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Coaching Management VOL. XIV NO. 9

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P O S T S E A S O N

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STRONG-ARM TACTICS How to avoid pitching injuries

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Lessons from Losing Mental Training


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Coaching Management Softball Edition Postseason 2006

CONTENTS

Vol. XIV, No. 9

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LOCKER ROOM

COVER STORY

Bulletin Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Strong-Arm Tactics

NCAA continues sportsmanship crackdown … Defending against Facebook … NFHS focuses on safety … Challenging the salary gap … Ohio state champions celebrate title … Michigan plans $5.5 million stadium renovation.

Q&A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Sean Cotter, Head Coach at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, talks about keeping his team focused, using sports psychology skills, and recovering from burnout. SOFTBALL FIELD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 HITTING & PITCHING AIDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 TEAM EQUIPMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 UNIFORMS & APPAREL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 MORE PRODUCTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

Learning from Losing

The Mental Edge ADVERTISERS DIRECTORY

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On the cover: At Auburn University, Head Coach Tina Deese uses videotape of every practice and game to diagnose flaws in pitchers’ deliveries. Story begins on page 18. Photo by Todd J. Van Emst.

Assistant Editors R.J. Anderson, Kenny Berkowitz, Nathan Dougherty, Abigail Funk, Greg Scholand, Laura Smith

Special Projects Dave Wohlhueter

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When losses start piling up, self-doubt is sure to follow. Should you change your approach? Here, a Hall of Fame high school coach offers advice for getting the most out of a difficult season.

Editor-in-Chief Eleanor Frankel

Circulation Manager John Callaghan

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COACHING LIFE

Marketing Director Sheryl Shaffer

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Keeping your pitchers healthy begins with an effective strength and conditioning program as well as understanding how to prevent arm injuries.

Publisher Mark Goldberg

Business Manager Pennie Small

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Art Director Pamela Crawford Photo Research Tobi Sznajderman Assistant Production Director Jim Harper Prepress Manager Miles Worthington Production Assistant Jonni Campbell

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The Coaching Management softball edition is published in October and December by MAG, Inc. and is distributed free to college and high school coaches in the United States and Canada. Copyright © 2006 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.

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LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD NCAA Continues Sportsmanship Crackdown A year after the NCAA implemented tougher language and penalties to combat trends toward poor sportsmanship, the number of conduct-related incidents reported by umpires across Divisions I, II, and III reveals that more work still needs to be done. The number of ejections rose from 50 in 2005 to 151 in 2006, according to Christi Wade, former Chair of the NCAA Softball Rules Committee and Head Coach at St. Leo University.

committee also defined penalties for making contact with or spitting on an umpire—a reaction to a spitting incident that took place in 2005. (There were no such incidents in 2006.) Now, an ejection and a twogame suspension are assessed in those instances. The rule and language changes mark a larger cultural shift aimed toward improving behavior at the collegiate level. For Jeff Aumend, Head Coach at Charleston Southern University, whose team won the Big

South Conference 2006 Sportsmanship Award, the changes couldn’t have come soon enough. “In our sport, arguing is fairly well-accepted, but I see umpires tolerating less when it comes to discussions about balls and strikes,” he says. “A coach who approaches an umpire with patience and in a peaceful manner is more likely to get his or her point across than someone who runs onto the field with their emotions getting the best of them. And with the new rules, flying off the handle with an umpire can cost you your seat in the dugout.”

“I think we’ll still see more ejections in 2007 than we did in 2005, but I don’t think there will be quite as many as in 2006,” says Wade. “We have to remain consistent with our message. Once that consistency is recognized, the number of ejections will eventually drop off.

Reasons for the ejections ranged from arguing calls with umpires to a few cases involving contact with those calling the game. And the overwhelming majority of those ejected were coaches, says Wade.

“We established the emphasis because we didn’t want our umpires to be at a disadvantage,” continues Wade. “But we also wanted to make sure our sport keeps building on our recent successes and increased TV exposure while maintaining an emphasis on sportsmanship and fair play.”

“We were targeting everyone with the emphasis, but in the past we had a lot of coaches making disparaging remarks to umpires and we really wanted to clean that up,” says Wade. “The problem wasn’t student-athletes per se, but there is a sense that kids will follow what their coaches do, so we wanted to make the language all-inclusive.

Those successes include more than 1.2 million viewers who tuned in for the Division I Women’s College World Series coverage on ESPN, and over 815,000 who watched the games on ESPN2. This followed a 23 percent ratings increase during the regular season.

“I don’t know if the coaches’ behavior was that much worse in 2006,” Wade adds. “I just think the umpires weren’t putting up with as much as they had in previous years—and rightfully so. In 2006, if a coach started arguing, the umpire was more apt to say, ‘That’s enough, I’m not taking any more.’ The emphasis gave them added leverage to stand up for themselves.” For 2006, the rules committee clarified language allowing umpires to immediately eject coaches and athletes for unsportsmanlike behavior, eliminating the previously required verbal warning. The

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Though they are quick to applaud the new emphasis on sportsmanship, Aumend and Wade say effects from the measures probably won’t be fully felt for a few more years. “It’s going to take some time for this to permeate the NCAA student-athlete and coaching culture, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” says Aumend. “People get frustrated because the NCAA seems to regulate everything, but in this instance I think it’s a positive effort to rein in the negative impact of poor sportsmanship.”

At Charleston Southern University, Head Coach Jeff Aumend welcomes the NCAA’s renewed emphasis on good behavior. “It’s a positive effort to rein in the negative impact of poor sportsmanship,” he says. Above, Amanda Noble runs to first base in a 2006 Senior Day doubleheader against Winthrop University.

In other news, the NCAA Division I Softball Committee is recommending a new regular season maximum-contest limit. Concerned that some teams were playing 70 or more contests in a season, the committee proposed setting a limit of 56 regular season games, replacing the current rule of 56 competition dates with no specified total number of games.


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LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD Committee members believe the new limit would temper some of the competitive inequities facing cold-weather schools by not forcing them to travel to warm-weather areas to play enough early-season games to keep up with their sun-soaked counterparts in the south. Doing so would reduce missed class time for student-athletes by limiting mid-week travel, says the committee. Reducing the number of games could also result in a fairer selection process for the NCAA Tournament. “We evaluate a lot of criteria during selections,� Committee Chair and Associate Athletics

Director and Senior Woman Administrator at Oregon State University Marianne Vydra told The NCAA News. “It is apparent that we had a lot of questions when it comes to looking at Rating Percentage Index that weighs heavily on wins and losses. When you have teams playing 50 games and other teams playing close to 80, it is a big difference. We support the new model because it is a way to level the playing field.� The proposal, which has the support of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, requires approval from the Division I Championships/ Competition Committee

For more information on NCAA rules for 2006-07, go to: www.ncaa.org, click on “Sports & Championships,� “Spring Sports,� “Softball,� and “Softball Rules and Interpretations.�

before it can be implemented. If approved, the proposal could be in place for the 2007-08 season.

Facebook and Beyond Members of your team throw a party and post directions on the Internet. Year-old pictures of players drinking alcohol show up on an anti-hazing Web site. One of your top recruits writes a Web log that is besieged by boosters encouraging her to go to your school. If you think these scenarios present an array of concerns about safety, public relations, and compliance with NCAA rules, you’re right. If you think they’re not happening already, you’re wrong. Through their own initiative or prompted by athletic depart-

ment policy, softball coaches are heading to the Internet to see what their players are showing the world. What’s out there could prompt an informal reminder to a player or a front-page newspaper story that changes your career. The primary concern for coaches is Facebook.com, a Web site your student-athletes probably know well. The site was created to allow college students to network with each other and now has more than six million members, with more joining every day. The site has also broadened its reach with a high school section. Members can maintain profiles where they can post personal information, photos, and contact information. Students say it’s a fun and easy way to make new friends and keep in touch with old ones. It is currently one of the most visited Web

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sites in the country as is a similar site named Myspace.com. Concerned about the kind of information her players might be posting on their pages, Karen Baird, Head Coach at Eastern Michigan University, registered for a Facebook account to look at their profiles. “I did it to protect them and our softball program,” she says. “I had heard there were some pictures and personal information that shouldn’t have been there. I gave them two days to clear the pages and then checked them out.”

Concerned about information her athletes might be sharing about themselves on the Internet, Eastern Michigan University Head Coach Karen Baird registered for a Facebook account to look at their profiles. “I did it to protect them and our softball program,” says Baird.

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LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD them at the beginning of the season about protecting themselves, and she spent a lot of time talking about sites like Facebook. But when I told them I was looking at it, they took things a little more seriously.” Some athletic departments have declared Facebook and similar sites off-limits for their athletes. Others have focused on educating athletes about the risks of posting personal information. After showing coaches Facebook pages for randomly selected athletes, administrators at Florida State University told coaches to keep an eye on their players’ pages. “All we really want is for our athletes to protect their privacy and make smart decisions,” says Pam Overton, Associate Director of Athletics at Florida State University. “We tell them, ‘If you don’t

want to see it on the six o’clock news, don’t put it on Facebook.’” But new trouble spots can come from almost any direction. A former college athletic administrator pushing for tougher NCAA standards created a site that linked to photos of hazing activities that were originally posted on public picture-sharing sites. Similar shots were posted on Badjocks.com, including pictures of hazing among Northwestern University women’s soccer players, which led to the suspension of the team and resignation of its coach. The nature of the Internet makes it impossible to monitor every site, and trying to track your players’ postings could be a full-time job. So Baird will talk to incoming freshmen about these sites

and count on education to do the trick. “It’s scary,” Baird says. “But now I’m at the point where I want to trust my players. They’re adults, and hopefully I’ve educated them enough that they’ll make the right decisions.”

NFHS Rules Focus on Safety Over the past year, several high school rules have either been put in place or clarified to improve safety. At the beginning of last season, the NFHS made facemasks a requirement for batters and base runners, and recently clarified the rightof-way rule on loose balls for the 2007 rule book. Also in 2006, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA)

moved the pitching plate three feet further away from home plate and reported to the NFHS that the experimental change went even better than expected. Matt Lewis, Head Softball Coach and Athletic Director at Clay High School in Green Cove Springs, Fla., points to three advantages of the pitching-plate move. “First of all, it’s safer for pitchers,” he says. “It also means there are no longer dominant pitchers completely controlling a game. And the new distance, 43 feet, is where NCAA schools play, so it will help get these girls ready for the next level.” Florida will ask the NFHS for permission to continue its experiment for another year, but on the national level, the federation remains skeptical. “There’s no hard evidence the

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LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD additional three feet makes the game significantly safer,” says Ralph Swearngin, Executive Director of the Georgia High School Association and Chairperson of the NFHS Softball Rules Committee. “It’s also possible that the really good pitchers would benefit from an extra three feet and the mediocre and poor pitchers would be negatively affected.” While the pitching plate will stay put for now, one nationwide change this year is the revision of rules that dictate who has the right of way—the base runner or the defender—on a non-controlled ball. “We’ve always had interferFor more information on NFHS rules for 2006-07, go to: www.nfhs.org.

ence and obstruction rules that were clearly defined on a fielded ball,” says Mary Struckhoff, NFHS Assistant Director and liaison to the Softball Rules Committee. “But nobody really knew what to do if a fielder deflected the ball without securing it. It was being enforced differently across the country.” The language in the 2007 rule book essentially says the defender is protected on the first play of a live ball, but if the defender’s first play is mishandled, then the burden for avoiding a collision is shared by the defender. “There is no such thing as incidental contact in softball,” Swearngin says. “Baseball allows for it, but in softball, if there is contact between the fielder and runner, either obstruction or interference will be called.”

One season after the NFHS began requiring NOCSAEapproved facemasks, most states are making progress in getting their teams outfitted. “We played a number of games, especially early on last season, in which only one team had legal helmets,” says Jim Meyerhoff, Assistant Executive Director of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. “We had to share helmets just to get through the game.” Meyerhoff says the athletes are adjusting well, since many play on club teams that follow Amateur Softball Association

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rules, which made facemasks mandatory in 2005. Cost hasn’t been much of an issue either. “Batting helmets aren’t replaced every year, but you don’t want to keep them too long either,” he says. “The additional cost of the facemask didn’t exponentially increase replacement costs.”

Challenging the Salary Gap A growing number of Title IX lawsuits in recent years have tackled inequities between high school baseball and softball fields, helping to bring softball facilities up to par. But how is the salary equity struggle going for softball coaches? If assessments by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) are an indication, there is still a ways to go.

don’t have data on other states’ salaries, my gut feeling is that Kentucky is not alone in having underpaid softball coaches.”

required to pay their baseball and softball coaches the same salary, but if they don’t, there has to be a valid explanation.

Kentucky is indeed not the only state with pay inequities, according to Neena Chaudhry, Staff Attorney with the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). Chaudhry says the Center regularly receives complaints from girls’ coaches who believe their paychecks reflect discrimination. And while softball coaches in Kentucky benefit from the KHSAA’s proactive approach to enforcing Title IX, coaches elsewhere who suspect their pay is unfair may need to lead the fight themselves.

“The simple fact that a school pays its baseball coach more than its softball coach is a red flag, but does not always indicate inequity, since there are several factors a school is allowed to consider in setting salaries,” Boucher says. “For example, if the baseball coach has 20 years’ experience, and the softball coach has four, the school can take that into account. They can also consider things like season length, number of practices and contests, off-field responsibilities,

duties (such as recruiting and supervising assistants), and responsibilities beyond coaching (such as fundraising and teaching classes). “Each case needs to be evaluated individually, but rarely are there going to be significant Title VII differences between a baseball coach’s job and a softball coach’s job,” says Donna Lopiano, Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “Few sports are as similar as baseball and softball. In most cases, I believe you could maintain that they are virtually identical jobs.” Boucher agrees. “What we’ve seen most often are softball

The KHSAA has assessed its member schools for Title IX compliance every four years since 1999. According to Larry Boucher, KHSAA Assistant Commissioner, early reviews revealed large pay gaps between softball coaches and baseball coaches. “Unfortunately, we regularly saw a softball coach earning $2,000 while the baseball coach at the same school earned $5,000,” Boucher says. The KHSAA began urging schools to correct the inequity, even threatening to shorten baseball seasons at schools that didn’t comply. “We believe equitable coaching salaries are critical for gender equity, because the quality of coaching determines the quality of an athlete’s experience more than anything else,” Boucher says. “We have made this a focal point of our approach, and based on our most recent reviews, softball coaches have made significant strides toward pay equity. “However, we’re still finding problems here and there,” Boucher continues, “and while I

As part of an annual Title IX review, the Kentucky High School Athletics Association determined that softball coaches at Covington’s Holy Cross High School—here, Head Coach Dan Trame pitches batting practice—needed to have their salaries increased. The first step is understanding the law, so that you can determine whether pay inequity truly exists. Three laws—Title IX, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the Equal Pay Act— come into play. Under all three laws, the bottom line is the same: Schools are not legally

and the number of players on each team.” Title VII and the Equal Pay Act spell out variables that can be considered when setting pay: educational preparation, experience, past success on the field, scope of basic coaching

coaches who are being significantly underpaid compared to baseball coaches, when there is no reason to justify the difference,” he says. After evaluating the laws, what can coaches do if they feel they are being discrimi-

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LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD nated against? Boucher advises carefully following the chain of command to bring a complaint. “Get your facts together and start with your athletic director,” he says. “If that doesn’t work, go to your principal, superintendent, and board of education, in that order. If all else fails, go to the Office for Civil Rights. However, in my experience, most instances of salary discrimination can be resolved at the local level without pursuing legal action.”

The most effective strategy, according to Boucher: Get your athletes’ parents involved. “Get parents on your side and have them lobby to correct the inequity,” he advises. “Parents are passionate about their kids’ experiences, and when they learn that their child’s coach is not being compensated fairly, they will put significant pressure on administrators and school board members. From what we’ve seen here, that is a very effective way to get salaries changed.”

Additional information about coaching salary equity can be found in the WSF’s publication, “Special Issues for Coaches of Women’s Sports.” To access the complete publication, visit: www.womenssportsfoundation.org. Click on “Issues & Action,” “Coaching Issues,” and “Women’s Sports Foundation Education Guide: Special Issues for Coaches of Women’s Sports.”

Celebrating Success When the North Canton Hoover High School softball team won the Division I Ohio state championship in June, it didn’t take long for the celebration to begin. By the time the team bus exited the highway, the police department was ready to escort it back into town. Once the team reached North Canton, the bus emptied and fire engines from the North Canton Fire Department took the girls the rest of the way, passing groups of cheering fans on route to the high school. Once back on campus, the team proceeded to an alreadyfilled gymnasium. There, they were publicly congratulated by the school’s principal, athletic director, district superintendent, and Head Coach Jerry

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Goodpasture. Even Mayor David Held was on hand to proclaim June 3 Hoover Softball State Champions Day. Though the celebrations came together quickly, they were anything but spontaneous. Athletic Director Don Shimek had been quietly planning the event from the moment the Vikings reached the regional finals, though he says he didn’t want to plan too much in advance and “put the hex” on the team. “There were several individuals I spoke with ahead of time to help organize things,” Shimek says. “For the celebration at the school, I coordinated with our janitors. I also made sure I had the plans mapped out with the superintendent of schools and the principal, so they could be on board and ready on game day.”

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LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD As soon as the Vikings made the last out of their 2-0 championship victory over Elyria High School, Shimek approached local radio broadcasters to set the plan into motion. The broadcasters read an announcement about the celebrations on air, and by the time the team arrived back in North Canton there were signs in storefronts congratulating them and fans lining the streets. “I think the idea of riding a fire truck through town was a big deal for the girls,” says Goodpasture. “The celebrations aren’t over yet, either. Once the summer is over the kids will receive rings at a home football game.” Though it’s not the biggest school in the area, Hoover teams regularly draw support not only from family and friends of the players, but also

To celebrate their victory in the Ohio Division I State Championships, the North Canton Hoover High School Vikings led a parade back to their home field, riding on top of a fire engine with the mayor (left) and coaching staff (right).

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from die-hards in the community. One player’s mother helps maintain a Web site devoted to the team, complete with rosters for both varsity and j.v. teams, schedules, press articles, and photographs. Maintaining a close relationship with these fans, as well as municipal officials like Held, helps make these celebrations possible. “It sounds hokey, but there’s really a hometown feel about it,” Shimek says. “We have a bigger sense of community that allows people from town to take ownership in our team.”

other million will be made up through fundraising efforts. But raising that amount of money can be difficult for a team that’s only been in existence since 1978 and has a limited number of alumni to call on for support. “When you look at all the athletes who’ve participated, they’re just out of school and haven’t had long to acquire wealth,” Stevenson says. “Baseball raised $8.5 million for a $9 million project and they’re still going strong.”

To overcome the relatively small number of softball alumni, the program is striving for 100 percent participation from former players—even if they can only afford to give $25 or $50. The coaching staff has been very involved in fundraising efforts, contacting former players to keep them updated about the renovation’s progress. Bonnie Tholl, Associate Head Coach, says the staff makes it a point to keep in close contact with all 200 former players. They

To view the Web site for North Canton Hoover Softball, go to: www.northcanton.sparcc.org/ ~hck/cgi-bin/homepage.pl?id= hssoftball&self=yes

UM Plans $5.5M Stadium Renovation Spring comes later in Michigan, and as a result many early-season sports are played against a backdrop of snow and rain. With this in mind, the University of Michigan is set to undergo a $5.5 million renovation for its softball stadium, Alumni Field, aimed at increasing capacity and easing the difficulties of cold-weather play. The improvements will include heated dugouts, an indoor hitting and pitching facility, and new press and concessions areas. The project was part of a master plan drafted in 2001 that also includes upgrades to the university’s other stadiums. The plan, like all university expenditures, needed final approval from the University’s Board of Regents. “We did a needs assessment comparing our facilities to our Big 10 peers,” says Mike Stevenson, Michigan’s Executive Associate Athletic Director. “We talked about safety issues, current standards, seating, and ADA compliance.” It wasn’t a difficult sell. Despite winning a national championship in 2005 and a Big 10 title in 2006, the team’s facilities lagged behind others in the conference. There was already support from fans, who consistently sell out Alumni Field, earning it the nickname, “The Little House,” a play on the football stadium’s nickname, “The Big House.” According to Stevenson, about $4.5 million for the renovation will come from the athletic department’s budget while the Circle No. 111 COACHING MANAGEMENT

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LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD send e-mail updates and newsletters, and plan tailgating events during football and softball season. When it comes time to ask for donations, Tholl says the staff makes sure alumnae understand how the improvements will benefit the entire softball program. “They’re really excited about having a great new facility, not just for current student athletes, but for the whole program,” Tholl says. “We want them to feel like this is not just a stadium for the 2006 or 2007 team. If they graduated in 1980, Michigan softball is still their program and we want to make sure to really nurture that environment.”

As part of a $5.5 million softball stadium renovation, the University of Michigan’s Alumni Field, nicknamed “The Little House” by its fans, will be upgraded to include heated dugouts, an indoor hitting and pitching facility, and new press and concessions areas.

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Circle No. 114


Q&A

SEAN COTTER State University of New York College at Plattsburgh

Going into the 2006 season, NCAA Division III Plattsburgh State was predicted to finish fifth in the 11-team State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC). Instead, in their seventh season under Head Coach Sean Cotter, the Cardinals finished the regular season with a 19-1 mark, won the SUNYAC championship in four games at home, and earned their first NCAA Tournament berth, where they finished one win shy of the Division III World Series. The team’s offensive performance improved from one home run in 2005 to 41 in 2006, and from a .218 team batting average to .323. The offensive explosion helped propel Plattsburgh State to a 23-game winning streak and new school records for wins (40) and winning percentage (.816).

CM: Why did you take the Plattsburgh State job? Cotter: It was a chance to form a program in the image I wanted, and not worry about whether the team had been really bad or really good the year before. I took the job to start a tradition, and we’ve been able to put a nice little history together in the last few years. What identity did you want the team to establish? I wanted us to be pretty good pretty quickly, and to play the game the right way. I also wanted to create a family atmosphere, and I think we’ve done that. This year, when we hosted our conference tournament, 10 alumni took time off from work to watch us play because they feel just as much a part of our team as the kids on the field. We play a high-energy, up-tempo game. We’re a cheering team, and there’s a lot of energy surrounding our program. How do you foster that family atmosphere? We do a lot of team building. I teach sports psychology here at Plattsburgh, and I feel those skills are very important. I want an environment that’s competitive, but at the same time, one that makes the players feel safe in knowing that the coaching staff and their teammates have their back. We work really hard to encourage our players to approach one another in a

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COACHING MANAGEMENT

After one year as head coach at E.O. Smith High School in Storrs, Conn., and another year as head coach at Division II Teikyo Post University, Cotter arrived at Plattsburgh State in 2000, taking over the program in its second year. Since then, the Cardinals have averaged 24 wins a season and reached the SUNYAC Tournament seven times. Cotter serves on the NFCA’s board of directors as the Division III representative and is past president of the New York State Women’s Collegiate Athletic Association’s softball committee. He has also served on the NFCA Top-25 and NCAA Northeast Regional rankings committees. In this interview, Cotter talks about keeping his team focused, using sports psychology skills to mediate problems between his athletes, and recovering from burnout.

positive way and not allow issues to fester. We don’t want to deal with passive-aggressiveness that can sometimes go on. What do you do when conflicts arise? I’ll bring the players in and act as mediator, or if the conflict is between myself and a player, I’ll have someone else act as mediator. We teach players that they need to actively listen to what the other person has to say. How did the team overcome low preseason expectations? The foundation for this year’s success started immediately after the 2004 season. We had some issues and some changes we needed to make. At that time, I was a little burnt out with coaching and some players were strong enough to confront me on that. I recharged my batteries and for the 2005 season we brought in a pretty young group of players. We were 23-19, but lost a lot of close ballgames in extra innings. With a little bit of luck, we could have easily won 30 games. I think the kids saw how talented they were and realized what they could

Led by All-American Stephanie Zweig, the Cardinals reached the NCAA Division III Tournament last spring for the first time in school history.


do differently to have that represented in our record.

players and getting them to be the best they can be.

We instituted a stricter weightroom policy and the kids bought into it. I challenged the players who had been underachieving during their careers, and that motivated them big time. They had great leadership in the weightroom and during practice, and they didn’t want to be known as the first class that didn’t win more games than the class before them. They saw the preseason prediction of us finishing fifth as a slap in the face. From that moment on, it was a lot easier to motivate them.

What else did you do to overcome the stresses of coaching? I took time away from the office, and realized I didn’t have to be there every hour of the day. Our hectic recruiting schedule played a big role in my burnout. I think Division III is the hardest division to recruit for because the process never ends. Offers from Division II or Division I schools come during the summer, and we’ll often lose recruits if they’re offered scholarships. Some years we’re on the road every weekend from May to

How did you maintain momentum through the team’s 23-game winning streak? Just by living in the moment, not looking back and not looking too far ahead. We concentrated on our top goal of winning a conference tournament game. As a team, we never really talked about the winning streak. We emphasized that every game was important in conference play. Cortland State, our rival, kept winning, so we needed to keep pace if we wanted to host our tournament. We have a great home field and a lot of people come to watch us play. We felt those advantages would set us up to win. Coming off your SUNYAC championship, how did you approach the NCAA Tournament? We didn’t approach it any differently than the SUNYAC tournament, but maybe we should have. We never felt comfortable that weekend, from our coaching staff to the players. We had a bye in the first round, but it would have helped if we’d been able to play right away. What would you do differently? I wouldn’t have the kids attend as many games. We were out there watching games when we should have been taking our minds off competition. We could’ve gone to the movies, taken a hike, or done any of the things we normally do to relax as a team. We needed to remember that a game is just a game, and how you play it doesn’t change just because you’re playing in the postseason. What triggered your feeling of burnout? I was getting stressed about external things. I was starting to become the kind of coach I don’t like, one who yells and screams instead of teaching. So I made a conscious effort to re-think my future and realized I needed to get back to what made me successful: being positive with

How has success changed your approach to recruiting? When I first came here we were just starting our program, so if a prospective student-athlete contacted us, I would drive hours to see her play. I might drive five hours one way and five back, and then decide she wasn’t going to fit into our program. We had to recruit everybody. Now we can be a little more selective. At the same time, having a new full-time assistant coach has allowed us to see more kids and be more organized. This was the first summer we had two people on the road recruiting, and I expect it to pay dividends next year. Our success has

“I was starting to become the kind of coach I don't like, one who yells and screams instead of teaching. So I made a conscious effort to get back to what made me successful: being positive with players and getting them to be the best they can be.“

November. That causes burnout, and to solve that we need to say, “I’m not out recruiting on this particular weekend.“ I recruited a lot this summer, but I set aside 10 days when I wasn’t going to do any recruiting. I went to Florida to see a baseball game and did other things that weren’t softball-related. Taking a step back allowed me to watch our kids enjoy one another. Even if you’re an average team, you can get a lot of enjoyment out of the experience. If your kids are working hard, they’ve bought into your philosophy, and you need to enjoy that. How did you work with pitcher Stephanie Zweig, who despite having Erb’s palsy, became the team’s first ever AllAmerican? I was a little concerned through the recruiting process knowing that college batters would try to attack that, but there were really no adjustments we had to make. She fields her position really well and is even on our depth chart as a backup first baseman. She just gets rid of the ball really quickly and transfers the glove well. I no longer even look at it as a disability. I don’t see her as being any different than anyone else, and neither does she. She even spends a lot of time working with kids with the same condition she has.

opened the door to places we couldn’t get into before and we’ve got more people looking at us. How is coaching in Division III different than in Division II? In terms of teaching, I still do a lot of the same things I did in Division II. The only difference is that when we go on trips, I spend more time planning fun things for our days off. Our athletes aren’t in a scholarship situation, so I try to give them more life experiences. In Division II, we’d practice on our days off. Here, whenever we have a day off, it’s truly a day off. From the time we leave our hotel until we get back that night, we don’t talk about softball. We talk about life. What are your duties as a member of the NFCA’s executive board? I’m the Division III representative, so I try to help the members understand what Division III is all about. I think there’s some type of stigma about Division III because there are no scholarships. But at the top level of Division III, we can compete with the top-level Division II teams and the low- to mid-level teams in Division I. There are some really good coaches, players, and programs in Division III, and it’s my job to show the rest of our board that we work just as hard as some of the scholarship schools, if not harder.

COACHING MANAGEMENT

17


BY DENNIS READ

F

OR A LONG TIME, people assumed that softball pitchers didn’t face a risk of overuse injuries. Pitchers threw and threw and threw, stopping only when the game ended. One 1991 game went 31 innings and saw only two pitchers—one for each team. Recent research, though, shows that windmill pitching does take a toll on a pitcher’s arm, and the forces it produces are comparable to those experienced by baseball pitchers. Yet softball pitchers are still treated differently than their mound-throwing brothers who would never think of starting games on consecutive days, much less two on one day. In this article, we’ll look at the science behind overuse injuries in pitchers and ways to avoid them, including strength and conditioning programs that can help make pitchers not only healthier, but more effective. The Science While there is limited research into the windmill motion currently used by almost all softball pitchers, most researchers agree that the movement puts pitchers at risk of injury. One of the first studies looked at pitchers from the 1989 NCAA Division I championships and found that 20 of the 24 pitchers studied suffered a total of 26 injuries during that season, 17 of which were to the pitching arm. Of the 11 injuries that resulted in missed playing time, nine were to the arm. A more recent study of 181 pitchers across all three NCAA divisions found

that nearly three-quarters (73 percent) suffered at least one injury during the 2001-02 season. The vast majority of those injuries(70 percent) were classified as chronic or overuse and 52 of those sidelined the pitcher or affected her performance. Sherry Werner, Director of the Center for Motion Analysis at the Texas Metroplex Institute for Sports Performance in Grand Prairie, has been researching arm injuries in pitchers for nearly 20 years. She’s seen hundreds of pitchers, many of them under 18, who required surgery to repair their arms. “For too long we’ve heard the myth that softball pitchers have a natural throwing motion and they can pitch as much as they want without hurting themselves,” says Werner, who was previously Coordinator of the Human Performance Laboratory at the Tulane Institute for Sports Medicine. “As a result, every year at Tulane an increasing number of kids, 18 and under, came in to see us. Usually it was some sort of labral injury or damage to the rotator cuff. Many needed shoulder surgery and their shoulders looked like those of a 90-year old.” Werner led a biomechanical study of pitchers at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta that found the shoulder stresses they faced were similar to those in baseball pitchers. Shoulder distraction stress levels averaged about 80 percent of the pitcher’s body weight. The elbow faced an average maximum compression force of 61 percent of body weight near the release point. At its fastest point in the delivery, the arm was moving at 2,190 degrees per second, fast enough to complete six rotations in one second.

“Coaches need to have an open mind to what the science is telling us,” Werner says. “The stresses on the shoulder and elbow are very high, and I think it’s something everybody needs to think about because we are all accountable to the athletes.” Assessing Mechanics There are two main causes of chronic injuries in softball pitchers: poor mechanics and overuse. Poor pitching mechanics can lead to injury even at a young age. “I coached for 22 years in high school and never had a pitcher miss a turn because of injury,” says Denny Throneburg, Head Softball Coach and Athletic Director at Lake Land College, who won 647 games and six state titles as Head Coach at Casey-Westfield (Ill.) High School. “People ask me how, and I tell them it’s because we teach proper mechanics at a young age. The younger they learn the proper way to throw the ball, the better.” “My main recommendation for anyone who works with softball pitchers is to have their mechanics assessed, whether it’s a pitching coach watching them live or just looking at videotape,” Werner says. “If we can get the mechanics straight, we can give athletes a much better chance of avoiding injury down the road.” According to Throneburg, the starting point for mechanics is shoulder rotation. “The first thing we work on is ensuring our pitchers make a perfect circle with proper shoulder rotation,” Throneburg says. “Most injuries are caused by an Dennis Read is an Associate Editor at Coaching Management. He can be reached at: dr@MomentumMedia.com.

STRONG-ARM

Keeping your pitchers healthy begins with an effective strength and conditioning program as well as understanding how to prevent arm injuries.

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COVER STORY

To diagnose flaws in pitchers’ deliveries, Auburn University Head Coach Tina Deese videotapes every practice and game. Here, reliever Beth DiPietro pitches in an April 2006 doubleheader to give Auburn its firstever season sweep of Mississippi State.

TACTICS COACHING MANAGEMENT

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COVER STORY

improper circle. The next most common fault I see is improper hip rotation.” Through her studies at Tulane, Werner found hip rotation is indeed a common cause of injury. “Probably the biggest flaw we see in many pitchers is where their hips are when they release the ball,” she says. “When their hips are more closed, or pointed toward home plate at release, it makes for safer mechanics because the trunk and legs are helping dissipate that large amount of force.” Stride length is another area where may pitchers err, usually by not striding far enough. “We have found that the longer the stride, the more they protect their shoulder,” Werner says The dangers aren’t over once the ball leaves the hand. Mechanical flaws plague the follow-through as well. “Proper follow-through is preached a lot but I don’t know how much it’s actually practiced, especially at the high school level,” says Tina Deese, Head Coach at Auburn University. “Pitchers can be successful without a nice smooth follow-through, but they may not last. “Some pitchers use big, high, long follow-throughs where the elbow comes back out away from the body and they almost do a second arm circle. But I don’t know if that’s good for the decelerators,” she continues. “I think that can basically wear out the brake pads in the back of the shoulders. With a textbook follow-through, the arm should almost brush the belly all the way up and finish with the fingers touching the throwing shoulder.” Werner agrees. “Those who follow through with a straight elbow where the hand raises up above the head place a lot of stress on their shoulder,” she says. “Those who snap their wrist and elbow, then bend both joints, protect the shoulder better.” The work is far from over once proper mechanics are established. Pitching is a complex motion and small, unintended changes can have a significant effect. “It’s easy to develop a flaw,” Deese says. “It’s funny how kids can be going along great and then all of sudden lose a curve ball or lose the good crisp snap at the end of the motion.” To help diagnose these small flaws, Deese videotapes each practice and game. She saves footage from ideal deliveries so she can refer to them later when problems develop. “The tapes came in

very handy last year, when one of our pitchers lost her curve ball in the middle of the season,” Deese says. “Thank goodness I had what I called her perfect curve ball recorded. I was able to show her that footage, and we found a couple of minor flaws. And then everything fell back in place.” There’s another, sometimes overlooked factor, that can increase the risk of arm injuries, and that’s overhand throwing. Many pitchers play another position when they’re not pitching and make numerous overhand throws while doing so. Even those who only pitch are regularly called upon to make overhand throws while fielding the position. Any deficiencies in the overhand throwing motion can lead to arm injuries that may appear to come from pitching. “I have seen instances where kids have a shoulder problem or an elbow problem and the injury was caused by incorrect overhand throwing, not pitching,” Throneburg says. “Throwing the ball correctly overhand is probably the most neglected skill in softball. In my pitching camps, if we do an hour pitching session, the first 10 minutes are devoted to the correct overhand throwing motion.” Keeping Count The second cause of chronic injury is overuse, which can be hard to rein in. Unlike baseball, there are few restrictions on how many pitches or innings a softball pitcher can throw. This means it’s up to coaches to decide how much is too much. “If every coach kept a pitch count and set a realistic number of pitches, we wouldn’t see nearly as many shoulder injuries as we do now,” Throneburg says. “The exact number will vary by body shape, size and the physical condition of the pitcher. When my high school pitchers reached somewhere between 100 and 120 pitches, I usually started to look for the next pitcher.” But just as even the most fit athlete isn’t going to run a marathon every day, pitchers need to consider their long-term usage patterns. “If you pitch on a Monday, we recommend that you take Tuesday off— whether it’s a game or a workout—with no softball activity at all,” Werner says. “We realize that once teams get into playoffs, pitchers may be asked to throw two games in a day, then come back and throw one or two the next day. As long as that happens


COVER STORY

only once or twice a year, that’s fine. But it can’t happen every weekend.” Deese shows her pitchers the importance of time off. “Nothing can replace rest,” she says. “So during the fall, I’ll talk them into taking a couple of days off. Then when they come back, they’re fresh and their ball is moving well. Sometimes, I’ll put them on the gun and show them their speed is up or show them on videotape how their ball is moving. Then they begin to trust that their timing won’t leave them, and the rest will actually help.” Rick Church, Head Softball Coach at Blinn College, adds that limits don’t only apply to games. “Even if pitchers have the day off following a game, what the coach does with that pitcher during practice is the key,” he says. “Are they throwing batting practice and bullpen sessions every day, and then games on top of that? The volume of throws during practice sometimes has more bearing on overuse.” Werner offers a caveat for high school coaches whose pitchers may be multisport athletes: Be careful that their bodies, especially their shoulders, aren’t overloaded by the cumulative effect of practices and games in different sports. “A lot of the kids I worked with in New Orleans were playing volleyball from Monday through Thursday and softball from Friday to Sunday,” Werner says. “You can’t work with that kind of athlete the same way as you do with one who is playing only softball. Volleyball, for example, puts a lot of stress on the shoulder. If you have an athlete who is playing volleyball three times a week, you have to treat those as pitching workouts because of the stress they’re putting on the shoulder.” At all levels of the game, coaches need to expand their pitching staffs. “As coaches, we have got to take away that reasoning of ‘I only need one pitcher,’” Throneburg says. “To do that, we have to develop more pitchers, and then we have to use those pitchers. “Sometimes, there will be one dominant pitcher on the team, and the other players will think, ‘She’s our pitcher, so I’ll just play another position,’” he continues. “We’re not emphasizing enough that we need two, three, or four pitchers on a team. People tend to ride that one girl who can throw really well rather than take time to develop additional pitchers.” The process of making sure a team has enough pitchers should begin with the final out of the previous season.

“You have to start in the offseason,” Throneburg says. “You have to look at your team and say, ‘Here are the three or four kids I’m going to use as pitchers next year.’ Then tell them they’re going to pitch next season and suggest that they work with a pitching coach so they’re ready. Don’t wait until the season starts and then say, ‘Man, I don’t have enough pitching.’ That’s too late. You have to figure that out before you pick your team.” Detection & Treatment Even with a full staff of pitchers and carefully monitored usage, injuries are going to happen. What are the signs and treatments for these overuse pitching injuries? “I commonly see overuse injuries in the shoulder, specifically in the rotator cuff, as well as in the biceps and triceps,” says Karen Bloch, Staff Athletic Trainer at the University of Wisconsin, who has also worked with the Women’s Professional Softball League. “These injuries are characterized by nagging pain, fatigue,

Trainer for the Seminoles softball team. “But if they have an injury, they can warm up and the pain won’t disappear. Athletes sometimes have a hard time with this, especially freshmen. They’re often hitting the weightroom hard for the first time and they’re out practicing every day. They’ve built up a lot of lactic acid, and their muscles are sore. They think they’re injured, but it’s just soreness. “If the pain does not disappear after they’ve properly warmed up, you shouldn’t try to push them through the pain,” Gibson continues. “Any coach or athletic trainer who is in tune with their pitchers can tell when they’re injured because their mechanics change, even their body language and facial expressions change. No matter where how badly they want to keep pitching, they just can’t hide that.” The main treatment for overuse injuries is basic: rest. But it is not always simple. “When you tell a coach in the middle of the season that her numberone pitcher needs rest, it usually doesn’t go over well,” Gibson says. “So instead

At all levels of the game, coaches need to expand their pitching staffs. “We’re not emphasizing enough that we need two, three, or four pitchers on a team,” says Lake Land College’s Denny Throneburg. “We have to develop more pitchers, and then we have to use those pitchers.” decrease in performance, and change in an athlete’s attitude.” “As a coach I can usually tell if a pitcher is injured because she alters her motion to compensate for it,” Throneburg says. “It may be the circle isn’t as big as it usually is or maybe she’s not using any leg drive because her back hurts.” But it’s important to differentiate between the soreness that comes with pitching regularly and the pain of injury. “Soreness is usually general, not focal,” says Bloch, who is also owner of Key Koncepts for Sport Enhancement and Injury Prevention in Madison, Wis. “The legs are sore or there’s soreness in one arm. But if there’s one tender point or one spot that you can touch and get pain, then it’s not soreness.” Soreness also tends to dissipate with work while injury pain does not. “With soreness, they can warm up and the pain goes away,” says Robin Gibson, Associate Director for Sports Medicine at Florida State University and Head Athletic

of taking her out of the lineup, we can cut back on the number of pitches she throws in a game and in practice. We also use ice and anti-inflammatories, even corticosteroids to treat the symptoms. But those just help them manage their pain so they can continue pitching.” In addition to a reduced workload, Bloch uses cross-training and massage to help treat overuse injuries. “Cross-training in water is one of my favorite tools to use in recovery,” she says. “The water helps with lymphatic drainage and has less impact on the body. They’re able to do all softball motions in the water and get an excellent cardiovascular workout as well. Other cross-training methods can include the bike, stair climbers, and elliptical machines. “Massage is another key element in treating overuse injuries,” Bloch continues. “I emphasize massage techniques that improve circulation, re-align the tissue, and enhance muscular relaxation, which in turn promotes healing.”

COACHING MANAGEMENT

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COVER STORY

Strength Training With treatment of overuse injury usually limited to a choice of resting the pitcher completely or getting her through the rest of the season, the wisest option is to try to prevent the injuries from occurring in the first place. Assuming their mechanics are sound, pitchers can reduce their chance of injury through strength and conditioning work, which will also help them become better pitchers. “Once you have good mechanics,” Church says, “strength and conditioning is the critical element. The purpose of mechanics is to optimize your current level of strength and power. And the way

to increase strength, power, and explosive endurance is through a good solid strength and conditioning program.” Most experts believe training for softball pitching begins at the core. “The most effective pitchers will be the ones who have the strongest legs and core, not the ones with the strongest arms,” Werner says. “The muscles in the core are significantly bigger than those in the arm, and we want to use the big muscles to produce more of our velocity. Obviously, the arm has to be strong, but if you were going to cut one thing out of a training program for time reasons, I’d cut the upper extremity work before the core or legs.”

The following is a sample week of the inseason strength-training program used by softball pitchers at Baylor University.

Tuesday

Thursday

WARMUP Core ■ Toes & bows, 1 min. ■ Side bridge, 45 sec. each side ■ Seated twist x 40 ■ Leg throws x 30 ■ Supermans, 5 sec. x 12 ■ Straight-leg sit-ups x 15 ■ Med-ball partner rotation x 10 each side ■ Physioball knee tucks x 15

WARMUP Core ■ Plank, 1 min. ■ Alternating Supermans x 10 each ■ Med-ball seated twist throws x 15 each ■ V-ups x 30 ■ Side-to-side V-ups x 30 ■ Bench leg raises with hip raise x 20 ■ Bench knee rolls x 30 ■ Eccentric sit-ups (5 sec. down) x 15

Balance/Stability ■ Single-leg squat x 15 each ■ Crossover touch x 15 each ■ Lateral push-offs x 8 each ■ Depth jumps x 10

Balance/Stability ■ Same as Tuesday

Shoulder Stability ■ Lateral shoulder raises, palms in x 10 ■ Lateral shoulder raises, palms out x 10 ■ Scarecrow x 10 ■ Arm circles x 5 each

MAIN EXERCISES

MAIN EXERCISES

Shoulder Stability ■ Same as Tuesday

1. DB high pulls x 3 Box jumps x 3 2. Physioball leg curls 3 x 8 3. Single-arm DB bench with hold on top 2 x 8 each 4. Rope pressdown x 8 DB curls x 8

1. DB squats x 8 Lateral box jumps x 3 each 2. Three-way lunges 3 x 3 each 3. One-leg Romanian dead lifts x 8 Bent rows x 8 4. DB flys 2 x 8

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PRESEASON STRENGTH

John Williams, Director of Strength and Conditioning at Baylor University, agrees that core work should be a vital part of any pitcher’s strength and conditioning program. “You have to strengthen the abductors and adductors because of the torque created by the pitching motion,” he says. “The shoulder may seem to be the problem because of soreness or pain there, but it can actually result from over-compensating for a lack of strength or flexibility in the core.” Although almost any athlete will benefit from a stronger core, there are special considerations when it comes to working with softball pitchers. “I use a lot of rotational work because softball pitchers rotate their hips a lot,” Williams says. “We do arc raises, weighted resisted arc raises, and stump busters, which are overhead raises between the knees to get the trunk and hips extended. We do a lot of dynamic throws with the medicine ball, such as rotary release and twist release. We also use lunge throws and physioball exercises like seated physioball overhead shoulder presses.” Core and balance work are two of the four building blocks to Bloch’s strength training progams. The others are range of motion and concentric/eccentric exercises. Bloch likes to use tubing exercises where a pair of players stand front to back facing the same direction. Holding a tube or band, they perform a series of sportspecific exercises at the same time. “The most common ones mimic the pitching motion,” Bloch says. “I like to cut the windmill motion down and work on half of the pitching arc at a time. So they bring the tubing forward and then back. Another exercise I use a lot is wrist flexion. “The importance of these exercises is to concentrically and eccentrically challenge the pitchers’ bodies through sport-specific planes of movement,” she continues. “Once one arm is exercised with both people facing the same direction and doing the same movement in unison, they turn around and perform the same motion again. When facing one direction, one person will perform a concentric motion, and the other will challenge the eccentric motion. When they turn around, the concentric/eccentric motions will be switched.”


COVER STORY

During the offseason, Williams uses a rotator cuff program to prepare his pitchers for the demands of a long season. “When you strengthen muscles, the fibers are torn and then rebuilt with a little more size,” he says “If you build the muscle up in the offseason, then they have more protection around the tendons during the season. So we do traditional hypertrophy work like internal/ external rotation with dumbbells and bench scap squeezes.” Once the season starts, the emphasis turns to maintenance instead of building. “In season, we use more of the rehab-type movements,” he says. “For example, we do more bow-and-arrows, side laterals, and hitchhiker combos.” Church works a lot on explosive strength with his pitchers. “From the start of the motion to release takes less than a second, so that explosive endurance needs to be simulated in a strength and conditioning program,” he says. “We do a lot of low-impact bounding and medicine ball throws, some of them off a mini-tramp. Two-handed overhead

throws and throws through the legs also simulate the pitching motion well. We do anywhere between 10 and 20 reps, and gradually increase the weight of the ball as we progress. “We have another drill where they push forward in a pitching motion, and we’ll do a series of five to 10 reps at a time,” he adds. “Then we add resistance belts or tubing.” Although weightroom work is a key component of a pitcher’s strength and conditioning program, there are exercises they should avoid. “You do need explosive work, and cleans are fine,” Bloch says. “But as far as snatches, you have already the micro-trauma that comes from throwing every day, so why would you want to add to that with snatches?” Church agrees. “You want to minimize the overhead lifts,” he says. “I also think there’s been a de-emphasis on bench press in favor of incline presses and bodyweight push-up variations. I’m not saying we have to eliminate the bench press entirely, but there’s not much reason for a pitcher to do a max bench press.”

Werner says a good rule of thumb is to pull, not push. “Stay away from anything that requires pushing weights or resistance away from the body,” she says. “Instead do a lot of pulling. The muscles used when pulling weight toward your body are the ones that are going to protect the shoulder and the elbow.” Regardless of the exact program used, Church says it’s important that pitchers continue to work out throughout the season. “There’s a myth that you need to stop your training after preseason,” he says. “But you don’t abandon your program once your season starts. You’ll want to reduce the volume because of the load from competition and practice, but you still need to keep the intensity up.” The proper balance of pitching, practicing, and training will let you get the most out of your pitchers while avoiding overuse injuries. Even if it means pitching fewer innings than it did 20 years ago. ■ A version of this article appeared in our sister publication Training & Conditioning.

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COACHING LIFE

LEARNING FROM LOSING

CHRIS MURPHY

BY LEM ELWAY

I don’t like to lose. I don’t even like to write about losing. But we’ve all been through it—having a losing season that doesn’t turn around no matter what you do. In today’s world, with parents scrutinizing your every move, you can’t just grit your teeth through a bad year. In fact, a sub-par season needs to be handled with as much care—if not more— than a winning season. Losses usually lead to questions and doubts: Should I alter my approach? Set new rules? Change my expectations? How do I keep athletes from getting

When losses start piling up, self-doubt is sure to follow. Should you change your approach? Here, a Hall of Fame high school coach offers advice for getting the most out of a difficult season. frustrated? How do I keep them from losing confidence in me? Should I start playing younger players and looking ahead to next year? How do I respond to the complaints of parents and fans? And how do I make sure I don’t lose my job? Your answers and actions will make a huge difference in how things turn out.

a new way. How you respond to adversity will show those around you what you’re really about. That’s why the first step to take when you start losing is to review your coaching philosophy. If you have a written philosophy, re-read it. It will help remind you why you coach, and for most of us,

Check In With Yourself It is important to realize that losing is not an indictment of your coaching ability. However, the way you respond to losing can be. When losses pile up, your values and leadership will be exposed in

A member of the Washington State Coaches Hall of Fame, Lem Elway has coached several sports at the high school and college level. His first book, The Coach’s Administrative Handbook, has recently been published by Coaches Choice.

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it’s not only about winning. Staying true to your coaching philosophy is paramount to keeping the situation positive. Here are three critical areas that will define who you are during a losing season: Consistent Expectations: During a losing season, it can be tempting to lower your standards for player behavior and work ethic. However, your players stand to gain nothing from lowered expectations. If you expect them to get to practice 10 minutes early every day when the team is winning, they should continue to do so when they’re losing. If you give out an award in practice every week to the player who works hardest, you should continue doing it, even if it feels like that hard work isn’t paying off. Emotional Control: For both players and coaches, keeping emotions in check becomes more difficult when the losses keep coming. But this is the time when your leadership and maturity are most needed to set an example for your athletes. Take the time to go over your rules on behavior more frequently than usual, and don’t hesitate to quickly call players on any negative actions. Staying Positive: It’s extremely easy to feel negative about your players and yourself when the losses pile up, and you need to fight this every step of the way. Every word out of your mouth and all your body language needs to convey that you have not lost hope. It’s up to you to continue hustling, being enthusiastic, and bringing energy to practices and contests. You must be as excited as ever when something good happens and present nothing but positive encouragement when things are not going right. Examine your words and your tone of voice. Yelling is not an acceptable way to correct players, nor is foul language. Be a teacher and explain in a confident voice the mistake that was made. Every time you open your mouth, something constructive should come out. Evaluate Why You’re Losing A key part of getting through a losing season is making sure athletes and parents do not lose confidence in you. The best way to ensure this is to continually evaluate why the team is losing and try to turn things around. Let your athletes and their parents know that you are constantly analyzing 26

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everything the team does to make whatever changes are needed. Break down every game and figure out what went wrong and what went right. Know what your athletes are doing well and where they need to improve. Are there problems with concentration, technical skills, or communication? Have you neglected to teach them something? What will you do in practice to work on those problems? I am a firm believer in the motto, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” and when we’re losing, I ask myself if there is a weak link on defense or offense. I use statistics and performance analysis to find areas that need improvement. Then, I work with those athletes to improve their skills. Either the athlete improves or I alter the lineup. Throughout all these evaluations, I make sure I am communicating well. After games, I talk to players about what caused the team to lose and what we need to do to improve. I post production sheets on the locker room bulletin board so my athletes can see the facts of their performance, and I let them

The worst part about a losing season is that it gives people license to question your decisions and objectives. I can think of several coaches who posted continuous winning seasons, then had one losing season, and were suddenly faced with all sorts of questions that led to their firing. The key to avoiding the one-badseason axe is to communicate with parents and administrators and educate them about what you’re trying to do. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that it is not only important to mold players, but also their parents, who will be very vocal if the team begins to lose. For example, I hold a clinic just for parents, where our coaching

know that I am evaluating them on their hustle, teamwork, and attitude. I also ask them to evaluate themselves using one question: Did you give 100-percent effort today? If they can answer yes, then I feel we are achieving our goals. All athletes needs to answer this question for themselves, not for their coach or anyone else. At the same time, I emphasize that we’re all in this together. I try to create the feeling that everyone must learn from others’ mistakes in a constructive, not destructive, manner. I also emphasize that comments on individual mistakes are not to be taken personally. I try to convey the idea that figuring out what’s going wrong and how to change it is a fun, dynamic process. Tough Decisions Once you’ve determined why your team is losing, you may be faced with some difficult decisions. The most important thing is for you to be able to justify your actions in whatever you do, because sometimes, you’ll need to

staff presents the fundamentals we are trying to teach in our program and explains why we teach techniques the way we do. We periodically have pre- and post-event get-togethers and dinners for team members and families, and I regularly send group e-mails to update parents on schedule changes and team notes. When the team is losing, I intensify this communication, spending even more time talking to parents about what we are trying to do. During a losing season, it can be tempting to hunker down, avoid contact, and communicate less than usual. Fighting this urge can earn you a new level of respect from parents and administrators. It can also help you keep your job.

JOB SECURITY


COACHING LIFE

make tough decisions. Here are some big questions that can arise: Individual vs. Team: What if there’s one athlete who is trying to play at the next level but is being hindered by the rest of the team? I still base everything

that will not make a good impression. Sitting Seniors: What if you decide that a senior on the team is a weak link? I always convey to seniors that they should be the strongest members of the team, and if they aren’t the best at their posi-

underestimated, and the coach must communicate well and offer compassion and understanding. When Players Quit: Some players are not able to deal with losing and may decide to quit the team during the

Some players may not be able to deal with losing, and as they quit the team, some may direct their animosity toward you. As a coach, you need to take the high road, regroup quickly, and move forward with the players that remain. we do on team goals—not on the individual. I let my best players know that for them to get the recognition they’ve worked for, the team must be successful. If they continue to work hard on an individual basis, the team will succeed. The message from the coach must be that both goals are intertwined. I also remind athletes that if they want to play at the next level, the college recruiters who come to watch them are watching everything they do. If they see an athlete only trying to impress the recruiter and not being a team player,

tion, they should expect no favors. If an underclassman begins to play better than a senior, I will not hesitate to start the younger athlete. However, I always have factual information to support my decision and I often make it a gradual transition. I’ve also learned that, during these changes, it is critical for a coach to protect the younger player from abuse from the older player. This can be an emotional time for seniors, who are faced with losing their role and stature on the team. This should never be

season. As a coach, be ready to deal with that possibility. Be aware some will go quietly, while others will make a scene. Some might also direct their animosity toward you. In this situation, always take the high road in your reaction. It is imperative that your team is ready to regroup quickly and move on with the players who have decided to remain. If possible, I try to talk to every kid who quits to find out why. I think about their reason and if I, as a coach, feel I did something to make them quit, I try to change that part of my coaching. If

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the reasons for quitting come down to simply not having the right attitude, I wish them the best and tell them I’m glad they were part of the program. Make It A Learning Experience We’ve all heard the saying, “You can learn more from losing than winning,” but the operative word there is can— this learning doesn’t happen automatically. You need to seize the teachable moments of losing.

To start, I always ask my players how they want to be remembered when they leave high school. Do they want to be the athlete who fought through adversity, or the athlete who helped bring the team down? I explain that one’s true character comes out during tough times, and if they can hold their heads high while losing, they’ll know how to hold their heads high when they experience adversity in their adult lives. If they can hold onto a “never give up” attitude

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in sports, they will go far in anything else they choose to do. We also talk about how losing can bring us together or tear us apart. One baseball season I started with seven seniors who had minimal varsity experience from the previous year. Over the season the players developed togetherness and support for each other, and the team won the league championship. The energy created by hard work fueled everything. Communication is key to the learning process. I make sure there are times when athletes can voice their frustrations, either one-on-one with me or in a group. They need to be able to express themselves, and I let them know they can talk to me to let off steam. At the same time, they know they will be held accountable for what they say to the whole team.

We’ve all heard the saying, “You can learn more from losing than winning.” But learning doesn’t happen automatically. You need to seize the teachable moments. What do I do when an individual athlete or an entire team has endured a particularly dismal outing? I believe it is good for athletes to face the reality of “being down,” especially when their performance has created the situation. If young people can be held accountable and accept responsibility for their part in a loss, they are learning a wonderful life lesson. If they can say, “I wasn’t giving 100-percent effort today” or “I botched the play,” they can figure out how to change their attitude or skills to help make sure it doesn’t happen again. Through it all, I always try to teach the ultimate lesson—that sports are fun, no matter what the score is. I always want to accentuate the positive and show interest in the present. We laugh and joke every day. Win or lose, you need to keep true to your philosophy and your role as a mentor of young people. ■ Versions of this article have appeared in our sister publications Coaching Management Baseball and Coaching Management Basketball.


OPTIMUM PERFORMANCE

THE MENTAL EDGE

A systematic approach to concentration, goal-setting, and positive thinking can help your athletes reach their fullest potential on and off the field.

BY MITCH LYONS N MOST ATHLETIC PROGRAMS, coaching is more of an art than a science. Every coach has his or her own strategies, style, and methods of motivation. The common understanding is that there is no one “right way” to coach a team. But there is one area of coaching that could benefit from more science and less art: teaching athletes the mental skills necessary to succeed in sports. To fully reach their potential, athletes need to be taught how to “think to win” in a structured way.

Through research and trial and error with my own teams, I’ve developed a program for teaching the mental side of sports that I’d like to share with other coaches. Its premise is actually pretty simple: If you teach athletes how to be aware of their thinking process and remain positive in all that they do, their performance will improve. Most mistakes made by athletes are mental mistakes. When a player misses an easy catch, it’s because some mental lapse caused her to not execute at that point in time. When an athlete is not concentrating during practice, it is a mental

problem, not a physical one. If you can teach your athletes to recognize this, corrections become more permanent. As a result, practices are more efficient—players end up learning more in a shorter period of time and athletes are more effective during competition. I’ve used the program with Mitch Lyons is the President of GetPsyched Sports.org, Inc., a nonprofit corporation based in Newton, Mass. He has 23 years of experience coaching at the youth, high school, and college levels. He can be reached at: mitchlyons@getpsychedsports.org.

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teams at many different levels—youth, high school, and college—and I’ve watched these squads consistently give the most effort they can, have fun, and perform better than anyone thought possible. Here’s the best part: You will also be teaching skills that will help your student-athletes succeed in life. Teaching athletes how to think inside and outside the classroom setting and to be positive even when faced with a pervasive negativism in our society can help them be leaders as adults. Game Of Life The program I describe in this article aims to make athletes winners both on and off the field. Most of you probably already subscribe to this ideal. We all want to win, but any good coach also thrives on seeing an awkward freshman mature into a confident senior leader. We certainly aren’t the first generation of coaches to think this way. For example, today, we take the concept of teamwork for granted, but 100 years ago

it was a new idea. Back in 1906, Luther Halsey Gulick, the first Physical Activity Director for New York City, started high schools operating sports programs because, in his words, “Through the loyalty and self-sacrifice developed in team games, we are laying the foundations for wider loyalty and a more discerning selfdevotion to the great national ideals on which democracy rests.” Gulick was amazingly successful. Today, not only do players and members of educational institutions understand “loyalty to the whole,” but entire communities support their home teams with abandon. We regularly pepper our speech with sports metaphors because the teamwork lessons in sports are clearly what we experience in our everyday lives. Gulick’s vision also included teaching morals through sports. And while most coaches would agree with the idea that we should be teaching life skills on our teams, this concept has proven more difficult. One hundred years later, we still don’t have a standard method for teaching these types of lessons. We point

out right from wrong during teachable moments, and we hold our athletes accountable to a code of conduct, but I think we can do more. I think we can teach life skills—through mental skills training—in a systematic way. I think the time is ripe to fulfill Gulick’s ideal of using sport to shape society. Studies in sports psychology say that performance can be improved by building an athlete’s self-worth. Our program combines self-talk, goal-setting, visualization techniques, and a positive environment to help athletes enhance their performance in any sport. These same mental skills help today’s young people find the right path and succeed in life. My belief is that low selfworth contributes to many of our adolescents’ problems (violence, addictions, eating disorders). We must teach young people how to find success by building their own feelings of value in our society. If our society’s negative attitudes promote feelings of hopelessness, we must teach young people how to create a positive atmosphere in which people flourish and

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OPTIMUM PERFORMANCE

are empowered. Mental skills training fills those needs for your team, your school, and our society as a whole. The Program A main tenet of the program and sport psychology is that people who

Identify maximum physical effort as if it were a separate goal so that you know how it feels kinesthetically, how it feels emotionally, and what it looks like visually … Demand that you make a choice whether to give all you have— or not. Don’t kid yourself with the answer. engage in positive thinking and feel good about themselves will probably perform better in anything they do. But what is not so obvious is that self-worth and positive thinking need to be taught. Helping your teammates, focusing, and even working hard are all skills. They may seem like simple skills to adults, but to youngsters they can be difficult. Thus, we need to teach them, just as we teach sport-specific skills. Here are the six major skills we teach in the program: ■ Give maximum physical effort because when we do we feel good about ourselves. ■ Be positive with ourselves and with others because people perform better and learn faster in a positive environment. ■ Set written goals because they promote preparedness, which leads to feeling confident. ■ Be task-oriented and not outcomeoriented, because our own performance is all we can control and success is more likely when we think about the details than when we focus on the final product. ■ Visualize performing tasks successfully outside of practice. ■ Meditate to learn how to change harmful thoughts to helpful ones. You may already talk about these things, but are your athletes getting the message? Is there a text that your players

follow? Are they absolutely certain what they are trying to accomplish through sports? Do all players on your team understand the concepts? On the teams I coach or advise, the program starts with a 90-minute workshop where we introduce the principles of the curriculum. Athletes are also given a text to read and are tested on it with a short open-book quiz. By reading and writing about the skills, the athletes better understand their meaning and importance. We then apply those skills at every practice and game, without fail. We push ourselves as coaches the way we ask players to push themselves. Of the six major skills, the three we concentrate on most are effort, goals, and creating a positive environment. We work as a team on these areas and also ask each athlete to think about them individually. In the following sections, I’ll elaborate on these three points. Maximum Physical Effort Giving maximum physical effort is a mental skill, not an emotional event.

While emotion may aid us, we must make the conscious choice to give all the effort we can muster for as long as we can sustain it. The following points are what we tell our athletes and show them in writing: Accept that each practice is a game in itself. The game is, “How long can I keep up my maximum physical effort?” Identify maximum physical effort as if it were a separate goal so that you know how it feels kinesthetically, how it feels emotionally, and what it looks like visually. Identify maximum effort in practice when it is happening so you know what it is. Demand that you make a choice whether to give all you have—or not. Don’t kid yourself with your answer. Expect consequences for bad choices that do not fit the identity of the team. Each person on the team has been asked to give something they have complete control over: their effort. Ask, before each drill, “What am I thinking about?” (Answer: My level of effort.) During the drill, when the effort

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level sags, ask again, “What am I thinking about?” Sometimes we just forget to give maximum physical effort as our thoughts go elsewhere, especially during long routine drills. Rate your effort after each drill, indi-

an offensive drill should play as if it were a real game). Stop and reflect on how confident and prepared you feel when you work as hard as you can all practice, every practice. Stop to reflect on how good you feel as a person after you’ve worked as hard as you can. Notice each physical letWe address negative behavior as down and consciously try to reduce the number of letsoon as it happens in ourselves downs. and others. We make sure it is Support teammates, whethcorrected in a positive way, such er you are on or off the field. During games, bench players as “I understand your frustration, should help the players on the but stay positive.” field achieve the level of effort everyone practices daily. Naturally, athletes who vidually and as a team, until maximum spend the time and have the commiteffort is the rule, not the exception. This ment toward maximum effort in every means completing each drill all the way practice will play better in games. But through without shortcuts. (Shortcuts more importantly, each member of the do not improve self-worth, but drive it team learns how to raise her self-worth. downward.) They feel more confident and prepared Work all sides of a practice drill, so it and have learned that hard work has is truly game-like (e.g., the defense on more dividends than just playing better.

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They respect themselves. Writing Goals Setting written goals is another way to gain self-worth. Before practice every day, have each athlete write down three goals to be worked on that day. Why should you insist that players construct written goals? 1. Scientific evidence shows that setting goals, with a coach’s feedback, improves players’ performance. 2. When players write down the little things they have to do to improve, they remember them better and make more progress. 3. Setting daily goals helps players transition to practice time. By handing in their goal books as they come into the gym, athletes think about their sport before they begin to practice and clear their minds of whatever they have just been doing. 4. The discipline required to play an entire game is the same type of discipline required to bring written goals every day. I have found that if you inform kids


YOUR “ONE-STOP SOURCE” OPTIMUM PERFORMANCE

of what is expected of them, they see parallels between what they do off the field and what they can accomplish on it. As coaches, we establish discipline in a number of ways, and goal-setting can be one of them. The type of goals set is very important. Goals should be challenging, yet realistic. They should be performancerelated, specific, and quantifiable. And they should be short-term, as we want success every day so athletes can see their own progress. For example, a goal of “making better throws” is not specific enough. Instead, the coach should work with the athlete to discover how to achieve that goal in a more detailed way. If the answer is, “Look at the position of the fielder before throwing the ball,” then that’s the goal. Giving feedback on goals is also important. After the players drop off their goal books and start warming up, I, as an assistant coach, make the time to read their goals, make comments, and try to remember their goals during practice so I can see how they are doing. Creating A Positive Environment Being positive all the time is not easy— for coaches or athletes. Thus, the program actively teaches the mental skill of being positive and demands that coaches model it. Here is what we do to make a positive environment a constant: ■ We make sure all athletes understand and accept that people learn faster and perform better in a positive environment. ■ We make sure athletes understand that it is a skill to be actively positive. We agree to practice this skill every time we meet and model it for each other. ■ We address negative behavior as soon as it happens in ourselves and others. We make sure it is corrected in a positive way, such as, “I understand your frustration, but stay positive.” To encourage this, we notice impatience, sarcasm, negative tone, rolled eyes, and other body language in ourselves and others—then we say something about it. ■ We frequently ask ourselves and others, “What are we thinking about?” to determine if we are having negative thoughts that hurt our performance. Everyone practices replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. ■ We encourage loud and frequent support from those not in the drill dur-

ing practice. ■ We actively attempt and encourage others to see the good in people, getting past old differences for their own happiness and the unity of the team. ■ We teach and model that constructive criticism from others is instruction—it is not about you as a person, but about your play. We recognize defensiveness and practice changing it. ■ We acknowledge as a group that bench players have the most difficult job on the team. As coaches, we must take the time to teach them how to be positive without the self-worth gained from playing. For example, have them work on replacing negative thoughts (“Why aren’t I playing?”) with helpful thoughts (“How could we do that play better?”). My teams have won many games with insights from the bench. Too Much Time? For those of you thinking this all takes too much time, I can tell you from experience that because players learn faster in this environment, the amount you can fit into a practice increases. More importantly, the quality of the practice improves. What you will find over time is that you are not using more words, just different ones. You can concentrate your critiques on the cause of the error instead of the result, making corrections more permanent. And because the athletes are grounded in the material, they will respond to your coaching much more quickly. But, beyond this program helping your athletes on the field, it can help create a society that Luther Halsey Gulick began to talk about a century ago, adding in what we now know about the mind-body connection. If we standardize coaching to include practicing the skill of being positive, millions of young people will become adults who know the power of positive thinking. Ten years from now, the athletes you have on your team today may not remember the squad’s win-loss record. They may not even remember your name. But if you teach them to be aware of how their thoughts affect their performance, they will remember that lesson in everything they do. ■ This article has previously appeared in other editions of Coaching Management.

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COACHING MANAGEMENT

wing brush kit, a hydraulic tractor top link, a 50-gallon water tank with a spray nozzle, a long-tine “fluffing” rake, and the new highway transport kit. Circle No. 502 Beacon Athletics 800-747-5985 WWW.BEACONATHLETICS.COM The Tensioned Batting Cage by Beacon Athletics is designed for indoor or outdoor use. It accommodates space restrictions, including obstacles such as bleachers and stage areas. When used outside, the cage’s special design preserves the life of the system since it can be taken down during inclement weather. In fact, the batting cage can be put up or taken down in just 10 minutes. All Beacon Athletics systems are designed to meet your needs. Circle No. 503 BetterBaseball 800-997-4233 WWW.BETTERBASEBALL.COM BetterBaseball is a total baseball and softball supply house, specializing in nets and batting cages that are custom-cut to any size you want. The company provides quick, friendly customer service. BetterBaseball supplies everything, including bases, plates, mounds, gear, and hardware. All team equipment needs can be found easily online, or teams can call the company toll-free for more product information. Circle No. 504 Challenger Industries, Inc. 800-334-8873 WWW.CHALLENGERIND.COM Challenger Industries offers Players’ Choice baseball and softball field turf. The latest in synthetic turf technology, it’s great for covering the entire field, foul ball areas, or just the infield. Players’ Choice is part of a

system specially engineered for performance, safety, drainage, and stability. It is custom made to satisfy the individual needs of each field. Contact Challenger today for more information. Circle No. 505 DURAPlay home plate baseball and softball mats from Challenger Industries can be used anywhere a home plate area is needed. Whether covering the batter’s box for protection or establishing a home plate area indoors or out, these durable mats create batter’s boxes that are ideal for either sport. Pre-cut mats are available for fungo/on-deck circles, pitcher’s mounds, and single batter’s boxes. Synthetic turf products are also available for batting cages, dugouts, or the whole field, and installation is available as well. Contact Challenger for more information. Circle No. 506 DiamondTurf WWW.DIAMONDTURF.NET Supreme DiamondTurf 36 is designed to withstand pivoting steel spikes for optimum per formance and outstanding durability. Its monofilament polypropylene sur face is ideal for softball because it has no pile direction, resulting in more consistent ball roll. Supreme DiamondTur f 36 comes with an optional five millimeter foam pad, and can be enhanced with custom inlaid logos and colors. The tur f carries an eightyear warranty and is available through Collegiate Pacific (888-566-8966), Tomark Sports (800-959-1844), and VPI Sports (800-244-4457). Circle No. 507 Fair-Play Scoreboards 800-247-0265 WWW.FAIR-PLAY.COM Fair-Play softball scoreboards vary in size and in game information displayed. The BA7120-2 is designed primarily for high schools and is 20


Softball Field feet long. Electronic team names are an option on all boards longer than 14 feet, and all boards between 20 and 36 feet in length feature inning-by-inning run display. Circle No. 508 Fair-Play softball scoreboards are designed around essential game information. Models such as the BA7220-2 offer must-have statistics as well as options to enhance the game experience for fans, players, and coaches. Some of these options include an atbat indicator, pitch speed, field time, and areas for sponsor or team signage. Circle No. 509

M.A.S.A., Inc. 800-264-4519 WWW.MASA.COM WWW.SPORTSADVANTAGE.COM M.A.S.A. carries a large selection of heavy-duty White Line Markers that are constructed for a lifetime of use. The company’s All Star Pneumatic Wheel version is

its top selling liner, with durable construction and unique features to meet even the toughest demands. For over 20 years, White Line Markers have been respected as the most accurate and durable markers available. Call a M.A.S.A. representative for knowledgeable expertise to help you choose a marker that’s best for your organization and budget. For more information, visit the company’s Web site. Circle No. 512

Game-On 888-593-0395 WWW.HAYDITEGAME-ON.COM Game-On is a sports field soil conditioner that provides excellent turf results without breaking the team’s budget. It’s a lightweight, expanded-shale product that absorbs over 20 percent of its weight in water. GameOn 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. 510 Game-On Red is an infield topdressing with a brick-red color that gives your field a finishing touch for that Major League look. This topdressing gives balls a more consistent bounce while the deep red color allows infielders to see the ball more easily. Game-On Red is available in bags or in bulk. Circle No. 511

Check out

www.AthleticBid.com to contact these companies. Circle No. 126 COACHING MANAGEMENT

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Softball Field M.A.S.A., Inc. 800-264-4519 WWW.MASA.COM WWW.SPORTSADVANTAGE.COM

Pro’s Choice 800-648-1166 WWW.PROSCHOICE1.COM

M.A.S.A. has welcomed the new Fence Guard Lite to its family of fence guards. The Fence Guard Lite is priced for the tightest budgets. It protects against chain link fence injuries, increases fence visibility, and can add beauty to any field. With the addition of Fence Guard Lite, M.A.S.A. now has three grades of fence guards: Premium, Standard, and Lite. All three feature exterior-grade UV-resistant polyethylene construction that is maintenance free and designed to produce the longest-lasting fence caps available. Call or visit the company’s Web site for more information. Circle No. 513

Pro’s Choice Select premium infield conditioner features a unique blend of particle sizes and a deep red color

to give you the look of a professional ballpark. The small, uniformly sized granules make it the perfect infield topdressing to keep your infield smooth, safe, and resilient. For winning fields season after season, use what the pros use—Pro’s Choice Select. Circle No. 514 Partac/Beam Clay 800-247-BEAM WWW.BEAMCLAY.COM Partac®/Beam Clay® is a supplier to every Major League Baseball team, over 150 minor league teams, more than 700 colleges, and thousands of

towns and schools from all 50 states and many countries around the world. Partac/ Beam Clay makes special mixes for infields, pitcher’s mounds, home plate areas, and red warning tracks, as well as infield conditioners and drying agents. The company also offers over 200 other infield products, including regional infield mixes blended for every state and climate condition from bulk plants nationwide. Circle No. 515 Qualite Sports Lighting, Inc. 800-933-9741 WWW.QUALITE.COM Qualite Sports Lighting’s systems incorporate the most efficient IESNAsanctioned fixtures in the industry. The fixtures are pre-set specifically for your field to provide optimum, uniform light and create a safe, enjoyable environ-

A COACHES BEST FRIEND The best in artificial turf for your next baseball, softball or other sport facility.

Call for a Free Catalog Toll Free: (866) 243-6387 • • • •

Batting Cages Protective Screens Back Stops & Barriers Nets Pitching Machines Custom Sizes Available

Catalog Image

Shop Online at: www.spinets.net South Padre Island Nets, Inc. 2001 Amistad Dr. San Benito, TX 78586 USA

Tel: (956) 276-9598 Fax: (956) 276-9691 Toll Free Fax: (866) 421-9691

800-959-1844 • 888-566-8966 www.diamondturf.net

Affordable Quality Products to Play Hard Circle No. 127

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Softball Field ment for players and fans. With superb spill light control, low-cost installation, and one of the best 10-year warranties in the business, Qualite’s systems are a must see. Circle No. 516

The Quantum Tur f Technologies® manufacturing process transforms a unique blend of 100-percent natural clay into high-quality, professionally sized calcined clay conditioners. These conditioners are used throughout the spor ts tur f industr y for the daily maintenance of skinned infield sur faces, and may also be used in new construction and major renovation projects. Circle No. 517

Red Diamond by Moltan 800-264-5826 WWW.MOLTAN.COM

Red Diamond Professional Packing Clay not only meets the needs of the professional groundskeeper, but is also ver y easy to install and maintain. Uniform-sized nuggets are the result of modifying 100percent natural clay through an innovative manufacturing process. This packing clay provides safe, resilient pitcher’s mounds, landing areas, and batter’s boxes for ever y level of baseball. The nuggets may

For baseball and softball fields at ever y level, from youth to the professional leagues, Red Diamond CC Conditioner® and Drying Agent® provide a safe, professional, and playable skinned infield sur face.

also be used in new construction, renovation projects, and daily repairs. Circle No. 518 SPI Nets, Inc. 866-243-6387 WWW.SPINETS.NET SPI Nets’ full-service net building facility offers the highest-quality nets at unbeatable prices. The company stocks and custombuilds a wide variety of nylon and poly batting cage nets, protective screens, and deflective barrier netting products. All custom nets are guaranteed to be of the highest quality, built in the USA to meet all your needs. Call SPI Nets toll-free or go online to learn more. Circle No. 519

Circle No. 129 COACHING MANAGEMENT

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Softball Field Stabilizer Solutions, Inc. 800-336-2468 WWW.STABILIZERSOLUTIONS.COM Hilltopper from Stabilizer Solutions offers a unique combination of longlasting 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, with no mud or dust. Installation and repairs take half the time of traditional clay products. Circle No. 520 TXI/Diamond Pro 800-228-2987 WWW.DIAMONDPRO.COM Diamond Pro offers a complete line of professional groundskeeping products: infield conditioners; calcined clay; mound and home plate 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. 521 Soft Touch Bases 866-544-2077 WWW.SOFTTOUCHBASES.COM Soft Touch “progressive release� bases are designed to flex and absorb energy as a player slides into the base. In the case of uncontrolled slides, the “progressive release� action allows

Pitching Machines CAN Do More...

Add The Swing Zone Change Pitch Locations Vertically & Horizontally

the base to flex until enough force is applied to “pop� the base free from its mount, unlike a stationary base. Circle No. 522 Vantage Products International 800-244-4457 WWW.VPISPORTS.COM VPI offers the Big Bubba professional portable batting cage. The Big Bubba is one of the leading choices for high school, collegiate, and professional baseball programs—at considerable cost savings. Its heavy-duty aluminum construction, easy portability, and collapsible design make it the perfect backstop for any level. Measuring 18’ W x 12’ H x 22’ D, the Big Bubba collapses to only five feet high. Its unique dolly assembly at the rear and 16-inch pneumatic wheels make relocation simple. Circle No. 523

3TADIUM#HAIRS "LOW-OLDEDOR)NJECTION-OLDED 0(/.%   &!8   WWWSEATINGSERVICESCOM

Train Batters To:

W Hit random location pitches W Swing at only strikes W Improve batting averages

STABILIZES PITCHING MACHINES TOO! Fits tripod based machines with leg openings from 3/4�-1�

Phone 585-244-3180 See Our Online Demonstration at:

www.theswingzone.com

Unif

ied Solutions Inc.

Circle No. 130

38 COACHING MANAGEMENT UnifiedSolutions_CM1409.indd 1

Quality Stadium Chair Manufacturer

Made in the USA

Circle No. 131 9/26/06 3:10:47 PM


Company Q & A

eFundraising Sets the Pace When it Comes to Fundraising “eFundraising has already helped thousands of nonprofit groups raise millions of dollars…”

The founder and President of eFundraising, Eric Boyko, graduated from McGill University with a degree in accounting, and in 1997 earned his CGA title. Always the entrepreneur, Boyko strives to develop and manage his young corporation by combining the structure of a large organization with the philosophy and dynamic team spirit of a newly established company. In 2000, Eric led the venture capital financing and sale of eFundraising to ZapMe! for $27 million. He then went on to negotiate a deal to be acquired by QSP Reader’s Digest in 2001. Why should a non-profit group choose eFundraising over other fundraising companies? We offer a large selection of proven fundraising programs, as well as competitive profit margins on all our products. We also have a great team of experienced fundraising consultants and friendly customer service representatives available throughout the entire fundraising process, to help clients choose the right program, answer all their fundraising questions, and respond to their needs. If a group decides to work with eFundraising, how do they go about starting their fundraising campaign? Once our clients have had a chance to look through the information offered in our free Fundraising Guide, a fundraising consultant will contact them to discuss their fundraising needs and answer any questions they have. Clients can also call 866-461-1016 for more information about any of our programs. They can then place an order over the phone and start raising money for their group.

eFundraising.com 205 W. SERVICE RD. CHAMPLAIN, NY 12919 866-461-1016 INFO@EFUNDRAISING.COM WWW.EFUNDRAISING.COM

How long has eFundraising been in business? eFundraising was established as the Universal Fundraising Group in 1991, and has become one of the leading figures in the North American fundraising industry. My vision was to create a business whose purpose was to

provide non-profit groups with a large selection of quality fundraising products at competitive prices. And that mission has been accomplished: eFundraising has already helped thousands of students, educators, athletes, communities, and other non-profit groups raise millions of dollars by providing personalized ways to achieve their specific fundraising goals. How does QSP Reader’s Digest fit in? In May 2001, eFundraising was acquired by QSP, a subsidiary of Reader’s Digest. This partnership has allowed eFundraising to add over 100 years of traditional know-how and expertise to our cutting-edge fundraising technology and experience. Can you tell us a little more about QSP Reader’s Digest? QSP is the fundraising division of Reader’s Digest. Since 1964, QSP has helped students raise over $2 billion in profits for enrichment programs and worthwhile projects that are essential to a meaningful, well-rounded education. As for Reader’s Digest, everyone recognizes that name, especially from its flagship publication, Reader’s Digest Magazine, which is sold in more than 60 countries. What about your relationship with World’s Finest Chocolate? QSP has a longstanding partnership with World’s Finest Chocolate, and is the fundraising industry’s exclusive distributor of WFC products. So when we joined QSP Reader’s Digest, we were able to benefit from that alliance. For over 50 years, WFC has helped schools and non-profit organizations raise over $2.5 billion in profits, which is unmatched in the fundraising industry. Where do you see eFundraising in the future? Right now, we are working on establishing alliances with relevant companies that can help us broaden the scope of our market. Our goal is to reach as many non-profit organizations as we can and help them reach their own goals. We are the world’s leading fundraising company and we want to make sure we stay that way.

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ADVERTISERS DIRECTORY CIRCLE NO.

COMPANY

PAGE NO.

CIRCLE NO.

COMPANY

PAGE NO

116 . . . Accelerated Baseball Technologies 23

139 . . . Moyer Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

140. . . Bannerman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IBC

125. . . Partac/Beam Clay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

136. . . Beacon Athletics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

124 . . . PIK Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

126 . . . BetterBaseball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

115 . . . Pro’s Choice Field Products . . . . . . 20

106 . . Boathouse Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

107. . . Qualite Sports Lighting . . . . . . . . . . . 8

. . IFC

110 . . . Red Diamond Conditioners. . . . . . . 12

120. . . Challenger Industries . . . . . . . . . . . 28

122. . . Ringor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

104 . . Diamond Pro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

134. . . ScorePAD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

128. . . DiamondTurf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

131 . . . Seating Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

137 . . . eFundraising.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

111 . . . Soft Touch Bases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

102. . . Fair-Play Scoreboards . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

127. . . SPI Nets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

105 . . Fastball Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

118 . . . Sports Attack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

114 . . . Finch Windmill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

108 . . Sports Tutor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

119 . . . Game-On Field Conditioners . . . . . 27

121 . . . Stabilizer Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

101. . . Gatorade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

103. . . Stalker Radar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

113 . . . Glove Radar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

141 . . . The Game . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BC

138. . . Goldner Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

130. . . Unified Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

100 . . Bolco Bases

(A Div. of Adams USA) .

117 . . . Impulse Training Systems . . . . . . . . 23

123. . . Vantage Products Int’l.

109 . . Longstreth Women’s Sports . . . . . . 11

132 . . . WSI Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

129. . . M.A.S.A. Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

112 . . . Xco Trainer

135. . . Master Pitching Machine . . . . . . . . . 45

133. . . Zingbat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

(Fitterfirst)

(VPI)

. . . . . . 31

. . . . . . . . . . . . 14

PRODUCTS DIRECTORY CIRCLE NO.

COMPANY

PAGE NO.

524. . . Accelerated Baseball Technologies 41

Circle No. 132

40

COACHING MANAGEMENT

CIRCLE NO.

COMPANY

PAGE NO

530 . . Master Pitching Machine . . . . . . . . 41

539 . . Adams USA (batting helmet/faceguard) . . 44

546 . . Moyer Sports

(custom uniforms)

500 . . Adams USA (Bolco Base) . . . . . . . . . . . 34

547 . . Moyer Sports

(stock apparel)

. . . . . 46

501 . . Bannerman

(Ballpark-4).

. . . . . . . . . . . 34

515 . . . Partac/Beam Clay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

502 . . Bannerman

(Diamond Master)

. . . . . . . 34

533 . . Power Systems (Baseball-Softball Tube) . . 42

. . . . . . . 46

503 . . Beacon Athletics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

541. . . Power Systems (Forearm Exerciser) . . . . 44

540 . . BetterBaseball

(Easy Auction) .

. . . . . . 44

514 . . . Pro’s Choice Field Products . . . . . . 36

504 . . BetterBaseball

(nets and cages)

. . . . . 34

516 . . . Qualite Sports Lighting . . . . . . . . . . 36

543 . . Boathouse Sports

(Outer Motion) .

. . . 45

544 . . Boathouse Sports

(TxM Suit)

517 . . . Red Diamond (Conditioner/Drying Agent) 37

. . . . . . . 45

518 . . . Red Diamond (Packing Clay) . . . . . . . . . 37

506 . . Challenger Industries (DURAPlay) . . . . 34

548 . . Ringor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

505 . . Challenger Industries (Players’ Choice) . 34

542 . . ScorePAD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

521. . . Diamond Pro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

522 . . Soft Touch Bases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

507 . . DiamondTurf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

519 . . . SPI Nets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

552 . . eFundraising.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

534 . . Sports Attack

(Hack Attack)

508 . . Fair-Play Scoreboards

(BA-7120-2) .

. . 34

535 . . Sports Attack

(Junior Hack Attack) .

509 . . Fair-Play Scoreboards

(BA-7220-2) .

. . 35

536 . . Sports Tutor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

526 . . Fastball Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

520 . . Stabilizer Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

510 . . . Game-On . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

537 . . Stalker Radar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

511 . . . Game-On

(Red) .

531. . . Swift Stik . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

555 . . Gatorade

(Endurance Formula) .

554 . . Gatorade

(Nutrition Shake)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

. . . . . . . . 42 . . . 42

. . . . . . 48

527 . . Swing Speed Radar . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

. . . . . . . . . 48

549 . . The Game . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

528 . . Glove Radar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

538 . . Unified Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

556 . . Goldner Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

523 . . Vantage Products Int’l.

532 . . Grand Slam Pitching Machine . . . . . 41

550 . . WSI Sports

(HEATR) .

529 . . Impulse Training Systems . . . . . . . . 41

551 . . . WSI Sports

(Slider) .

545 . . Longstreth Women’s Sports . . . . . . 46

553 . . Xco Trainer

(Fitterfirst)

513 . . . M.A.S.A.

(Fence Guard Lite) .

525 . . Zingbat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

512 . . . M.A.S.A.

(White Line Markers)

. . . . . . . . 36 . . . . . . . 35

(VPI)

. . . . . . 38

. . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 . . . . . . . . . . . . 48


Hitting & Pitching Aids Accelerated Baseball Technologies, Inc. 920-748-6599 WWW.ACCELERATEDBASEBALL.COM

Swing Speed Radar™ 888-542-9246 WWW.SWINGSPEEDRADAR.COM

make it an extremely versatile tool for the serious athletic trainer. Circle No. 529

The Flame Thrower training machine from Accelerated Baseball Technologies helps batters enhance their ball-tracking skills and develop quality swing repetition for more solid contact. By using tennis balls thrown at high or low speeds, the Flame Thrower forces the batter to concentrate on the ball’s flight. Since it is lightweight and portable, it’s ideal for indoor or outdoor practices. The Flame Thrower is currently being used by youth, collegiate, and professional softball teams around the country. Circle No. 524

The new Swing Speed Radar™ from Sports Sensors is a small, inexpensive Doppler radar velocity sensor that measures the swing speed of baseball and softball batters. The Swing Speed Radar helps players 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 troubleshooting swing mechanics. Circle No. 527

Master Pitching Machine, Inc. 800-878-8228 WWW.MASTERPITCH.COM

Zingbat 866-ZINGBAT WWW.ZINGBAT.COM Zingbat™ has introduced its new Trainer Series product line. This economically priced version of the regular Pro Series Zingbat is ideal for youth players. The Trainer Series teaches batters basic swing mechanics. The Composite Zingbat Trainer is available in one length and weight (30”, 17 ounces), while the aluminum Pro Series can be customized to meet your team’s specific length and weight requirements. Call today for a free instructional CD or video. Circle No. 525 Fastball Sports 281-398-4329 WWW.FASTBALL-SPORTS.COM Are you wearing out your game-day pitchers by having them throw too much batting practice? Have you ever wished your hitters could take a lot of swings from a pitching machine without destroying their sense of timing and hitting mechanics? If so, use the J-Mo, Jugs Pitching Machine’s fastpitch motion attachment. It makes a Jugs softball pitching machine throw like a live-arm pitcher. Circle No. 526

Glove Radar 888-542-9246 WWW.GLOVERADAR.COM The Glove Radar is a small, inexpensive, and accurate microwave Doppler radar device that attaches to the back of virtually any baseball or softball glove. It “sees” through the glove and measures the speed of a ball thrown from any distance, just before the ball is caught. The Glove Radar can withstand softball impacts of over 75mph. Take it from Ken Griffey, Jr.—The Glove Radar is the ideal aid for developing the throwing skills of infielders, outfielders, pitchers, and catchers. The Glove Radar is a big hit among coaches, players, and parents, and it costs much less than most radar guns. Circle No. 528 Impulse Training Systems 800-964-2362 WWW.IMPULSEPOWER.COM The Impulse enhances neurological development as a critical aspect of exercise. If your objectives are better balance, more power, and injury-free performance, then the Impulse should be a major part of your program. It is a dominant technology in training Olympians and elite professional athletes in many sports. Its upper- and lower-body programs and sport-specific exercises

The Iron Mike pitching machine features a throwing arm that lets batters see a full wind-up before the ball is pitched, allowing them to better develop the fundamental skills used when facing a live pitcher. This 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. 530 Swift Stik 877-845-7845 WWW.SWIFTSTIK.COM Swift Stik is one of the most versatile training bats on the market. Batters can improve hand-eye coordination, increase bat speed, build muscle memory, and isolate the bat’s “sweet spot.” Swift Stik may be used with Wiffle®, tennis, or soft-foam balls. Use Swift Stik during practice with any drill so batters can take more swings before muscle fatigue sets in, or use it before a game to lock in hand-eye coordination. Visit Swift Stik’s Web site to see how it gets fast results. Circle No. 531 Grand Slam Pitching Machine 800-GRAND-SLAM WWW.AGRANDSLAM.COM Grand Slam is one of the most effective pitching machines for working batters’ hand-eye coordination. Its self-feeding reservoir holds over 60 golf ballsized Wiffle® balls and allows batters to take 50 swings in five minutes. Each pitch is guaranteed to hit the strike zone. It’s ideal for indoor training or outdoor use—all you need is 16 to 20 feet of free space. Forty-eight balls and a lifetime warranty are included. Circle No. 532

COACHING MANAGEMENT

41


Hitting & Pitching Aids Power Systems, Inc. 800-321-6975 WWW.POWER-SYSTEMS.COM Safely warm up and strengthen the throwing area while reducing the incidence of shoulder injury with the BaseballSoftball Tube. A regulation nine-inch baseball or 12-inch softball with a synthetic rubber cover and stitching is attached to a 36inch latex tube to provide resistance throughout the entire throwing motion. A nylon mounting strap attaches to any fixed object. Circle No. 533 Sports Attack 800-717-4251 WWW.SPORTSATTACK.COM The Hack Attack softball pitching machine has a unique threewheel design that provides complete ball vision, lifelike timing, and pinpoint accuracy.

Simply adjust the wheel-speed dials to throw fastballs over 80 mph, risers, drops, right-handed and left-handed curves, screwballs up and in to righthanded and left-handed hitters, and knuckleball change-ups. This machine is a professional training tool designed for college and serious high school athletes. Circle No. 534 The Junior Hack Attack softball pitching machine from Sports Attack is designed to develop serious young players. Its exclusive three-wheel vision allows the hitter to see the ball clearly, just like with a live pitcher. With a quick turn of the dials, the machine can throw fastballs over 60 mph, risers, drops, right-handed and left-handed curves, screwballs, and knuckleball changeups. At 75 pounds it easily fits into a compact car, even a Mini Cooper. Circle No. 535

Sports Tutor 800-448-8867 WWW.SPORTSMACHINES.COM The HomePlate Triple Softball programmable pitching machine can simulate any pitch that batters are likely to face. It can throw a 70-mph riser, a 50-mph drop pitch, a curve, and a slider with only seven seconds between pitches. Store up to eight different pitches in each of the eight different programs. Pitches can be thrown sequentially for specific hitting drills, or randomly to simulate game conditions. The HomePlate Triple Softball machine holds up to 40 12-inch dimpled softballs in its hopper. Circle No. 536 Stalker Radar 888-STALKER WWW.STALKERRADAR.COM/ SPORTS_SPORT.SHTML The ultra high-performance Stalker Sport radar gun precisely measures the speed of a softball as it leaves the pitcher’s hand and as it crosses the plate. Softball radar speeds can differ by up to 12mph. The Stalker Sport is three times more powerful than most sports radar guns, accurately clocking 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 Sport. Circle No. 537 Unified Solutions 585-244-3180 WWW.THESWINGZONE.COM

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Unified Solutions recently introduced the Swing Zone pitching machine accessory, and it is revolutionizing the training capabilities of tripod-based pitching machines. The problem with some pitching machines is that they can’t randomly vary pitch location within the strike zone. The Swing Zone attaches easily to any tripod-based machine in minutes, and randomly alters pitch location both vertically and horizontally to create a gamelike practice experience for the batter. It also greatly reduces “machine jump” by creating a stable base for the pitching machine. See the company’s Web site for a video demonstration. Circle No. 538


Company Q & A

Cho-Pat: A Tradition of Excellence and Innovation George Gauvry is the founder of Cho-Pat and the man behind the development of all the company’s products. He continues to play an important role in the company’s growth as Director of Research and Development and as a respondent to the medical questions and needs of Cho-Pat’s customers. Please tell our readers a little about Cho-Pat. Cho-Pat’s philosophy is to provide the ultimate in support devices—devices that are specific, effective, and dependable. I started the company in 1980 and used the principles of orthotics— the clinical treatment of injuries and deformities involving the musculoskeletal system—to create my first support device, the original Cho-Pat Knee Strap. As a long-distance runner, I developed a kneecap disorder known as runner’s knee. Since I was not able to find anything in the marketplace specifically for that disorder, I decided to use my background to make a device that would allow me to stay active.

Cho-Pat P.O. BOX 293 HAINESPORT, NJ 08036 800-221-1601 FAX: 609-261-7593 SALES@CHO-PAT.COM WWW.CHO-PAT.COM

My design for the original Knee Strap used the force of compression on the patellar tendon below the kneecap to stabilize and strengthen the joint and alleviate various symptoms associated with degenerative knees and inflammation/tendonitis of the kneecap. The idea eventually helped to revolutionize the treatment of certain knee disorders, and was rewarded with U.S. and Canadian patents for its design and mechanics. This treatment for chondromalacia patella also became the basis for the company name. What distinguishes Cho-Pat from others in sports medicine? Today, Cho-Pat is recognized as a leader in the sports medicine field for the innovation, effectiveness, quality, and

dependability of its products. Since the introduction of the Knee Strap, Cho-Pat has championed new concepts for the treatment of common anatomical and biomedical conditions, such as shin splints, bicipital/tricipital tendonitis, tennis elbow, lower back pain, Achilles’ tendonitis, subluxation of the kneecap, and iliotibial band syndrome. Cho-Pat distributes and sells its American-made products in the United States, Canada, and around the world. Its wide acceptance and endorsement by medical professionals, physical therapists, athletic trainers, professional athletes, and active individuals reflects the company’s longstanding reputation for effectiveness, integrity, and strong customer service. Can you tell our readers about your most popular product? That would be our Dual Action Knee Strap, which builds on the successful foundation of the original Knee Strap. First, it applies pressure to the tendon below the knee to reduce patellar subluxation and improve patellar tracking and elevation. Then, by adding pressure to the tendon above the knee, the strap further strengthens and supports the joint for added stability. Like the original Knee Strap, the Dual Action Knee Strap has received a U.S. patent, reflecting its unique attributes. How can our readers learn more about Cho-Pat products? One source of information is our Web site, which provides a description, picture, and sizing information for each of our products, as well as basic information about various ailments and suggested Cho-Pat products. People can also contact a knowledgeable customer service representative by calling us directly.

COACHING MANAGEMENT

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Team Equipment Adams USA 800-251-6857 WWW.ADAMSUSA.COM

Betterbaseball.com 800-997-4233 WWW.BETTERBASEBALL.COM

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

The BH40-OS batting helmet and SB-64 softball faceguard are American-made and NOCSAE-approved products. They’re both lightweight and comfortable for all age groups. The BH40-OS uses the same polycarbonate material found in football helmets, which allows for advanced ventilation to keep athletes cool. The one-size-fits-most liner provides a wider range of fit for all ages. The SB64 faceguard, with an improved design for better vision, is made specifically for softball and is available in several colors. Circle No. 539

Want to save even more on great products at the Betterbaseball.com Web site? Try the new Easy Auction feature. Each item up for bid is described in detail and a product image is shown. Get fantastic deals on everything from bats and gloves to windscreens and practice balls. Go online to learn more, and you’ll be placing bids in no time. Circle No. 540

Improve forearm and wrist strength and flexibility with Power Systems’ Premium Forearm Exerciser. Progress

is achieved by adding resistance, half a pound at a time, using the custom chrome plates. This product is ideal for wrist and forearm rehabilitation and development. The set includes the Premium Forearm Exerciser, seven halfpound plates, and a carry bag. Circle No. 541

Check out www.AthleticBid.com to contact these companies.

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Team Equipment

Uniforms & Apparel

ScorePAD Sports, Inc. 678-270-4001 WWW.SCOREPAD.COM

Boathouse Sports 800-875-1883 WWW.BOATHOUSE.COM

ScorePAD Sports is a software company whose signature product is a system called ScorePAD. With ScorePAD you can score baseball and softball games on a Palm OS device or Windows-based PC. You can also create and post per-

Boathouse Sports’ Outer Motion uniform line includes a lightweight, sublimated jersey that’s available in two styles: short sleeve (the Vindicator) and sleeveless (the Rebel). Made of Boathouse’s Tech-Mesh fabric—a 100-percent polyester closed knit that uses small holes to create natural internal circulation—these jerseys wick moisture away from the skin four times faster than cotton. With colors, graphics, names, and numbers dyed directly into the fabric, you’ll never have to worry about the cracking or peeling associated with screen printing or the added weight of tackle twill. Circle No. 543

sonalized Web pages for your team’s player statistics, box scores, scorecards, play-by-play narratives, and spray charts. You can even print reports containing more than 300 statistics and share them with players and family members. Circle No. 542

Boathouse Sports’ TxM Suit is made with the company’s unique TxM fabric. The full-zip jacket, pullover, and pants not only provide excellent warmth but also wick moisture away from the skin. TxM is a four-way stretch fabric that’s made of 87-percent polyester and 13percent lycra to allow greater mobility during workouts. Ideal as a training or travel suit, Boathouse’s TxM Suit is the centerpiece of the company’s Training Motion line and is easily embellished with custom embroidery. It is available in a full range of colors. Circle No. 544

Your source for fundraising tips, support,and suppliers:

www.FundraisingForSports.com

Hit ’em year ’round. B E A C O N B AT T I N G C A G E S Indoor or outdoor, tensioned or free-standing.

Customized to a coach’s dream.

FIELD MAINTENANCE & TRAINING EQUIPMENT

800-747-5985 www.BeaconAthletics.com Circle No. 135

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Uniforms & Apparel Longstreth Women’s Sports 800-545-1329 WWW.LONGSTRETH.COM

Moyer Sports USA 800-255-5299 WWW.MOYERSPORTS.COM

Longstreth Women’s Sports, a leading uniform manufacturer for over 15 years, has released its first exclusive team jerseys and team shorts: the St. George jersey with matching Southampton shorts, and the Hamilton jersey with matching Pembroke shorts. These stylish and functional items are available in lightweight microweave polyester or dazzle polyester. The St. George jersey has a sleeveless cut, while the Hamilton jersey has a racerback cut (a popular choice for today’s teams). You choose the color of the body, the side inserts, the neck, and the arm trim. Circle No. 545

Moyer Sports USA offers a complete line of custom uniforms in 100-percent micro-weave polyester Dyna-Dr y or dazzle polyester. Sublimation printing allows you to choose any color combination, and the numbers and logos are guaranteed never to peel or crack. Many color ful designs are available, and your Moyer uniforms will never be discontinued. Circle No. 546 Moyer Sports also offers a full line of stock and custom jackets, warm-ups, bags, and visors. Custom tackle-twill and

Swiss-embroidery services are available through the company’s state-of-the-art lettering facility. Circle No. 547 Ringor 800-746-4670 WWW.RINGOR.COM Achieving game speed is the quest of all players and coaches. Game speed is built through repetition and exhibited with power and precision on the diamond. Ringor products promote and enhance the explosive movements of the fastpitch game. As you continue to improve your program, Ringor continues to provide you with the best in footwear, bags, and performance apparel. Circle No. 548

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 Circle No. 137

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Circle No. 138

231 Venture Circle Nashville, TN 37228


Uniforms & Apparel The Game, LLC 800-723-5656 WWW.2THEGAME.COM The Game has introduced GameTek to its GamePRO custom team headwear lineup. GameTek is The Game’s new patented performance fabric, and it’s ideal for athletes. This amazing fabric promotes rapid absorption, swift dispersion, and fast drying. It is comfortable, lightweight, and offers maximum breathability. All GameTek and GamePRO visors and caps are fully customizable for orders as small as 18 pieces. For a list of authorized team dealers, visit The Game’s Web site. Circle No. 549

Web News Diamond Pro’s Web Site Gets Even Better Diamond Pro has launched an improved, more user-friendly Web site. While this new site better communicates the benefits of all the great Diamond Pro products, some of the old features remain available, such as the how-to section, the Ask the Pros question-and-answer forum, and the pages containing field dimensions. New features include downloadable PDFs of instructions, applications, and MSDS sheets. Users can view Diamond Pro’s latest products in the Professional Groundskeeping line, and see distributor information. Diamond Pro welcomes customer feedback and will continue to make site modifications based on this input. As always, the company will notify its customers of these improvements as they happen.

www.diamondpro.com

Custom Softball UNIFO RMS COMBCI OLOR ✓SPEC NATION I CUTS ALIZE IN W OMEN' ✓#’S & S T E DYED D AM NA M I R INTO ECTLY E ✓GUA FABRIC NEVERRANTEED ✓ 4-6 PEEL ORTCO R WEEK DELIVE ACK ✓ RU S RY H S AVAIL ERVICE ABLE! ✓ANY

WSI Sports 651-994-9945 WWW.WSISPORTS.COM The HEATR Pitching/Quarterback Shirt from WSI Sports is the first ever pitching shirt with fabric that heats up. It’s designed to help warm up muscles and keep them warm, with special HEATR material located in the key muscle areas used in pitching. The HEATR also helps get oxygen to the blood more quickly to reduce recovery time. Circle No. 550 The 406YWS Women’s Microtech LowCut Slider, from WSI Sports, is available in 16 stock colors. This great slid-

Uniforms • Warm-ups • Jackets • Bags • Sweats Stock uniforms start at $49 • Custom uniforms start at $79 Choice of Microweave Polyester, Dyna-Dry or Polyester Dazzle

er offers a comfortable fit and an extra layer of fabric at the hips for added protection. It has a four-inch inseam. Circle No. 551

Call for free color catalog 1-800-255-5299 ext. 6 For additional custom styles please visit our website at

www.moyersports.com Mention this ad for FREE Shipping!

25 Years Serving Teams

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Testimonial

The Future Has Arrived The future of soil technology is available today. Hilltopper® Infield Mix is the only polymer-coated product that’s ready for play. It’s the perfect combination of sand, silt, clay, and engineered polymers designed to eliminate rain outs, mud, dust, and the need for watering. In any extreme weather—rain, sleet, snow, or heat—Hilltopper Infield Mix remains stable and flexible. The polymeric material increases cohesion, meaning a safer surface that requires less maintenance. The rich color is aesthetically pleasing and reduces glare for players. Hilltopper Mound Clay is manufactured to provide optimum cohesion and doesn’t require added water for application or maintenance. It is used in hightraffic areas such as batter’s boxes, mounds, and home plate areas. Just tamp it right out of the bag, no water needed. All these programs enjoy the benefits of Hilltopper: • University of Arizona, 2006 NCAA Women’s Softball National Champion • Northwestern University, 2006 NCAA Women’s Softball Runner-Up • ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, 2005 STMA Field of the Year • University of Oklahoma • Oklahoma State University • University of Texas-El Paso • University of Kansas • New Mexico State University • San Diego State University • Utah State University • California State University-Bakersfield • University of Nevada-Las Vegas • Arizona State University • Depaul University • Brigham Young University • University of Nevada-Reno

Stabilizer Solutions, Inc. 33 S. 28TH ST. PHOENIX, AZ 85034 800-336-2468 INFO@STABILIZERSOLUTIONS.COM WWW.STABILIZERSOLUTIONS.COM

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More Products eFundraising.com 866-235-9660 WWW.EFUNDRAISING.COM

The Gatorade Co. 800-88-GATOR WWW.GATORADE.COM

eFundraising.com introduces a product especially for your softball team that is sure to get your team members excited: popcorn that comes in a softball package. Not only is the shape cool, but this popcorn is a healthy way to raise funds. It is a product experience that both kids and adults will love, and on top of all that, you can raise 50-percent profit. Call eFundraising now for your free sample. Circle No. 552

Gatorade Nutrition Shake is a balanced nutritional supplement that’s ideal for use as a high-energy meal replacement, or a pre-event or between-meal snack. Gatorade Nutrition Shake contains vitamin C, calcium, and iron, so it’s great for athletes who want to perform at their best and need to supplement their diet with a convenient, balanced, and nutritious product. Gatorade Nutrition Shake is available in two flavors: chocolate and vanilla. Circle No. 554

Fitterfirst 800-348-8371 WWW.FITTER1.COM Fitterfirst’s Xco Trainer is a new product that builds and tones muscles while strengthening surrounding connective tissue and stabilizing joints. The Xco Trainer’s innovative design allows for 3D freedom of movement, so that users can train anywhere in an unlimited variety of positions. Delayed impact at the end of each motion-caused by a granulate mass shifting inside the tube--produces muscle overload for maximum results. The Xco Trainer is available in 1-, 1.3-, 2-, and 2.6-pound sizes. Discounts are available on team sets. Call today or visit the company online for more information and a free 2006 catalog. Circle No. 553

Need help fundraising for your team? Check out the new source for fundraising tips, support, and suppliers:

www.FundraisingForSports.com

After years of extensive research, scientists at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute have developed Gatorade Endurance Formula for athletes’ longer, more intense workouts and competitions. Gatorade Endurance Formula is a specialized sports drink with a fiveelectrolyte blend containing nearly twice the sodium (200mg) and three times the potassium (90mg) of Gatorade Thirst Quencher to more fully replace what athletes lose in sweat when fluid and electrolyte losses become substantial. Circle No. 555 Goldner Associates, Inc. 800-251-2656 WWW.GOLDNERASSOCIATES.COM Goldner Associates has been a leading supplier of medals, pins, and patches for 40 years. The company can create custom designs in any size or shape, and stock items are also available. Looking for an item with your team logo? As a top-50 distributor, Goldner offers a full line of promotional products, including team caps and Tshirts, trophies and awards, fundraising items, giveaways, and much more. Circle No. 556


HOME TEAM ADVANTAGE

B-BP-4 BALLPARK-4 GROOMER

When the safety of your players comes first, look to Bannerman, the leading Groomer manufacturer for over 24 years, to shape, level, and care for your baseball diamonds, warning tracks, and walking/bike trails. The B-BP-4 Ballpark-4® (shown) and the B-BP-6 Ballpark-6®, B-DM-6 Diamond Master® (shown) models have five standard tools, including: Ripper Blade, Rake, Leveler, Roller, and Brush. Accessories available include: Wing Brush Kit, Top Link Kit, 50-gallon Water Tank Kit with spray nozzle, and NEW Highway Transport Kit. Restore your diamond’s luster in 20 minutes or less with one of the industry’s leading groomers.

B-DM-6 DIAMOND MASTER ®

New to the Bannerman family of groomers is the B-MG-6 Master Groomer. This brush unit is the “Quick and Slick” answer to working in light to heavy topdressing and other turf building materials down to the base of the grasses, that you’ve only dreamed of, until now. For use on greens, tees, fairways, and all types of sportsturf surfaces both synthetic and natural.

B-MG-6 MASTER GROOMER

THE HOME OF SPORTSTURF MAGIC Circle No. 140

41 Kelfield Street, Rexdale, Ontario, Canada M9W 5A3 CANADA 1-800-325-4871 USA 1-800-665-2696 www.sportsturfmagic.com


=7C;J;A®is The Game’s new patented performance fabric. Ideal for the athlete, this amazing fabric implores rapid absorption, swift dispersion and fast drying. Highly comfortable, lightweight and with maximum breathability, GAMETEK® helps you Keep Your Head in The Game at all times. All GAMETEK® and GAMEPRO® caps are fully customizable for as

rapid absorption

swift dispersion

fast drying

comfortable

lightweight

breathability

few as 18 pieces.

The Game is proud to be the Official On-Field Headwear for these schools & over 400 other Colleges and Universities.

ALABAMA

ARIZONA STATE

ARKANSAS

FLORIDA

GEORGIA TECH

LOUISIANA STATE

FOR A LIST OF AUTHORIZED GAME TEAM DEALERS, VISIT OUR WEBSITE:

w w w . 2 t h e g a m e . c o m Circle No. 141

NC STATE

OREGON STATE


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