with their administrators, Center says. However, a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court may provide greater assurance that if a coach makes a Title IX complaint, his or her school cannot retaliate. The plaintiff, Ensley (Ala.) girls’ basketball

HUGH WILLIAMS

“While the baseball program is playing on these fantastic new fields, girls’ varsity and junior varsity softball are playing on back-to-back dirt fields,” says Nancy Solomon, Senior Staff Attorney at the California Women’s Law Center and one of the attorneys representing the softball players. “If there’s a hit into the outfield in one game, play in the other game has to stop.” In their complaint, the student-athletes also allege that the softball field is littered with trash, receives no maintenance, and is dangerous.

parents, and student-athletes complained to the school board and administration without result, Solomon says. Parents of the student-athletes then filed suit on their behalf.


Request No. 102


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bulletin board coach Roderick Jackson, alleges that he was fired for raising Title IX concerns. A decision is expected by June 2005.

In the meantime, as the Alhambra softball players’ case goes

D-II Celebrates With Festival During the second week in May, nearly 600 NCAA Division II athletes—including eight softball teams—con-verged on Orlando, Fla. The reason? To take part in the inaugural Division II Spring Sports Festival, a new idea in NCAA

Request No. 103

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Angelo State celebrates after defeating Florida Southern in the Women’s Softball Championships, which were held as part of the first NCAA Division II Spring Sports Festival.

Request No. 104

RYAN MCKEE/NCAA PHOTOS

High school Title IX compliance could also take a step forward if Senate Bill 282 is passed in Congress. The law would require high schools to collect annual data on Title IX compliance and submit reports to the federal government, as colleges are currently required to do. “At most schools, discrimination is the result of years’ worth of cumulative decisions that don’t take gender equity into account,” Center says. “A law that requires high schools to examine their gender equity each year is a huge step in the right direction.”

forward, Center and Solomon are hopeful that schools across the country will take notice. “We’re hoping that schools will say, ‘We don’t want to end up in court, so we’re going to examine our programs and make sure we’re complying with the law,” Center says. “And we’re hoping that this case will prompt more athletes and coaches to speak up if they see inequities.”


championships. After six days of competition, teams were crowned national champions in six sports: men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s lacrosse, and softball. The national championship for softball was won by the Angelo State University Rambelles, led by first-year Head Coach Travis Scott. “It was a dream ending for a dream season,” says Scott. “It was exciting for the kids to have other athletes around and know that we were all competing for a national title.”

NCAA Modifies Rules On Lines, Sportsmanship Revisions to the wording that governs the placement of feet within lines on a softball field top NCAA rules changes approved for the 2005 season. The rules changes will most significantly affect play in and around the batter’s box.

Under the new rules, players who are required to position themselves within a line—primarily batters and catchers—will be allowed to extend their feet to the outside edge of that line, as long as they don’t reach beyond that edge. Players and coaches who are required to position themselves on a line—primarily pitchers, who must keep one foot in contact with the pitching plate while delivering a pitch—may extend one foot over the

Scott says his players also enjoyed the opening ceremonies, which were held at the Hard Rock Café and featured Dot Richardson as one of the speakers. “When you can get big-name people to be a part of a Division II championship, it’s a special opportunity,” he says. “It really gave our players a taste of what DI athletes are around all the time.” Another taste of the Division I experience came fromchampionship games televised nationally—a first for Division II softball. With the games televised on the Sunshine Network, Rambelle fans who couldn’t make the trip were able to watch the games on a pay-per-view basis. “And that probably wouldn’t have happened had our sport not been a part of the Spring Sports Festival,” says Scott. According to organizers, the festival succeeded in achieving its two main goals: enhancing the student-athlete experience and creating more exposure for Division II sports. “Overall, we felt the festival was a huge success,” says Joan McDermott, Chair of the Division II Championships Committee and Athletic Director at Metropolitan State College of Denver. “There are some issues that need to be dealt with to make it better in the future, but all in all, it went very well and we want to do it again.” There were some first-year difficulties in keeping all the festival’s events close to campus, and some conflicts with scheduling—including the softball championship game, which was held at the same time as the festival’s closing ceremonies. But McDermott says that the post-event student-athlete surveys were very positive. “Our hope is that four years from now, we’ll do another spring festival,” says McDermott. “And we want to have it every four years after that.” Request No. 105 COACHING MANAGEMENT

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bulletin board edge, as long as that foot maintains contact with the line.

they believe the infraction has occurred. ■ Batting gloves are to be worn only on the hands and are not permitted to be carried while a player is running the bases.

Whether they’re required to stand on or within a line, players and coaches will not be allowed to have either foot completely outside that line.

■ A pitcher who brings a resin bag to the mound is responsible for removing it at the end of each half inning after she pitches.

Other rules added for 2005: ■ Misconduct penalties will be assessed for any player or coach who leaves a team area (dugout or bullpen) to initiate or join a fight.

Coaches Academy Builds Skills

■ Appeals, such as when a coach believes that the opposition has batted out of order, may be made after the third out in the half inning after

Under the new NCAA rules, hitters will be allowed to position their foot on the line of the batter’s box, as long as it doesn’t extend beyond the outer edge of the line.

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■ If an ejected player or coach communicates with opponents or umpires or has any subsequent rules violation, the game will be forfeited.


in just her second year at the helm, then was named league coach of the year. And she attended the second annual Women’s Coaches Academy. “If you ever have a chance to attend this coaches’ academy, do it,” Hilliard-Gray says. “It changes your whole view of things. When anyone asks me what I got out of it, I tell them it inspired me and gave me more motivation. An adviser, a mentor—you can get it all there at the academy.”

PLAY IT SAFER!

The Women Coaches Academy is the work of the National Association for Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA) with a grant from the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics. Twentyfour coaches took part June

3-7 at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, and 19 were at the University of Denver June 19-23. The first Academy was in 2003 at Bryn Mawr College. The Academy’s ultimate mission is to raise the number of women coaches. “Our goal is to motivate, and there are three things we try to do,” says Celia Slater, Executive Director of the Academy and Special Projects Coordinator at NACWAA. “The first thing is to provide women with the skill base that will help them in their day-to-day challenges, from teaching methods to communicating with their AD, student-athletes, and staff. We’re trying to give them a relevant skill base that goes beyond X’s and O’s.

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“Number two is to provide them with an opportunity to create a network with other women in athletics they can call on for support,” Slater continues. “Many women feel isolated in their athletic department. Often, they’re the only woman in the department. We want to build a network of women who’ve been to the academy, and tie them to the women who’ve been pioneers in the field. That’s the third thing—to inspire them and help them see their value in the world of women’s athletics.” Attendees come from all NCAA divisions, sports, and career stages, from two years in the field to 22. The academy addresses some of the most common reasons some women don’t enter the profession and others choose to leave. Those reasons, Slater says, include

the increase in other career options, the 24-7 time commitment of the profession, and, for some women, the feeling that their view of athletics isn’t valued in their setting. Among the provocative class titles at this year’s academy in Wilmington were “Change is Good—You Go First, Mary,” “How to Coach Yourself in a Losing Season,” “Networking and Internal Politics,” and “Title IX: Facts and Friction about Gender Equity.” Other topics included public speaking skills, communication strategies, diversity, ethics, and motivational strategies. Learning better ways to communicate with her supervisor, staff, and student-athletes was the greatest lesson for Hilliard-Gray. “Today’s student-athletes are different

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bulletin board from when I was playing,” she says. “I have to let them know that I’m here for them no matter what, as a friend, as a coach, as a mentor.” Plans for 2005 are in flux, largely because NACWAA isn’t sure how large the NCAA grant and other funding sources will be, Slater says. This year’s costs were $1,400 per coach, but the entire program could look quite different next year. Administrators are exploring an advanced session for academy graduates

Details and applications are expected to be available shortly on the academy’s Web site, www.coachesacademy. com/home.htm.

and a formal way of applying attendance toward continuing education credits. NACWAA is talking to other organizations about creating a similar program for high school coaches, Slater says.

NFHS To Require Batting Masks Catchers and umpires have worn them for years. Soon, hitters will join them behind protective masks. Beginning in January 2006, the National Federation of High School Associations will require fastpitch softball players to wear approved faceguards on their batting helmets. “Earlier this year, NOCSAE released the first standard for softball faceguards,” says Mary Struckhoff, NFHS Assistant

Director and Softball Rules Editor. “With a standard now in place, we decided it was time to make the rule.” The low cost of the faceguards, and a recent ruling by the Amateur Softball Association requiring them for Junior Olympic players, also factored into the committee’s decision. “The impact on a school program won’t be more than a couple hundred dollars, and we’re providing almost two years for implementation,” Struckhoff says. “It’s a safety issue that we can address at minimal cost.” During its annual meeting in June, the NFHS Softball Rules Committee also changed its definition of obstruction, ruling that a player who blocks a base or the plate must have the ball before impeding a

runner’s progress. This change will take effect in 2005. “The previous rule said that you could block if you were in possession of the ball or about to receive it, and it was very inconsistently applied,” says Struckhoff. “Now we’re saying, ‘If you don’t have the ball, you can’t obstruct.’” Another rule change removes the phrase “not higher than the batter’s head” from the definition of both a foul ball and a foul tip. “Our existing rule says a foul tip occurs when the ball travels sharply and directly to the catcher,” Struckhoff explains. “In that case, the ball is not going above the batter’s head. But a foul ball can travel sideways and the catcher can lunge for it and catch it. We felt that should be an out, so we

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bulletin board cleared up that language for umpires.� The rules committee also addressed team huddling as a point of emphasis, clarifying that only one minute is allowed between innings and that long huddles on the field slow the game and jeopardize player safety. Other points of emphasis warn players against intentionally erasing the batter’s box with their cleats, and remind them that awarded bases must be run legally within the basepaths.

For a complete list of this year’s NFHS softball rules changes, go to www.nfhs.org and click on “Sport & Rules Information.�

Fairleigh Dickinson Gets A Home When Fairleigh Dickinson University launched its softball program four years ago, the team had no home. Today, it plays and practices at one of the premiere softball facilities in its region. And for the team, the school, and the community, what a difference a field makes. “In our first and second years as a program, we played in local parks. It was hard because we’d have to work around the schedules of the town’s rec programs,� says Head Coach Bob Bruno. “Then the season before last, we had absolutely no field, so we played all of our games on the road, and had nowhere to practice except our fieldhouse and gym-

nasium.� All that travel took its toll on the team, which finished its third season 3-17 in Northeast Conference play. But better days were ahead. In the summer of 2003, FDU broke ground on campus for a brand new softball facility, which includes seating for 500 spectators, an underground sprinkler system for the outfield, concrete dugouts, and an on-site storage facility. It also features a lighting system, which administrators and the athletic department decided was a priority. “In the original conception there were no lights, so we asked the architects to add them to their drawings so we could evaluate the idea,� says Provost Joseph Kiernan. “Between my office, the coach, and the athletic department,

we decided that we wanted to light the field.� A lengthy approval process involving the state of New Jersey and the local planning board held up the construction process, and winter arrived before the field was finished. But by the time the 2004 softball season began, the field was ready for action. The FDU Knights played their first home game on March 27. Soon after, they hosted an opening ceremony to introduce the new field to the school and the community. “We had the former provost, the provost, and one of our seniors throw out first pitches, and the athletic director said a few words,� Bruno says. “We also had a barbecue and gave out T-shirts. We made a nice day of it.�

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STEVE SMITH/FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON UNIVERSITY

In addition to what it’s done for the team and the campus, the new facility is having an impact on the community. In April, the university hosted a charity softball event that raised over $4,000 for the Hackensack-based Tomorrows Children’s Fund.

Fairleigh Dickinson opened its new field with ceremonial first pitches by senior Caroline Kovach, former Provost Richard Bronson, and Provost Joseph Kiernan (left to right). Standing behind Kovach are Assistant Coach Dana Jeanetti Murdoch and Athletic Director David Langford. The team’s success at the new field has been a testament to the power of home-field advantage. The Knights had their best season ever, posting a 10-10 conference record and just barely missing their first postseason berth. “It gave

us a whole new perspective,” Bruno says. “We could finally say, ‘This is mine. I’m proud of it, and I’m going to play hard here.’” Bruno points to the lighting as the best part of the new facility.

“Playing night games is so special for us,” he says. “Parents get to come and see their kids during the week, and local residents come out at night to watch our games. Before, a lot of people didn’t even know we had a softball team.”

“We had university faculty and staff playing against a team from the WFAN radio station, and hundreds of people came out to support us,” says Ann Gulino, Assistant Director of Athletics. “It was a great success, and they can’t wait to come back next year.” But the most gratifying thing about the new field was seeing the seniors finally getting a chance to play on a first-class field. “It was special for all the kids,” Gulino says. “They were so happy to have a place they could call home.”

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KRIS HERMAN Williams College

Kris Herman has been a softball coach since the day she graduated from Tufts University in 1986. Starting her career as an assistant coach at her alma mater, she moved up to the head coaching position for the Division III Jumbos in 1988. Between 1988 and 2003, Herman posted a record of 339-164-3, winning three consecutive New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) titles, and earning NESCAC Coach of the Year honors in 2001, 2002, and 2003. In 2004, Herman moved from Tufts to league rival Williams College. In her first season, she led the

CM: What were the keys to your successful first year at Williams? Herman: Experience played a big role. I already knew the team, because we’re in the same conference as Tufts. So I came in with some pretty firm ideas of what I wanted to do. I wasn’t overbearing, but I said, “This is the way we’re going to do it. This is what I expect from you and this is what you can expect from me.”

Ephs to a 29-8 record and their first NESCAC championship—an accomplishment that earned her a fourth consecutive NESCAC Coach of the Year award. Herman has taken an active role in the international softball scene, spending summers overseas coaching the Croatian National Team in the European championships and holding clinics for emerging coaches. She also coached a New England high school delegation during a goodwill trip to Cuba in 2000. In this interview, Herman talks about the keys to her successful transition from Tufts to Williams, her experiences overseas, and the benefits of coaching in Division III.

I don’t think it’s different at all. As a coach, I think it’s really important to figure out how you want to be—how you best operate—and then do it that way. It’s an evolutionary process. Certainly, you want to be flexible, but you also have to know what works for you and not second-guess yourself just because you are in a new sit-

uation. You have to be confident and comfortable in your own skin. What is your coaching philosophy? I try to be very direct. I don’t think it works to sugarcoat things. If a kid’s main role is to be a batting practice catcher, she needs to know that. I don’t think it’s

Strategy-wise, I told them that I thought they were very talented physically, and that all I wanted from them was a good attitude and a positive work ethic, with greater effort than they had ever given before. I told them, “If you buy into this, and if you believe in me, I know that it’s going to work out well.” And it did. I didn’t present my program as something new and different. I focused on the really basic stuff that won’t ever change. Ten years down the road here at Williams I’ll still be doing things very much the same as I am now. What were the team’s greatest accomplishments? Off the field, we actively talked about what we wanted to be like as a team, and we really followed through. We all just took a deep breath in the beginning and said, “We’re not going to worry about what we’re not. We’re not going to worry about what anybody else is.” We set out to just do the best we could, and I’m proud of that. I’m proud that we developed leadership skills in all our players, not just our upperclassmen. How is your approach at Williams different from your approach at Tufts?

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Herman’s Ephs execute a perfect suicide squeeze play as Cathleen Clark slides into home to score the tying run in a late-inning victory against Hamilton College.


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fair to have her thinking she might play shortstop for half the games. It may not be easy to say something negative, but it works out better in the long run. In terms of strategy and technique, I keep things very simple. If we play perfect defense, we’re going to have a good chance of winning ball games. It’s that straightforward. I’m not into fancy drills. My philosophy is that if we need to be better at fielding ground balls, that’s what we’ll do. If we need to become a better

hitting team, we’ll take more swings, get on the tee, and break it down on video. How has your coaching style evolved? As I’ve gotten older and more experienced, I no longer have a problem asking an 18-year-old kid, “What do you think? How do you feel? How can I help you get better?” The best way to find out what somebody is feeling is to ask them, so I do a lot of that. I’ve learned that for us to be successful, it’s very

important for players to feel ownership of their own development. I’ve learned to be more comfortable making mistakes, on and off the field, and I’ve gotten more comfortable with players making mistakes. I’m still a pretty intense person, so I have high expectations all the time. But I understand that everything is not going to work out perfectly all the time and I’m able to regroup without having players feeling so bad that they can’t come back effectively. What are the challenges of coaching in Division III? There is a myth that if an athlete is not one of the best in her area, she won’t be good enough to play in college. People need to know that there is tough, com-

“As I’ve gotten more experienced, I no longer have a problem asking an 18-yearold kid, ‘How do you feel?’ The best way to find out what somebody is feeling is to ask them, so I do a lot of that with my athletes. I’ve learned that for us to be successful, it’s important for players to feel ownership of their own development.” petitive softball at our level. At the top Division II and Division III schools, the level of play is often just as good as at a lot of the scholarship programs. We need to keep ourselves on the radar so kids who truly love the game will have enough confidence to seek out a place where they can play. What have you learned as an assistant volleyball coach that has helped your softball coaching? The more you interact with players and coaches, the more you learn. I have a ton of respect for our head volleyball coach. We have very different styles, so I learn a lot from her. In specific situations—everything from dealing with players off the court to the best way to run a drill—I know in my head what I would do, and she’ll do something different, and I try to learn from that. Request No. 114

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Our entire coaching staff here at Williams is pretty close, and almost all of us eat


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lunch together every day. We spend a lot of time talking about coaching and teaching methods, comparing notes on conditioning and nutrition. It creates a great environment, and it’s one of the biggest reasons why I will stay in Division III. That opportunity to interact with other coaches keeps me learning and jazzed about my job. What was it like coaching the Croatian National Team? It was crazy and it was a lot of fun. Croatia is a very athletic nation, but softball was almost a non-entity. There are a couple of baseball diamonds that we used for infield work, but everything else is essentially pasture. They were just getting started in the 1990s, and there was very little equipment to be found in the entire country. If you took a bunch of Americans over there, they probably would have panicked, but those kids said, “Hey, this is what we’ve got, let’s make the most of it.”

there are also a lot more people interested in doing it. My best advice for people starting out now is just to jump in with both feet. If there’s an opportunity and you feel like it might work, do it. Learn as much as you can every day. Go to clinics. Sit in the stands with other coaches and pick their brains. Make as many connections as you can—not just for job opportunities but for improving yourself. Read everything you can get your hands on about lead-

ership. Understand that being a good coach has as much to do with interpersonal relationships as it does with skills. The bottom line is that you have to love coaching. If you don’t love getting up and doing it every day, it’s not for you. It takes too much of an emotional commitment to do it well. You can’t treat this like a job. You really have to live it alongside your athletes. You’re asking them to make a huge commitment, and you have to be willing to do the same.

I coached the team through the European championships in 1999 and 2001. They really bought in, worked hard, and trusted me from the get-go. They had to make a lot of sacrifices to be able to play. They had jobs and school, and just seeing them get really excited about playing was a lot of fun. What did you learn from taking the New England delegation to Cuba? The biggest lessons came from seeing the hardships that the Cuban youngsters have to deal with, and seeing their love of the game. We played the cream of the crop—this was their Junior Olympic team—but the fields were still not at the level we’re used to here. Basic things that we take for granted—shampoo, toilet paper, and soap—are just not available there. The organizers of the trip had our kids bring toiletries for the Cuban players, and they were so grateful—and these are middle class, well-educated Cubans. So the biggest lesson was how hard people all over the world have to work for the little things. What advice can you offer about building a coaching career? I started coaching in 1987, when softball was relatively new in college. I walked in to the athletic director’s office and said, “The head coach needs help and I need a job. Hire me.” And they did. Then when the head coach left, I went back in and said, “You need a coach. I’ll work cheap. Hire me.” It’s very different for a young coach today. There are a lot more opportunities, but

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Smart, aggressive, instinctive base running can make the difference between victory and defeat. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how four coaches train their players to make the right choices on the base paths.

After blasting a triple off the leftfield wall, Hawkeye outfielder Natalie Johnson scores on a first-inning double steal to take the lead in Iowaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2004 home opener against Wisconsin.

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COVER STORY

HEADING FOR HOME BY R.J. ANDERSON

T

UNIVERSITY OF IOWA PHOTO SERVICE

o the average fan the three most important attributes of a good base runner are speed, speed, and more speed. But if you ask Jay Miller, Head Coach at Mississippi State University, he’ll tell you that while speed is a nice tool to have, the marks of a successful base runner are timing, alertness, and calculated aggressiveness. After all, if an athlete isn’t able to apply her speed, it doesn’t matter how quickly she can run. “Too many teams run one base at a time,” says Miller. “They’re more concerned with getting to the next base than they are with scoring. From the first step out of the batter’s box, runners should be thinking about getting all the way home, forcing the defense to stop them rather than stopping themselves.” The only thing better than a good base runner is a team full of good base runners. A good running team does more than just fill up a box score—it constantly applies pressure to the defense, getting ready to take advantage of any weakness. Good base running teams are fun to watch, fun to play on, and extremely fun to coach. Rhonda Revelle, Head Coach at the University of Nebraska, says that base running instruction tends to be neglected, especially at the high school level. “Unless you have a trained eye, you don’t notice base running mistakes,” she says. “Base running can make the difference in a game, but I don’t think coaches work on it as much as they should.” When taught effectively, good base running can become instinctive, and its effects can spread to other diamond disciplines as players develop better ball

sense and learn how to play the game more intelligently. For this article, we talked to a handful of coaches whose teams are noted for their prowess on the base paths. We asked them what skills should be taught, how athletes can be trained to run the bases instinctively, and to share some of their favorite drills with us.

sions themselves. We encourage them in practice to be overly aggressive and find out what their limits are, so that during the game, they’ll know what they can and can’t do. If players never extend themselves in practice, they’ll never know what their limitations are. The time to take chances is during practice. That’s when they learn.”

Teaching Responsibility The first step in teaching effective base running is to train your athletes to make their own decisions. “It is important for kids to learn how to see the game while they are running, and not have their every move controlled by the coach,” says Gayle Blevins, Head Coach at the University of Iowa. “So many opportunities are lost when a coach tries to control an athlete’s thinking process and her ability to react. I see that a lot, especially in high school games. A lot of coaches teach players how to turn the bases, but they don’t teach them how to read the situation, which is an important part of becoming a good base runner.” Miller agrees. “We get athletes coming to our level who have never had to depend on their own judgement,” he says. “So many kids have been taught to rely on their coach to tell them everything—when to run, when not to run, and when to take an extra base—that they never develop that game sense. “I try to put as much responsibility on the player as possible,” he continues. “I want them to play the game, rather than relying on me to tell them when to go. Most of our game-situation drills are designed for the players to make deci-

Teaching the Basics Being able to efficiently cover ground between home and first base requires timing, taking the shortest distance to first, and touching the bag properly. And whether you’re coaching a Division I college team or a high school junior varsity squad, the essential drills to build these skills are the same. “You can do the exact same things in college that you do in high school, and vice versa,” says Revelle. “Effective base running isn’t just based on talent. Yes, faster runners have an advantage. But players with average speed can become excellent base runners.” Working on your athletes’ speed out of the batter’s box is a good place to begin teaching the basics of base running. Miller brings out his stopwatch for a drill called Rip and Dash, which revs up his offense and puts pressure on his defense. “We start with either a soft toss, a tee, or a machine,” he says. “We draw a line halfway between home and first base, and time each of the players from the moment they make contact to the time they hit that line.” R.J. Anderson is an Assistant Editor at Coaching Management.

COACHIING MANAGEMENT

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By incorporating a stopwatch and recording each player’s times, Miller taps into the competitive nature of his team. “We post the times in the locker room, with rankings broken up for lefthanded and right-handed batters,” he says. “The athletes have little contests to see who can beat who. It becomes a source of pride.” To teach his athletes how to get a quick start off first base, Miller sets up a video camera during practices, making sure to get both the runner and the pitcher in the frame. “We’ll run it back in slow motion, and if the runner isn’t off the base when the pitcher’s arm is half-way down her backswing, then the runner is getting off late,” says Miller. “You’d be surprised at how many kids still have their foot on the bag when the pitcher has already let go of the ball. We want to make sure our players are off the base as soon as the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand.” There’s a saying in softball that if you’re not early on a base start, you’re late. When Revelle works on base starts,

she uses what she calls the Whistle Drill. “We put a runner at first base, and two people with whistles on the foul side of the first base line,” says Revelle. “One whistle is blown when the foot releases from the base, and the other whistle is blown when the pitcher releases the ball. If those two whistles are blown simultaneously, it’s an indication of great timing. But if the whistles are off, the runner can hear that she’s either early or late.” To teach athletes how to effectively round the bases, coaches need to pay close attention to two basic skills: taking the most efficient line between bases and touching the bag properly. Again, Miller uses a stopwatch to time his players as they round the bases. He times each player from home to first, second to home, and home to home. Players leave from a standing start, with one foot on the base. The clock starts as soon as that foot leaves the base, and stops once the player has hit the target. “We time players about once a week,” says Miller. “They use those times as a guideline and try to beat

them each time they run.” Miller is also a stickler for proper form, and closely monitors how each player touches the bases. “We want them to hit the front inside corner of the bag and use the base to accelerate,” says Miller. “We want the ball of their foot on the lead inside corner toward the next base. Every time we run the bases we make sure everybody hits the bases correctly, or we run them again.” Another drill Miller uses to teach rounding the bases involves starting two runners, one right after another. “We have two runners start at home plate, a pitcher on the mound, and coaches at first and third base,” he says. “As soon as the pitcher goes through her throwing motion, the first runner runs straight through first base and squares up. The runner behind her keeps going to second base, or even third base, following the signal from her coach. Then the pitcher goes through her motion again, and the runners work on their leads while the next two runners at home start running to first.”

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COVER STORY

Players aren’t the only members of the team who benefit from this drill. “We put coaches out in the coaching boxes during this drill and work on communication with the runners,” Miller adds. “It helps the coach at third work on sending runners home, and signaling for runners to slide. “It’s probably my favorite for teaching base running,” says Miller. “It helps us work on communication with the coach, slides, rounding, and hitting the corners correctly. But most importantly, it helps us work on scoring runs.” Layering Drills Once your athletes have a good grasp of the basics of base running, it’s time to increase the complexity of your drills, bringing practices closer to the feel of an actual game. By continually putting your players in competition during practice, you can simultaneously teach them technical skills and decision making, training them to develop the instinctive responses they’ll need during the season.

Starting with a simple drill and then adding other game-like factors is a practice method that Blevins calls layering. “You keep putting additional elements in, which adds to the complexity and makes your drills more game-like,” she says. For example, Blevins uses a base running drill in conjunction with batting and fielding practice, forcing the runner to read the defense and react. On line drives, her runners learn to wait for the ball to go beyond the infield, and on ground balls, they learn to break up the double play. For Blevins, having a feel for the game means knowing when to run and which situations have the highest percentage of success. “An athlete’s understanding of the game evolves through direct experience and training,” says Blevins. “Take tag ups: If an athlete has to wait for the third base coach’s signal after a catch, she loses time that could make the difference between a run scored and an inning-ending out. “The best base running teams I’ve seen haven’t always been the fastest,”

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she continues. “But they’ve been really smart, and you can see them use that knowledge in the way they take advantage of situations in a game.” Multi-Functional Drills Whether they combine running with batting practice or defensive drills—or both—winning coaches will tell you that the key to success is in the details. Coaches should not be afraid to stop a drill to point out when a player is making an error. The goal is to quickly correct the mistake by making that player, as well as her teammates, aware of the correct course of action in a given situation. “We do base running in every practice,” says Miller. “Whenever we hit, we also run the bases. We always work on reading the ball off the bat, going for two bases at a time instead of one, and always putting in our players’ minds that their job is to score on every ball that is hit. We constantly stop practice to call attention to something that can be applied in a game.”


COVER STORY

Miller recommends a particular drill that works on base running as well as outfield defense. The setup calls for defensive players in each outfield position, a catcher, and a base runner on second. A coach hits fungoes to the outfield, and the runner attempts to score from second on a base hit. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The base runner is working on rounding third tightly, heading toward home, and making a good slide at the plate,â&#x20AC;? says Miller. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The outfielders are working on making good throws, and the catcher is concentrating on making a tag at the plate.â&#x20AC;? At Iowa, Blevins inserts base running circuits into offensive and defensive drills, placing an emphasis on reading and reacting. Like Miller, Blevins is not afraid to stop a drill when she sees a mistake. In the circuits, the bases are loaded and the runners focus on a different skill at each base. â&#x20AC;&#x153;At first base, they may be working on base starts for a steal,â&#x20AC;? says Blevins. â&#x20AC;&#x153;At second, they might be taking a large base start or anticipating a bunt. At third base, we might practice putting a contact play

on or having the runner tag up. In each drill, the runner is forced to read the ball, no matter where it goes.â&#x20AC;? Blevins also takes advantage of the circuit drills to work on her communication from the coachâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s box. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m coaching at third and a fly ball is hit into the outfield, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll yell, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Tag!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; and expect

base runners working in teams of two. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s say weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re having our batters hit live on the field,â&#x20AC;? she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll have base runners on at least two of the bases, so if a hitter takes seven or eight cuts, one base runner will go on one swing, and before the next swing, the other runner will jump on the bag and be ready to go.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;If Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m coaching at third and a fly ball is hit into the outfield, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll yell, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Tag!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; and expect the runner to hold up. If itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a real short fly ball, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll yell, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Make her throw!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; and watch the runner force a play at the plate, to see if she can read the defense. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not making the decision for her to runâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;she is.â&#x20AC;? the runner to hold up. If itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a real short fly ball, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll yell, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Make her throw!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; and watch the runner force a play at the plate, to see if she can read the defense. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not making the decision for her to runâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; she is. We give the athletes a situation, and teach them to read it, both offensively and defensively.â&#x20AC;? Revelle utilizes a similar exercise during hitting drills, with a twist: She has her

Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not a lot of turnaround time, which is why we work in pairsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;it allows our athletes to get a lot of reps.â&#x20AC;? As in Blevinsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s circuit drills, Revelleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s exercises pair her athletes in specific scenarios at each base. â&#x20AC;&#x153;For instance, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got a pair at second base,â&#x20AC;? she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If the batter hits a fly ball to right field, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re working on their tag ups, judging whether the ball is deep enough for

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them to go to third, or if it’s better to just draw a throw. If they’re running from third base, they’re trying to read the ball right off the bat and decide whether they can beat the throw. “It’s critically important to work with live ball-off-the-bat situations, because that’s the best way to train their instincts as base runners,” she adds. “Drills are great for working on their technical skills in base running, but in a game they need to know how to read balls off the bat or in the dirt.” At Louisiana State University, Head Coach Yvette Girourd’s favorite drill for increasing situational awareness is called Ball in the Dirt. “We put a runner at every base and have a pitcher on the mound, a catcher behind the plate, and all the infield positions filled. The pitcher intentionally throws a set of pitches into the dirt, and sometimes the ball gets away, and sometimes it doesn’t. Each base runner has to read the ball in the dirt, and each one is on her own— she doesn’t have anything to do with the runner ahead or behind her. The drill is designed to teach them when they can and can’t go, and we do it until that decision becomes instinctive. “Every player takes a turn at every station on the base paths,” continues Girourd. “And in the same drill, the catcher is working on blocking skills. We do Ball in the Dirt three or four times a week. We might only do it for five minutes, but doing it on a regular basis keeps reinforcing awareness.” Situational drills not only help teach the subtleties of the game, but can also ratchet up the intensity during practice. Revelle says that blending base running with defensive drills is a guaranteed way to fire up her players. “It gets noisiest when we’ve got the defense going against our base runners and something great happens—that’s when the roars come,” she says. “And it makes our defense better in games when we go up against that kind of intensity during practice.”

art of situational hitting. Running teams are exciting teams, and there is nothing more effective than excitement to enhance your team’s attention to detail. And as always, what your athletes do in practice will carry over into their games. “When you’re playing against a team that runs, it changes the dynamics of the game,” says Revelle. “Along with trying to figure out how to pitch to their

hitters, you’re also trying to figure out how to pitch to their hitters if they have runners on base. “Having a team that knows how to run is a very effective weapon,” she continues. “You have so many options and you can always keep the defense guessing. And as a coach, you become a much more complex strategist. There’s a lot more strategy to the game when you have weapons on the base paths.” ■

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Good Connections No matter your communications system, your athletic director is a person you want to hook up with. Here’s how to partner with this busy, behind-the-scenes boss.

D

BY DR. DAVID HOCH

ILLUSTRATIONS BY CHRIS MURPHY

uring a lull at one of your games, you may occasionally look up and see me, the athletic director, in the stands. And you may wonder, what exactly is he watching? What exactly does he do, besides making sure the officials get paid? I am the consummate “behind-thescenes” guy, and like most athletic directors, I enjoy that role. I perform a wide variety of tasks, from checking athletes’ eligibility forms to writing up coaching evaluations to answering phone calls from parents. The goal behind everything I do is helping all my coaches perform their jobs better. That’s really why I’m here. When a coach does something wrong, my job is stressful. When a coach does something right, my job is the best in the world. But I can only help coaches avoid mistakes and develop into better coaches when they partner with me—when they understand my job and my role. In this article, I’d like to share some tips on how to develop a partnership with your athletic director and how to make that relationship work to your benefit.

Expectations The first thing you need to know about your athletic director is his or her expectations. Every situation is different, but here is what I expect from my coaches. Good Role Model: Because you are a hugely important figure in many young

people’s lives, your actions and choices must be at the top of the ethical score chart. I expect my coaches to have integrity, be dependable, possess emotional control, and have compassion. I also expect them to set high standards and be consistent and fair. I need them to exhibit the characteristics we are proud to see in our student-athletes.

David Hoch, EdD, is the Athletic Director at Loch Raven High School, in Baltimore County, Md. He is the former Athletic Director at Eastern Technical High, also in Baltimore, and was named the Maryland State Athletic Directors Association’s Athletic Director of the Year in 2000.

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Coaches who don’t follow directions,, turn in forms late or complete them incorrectly, or don’t follow a department policy are my biggest headache. If you want your athletic director to support and respect you, pay attention to your administrative duties. Professional Growth: It is a given that you know the basic techniques and strategies involved in your sport. But I expect my coaches to add to these basics every year by taking charge of their own professional development. First, they have to buy into the premise that learning is a life-long pursuit. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have—there is always something else you can learn. I attended at least one clinic in each of my 24 years of coaching, and

Educational Environment: Athletics is successful only when it has educational value. Winning is secondary. I expect my coaches to focus on helping young people mature into adults—to contribute to team goals, learn to work hard, persevere, and experience life-long lessons through their athletic participation. I also expect my coaches to remain positive. Not that a coach can’t ever yell, but I really believe that positive, encouraging coaches are best for our kids. Sportsmanship: Coaches often are totally unaware of the impact they have on the behavior of their players and fans at a game. Yelling at officials gives license to the players and fans to do the same. A coach should always extend respect and courtesy not only to officials, but also

AN INEFFECTIVE AD This article assumes that your athletic director is a professional, dedicated, hard-working leader. But what if your athletic director is not a good supervisor? Then how do you get what you need? Above all, step carefully. It is important to understand that this poorly functioning athletic director is still your boss and you need to be careful about circumventing the chain of command. In other words, do not use parents or athletes as a wedge to enact change. These techniques could totally backfire and you could be branded as a malcontent or a troublemaker. What you can do, to start, is keep good records. Retain copies of everything you turn in, such as eligibility forms, budget

to the opposing team. He or she should teach the nuances of good sportsmanship and praise it at every turn. Adherence to Policies: Administrative chores are a part of coaching. When coaches don’t follow through on each athlete’s paperwork, there can be ramifications. I must then chase down these forms—giving me less time to communicate with my coaches. Late forms can mean the suspension of practice sessions, fines, or even disqualifications and forfeits. You must attend rules interpretation meetings. Athletic directors get a list of any coaches who have missed these meetings, and believe me, we pay attention to who doesn’t show up.

requests, inventories, and tournament entries, and use e-mail or take notes on your communication with your athletic director. This ensures that you have proof of your professionalism and also allows you to document those times when your athletic director has not followed through. At all times, it is still best to maintain a positive, loyal front with respect to your athletic director and continue to be courteous and respectful. You might need to repeatedly ask the athletic director if he or she has remembered to turn in that tournament eligibility form, but do it politely. You might even ask the athletic director if there’s a way you can help him or her. Remember, you will always be judged by your actions, even in difficult situations.

always came away with a new idea or a different way of teaching something. Even though I have a doctorate in sports management and many years of experience, I still attend seminars, take courses, and read professional publications in athletic administration. Our athletes deserve that much. I encourage our coaches to take the NFHS Coaching Principles Course (and consider going on to complete the NFHS Bronze Level national certification program), work at summer camps, read professional coaching publications or books, watch coaching videos, and attend college teams’ practice sessions. Enthusiasm: While it is essential for sports that are struggling to attract par-

ticipants, I like “Pied Piper” individuals for even the most popular teams. This is a coach who exudes enthusiasm and energy—someone young people are attracted to. This should not imply, however, that they don’t run a tight ship or don’t employ discipline. I want our teams to win, too. But my directive is to make sure that educational objectives are being met in the athletic program. That is my job description and that is my priority. However, if you excel in the above six areas, I can assure you, winning will take care of itself. Beyond these basics, ask your own athletic director what other expectations he or she has. Your athletic director might want you to get involved with local youth programs in your sport. He or she might want you to help your athletes get college scholarships, start an off-season conditioning program, fund-raise, or run a summer camp. If you don’t know, ask. Sometimes, an athletic director assumes you know the expectations of your school, but if you’re new, you can’t know its history and culture. Asking your athletic director to identify the athletic department’s goals can help start your partnership on the right foot. Communication The question a new athletic director most frequently poses to a veteran one is, “Do you ever see your family?” This is important to know, because while I’ve suggested you start a dialogue with your athletic director on expectations, you also need to know that he or she doesn’t have an hour to discuss it. But a 15minute conversation is doable and appreciated. Therefore, a key part of partnering with your athletic director is knowing how to communicate with him or her. Here are some tips: ■ If you want to talk for more than a couple of minutes, set up an appointment. That way, your athletic director can arrange to meet at a time that will be free of other obligations. Of course, if it is an emergency, come on in. ■ If you know there have been other problems that the athletic director is handling, hold off on scheduling your meeting. Timing really is everything. With another problem looming, your athletic director may not be able to give you the attention that you deserve. ■ Get a feel for your athletic director’s down times. Some prefer early

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mornings, and others may like early afternoons, right before practices start. ■ Use e-mail. This advice is not universal, but for me, e-mail is by far the most efficient form of communication. Regardless of when something happens, your message will be there waiting for me in the morning. It is, therefore,

especially important that the coach fill in an accurate subject line that, when coupled with the sender’s name, leads me to which messages I deal with first in the morning. An e-mail also allows me to easily save or forward your message. Know what to discuss and what not to. I don’t need to hear how every practice is

SHOW YOUR STRENGTHS If you’re a conscientious coach, good things are happening in your program every day. Why not let your athletic director know about them? This can work wonders for furthering your partnership. Here are some ways to let your athletic director know you’re doing a good job—which are not time consuming for you or your athletic director: ■

Forward or copy any congratulatory and thank you notes that you receive. You can simply write a little note on the top, “Thought you might be interested.” Tell your athletic director about the clinics you have attended and your other professional development activities.

going, what your next game plan is, or complaints about something we’ve already covered or that simply can’t be changed. I want to know if a problem has arisen or is looming. I also love to hear about your successes. Inform your athletic director immediately of any injury at a practice session

Invite your athletic director to visit practice when you’re discussing team goals or when your athletes want to show off something they’ve just mastered.

Send an e-mail about a solution you found to a problem that your athletic director might send on as advice to the rest of the coaching staff.

Complete a self-evaluation at the conclusion of your season. Talk about some of the goals you accomplished that your athletic director may not be aware of.

Let your athletic director hear about all of the good, positive things that you are doing with your program! You will be surprised at what good, positive resources you receive in return.

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or game. Tell me the name of the athlete, the injury, how it happened, how it was handled, and whether the parent has been notified. No one likes to be caught off- guard when that phone rings with, “What happened to my daughter?” If a parent voices even a small complaint, if you think upperclass athletes may not be welcoming newcomers, if any type of hazardous situation has arisen, if the athletes seem to be disrespecting your approach—I need to know. Coaches sometimes don’t want to say that something isn’t going right for fear of seeming incompetent. But my job is to help you through problem situations. If you tell me before it gets big, I can help you find solutions that complement your coaching style. But if you don’t tell me about the problem and it gets bigger, then I may have to step in and resolve the situation my way. Even if you know the solution you want to use, relay your thoughts to me. Maybe I can reinforce what you’re trying to do. Of course, share problems that are my responsibility, too. If the bus driver gets you to a game late, let me know the first time this happens—don’t wait for the second or third time. And because I mainly deal with fixing problems, I truly appreciate good news. Brighten my day by talking about one of our students’ display of sportsmanship, your team’s mastery of a complicated play, or a teachable moment that happened at practice.

knew the opponents, the final scores, the leading scorers, and other standard details. However, coaches who were on the ball would also e-mail me some quotes or comments about the game. Then, their team would get a longer write-up and more prominent placement in the weekly update. Communicating with your athletic director also gives you an on-hand mentor. Most of us are athletic directors because we were successful coaches,

and just because we didn’t coach your sport doesn’t mean we can’t help. I seldom offer unsolicited coaching advice. But, if asked, I am happy to open up my 24-year book of coaching experience and take the time to help My primary responsibility as an athletic director is to serve as the coach of coaches. Just as athletes need direction and mentoring by coaches, so do most coaches need help from an experienced athletic director. I’m very glad to help, if you only ask. ■

The Benefits You might wonder, “Why is it so important to keep my athletic director in the loop? I can handle my own team. How will it help me?” There are three ways that developing this partnership can benefit you. First, it puts you on my radar. I try to be in tune with everyone in my program, but to be honest, those coaches who communicate with me effectively are the ones I think of first when a new opportunity arises. Being on my radar helps when you have a request. If you’ve already communicated that you’re working extremely hard to upgrade your program, I will pay more attention to your request for additional resources when the time comes for that decision.. At my former school, I put out a weekly department update. I already Request No. 124 COACHING MANAGEMENT

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Request No. 125


COMPETITIVE EDGE

A STRONG SWING BY TIM WAKEHAM

Michigan State shares how it reduces injuries and develops explosive power among its softball players.

IT IS A BEAUTIFUL DAY in East Lansing, Mich., and the softball team is finishing up a weightroom workout. Jessica Beech, our All-America pitcher, is beginning to grimace from the burning in her shoulders as she works through her seventh rotation of the upper-body dumbbell shoulder matrix. “Do you have desire or determination?” I ask. “Determination!” she replies. “If you bring it every day, that shoulder will stay healthy,” I tell her before moving on to Brittney Green. Brittney plays third base and is about to start her last pull of the weighted pulley shuffle. “Jump from the line and be explosive!” I challenge. The 130-pound weight stack accelerates with each of her steps. “Welcome to greatness—you’re going to surprise people,” I say with a wink. I’m proud of our softball athletes because they are training with the con-

fidence and courage needed to accomplish our goals of injury prevention and enhanced explosiveness. We achieve both of these goals through a purposeful strength and conditioning program. Start In The Weightroom At Michigan State, we start our softball programming with a focus on increasing strength via weight training. We prescribe a full-body strengthening program addressing the top injury sites for softball players, which are the shoulder, knee, and ankle. The underpinnings of our weightroom program

include multi-directional, single- and multi-joint exercises using multiple modes (body weight, medicine balls, Swiss balls, bands, dumbbells, barbells, balance equipment, and machines). Table One (see page 32) shows our most commonly prescribed exercises. We’re confident these exercises decrease injuries and enhance explosiveness. The specific exercises we use to target the power zone (torso and legs) include the front lunge, weighted pulley circuit, and ground-based torso rotation with bands. Exercises we use for shoulder strengthening focus on the anterior, posterior, medial, and intrinsic rotator cuff musculature. This Tim Wakeham is an Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach at Michigan State University.

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is accomplished with a variety of forward, lateral, and posterior arm raises, along with external cuff rotations. Seated and sometimes standing shoulder presses are also performed, unless the athlete has joint pain. We prevent major knee and ankle injury through balance training. Our softball athletes perform an assortment of single-leg balancing drills that last between 15 and 60 seconds per exercise. As an example, we perform an exercise called tri-planar balancing. In this exercise the weighted leg is stationary while the other leg is suspended for 15 seconds in front of the body, laterally, then with the hip rotated (open like a swinging gate) to the side. Difficulty is progressively increased by changing to a more unstable surface (such as a wobble board), adding work time, closing one or both eyes, and turning the head to the right or left. Our general preseason strength training framework consists of an average of three sets each for the hips and upper back, two sets each for the chest, shoulders, and hamstrings, four sets for the torso, and one set each for the forearms and calves during each workout. Athletes lift two to three non-consecutive days per week, depending on their ability to recover and continue progressing. Spartan softball players are instructed to increase their weight load as much as possible every time they accomplish the assigned repetition target for a set or exercise. If the repetition target isn’t achieved, softball players are asked to gradually add repetitions until they reach the target.

During tri-planar balancing, we ask athletes to suspend the non-weighted leg in front of the body, laterally, and rotated to the side.

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TA B L E O N E These are the exercises we prescribe most often for our softball athletes:

SHOULDERS Upper Body Dumbbell Matrix (a series of tri-planar presses, raises and rotations) PNF Pattern Posterior Shoulder Raises Pulley Horizontal Shoulder Abductions Shoulder Presses (in front of body and only down to 90 degree at elbows) Lateral Raises GLUTEALS, QUADRICEPS, HAMSTRINGS, INNER/OUTER THIGHS Barbell Squat Leg Press Lateral Lunge Forward and Lateral Step-Up Leg Curl Swiss Ball Bridge

During our 12-week preseason phase, our repetition targets for most areas start at an average of 13 and decrease by four repetitions every four weeks down to five. The exception is the torso, where most exercises start and stay at a 20-rep target. To ensure purposeful training, athletes chart their progress on workout cards every time they lift. Precision Agility Based on a thorough review of the literature, we do not believe there are any magical weightroom exercises that create optimal explosiveness in softball athletes. Simply put, there are too many differences between all weightroom exercises and softball performance.

THE BASICS Straight-Leg Deadlift Weighted Pulley Circuit (movements include lateral shuffle, forward and backward sprints, and slower marches)

TORSO Band Figure Eights Prone ‘J’ Strokes Ground-Based Band Rotations Sky Touches Lying Side Crunch w/Rotation Lying Alternating Hip Flexions ANKLES Straight-Leg Toe Raises Bent-Knee Toe Raises Single-Leg Balancing Band Skaters Sport-Specific Agility Conditioning

Instead, our primary focus is on specific action training—exact sport movements performed at sport speeds under sport conditions. Most of this training is done as part of our agility work. Prior to our agility training, athletes perform a dynamic warm-up. (See Table Two, page 36.) It is during this time that we teach body control and awareness in order to prevent major knee injury. Specifically, we instruct our athletes to: ■ Initiate movement from the gluteals and hamstrings. ■ Keep their knees between their first and second toes when bending during cutting and decelerating. ■ Use several small steps when decelerating from sprinting.


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COMPETITIVE EDGE

We also warn athletes about high-risk sport-specific positions, postures, and movements, and suggest they use safe reactionary countermeasures instead. Some of these high-risk positions include playing with straight legs and twisting the body with the knee aligned inside the big toe.

Our explosive agility work consists of sport movements such as multi-directional starts, sprints, and cuts performed at maximum speed with precise technique. Specifically, our softball players perform interval base running, shuffle and sprint, turn and sprint, and multidirectional bursts. We emphasize precise

and coordinated acceleration, deceleration, and stabilization. In addition, we vary the starting positions and first steps. Michigan State softball players perform starts from their abdominals, backs, knees, and feet. You never know when your players will have to be explosive off the ground. Further-

The exercises we use to work torso muscles include band rotations (left), lying alternating hip flexions (center), and prone ‘j’ strokes (right).

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more, we vary the first steps taken between an open, crossover, and pivot foot position. After athletes demonstrate competent movement efficiency, we stress skillful explosiveness—agility at game speeds. Ultimately, our objective is to have the athletes perform the movement patterns as purposeful, conditioned explosive reflexes rather than skills that must be thought about before execution. Most drills have a three- to 10-second duration and long recovery periods (5:1 rest-to-work ratio). To see optimal gains in movement efficiency and absolute explosiveness, athletes need to train in a non-fatigued state. This teaches the athletes to consistently demonstrate maximal efforts and coordinate their movements efficiently at high speeds. During these workouts, we take as much time as needed to identify and correct biomechanical errors as well as teach efficient sport-specific movements. Even though most practitioners share a general consensus regarding what constitutes efficient sprinting and

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agility movement mechanics, technique may vary from athlete to athlete in small but significant ways depending on their physiological characteristics. This being said, all technical refinements should be instituted on a trial-and-error basis to see how the athlete responds. Nutrition Notes We have put together a 15-page nutrition packet for all of our softball players. The objectives of the packet are to assist in the development of favorable body compositions for optimal explosiveness and to ensure optimal recovery so players have the energy needed for consistent explosive performance. Some of our players want to reduce body fat, some want to increase muscle mass, and others simply want to stay energized for each practice. The booklet provides general information regarding what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat each day in order to accomplish the player’s specific performance goals. It also covers hydration, eating on the road, supplements, stress fractures, alco-

hol consumption, and the rest needs of elite athletes. If a player’s needs are more complex, we have her consult with a registered dietician who can provide a body composition analysis, evaluation of current diet, determination of optimal and realistic body composition expectations, and diet modification strategies. Individual Differences The best strength and conditioning programs take each athlete’s individual qualities into account. Some of our general strength training prescriptions for softball are based on position needs and physical training status. For example, if an athlete has adequate strength but a poor body composition profile, we decrease the volume of the weight-training workout and increase the number of explosive agility and conditioning exercises. Pitchers are a unique group on every team, but at Michigan State, they are not treated much differently than our position players. The small changes that are made to our pitchers’ workouts include

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COMPETITIVE EDGE

TA B L E T W O

WARMUP

In our warmup drills, we focus on body control and awareness. Softball players run 40 yards while performing the listed movements. If the movement has an asterisk after it, players run 20 yards forward and 20 yards backward. Lower-Body Matrix Hop x 2 rotations Skipping* Shuffles With 180-Degree Turns Backwards Run (with high foot lift and long strides) Crossovers (feet crossover the midline of the body)* High-Knee Carioca

the addition of exercises for the serratus anterior, which plays a role in the windmill softball pitch (along with the shoulder exercises mentioned previously). One example is the walk-out position while on a Swiss ball (legs on ball, hands on floor) with the shoulder blades protracted and body straight. Other changes made for pitchers include reductions to the frequency, volume, and/or resistance used by the

Straight-Leg Kick/Toe Touch 360-Degree Skip/Run High-Knee Skipping Diagonal Bounding* One-Leg Lateral Hop* Quickstep Carioca (short/choppy steps with a lot of hip rotation) Acceleration Build-Ups

pitching arm. These reductions are made because of the high volume of throwing performed during the preseason. Recovery may be the most significant way to keep pitchers healthy. Exercises To Avoid In addition to stating what we do, it may be important to state what we do not do. We have stopped prescribing certain exercises and modified others

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in an attempt to reduce the chance of exacerbating or causing tendonitis, impingement, and lesions. For example, we do not allow our softball players to go through more than 90 degrees of flexion at the elbows during upper body pressing movements, or allow playersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; elbows to go behind their bodies. We do not prescribe behind the neck shoulder presses, behind the neck pull-downs, dips, upright rows, deep (large range of motion) dumbbell flyes, and wide-grip bench presses. The Big Finish We have outlined our general philosophy and methods for training our athletes from the neck down. To achieve championship success, you must also coach your players from the neck up. Instruct, inspire, and listen to your athletes day in and day out. Engage and respond to them, and they will do what is hard to achieve what is great. â&#x2013; References for this article can be found at: www.athleticsearch.com/msusoftball.


Softball Field Aer-Flo, Inc. 800-823-7356 WWW.WINDWEIGHTED.COM Wind Weighted™ baseball-softball tarps are virtually wind-proof. These patent-pending covers for the mound, home plate, and bullpens have a steel chain in their edge hem, so they stay down in windy conditions. No stakes or sandbags are necessary. The installer device allows installation in 25 seconds by only two people. The tough, waterproof 14-oz. vinyl-polyester fabric is treated against UV and mildew exposure. Wind Weighted tarps and installers take the drudgery out of the game. Circle No. 200

AFP Soft Touch 800-965-4690 WWW.SOFTTOUCHBASES.COM Soft Touch® Progressive Release™ bases are widely accepted in both adult and youth leagues as an effective means of reducing injuries due to sliding. The “progressive release” action allows the base to flex until enough force is applied to “pop” the base free from its mount. To further increase safety, AFP Soft Touch has added a ground plug to its progressive release system. This plug fills the void left when the Soft Touch base releases from its mount, creating a surface that's level with the ground and allowing play to continue. The group plug is available with new Soft Touch bases, or it can be purchased separately for existing installations. Circle No. 201

Beacon Athletics 800-747-5985 WWW.BEACONATHLETICS.COM The new double-wide outdoor batting cage from Beacon Athletics uses the company’s standard batting cage nets and the same heavy-duty materials found in Beacon’s single outdoor cage. It is available in the standard 55-foot and 70-foot

lengths, or it can be crafted to any desired length, width, or height. Add the unique optional sock net stations along the side for tee and soft-toss work. Beacon will meet all your specifications. Circle No. 202

Challenger Industries, Inc. 800-334-8873 WWW.CHALLENGERIND.COM DURAPlay home plate softball and baseball mats can be used anywhere a home plate area is needed. Whether covering the batter's box area for protection or establishing a home plate area indoors or out, these durable mats create permanent batter’s boxes that are ideal for either sport. Precut mats are available for fungo/on-deck circles, pitching mounds, and single batter’s boxes. Synthetic turf products are also available, for batting cages, dugouts, or the whole field. Installation is available as well. Contact Challenger for more information. Circle No. 203

WeatherBeater® by Colorado Lining International 888-546-4641 WWW.COLORADOLINING.COM The big tournament is this weekend. You’ve been planning for months. Hundreds are expected. And rain is forecasted for the next few days. What you need is WeatherBeater’s Workhorse Baseball Field Cover. Fabricated from 12mil white Tarpaulin, with a userfriendly perimeter rope hem and gusseted lift loops, it’s the best field cover on the market. Please contact a WeatherBeater specialist for more information. WeatherBeater: Anything less is just a tarp. Circle No. 204

Hydraulic Press Brick Co. 888-593-0395 WWW.HAYDITESOILCONDITIONERS.COM WWW.HAYDITEGAME-ON.COM GAME-ON is a brand new sports field soil conditioner that will not break your budget, but will provide excellent results. It is a lightweight, expandedshale product that absorbs over 20 percent of its weight in water. GAME-ON is more durable than clay and does not break down into fine particles. GAME-ON is manufactured in Cleveland, Ohio, and is available in bags or in bulk. Circle No. 205 GAME-ON has introduced its newest product, GAME-ON Red. GAME-ON Red is an infield topdress with a brick red color, to give your field a finishing touch and that major league look. This topdress product will give you a more consistent bounce, and the deep red color will allow your infielders to see the ball more easily. GAME-ON Red is available in bags or in bulk. Circle No. 206

M.A.S.A., Inc. 800-264-4519 WWW.MASA.COM Poly Cap®, from M.A.S.A., has been designed with both the players and the fans in mind. When applied to the top of a chain-link fence, Poly Cap covers the sharp barbs that can damage uniforms and cause player injuries. Its other advantages include field beautification, better visibility, and increased durability for your fence. The product's optic-yellow color clearly defines the field for players and umpires alike. Poly Cap is weather-treated and UVprotected with a patented formula to withstand the most severe conditions. Circle No. 207

COACHING MANAGEMENT

37


Softball Field Millcreek Manufacturing 800-311-1323 WWW.MILLCREEKMFG.COM Wet material is the most difficult to spread because of its tendency to clump and clog spreading equipment. Millcreek Manufacturing has introduced the Turf Tiger™, a large-capacity topdresser that applies sand/peat topdressing, compost, infield mix, soil conditioners, and other bulk materials even when wet. The Turf Tiger has a 7,500-pound capacity, and features a patent-pending SaberTooth™ spreading mechanism that applies wet material in a uniform pattern 8-12 feet wide, depending on material conditions. Circle No. 208

Pro's Choice 800-648-1166 WWW.PROSCHOICE1.COM Pro Mound® packing clay from Pro’s Choice® is the choice of professional teams, universities, municipalities, and youth leagues worldwide. When used on the mound and in the batter’s box area, it bonds to form a solid sub-surface foundation that allows the pitcher and batter to dig in and establish firm footing without creating large wear holes. Pro Mound installs quickly, and more importantly, it lasts. Experience safer playing conditions and reduced mound and batter’s box maintenance by choosing Pro Mound. For more information, call Pro’s Choice. Circle No. 209 For premium performance and a color that will set your field apart, choose the Soilmaster Select Series from Pro’s Choice. Scientifically engineered to meet daily maintenance challenges and give your field a professional look, Soilmaster Select is the true choice of groundskeepers around the league for

38

COACHING MANAGEMENT

building and maintaining winning ballfields. Available in four distinct colors (red, green, brown, and charcoal), the uniform granules in Soilmaster Select manage moisture and alleviate compaction to keep your field in top playing condition. Pro's Choice delivers a full line of field products for conditioning soil and infield mix, topdressing infields, quickly drying puddles, and revitalizing turf. Circle No. 210

Partac/Beam Clay® 800-247-BEAM WWW.BEAMCLAY.COM Partac/Beam Clay® makes mixes for infields, pitcher’s mounds, home plate areas, and red warning tracks that are used by more than 100 professional teams (including eight of the last 10 World Series champions), more than 700 colleges, and thousands of towns and schools from all 50 states and around the world. Beam Clay offers more than 200 infield products from its distribution centers nationwide, including regional infield mixes blended for specific climates and for every state. Circle No. 211

Profile Products, LLC 800-207-6457 WWW.TURFACE.COM Turface® offers a complete line of infield conditioners featuring the newly-patented Pro League®. Manufactured with smaller, uniform particles, Pro League is the only patented calcined-clay infield soil conditioner. It creates a superior sliding and fielding surface. Pro League is unmatched in drainage and absorption qualities for maximum rainout protection. It outperforms crushed aggregates by absorbing more water and conditioning the infield soil. The preferred soil conditioner of many major league groundskeepers, Pro League is designed to increase safety, playability, and drainage for baseball and softball infields at any level. Circle No. 212

For more than 40 years, Profile Products has been the leading manufacturer of soil-modification products, including mound clay products and the Turface® line of infield and sports-turf conditioners. Patented Turface Pro League® conditions infield soils for exceptional moisture absorption, increased safety, and optimized athletic performance. Profile Products also offers Turface MVP®, which eliminates compaction, bad ball hops, and rainouts on skinned infields; Turface Quick Dry®, designed to absorb excess water and become part of the infield mix; Turface Gray and Red, infield conditioners manufactured in colored tones for a non-glare surface that offers greater ball visibility; and Turface Mound Clay, the clay used to build mounds on leading major league fields. Circle No. 213

Promats, Inc. 800-678-6287 WWW.PROMATS.COM Promats has supplied protective wall padding for teams or stadiums with affiliations in major league baseball, the NBA, the NFL, the CFL, minor league baseball, World Cup soccer, indoor arena football, college baseball, college softball, and college football. Over 350 stadiums in the U.S. contain Promats’ protective field wall padding products. Each facility is unique in its needs, and Promats offers many different types of padding to fill those needs. Call Promats and have the company design a padding system that will work for you. Circle No. 214 Promats, the leader in stadium field wall padding with nearly 400 major installations worldwide, has introduced a revolutionary new field wall pad that utilizes superior SKYDEX™ Smarter Cushioning materials. Promats field wall pads with SKYDEX technology are much more durable, almost 60 percent lighter, and more impact-absorbent than


Softball Field standard pads. Like all Promats products, Promats field wall pads with SKYDEX Smarter Cushioning can be customized for your stadium or arena. Call a Promats representative to learn more about this exciting new product. Circle No. 215

SPI Nets, Inc. 866-243-6387 WWW.SPINETS.NET SPI Nets is a full-service net building facility. The company carries a complete line of quality practice nets for baseball and softball/fastpitch training, all of which are produced in the U.S. SPI Nets makes quality nylon batting cage

nets, protective practice screens, impact netting, and barrier netting, all fully customizable. The company also offers full-service installation and accessories to increase performance and complement your practice nets. Circle No. 216

Stabilizer Solutions, Inc. 800-336-2468 WWW.STABILIZERSOLUTIONS.COM Hilltopper, from Stabilizer Solutions, is a unique combination of long-lasting binders and natural clay that produces a flexible, stable compound for mounds and home plate areas. Hilltopper provides optimum cohesion right out of the bag. It does not need water—just spread and tamp, and it's ready to go: no mud, no dust. Installation and repairs take half the time of traditional clay products. Circle No. 217

Diamond Pro 800-228-2987 WWW.DIAMONDPRO.COM Diamond Pro offers a complete line of professional groundskeeping products: infield conditioners, calcined clay, mound and homeplate clay, bricks, marking dust, and infield and warning track mixes. The company offers fast and convenient delivery. Diamond Pro’s vitrified red clay infield conditioner is available in bulk nationwide, and is easy to handle and apply. Truckloads are available in 10-, 15-, and 24-ton loads that save you both time and money. Create an all-around safe and professional infield playing surface for your team. Circle No. 218

Scarify and level infields in one step ■ New Millcreek Spin Groomer™

spins as you pull it. Self propelled, works like magic. ■ Moves material sideways to fill

in low spots automatically. ■ Ideal for conditioning tough,

rock-hard infields.

MA

NU

CO

■ 7' or 8' sizes, no power needed

FA C TU RI N G

1-800-311-1323 Request No. 131

Request No. 132 COACHING MANAGEMENT

39


All these companies played a role in the success Adams USA Product: 41000LF Knee Guard Used By: Lisa Fernandez

Getty Images

Throughout her impressive softball career, Adams USA has provided Lisa Fernandez with the latest innovations in high-performance gear. In college, at the Olympics, and as a player in the National Pro Fastpitch league, she has always looked to Adams for effective, reliable, highquality protective equipment. The 41000LF Knee Guard is used by Fernandez during games as well as in practice and training sessions.

Stacey Nuveman

Beacon Athletics Product: Field Maintenance Products Used By: Team USA The whole U.S. team relied on quality Beacon fieldmaintenance equipment for a perfectly-groomed playing surface. Beacon products were used to maintain practice and competition fields, ensuring a firm and consistent playing area for all the athletes. No bad hops or poor footing, just a perfectly-groomed infield for every game.

Finch Windmill Product: The Finch Windmill Used By: Jennie Finch Jennie Finch

Head Coach Mike Candrea

For the past 13 years, Jennie Finch has trained using The Finch Windmill, a product invented by her father. “It has helped get me where I am and accomplish what I have in my career,” she says. “The Windmill has given me that edge every athlete is looking for. It has given me muscle balance and additional speed, and helped my accuracy and muscle memory. There is not another machine on the market that allows resistance to be applied to the actual throwing and pitching motion like the Finch Windmill. As I seek to keep and increase that competitive edge, I continue to use the Windmill daily.”

Hillerich & Bradsby (Louisville Slugger) Products: Catalyst bat, XXL bat, Female Series Fielding Gloves Used By: Lisa Fernandez, Laura Berg, and Jessica Mendoza

Jessica Mendoza

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COACHING MANAGEMENT

While using the new Louisville Slugger/TPS Catalyst composite bat, Lisa Fernandez earned her third consecutive gold medal and firmly established herself as the world’s best softball player by batting an impressive .545 for the 2004 com-

petition, good for an all-time Olympic record. Laura Berg hit .386 using a Louisville Slugger/TPS XXL bat on the way to earning her third consecutive gold medal. And firsttime Olympian Jessica Mendoza used the Catalyst bat, batting .250 with 6 RBIs. All three players used Louisville Slugger/TPS Female Fastpitch Series fielding gloves as well.

Miken Sports Product: Miken Bats Used By: Crystl Bustos and Kelly Kretschman Members of the U.S. softball team chose bats from Miken Sports to optimize their offensive performance. Together, Crystl Bustos and Kelly Kretschman accounted for 13 of Team USA’s 51 runs at the games, and 16 of the team’s 73 hits. Bustos finished the tournament with a .923 slugging percentage, five home runs, and 10 RBIs, while Kretschman produced one home run and five RBIs, and had a .714 slugging percentage.

Mizuno USA Products: Women’s 9-Spike™ Classic Cleat, TECHFIRE Fastpitch Bat Used By: Jennie Finch and Natasha Watley Mizuno’s patented 9-Spike™ technology helped Jennie Finch and Natasha Watley perform at the highest level, because the innovative technology enhances lateral stability and traction to provide a more stable platform for enhanced performance. Finch held all the opponents she pitched to scoreless, and Natasha Watley set a new Olympic record with five stolen bases. These two players also used the Mizuno TECHFIRE Fastpitch bat, which features innovative composite technology that provides more explosive power. The bat helped Natasha Watley bat a whopping .440 and tie the Olympic record for most hits in a game.

National Fastpitch Coaches Association The National Fastpitch Coaches Association would like to congratulate NFCA members Mike Candrea, John Rittman and Ken


of Team USA, gold medalists at the Olympic Games in Athens this summer. Eriksen for their coaching success in the 2004 Olympic Games. The NFCA is the professional-growth organization for fastpitch softball coaches at all levels of play. The association offers a wide range of coaching education opportunities.

Profile Products Product: TURFACE® Pro League Red Used By: Olympic Grounds Crew Brickman Landscape Company, which oversaw the construction of the Olympic fields in Athens, uses Pro League Red for athletic fields at every level, from municipal parks to major league stadiums. Pro League Red’s rich color provided an aesthetic appeal that was appropriate for an Olympic event. It was also blended into the infield mix to prevent compaction and improve moisture absorption.

Schutt Sports Products: AirPro® Elite Batter’s Helmet, Comfort Lite™ Protective Equipment Used By: Team USA The AirPro Elite Batter’s Helmet has been worn by all members of the U.S. Olympic team since 1996: In Atlanta, Sydney, and most recently in Athens. Players wore AirPro helmets during both practice and competition. In addition, Stacey Nuveman, Jenny Topping, and Tairia Flowers all wore Comfort Lite protective equipment. Schutt Sports’ softball products helped these athletes succeed because they are designed with women in mind. They provide a better fit and proper protection for the female body, giving players the confidence they need to play their best.

Laura Berg

Natasha Watley

Lisa Fernandez

What can you really DO with giant rubber bands?! Run Faster Reduce Injuries

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Stay Ahead of Your Competition with Flex Bands! The Best-Kept Secret in Pro Sports Used by the Patriots, Cowboys, Yankees, Indians, Red Sox, Mariners, Hornets, Heat and many more! Flex Bands have been improving athletic performance since 1980.

Jump Stretch, Inc. 1230 N. Meridian Rd. Youngstown, OH 44509 www.jumpstretch.com 1-800-344-3539 Fax: 1-330-793-8719 Request No. 133 COACHING MANAGEMENT

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A D V E RT I S E R S D I R E C T O RY circle Company No. No.

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121. . . . Adams USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 111. . . . Aer-Flo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 107. . . . AFP Soft Touch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 122. . . . Barry University . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 108. . . . Beacon Athletics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 120. . . . Best Western . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 124. . . . Challenger Industries. . . . . . . . . . . . 29 109. . . . Diamond Pro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 125. . . . Dynamic Team Sports. . . . . . . . . . . . 30 137. . . . eFundraising.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 135. . . . FinchWindmill.com. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 123. . . . Game-On Field Conditioner . . . . . . 28 101. . . . Gatorade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 116. . . . Glove Radar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 138. . . . Goldner Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 130. . . . Grand Slam (PIK Products). . . . . . . . . . 36 133. . . . Jump Stretch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 141. . . . Louisville Slugger (TPS) . . . . . . . . . . IBC 103. . . . M.A.S.A. Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 134. . . . Master Pitching Machine. . . . . . . . . 42 100. . . . Miken. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IFC 131. . . . Millcreek Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . 39 142. . . . Mizuno. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BC 112. . . . Moyer Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 127. . . . Muhl Tech. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 115. . . . NeuEdge Sportswear. . . . . . . . . . . . 17 140. . . . NFCA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 136. . . . Partac/Beam Clay. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 105. . . . Power Systems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 102. . . . Pro Look Sports. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 139. . . . Pro Look Sports. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 mp_place 8/20/02 11:20 AM Page 1 21 117. . . . Pro's Choice Field Products. . . . . . . 114. . . . Promats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 126. . . . Schutt Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 119. . . . Seating Services, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . 22

118. . . . 106. . . . 128. . . . 110. . . . 130. . . . 129. . . . 113. . . . 104. . . . 132. . . .

SPI Nets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Sports Tutor (HomePlate). . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Stabilizer Solutions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Stalker Radar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Swift Stik (PIK Products). . . . . . . . . . . . 36 SwingBuster. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Turface Athletics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 WeatherBeater. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Zingbat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

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240. . . . 239. . . . 221. . . . 200. . . . 201. . . . 270. . . . 202. . . . 271. . . . 203. . . . 218. . . . 253. . . . 254. . . . 272. . . . 223. . . . 273. . . . 233. . . . 205. . . . 206. . . . 241. . . . 242. . . . 226. . . . 207. . . . 243. . . . 264. . . . 265. . . .

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Adams USA (equipment and gear). . . . . . 46 Adams USA (protective equipment). . . . . 46 Aer-Flo (Bunt Zone Protector). . . . . . . . . 43 Aer-Flo (Wind Weighted Tarps). . . . . . . . 37 AFP Soft Touch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Barry University . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Beacon Athletics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Best Western . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Challenger Industries. . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Diamond Pro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Dynamic Team Sports (custom uniforms). 50 Dynamic Team Sports (Cypress jersey). . 50 eFundraising.com. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 FinchWindmill.com. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Gatorade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Grand Slam (PIK Products). . . . . . . . . . 44 Hydraulic Press Brick (GAME-ON). . . . 37 Hydraulic Press Brick (GAME-ON Red). 37 FinchWindmill 129 9/21/04 Jump Stretch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Louisville Slugger (catcher's mitt). . . . . 46 Louisville Slugger (TPS XXL) . . . . . . . . 43 M.A.S.A. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Master Pitching Machine . . . . . . . . 46 McDavid (Body Shirts) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 McDavid (Microfiber Shirts). . . . . . . . . . 51

228. . . . Miken (M-Pulse). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 227. . . . Miken (Oklahoma City) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 208. . . . Millcreek Manufacturing. . . . . . . . . 38 244. . . . Mizuno (Jennie Finch Series) . . . . . . . . . 46 229. . . . Mizuno (Techfire fastpitch bat) . . . . . . . . 44 256. . . . Moyer Sports (jackets) . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 255. . . . Moyer Sports (uniforms) . . . . . . . . . . . 50 230. . . . Muhl Tech (Advanced Skills Tee). . . . . . . 44 231. . . . Muhl Tech (Muhl Kicker). . . . . . . . . . . . 44 257. . . . NeuEdge Sportswear. . . . . . . . . . . . 50 266. . . . Nike (Pro Compression). . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 267. . . . Nike (Pro Vent) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 211. . . . Partac/Beam Clay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 250. . . . Power Systems (catalog). . . . . . . . . . . 48 246. . . . Power Systems (Power-Throw Balls) . . . 46 245. . . . Power Systems (Torso Trainer) . . . . . . . 46 259. . . . Pro Look Sports (testimonial). . . . . . . . 50 258. . . . Pro Look Sports (uniforms) . . . . . . . . . 50 209. . . . Pro's Choice (Pro Mound packing clay). . 38 210. . . . Pro's Choice (Soilmaster Select) . . . . . . 38 212. . . . Profile Products (infield conditioners) . . 38 213. . . . Profile Products (soil modification) . . . . 38 215. . . . Promats (field wall pad) . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 214. . . . Promats (protective wall padding). . . . . . 38 260. . . . Russell Athletic (Double Play). . . . . . . . 50 261. . . . Russell Athletic (Line Drive). . . . . . . . . 50 248. . . . Schutt Sports (Batter's Guard) . . . . . . . 48 247. . . . Schutt Sports (Weighted Training Ball) . . 48 274. . . . Seating Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 216. . . . SPI Nets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 224. . . . Sports Sensors (Glove Radar). . . . . . . . 43 225. . . .PM Sports Sensors 4:51 Page 1 (Swing Speed Radar). . . 43 234. . . . Sports Tutor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 217. . . . Stabilizer Solutions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 235. . . . Stalker Radar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 232. . . . Swift Stik (PIK Products). . . . . . . . . . . . 44 236. . . . SwingBuster. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 204. . . . WeatherBeater. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 222. . . . Zingbat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

FinchWindmill.com 1-866-258-2727

C Teamongrats U OlymSA for p Gold ic

How is Jennie’s dream becoming a reality... W 5 time ASA Nat’l Softball Champion W Perfect 32-0 Season - NCAA Record W 60-0 Consecutive Wins - NCAA Record W 2 time NCAA Nat’l Player of the Year W Espy Award Nominee W 2002 & 2003 USA World Team member W 2003 Pan Am Gold Medalist W 2004 USA Olympic Team member W 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist

visit: www.jenniefinch27.com Request No. 134

Request No. 135


Hitting & Pitching Aer-Flo, Inc. 800-823-7356 www.windweighted.com The Bunt Zone™ Infield Protector doubles as the perfect target-training system for bunting practice. It uses three colorcoded zones: Yellow is the bunt-for-hit target area; green is the sacrifice bunt zone; and red is the bad bunt zone. Players get instant feedback at every practice. Tough, 9-oz. vinyl-polyester mesh survives spike traffic. The Bunt Zone (patents pending) provides maximum turf protection while improving team bunting skills. Ground staples are included. Circle No. 221

Zingbat 866-ZINGBAT (946-4228) www.zingbat.com Zingbat™ recently introduced the new “16 oz.” one-hand isolation trainer. The batter can now practice lead arm and top-hand drills to isolate proper arm path and hand action. With each swing, the isolation trainer forces the arm to take the correct path, keeping the hand inside the ball. The wrist must snap the barrel at the correct moment, or the patented Zingbat “click” will occur before contact.  Coaches and players across the country are welcoming this new addition to the Zingbat line. Call for a free instructional video or view a demo on the company’s Web site. Circle No. 222

Finch Windmill 714-523-5659 www.finchwindmill.com Jennie Finch’s father, Doug, who is a pitching and hitting instructor, invented this training device when Jennie was 10 years old. It provides adjustable resistance throughout a circular range of motion. A typical workout consists of over-

hand and underhand motion, on the left and right sides. An independent eight-week study found an average velocity increase of 3.25 mph among those who used the product. Softball players young and old, from youth leagues to national championship teams, have reaped the rewards. Circle No. 223

Glove Radar® 800-589-3805 www.gloveradar.com Turn any ball glove into a radar gun with Glove Radar® from Sports Sensors, Inc., now featuring improved sensitivity. It’s the ideal aid for developing the throwing skills of infielders, outfielders, pitchers, and catchers. Glove Radar attaches easily to a baseball or softball glove and is worn by the receiver of the ball, or by multiple partners in non-game situations. It uses Doppler radar, just like conventional handheld radar guns. It is not an impact sensor or a timer. Glove Radar “sees” through the glove and measures the speed of the ball as it approaches the glove. Unlike with most radar guns, a long-distance range is not required— Glove Radar performs accurately at any throwing distance. Circle No. 224 The new Swing Speed Radar™ from Sports Sensors, Inc. is a small, inexpensive microwave Doppler radar velocity sensor that measures the swing speed of baseball and softball players. The Swing Speed Radar helps players to develop optimum bat speed for distance and quickness, and bat control for consistent ball contact. The Swing Speed Radar provides real-time

velocity feedback that assists players, coaches, and instructors in measuring performance improvement and trouble-shooting swing mechanics. It is also great for golfers. Circle No. 225

Louisville Slugger 800-282-BATS www.slugger.com The TPS XXL (model FP004) features a double-wall design with GEN1X and a scandium-alloy inner and outer shell. It has a balanced swing weight. This bat combines the ultra-strong GEN1X with the element scandium, the best alloy-strengthening additive available for aluminum bats. The result is an alloy with unprecedented strength and toughness. It is available in three lengths: 32”, 33”, and 34”. The bat has a minus-9 length-to-weight ratio. Circle No. 226

Miken Sports 507-725-5483 www.mikensports.com Miken® Sports has stepped up to the plate and taken softball bats to the next level by optimizing its already revolutionar y E-Flex® technology to create a new bat that offers both excellent per formance and unmatched durability. The Oklahoma City’s massive sweet spot sets the standard for fastpitch softball bats. Miken Sports pioneered composite bat technology in 1996, and has been an industr y leader in the production of highper formance equipment ever since. Circle No. 227 The M-Pulse by Miken Sports is built around a simple concept: The more the bat flexes, the better the impact. With this thought in mind, Miken created a fastpitch bat with maximum per formance and a huge sweet spot. The M-Pulse, which has been called the successor to the Intensit-E, utilizes a Carbon X shell to provide extreme durability while maintaining its trampoline effect. Advanced technology increases the batter’s consistency, distance, and power.

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Hitting & Pitching Mizuno USA 800-966-1234 WWW.MIZUNOUSA.COM The Techfire fastpitch bat combines innovative composite technology with fiber-reinforced plastic and C405 aluminum for outstanding feel, superior durability, and unsurpassed performance. This bat provides explosive power for players of all ability levels. A new cushioned grip has been added for better feel and comfort. The bat comes in 33”/24oz., 32”/23oz., and 31”/22oz. sizes. Circle No. 229

Muhl Tech 888-766-8772 WWW.MUHLTECH.COM The Advanced Skills Tee is gaining recognition as the most versatile teaching tee available. Molded of durable polyurethane, the forward arm and outside barrier enforce a tight, compact swing, eliminating “dipping” and “casting.” The replaceable brush cup ball holder has been proven to last two or more years under heavy use by high school and college teams, making the AST their top choice as an everyday tee. Circle No. 230 “The Muhl Kicker was a great teaching tool for our national championship team at Central Missouri State (NCAA Div. II). The instant feedback for our kids on ‘good swings’ vs. ‘bad swings’ enabled them to teach themselves proper swing mechanics. A goal all coaches share is that hitters become their own best hitting coach, and the Muhl Kicker allows players to do just that. I strongly recommend this teaching tool for all ages. Both my 10-year-old son and the Kansas State University baseball Request No. 136

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team will definitely be using this product.” —Brad Hill, Head Coach, Kansas State University Circle No. 231

PIK Products 877-845-7845 WWW.SWIFTSTIK.COM WWW.AGRANDSLAM.COM Swift Stik is the fastest way to improve your swing. This easy-to-use, lightweight training bat is great for baseball and softball, letting you take hundreds of extra swings. Swift Stik improves hand-eye coordination, builds muscle memory, helps increase bat speed, and teaches the hitter to hit the sweet spot. It is endorsed by professional hitting instructor Mike Epstein and University of Tennessee Baseball Coach Rod Delmonico. It is available in 34” and 30” sizes and has a patented, adjustable foam sweet spot. Swift Stik is packaged with an instructional video and four golf-ball sized Wiffle® balls. This product should be used only with tennis, Wiffle, or soft foam balls. Visit the company’s Web site for testimonials. Circle No. 232 Grand Slam by PIK Products is the most effective pitching machine on the market for developing a hitter’s hand-eye coordination. It holds up to 100 golf-ball sized Wiffle® balls and fires a pitch every eight seconds. Each pitch is guaranteed to hit the strike zone, but in varying locations. Standing 16-20 feet from the Grand Slam, a hitter can experience pitches of over 90 mph. The pitch speed is adjustable. The Grand Slam is great for indoor and outdoor practice and is safe to use. Powered by a durable blower motor, the Grand Slam has no moving wheels to wear down over time. The product includes 48 golf-ball sized Wiffle balls and comes with a three-month satisfaction guarantee. Circle No. 233


Hitting & Pitching Sports Tutor 800-448-8867 WWW.SPORTSMACHINES.COM

Stalker Radar 888-STALKER WWW.STALKERRADAR.COM

SwingBuster 877-422-8292 WWW.SWINGBUSTER.COM

The new HomePlate Triple softball pitching machine can simulate any pitcher you are likely to face. It can throw a 70-mph riser, followed by a 50mph drop pitch, followed by a curve, followed by a slider, with only seven seconds between pitches. You can store up to eight different pitches in each of eight different programs. The programmed pitches can be thrown sequentially (for specific hitting drills), or randomly (to simulate game conditions). The HomePlate Triple softball machine holds up to 40 balls in its hopper. Circle No. 234

The ultra high-performance Stalker Sport Radar Gun precisely measures the speed of a baseball when it leaves the pitcher’s hand, and also reads the speed as it crosses the plate. These speeds can have a difference of up to 12 mph. The Stalker is three times more powerful than any other sports radar gun, and can accurately clock pitches from over 300 feet away. A new double-capacity battery handle is available, providing up to 40 hours of use between charges. All Major League Baseball teams use the Stalker. Circle No. 235

The SwingBuster is one of the most innovative and effective swing trainers ever built. This “hands-back hitter” ingrains the absolutes of hitting with every swing. SwingBuster took the key elements common to all power hitters and created an affordable, portable batting station that transforms the flawed swing into the perfect swing in four easy steps, guaranteed. Professional hitting instructor Mike Epstein says, “Finally, a fun hitting trainer that reinforces good mechanics.” Special camp packages are available by clicking on the “Coaches” button on the company’s Web site. Circle No. 236

Medals, Pins & Patches Something for everyone!

Custom & Stock Items • Custom designs created by you • Up to 7 colors on • Any size – any shape custom patches, • Up to 5 colors on medals, price patches 50%-100% includes drape ribbon, event embroidered card and poly bag • No setups or die charges • Stock medals for speedy • Minimum order 100 pieces delivery • Delivery in 3-5 weeks

800-251-2656 In TN: 615-244-3007 Fax: 615-244-5937 www.goldnerassociates.com kbond@goldnerassociates.com Request No. 137

231 Venture Circle Nashville, TN 37228

Request No. 138

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Team Equipment Adams USA 800-251-6857 WWW.ADAMSUSA.COM Two-time Olympian and college softball star Lisa Fernandez was wearing protective equipment from Adams/Trace as she led the United States Olympic softball team to a gold medal in Athens this summer. “Having the best equipment is essential to an athlete’s success,” Fernandez said. “Through the years, I’ve always been able to count on Adams/Trace to provide me with the latest innovations in performance gear to assist me while training, during my professional season, and on my quest for another gold medal this past summer.” Circle No. 239 Adams USA, one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of athletic equipment and performance gear, is proud to announce that the company has extended its partnership with National Pro Fastpitch through 2005. Since the league was launched in 1997 under the name of Women’s Professional Fastpitch, Adams has always been there to provide the highest-quality performance gear, including sliders, knee and elbow guards, technical T-shirts, and wristbands, to America’s premier softball athletes. Circle No. 240

Jump Stretch, Inc. 800-344-3539 WWW.JUMPSTRETCH.COM The goal at Jump Stretch is to provide equipment that simulates actual game conditions to improve performance. Most sports require short bursts of explosive power, so the company promotes anaerobic training. Squats and squat thrusts performed with Flex Bands® provide a safe and highly-effective method

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for improving explosiveness. Jump Stretch has been helping pro, college, and high school teams improve vertical jump, speed, and power since 1980. Circle No. 241

Louisville Slugger 800-282-BATS WWW.SLUGGER.COM The TPS Bionic catcher’s mitt (model FPS204) is a Fastpitch catcher’s mitt with a double-post open web, closed back with Velcro™ strap, and patented Bionic technology. The Louisville Slugger line of Bionic catcher’s mitts has orthopedically-configured pads located in the interior portion of the glove. Placing these pads behind the existing pad in the glove allows for an additional layer of protection to help absorb the ball’s force. Circle No. 242

Master Pitching Machine, Inc. 800-878-8228 WWW.MASTERPITCH.COM The “Iron Mike” pitching machine features a throwing arm that lets the batter see a full windup before the ball is pitched, allowing him or her to develop the fundamentals used when facing a live pitcher. That capability makes the “Iron Mike” the preferred pitching machine of professional and amateur players and coaches. All machines are self-feeding, include a remote control, and carry a manufacturer’s warranty. Circle No. 243

Mizuno USA 800-966-1234 WWW.MIZUNOUSA.COM The Mizuno Jennie Finch Signature Series of fastpitch gloves, bats, batting gloves, and cleats is designed specifically for the female fastpitch athlete. Each new Mizuno fastpitch glove was designed with input from the three-time All-American herself, and features the company's exclusive

Sure Fit™ foam for outstanding fit and comfort, as well as a ParaShock palm pad for added protection and increased shock absorption. Circle No. 244

Power Systems, Inc. 800-321-6975 WWW.POWER-SYSTEMS.COM The Torso Trainer, available exclusively from Power Systems, is specifically designed to develop the core, a key component of hitting and throwing. The core is where all movement begins, and it is critical to an athlete's success. The Torso Trainer allows you to perform a wide variety of resisted and assisted rotational movements using the custom 34-inch torso handle and 7-foot bungee cord. A versatile nylon door attachment anchors the cord to a door or any other fixed object. An instructional guide is included. Circle No. 245 Power-Throw Balls are durable, softballsize weighted balls that are great for developing dynamic strength in the throwing motion. As your exercise program progresses, gradually increase the weight of the ball. They're ideal for rotator cuff strength and flexibility programs. They can also be used for upper-body rehabilitation exercises. The balls are available in 7 oz., 14 oz., and 21 oz. sizes (standard softball size is 5 oz.). They consist of filling surrounded by a rugged vinyl shell. Power-Throw Balls are color coded by weight. An instructional manual, video, and DVD are also available. Power Systems makes baseballsize Power-Throw Balls as well. Circle No. 246


Request No. 139


Team Equipment Schutt Sports 866-4 SCHUTT WWW.SHUTTSPORTS.COM The Schutt® Weighted Training Ball helps develop muscle memory, adds arm strength, and trains throwers to increase ball spin velocity. This great training aid is endorsed by threetime gold medalist and U.S. pitching great Lisa Fernandez. Call Schutt today to find out how you can start training with this valuable tool. Circle No. 247

C E RT I F I C AT ANU ION M

ation Certific Manual

AL

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GERS

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C ATHLETI ENT EQUIPM ERS MANAG

MANA

Since 1986, Power Systems has been a leading supplier of sports performance, fitness, and rehabilitation products and programming. It’s the one resource for all your training needs. The 2005 catalog has a new look, with better graphics and photos. It includes sections on core strength, medicine balls, speed, plyometrics, agility, strength equipment, strength accessories, and fitness assessment. The catalog features hundreds of new products and dozens of products available exclusively from Power Systems. The company has even lowered some of its prices, enabling the customer to get premium products for less. Call or visit the company Web site for your free copy. Circle No. 250

A Comprehensive Guide to Managing Your School’s Athletic Equipment

MENT

Power Systems, Inc. 800-321-6975 WWW.POWER-SYSTEMS.COM

ORDER STALKER RADAR PRODUCTS ON-LINE THROUGH AMAZON FROM STALKER’S SITE Stalker Radar, maker of the world’s most popular high-performance sports radar system, now allows you to place on-line orders for its line of quality products. The company’s Web site also offers a detailed brochure on the Stalker SPORT and an on-line version of its owner’s manual. See testimonials from professionals who use Stalker products, and read about the SpeedGrabber software package, which makes Stalker’s radar gun an even more valuable tool for tracking your pitchers’ performance. www.stalkerradar.com/sports_sport.shtml

UIP TIC EQ

Catalog Showcase

NEUEDGE SOFTBALL PRODUCTS FEATURED ON THE WEB An on-line catalog of available stock and custom uniforms and accessories for softball can be found on NeuEdge's Web site. Use the color selector to explore the many options available for customizing your team's uniforms. View detailed information on all of the company's quality products, and then use the retail locator to find a dealer in your area. Or, use the contact information on the site to get in touch with a NeuEdge representative. www.neuedgesports.com

AT H L E

The Schutt® Softball Batter’s Guard is made of lightweight, durable steel and meets the new 2005 NOCSAE standard. This product is made specifically to meet the needs of today’s softball player, providing maximum protection without obstructing the batter's vision. It is available in 13 standard colors and has durable Surlyn™ Straps. Call Schutt Sports to place your order today. Circle No. 248

Web News

The AEMA Certification Manual, the official instructional guide for the Athletic Equipment Managers Association, is an excellent reference tool for your coaches and equipment management staff.

The manual includes: • Tips on extending the life of your equipment • Recommendations for making smart purchases • Proper fitting techniques to help prevent injuries • Advice for running an efficient equipment room This 170 page reference book is only $35 plus $6 for shipping and handling.

ORDER THE AEMA MANUAL FOR YOUR ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT TODAY! __Yes! I would like to order the AEMA Manual: ____ copies at $35 ea. = $_________ + $6 s/h = $_________Total Last Name___________________________________ FirstName_______________________________MI_____ Mailing Address_____________________________________________________________________________ City____________________________________ State_____________ Zip Code__________________________ Daytime Telephone_____________________________ E-Mail Address__________________________________ PAYMENT INFORMATION ____ Check or money order (U.S. Funds only) payable to: Training & Conditioning ____Visa

____Mastercard

____Discover

____American0Express

Account Number_____________________________________________ Expiration Date___________________ Name on Card___________________________________Signature____________________________________ SEND TO: MOMENTUMMEDIA Sports Publishing, 2488 North Triphammer Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850 Fax: 607-257-7328 • Phone: 607-257-6970 ext. 11


It’s the Best Deal in Town! Come to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association National Convention and enjoy these great features — USOC Sport Psychologist Shares Team-Building Ideas It’s “Sport Psychology, Olympic Style” when USOC sport psychologist James Bauman, Ph.D., shares team-building exercises and other key strategies used with the 2004 Olympic Team in the pre-convention seminar.

More Than Two Days of Clinic Sessions By Excellent Speakers, Covering all the Game’s Aspects Learn valuable drills and tips from some of the best speakers in softball today. Veteran coaches and national experts tell their secrets of the game.

The Latest Innovations in Softball Equipment, and Some Excellent Buys at the Silent Auction More than 70 different companies are expected for the Exhibitor Show, December 4 & 5. Learn about the newest in softball training technology and pick up great discounts at the Silent Auction, on display Sunday.

Forums To Discuss Changes and Future of the Sport Sunday will feature caucus meetings by the individual membership groups. It’s the perfect time to discuss the key issues affecting the sport.

Lots of Networking Opportunities

Also take advantage of three National Fastpitch Coaches College courses in conjunction with the convention: Course 401: Personal & Professional Development, December 1-3 Course 405: Teaching a Run-Producing Team Offense and Strategy, December 1-3 Course 407: Cases in Coaching (at least two years of coaching experience required), December 6-8

See the NFCA web site <www.nfca.org> for more info or call 662/320-2155 to have a brochure mailed to you. Request No. 140


Uniforms & Apparel Dynamic Team Sports 800-437-6223 WWW.DYNAMICTEAMSPORTS.COM Dynamic’s Elite Series is a revolutionary line of custom uniforms, sure to make your team stand out above the competition. All the artwork, logos, and numbers are sublimated into the garments’ lightweight, breathable fabric. This eliminates the heavy, sticky silkscreens that can peel, crack, or fade over time. You pick the colors for your own unique look. Call the company for a full catalog. Circle No. 253 Dynamic Team Sports continues to offer the best in team uniforms. The Cypress jersey is Dynamic’s most popular sleeveless shirt yet. Made of the company’s 75-percent polyester/25-percent cotton blend called Aerofibre, the Cypress is designed with comfort and durability in mind. Choose home and away combinations in 10 stock colors, or ask about custom colors for even more possibilities. Circle No. 254

Moyer Sports USA 800-255-5299 WWW.MOYERSPORTS.COM Moyer Sports USA offers a complete line of custom uniforms in 100-percent microweave polyester Dyna-Dry or polyester Dazzle. Sublimation printing allows you to choose any color combination, and the numbers and logos are guaranteed never to peel or crack. Many colorful designs are available, and your Moyer uniforms will never be discontinued. Circle No. 255

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Moyer Sports also offers a full line of stock and custom jackets, warmups, bags, and visors. Custom tackle-twill and swiss-embroidery services are available through the company’s state-of-the-art lettering facility. Circle No. 256

NeuEdge Sports 800-486-2788 WWW.NEUEDGESPORTS.COM NeuEdge Sports is a domestic sportswear manufacturer, specializing in state-of-the-art custom sublimated uniforms. The company’s custom-dyed uniforms feature a wide variety of graphics and lettering, guaranteed never to crack, peel, or fade. Jerseys are available in long and short sleeve, sleeveless, tank, and fastback. The entire uniform-making process is done at the NeuEdge manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania. This allows rapid turnaround time and a hands-on level of quality. Please visit the company Web site to see a complete lineup of beautiful, customdyed NeuEdge uniforms. Circle No. 257

Pro Look Sports 800-PRO LOOK WWW.PROLOOKSPORTS.COM Pro Look Sports has become the fastestgrowing team sportswear company for one reason: fully custom, quality uniforms. Most companies limit your choices to a few styles made from sub-par materials. Pro Look's uniforms are made of the finest materials available, and are cut, trimmed, and sewn to your exact specifications. There are no additional costs for embroidered logos or soft tackle-twill names and numbers. Additionally, all work is backed by an unprecedented two-year guarantee. Circle No. 258

“Just wanted to let you know that we received our uniforms today. They look fantastic. Thanks for everything. The kids are extremely excited. I will be in touch regarding my summer team.” —Keith Williams, Head Coach, RutgersCamden. If you want to feel the same way about your team's uniforms, call Pro Look Sports. Circle No. 259

Russell Athletic WWW.RUSSELLATHLETIC.COM Worn by top collegiate softball teams, including the University of South Carolina, the Double Play jersey and short combination makes for a stylish and functional uniform. It is made with 100 percent double-knit nylon fabric that can withstand years of sliding and diving. The sleeveless jersey enhances ease of movement and features contrasting sleeve inserts for added style. The shorts include contrasting side inserts, belt holes, and a six-inch inseam. Circle No. 260 Bases loaded, down by two, the pressure’s on. No sweat. The Line Drive jersey and short combination from Russell is a high-performing softball uniform with a textured pebble-knit fabric that wicks sweat away from your body, keeping you dry, light, and comfortable when the game is on the line. Made with one of the softest fabrics available, the Line Drive also features stylish athletic trim on the neck, sleeves, and legs. Circle No. 261


Performance Apparel By Dale Strauf, Athletic Equipment Manager, Cornell University, and President of the Athletic Equipment Managers Association You don’t want to purchase any type of undergarment until you have had an opportunity to field-test it. In conducting the field-test, evaluate the garment in the following areas: O O O O

Does it perform the way it is supposed to on the athlete? Does it hold its shape during use? Does the fabric appear to be durable? Are the seams finished off and reinforced so that they’ll hold over time? O Is the waistband stitched enough so that it won’t be abrasive to the athlete? O Does it hold its color when you wash it?

MCDAVID SPORTS/MEDICAL PRODUCTS 800-237-8254 WWW.MCDAVIDINC.COM Product Name: McDavid Body Shirts (hDc Performance Apparel) Features: Long sleeve, short sleeve, sleeveless (mock/crew) Fabric content: 85 percent nylon, 15 percent spandex Styles Offered: Nylon/spandex construction with hDc Technology offers premium compression support Single-layer or multi-layer construction? Single-layer Perspiration Wicking Qualities: hDc is a permanent compound that absorbs moisture and disperses it into the fabric, evaporating moisture quickly. Chemical Treatments Used: Ultra hDc, hDc Circle No. 264 Product Name: Microfiber Shirts (hDc Performance Apparel) Features: Long sleeve, short sleeve, sleeveless (mock/crew). Fabric content: 100 percent micro polyester

You should field-test the garment by letting one of your more active players—someone who’s really going to give it a lot of punishment—wear it during workouts. It’s best to conduct the testing right after the season is over during conditioning workouts. Have the athlete wear it for a minimum of two weeks to properly test it. You shouldn’t have any problems getting companies to provide you with product to field-test. The companies that are really confident in their product will have no problem giving you a sample to test. Let the company know that you will return the sample back to them at their request. If the undergarment holds up to its claims during the fieldtestings, and the price and features meet your needs, then you know you are purchasing the right undergarment for your athletes.

Styles Offered: Microfiber loosewear is an ultra-light micro polyester that provides maximum comfort. Single-layer or multi-layer construction? Single-layer Perspiration Wicking Qualities: hDc is a permanent compound that absorbs moisture and disperses it into the fabric, evaporating moisture quickly. Chemical Treatments Used: Ultra hDc, hDc Circle No. 265

NIKE WWW.NIKETOWN.COM Product Name: Nike Pro Compression Features: Nike Pro Compression is featured in sleeveless, long sleeve, mock, and tees, as well as shorts and tights. Nike Pro Compression provides cool, lightweight support for your workout. These products are made with stretch Dri-FIT technology, designed to keep you dry and comfortable while enhancing athletic performance. Fabric Content: 62 percent polyester, 22 percent nylon, 16 percent spandex Styles Offered: Nike Pro featured in a sleeveless, long sleeve, mock, tee, short, and tight. Single-layer or multi-layer construction? Single-layer

Perspiration Wicking Qualities: Made with stretch Dri-FIT technology designed to keep you dry and comfortable while enhancing athletic performance. Chemical Treatments Used: In addition to fiber construction, there is a wicking chemical finish. Circle No. 266 Product Name: Nike Pro Vent Features: Nike Pro Vent is featured in a sleeveless, long sleeve, and short sleeve top. Nike Pro Vent provides cool, lightweight support for your workout. Strategicallyplaced vents are laminated to Dri-FIT fabric to improve air flow and keep you dry and comfortable while enhancing athletic performance. Fabric Content: Body: 82 percent polyester, 18 percent spandex Mesh: 86 percent polyester, 10 percent spandex, 4 percent other Styles Offered: Nike Pro Vent is featured in a sleeveless, long sleeve, and short sleeve top. Perspiration Wicking Qualities: Made with stretch Dri-FIT technology designed to keep you dry and comfortable while enhancing athletic performance. Chemical Treatments Used: In addition to fiber construction there is a wicking chemical finish. Circle No. 267

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More Products Barry University 800-756-6000 WWW.BARRY.EDU/HPLS Barry University’s MS program in Movement Science offers a variety of specializations to prepare you for a future in athletic training, biomechanics, exercise science, or sport and exercise psychology. You can also choose the new general option, which allows you to customize your MS program with classes from all four specializations. Whichever specialization best meets your needs, you will benefit from state-of-the-art laboratory and research facilities, internationally-respected faculty, and Barry's ideal South Florida location, which offers access to challenging opportunities for graduate clinical placements. Call today to learn more. Circle No. 270

Best Western 1-866-661-5437 WWW.BESTWESTERN.COM From tournaments to meetings, booking hotels for your team can be challenging. Thankfully, Best Western makes life easier, and with more than 2,300 locations in North America, they're practically everywhere. Each property features amenities like breakfast and free local calls. Most offer special group amenities and meeting facilities. The company even has dedicated group consultants to help you with all the details. Call the Best Western sports hotline for details. Circle No. 271

eFundraising 866-825-2921 WWW.EFUNDRAISING.COM Try eFundraising’s On-line Fundraising Program, a new way to raise money quickly and easily. With your free, personalized Web site, complete with a magazine store, your supporters can purchase magazine subscriptions on-line and 40 percent of each purchase amount will go back to your group. Simply enter the site and send e-

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Customer Testimonial mails to friends and family across America, inviting them to visit your on-line store and buy, renew, or extend their magazine subscriptions to help support your group. They’ll save up to 85 percent off the newsstand price on over 650 magazine titles while you earn 40-percent profit. Circle No. 272

Quick, Simple, and Profitable Fundraisers

Gatorade 800-88GATOR WWW.GATORADE.COM Gatorade® Thirst Quencher’s optimal formula contains electrolytes and carbohydrates. It is based on more than 30 years of scientific research and testing. Nothing rehydrates, replenishes, and refuels better than Gatorade Thirst Quencher—not even water. REHYDRATE—Gatorade has the flavor to keep your athletes drinking, and a six-percent carbohydrate solution that’s optimal for speeding fluids back into their systems. No fluid is absorbed faster than Gatorade. REPLENISH—If your athletes don’t replace the electrolytes they lose when they sweat, they risk becoming dehydrated, which can take them out of the game. By putting electrolytes back, Gatorade helps athletes drink more, retain fluids, and maintain fluid balance. REFUEL—Unlike water, Gatorade has the right amount of carbohydrates (14 grams per eight ounces) to give your athletes’ working muscles more energy to help them fight fatigue and keep their mental edge. Circle No. 273

SEATING SERVICES 800-552-9470 WWW.SEATINGSERVICES.COM Manufacturer of quality stadium chairs, Seating Services has introduced the Cardinal Model Series 3500 tip-up chair for use in settings with narrow row spacing—as narrow as 27 inches. These blow-molded chairs are gravity tip. They have no springs or pins, which saves money in three ways: The chairs are less expensive to manufacture, install, and maintain. They are designed for installation on concrete or steel/aluminum grandstands. Seat widths can range from 18 to 22 inches. Many available colors and options make these an excellent way to seat more fans in a limited space. Circle No. 274

“The first-rate customer service and immediate delivery enabled us to raise over $4,000 in only two weeks. With this large sum of money we were able to purchase warmups and travel bags for our entire team. Not only did your 90percent profit guarantee become a reality, but your Scratchcards, more than any other fundraiser we have used in the past, brought our team closer together.” Coach Marcel Galligani White Plains High School “As a hockey team, we are always looking for innovative ways to raise money while promoting our team. The Chocolate Pucks really offered us that advantage because they are customized and inexpensive. The response we got was awesome! People were excited, and willing to purchase five to 10 pucks at a time, making them easy to sell!” Sandy Cross Chicago Frozen Snappers Women’s Hockey “This year we incorporated your On-line and Scratchcard campaigns. The service your group provided was efficient and reliable, and the ease of doing business with you was much appreciated! By combining these two campaigns, we were able to reach friends and relatives locally AND throughout the United States. They were an efficient use of our time. There were no orders to take, and nothing to deliver!” Pam Wilson, President Charles Page High School Cheer Squad

eFundraising.com 205 West Service Rd., Champlain, NY 12919 800-561-8388 info@efundraising.com WWW.EFUNDRAISING.COM


LOUISVILLE SLUGGER CONGRATULATES TEAM USA

Lisa Fernandez, Laura Berg, Jessica Mendoza

FOR PUTTING AMERICA ON TOP OF THE WORLD AGAIN. This year’s team may well be the greatest fastpitch team ever assembled – and their performance proves it. With a powerful lineup that included Lisa Fernandez, Laura Berg and Jessica Mendoza, Team USA has once again given America a source of pride and inspiration. Congratulations, ladies. We at Louisville Slugger are proud to be associated with you. Thank you for all you’ve done for your country and for your sport.

THE OFFICIAL BAT OF AMERICA’S PASTIME.

TM

www.slugger.com

Request No. 141

© 2004 Hillerich & Bradsby Co., Louisville, KY. All rights reserved.

YOU’VE HEARD MANY TEAMS REFERRED TO AS “DREAM TEAMS.” Well, this year’s USA softball team was nothing short of a nightmare team for competitors from around the globe.


Y O U R P A S S I O N I S O U R O B S E S S I O N . To be the best, you have to give everything you’ve got each time you take the field. That’s what makes Jennie Finch the ace of Team USA’s pitching staff. It’s that same drive that makes Mizuno’s new Jennie Finch Signature series the ultimate in fastpitch performance. Like the Finch Vintage Pro glove, designed to deliver outstanding control and comfort, featuring ParashockTM technology for less rebound and shock. The Finch Signature series, a complete line designed to meet the demands of the serious fastpitch athlete. Of course, ice sold separately. ©2004 Mizuno USA, Inc.

, Mizuno, and Serious Performance are registered trademarks of Mizuno Corporation. Your Passion is Our Obsession is a trademark of Mizuno USA, Inc. All rights reserved.

Request No. 142

Coaching Management 12.9  

ANNUAL SOFTBALL EDITION 2005

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