Coaching Management VOL. XV NO. 9
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P O S T S E A S O N
MAKING CONTACT How to train slap hitters ■ ■
Lateral Dominance Landing a Job Interview
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Coaching Management Softball Edition Postseason 2007
Vol. XV, No. 9
Bulletin Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
NCAA bans text messaging between coaches and recruits … One for the record books … Pitching in against cancer … High schools permit metal cleats, colleges question bat speeds … Competition intensifies in crossdivision play … Balancing work and family.
Q&A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
By converting some of their right-handed hitters into slappers, coaches can expand their strategic options, create new openings for traditional hitters, and help student-athletes reach their fullest potential.
Creating a Buzz
Looking to climb the coaching ladder? To land an interview in today’s highly competitive job market, coaches need a systematic and dynamic strategy.
Clint Myers, Head Coach at Arizona State University, talks about building a winning program, motivating athletes to achieve their goals, and setting priorities in recruiting.
STRENGTH & CONDITIONING
SOFTBALL FIELD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 HITTING & PITCHING AIDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 TEAM EQUIPMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 UNIFORMS & APPAREL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 MORE PRODUCTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
Balance of Power
Helping players work past their natural tendency to be right- or left-handed can improve their proficiency on both sides and develop them into more complete athletes. ....................................................................................
On the cover: After learning to slap, Tennessee’s India Chiles raised her batting average from .125 to .437, helping lead the Lady Vols to the title game of the 2007 NCAA Division I Women’s College World Series. Story begins on page 14. Photo by Elizabeth Olivier/UT Athletic Photo.
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LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD Coaches Respond to Texting Ban Text messaging was designed as a quick way to exchange short messages using cell phones. But the debate over its role in college athletic recruiting has turned out to be anything but short, and it shows little sign of ending soon. After almost two years of discussing the hardships some high school athletes face as the result of text messages from college coaches, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors passed a rule in April forbidding coaches from texting recruits. The new rule quickly struck a nerve and 34 schools filed override requests, which forced the board to reconsider its decision. Although the prohibition was reaffirmed by the board at its
August 9 meeting, the rule will face a vote by the Division I membership at the NCAA Annual Convention in January 2008. If five-eighths of the membership agree to override the Board of Directors, the prohibition, which has been in place since Aug. 1, will be lifted. Otherwise it will remain in force unless superseded by future legislation. One of the difficulties in addressing the problem is the lack of consensus among the groups involved in the discussion—coaches, studentathletes, and administrators. The NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee came out in support of a ban. The Men’s and Women’s Basketball Issues Committees both opposed the ban, along with the Football Issues Committee and the Academics/Eligibility/Compliance Cabinet—although some of these
groups were amenable to some level of restrictions. “Softball coaches are mixed in how they look at text messaging,” says Linda Kalafatis, Head Coach at Ohio State University. “It appears to be a generational thing—the younger coaches seem to be a little more in favor of it than the more established coaches. Personally, I have mixed feelings. I think it’s helped establish some recruiting relationships, but I’ll work within the environment we have, and I’ll continue to find ways to recruit.” Even the Board of Directors was less than enthusiastic about the ban passed in April. NCAA Vice-President Jim Berst told the Associated Press that students played a large role in the decision to prohibit text messaging. But he also indicated that despite approving the ban, the board remained open to other ways of dealing with the issue. The board “recognized we had a dilemma where studentathletes suggested there were some problems with text messages whereas coaches and assistant coaches wanted it to continue,” Berst said. “I think it recognized there may be other ways of monitoring communications in the future, so it’s open to proposals.”
Ohio State’s Linda Kalafatis believes that coaches may need to gain some perspective on how athletes and parents view texting. “If I was a parent of a high school athlete being heavily recruited,” she says, “I wouldn’t want my child to be available to coaches at all times of the day and night.”
Kalafatis feels that coaches may need to step back and gain some perspective on how athletes and parents view text messaging. “If I was a parent of a high school athlete being heavily recruited, I wouldn’t want my child to be available to coaches at all times of the day and night, especially while they’re in school,” she says. “And if I was a highly touted recruit, I wouldn’t want to get hundreds of text messages.” There is a middle ground between the current ban on text messages and the previous rule that allowed unlimited messaging. Wade Wilson,
Head Coach at Brenham (Texas) High School, feels some control is necessary. “Because of the accessibility texting provides and the ability to get immediate feedback,” he says, “I think there has to be some kind of regulation.” Even with the Division I ban, text messaging will still be part of the recruiting picture for many high school athletes. There continues to be no limits on its use in Division II and Division III, although Division II will consider new regulations, including a possible ban, in the coming year. While most of the attention on the Division I ban has been focused on text messaging, the new rules go beyond it by limiting allowable electronic correspondence—which are not regulated in time or number—to e-mails and faxes. This means use of any other forms of electronic communication, such as instant messaging, online message boards, and social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook, is also prohibited. Technologies that have not yet been developed are also included in the ban, and cannot be used without specific approval from the NCAA.
NFHS Permits Metal Cleats, NCAA Examines Bat Speeds For as long as anyone can remember, the NFHS has not permitted softball players to wear metal cleats. But that will change next season. NFHS Assistant Director and Softball Liaison Mary Struckhoff says she’s had a hard time defending the cleat ban for years because spikes are permitted in high school baseball. “Softball players perform the same skills—running, batting, throwing, catching—on the same surfaces as baseball play-
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LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD ers,” she says. “It was hard to justify one sport allowing metal cleats and the other not. We have found that whether it’s dirt or grass, metal cleats provide better traction. “We also suspect some softball injuries, especially ankle sprains and strains, have been caused by plastic cleats that don’t provide great traction,” Struckhoff adds. “Metal cleats may in fact help those statistics. And they won’t be required, so if folks aren’t comfortable wearing them, they don’t have to. It just gives them another option.”
While metal cleats may cut down on ankle injuries, some worry about other injuries increasing, particularly puncture wounds resulting from poor slides. “Sliding technique is a concern,” Struckhoff says, “but we have rules in place for illegal sliding. If a sliding player has a foot up in the air, that’s an illegal slide and that player needs to be called out.” In collegiate softball, much of the discussion at the NCAA rules committee meeting this year centered on bat certification. There is concern among coaches that some manufacturers are producing bats with bat-to-ball exit speeds that exceed the NCAA’s 98 miles
Advocates expect a high school rule permitting metal cleats will improve traction, decrease injuries, and ease athletes’ transition from high school to college play. Here, purple-clad Boerne (Texas) High School advances over Brenham (Texas) High School on its way to winning the 2007 4A state championship.
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Struckhoff says that for studentathletes who go on to play in college, where metal cleats are used by most players, this ruling will help ease the transition. But she admits there will be a learning curve for high schoolers. “They will almost have to
relearn to run,” she says. “It’s just like picking up any new piece of equipment. You have to work with it first before you really know what you’re doing.”
per hour standard. “The bats are meeting the standards out of the package as they’re first certified,” says Lynn Oberbillig, Chair of the NCAA Softball Rules Committee and Athletic Director at Smith College. “But we’ve tested bats that have been in play for a while, and they no longer meet the standards. These findings certainly concern us, and all our coaches have questions about why this is happening. “Committee members and Amateur Softball Association officials have meetings scheduled with bat manufacturers to talk about this,” continues Oberbillig. “College softball isn’t as large a market as some may think, but we are the most visible market with games on national television, so manufacturers have an interest in keeping us happy.” The committee also recommends that outfield fences stand six feet tall instead of the current recommendation of four feet. A membership survey distributed to coaches, athletic administrators, and umpires in each of the past three years reported that 83 percent of the surveyed membership wanted to see fences at six feet or taller.
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“We use the survey in a few ways,” Oberbillig says. “First, to see how much support there may be for a rule change the committee is considering. Second, if we’ve heard of an issue surfacing, we’ll put it in the survey to see if it’s a few loud voices or a sport-wide concern. And For more information on the NFHS rules changes, visit the NFHS at: www.nfhs.org and click on “Softball” under the “Sports” menu. For more information on the NCAA rules changes, visit the NCAA at: www.ncaa.org and click on “Sports & Championships,” select “Spring Sports,” and click on “Softball.”
third, like the fence height recommendation, if there’s something out there the membership collectively wants to see changed, the committee wants to oblige.” In another development, after next season college coaches will only be seeing a new rulebook every other year. “In addition to the cost savings of not printing a new book every year, this will give us a chance to think about what softball needs on a bigger level,” Oberbillig says. “We’ve been talking about additional projects, like compiling a comprehensive manual for statisticians, and this will create time for us to complete those projects.”
Cabrini Sets National High School Record At Cabrini High School in Allen Park, Mich., the 2007 season was literally one for the record books. The Monarchs won the Division 4 state championship for the second year in a row, finishing the season with a 350 record, extending their winning streak to 74 consecutive games, and establishing a new national record by allowing only one run all year. Head Coach Debbie Norman still can’t believe it’s true. “As a coach, you don’t think about going undefeated,” she says. “We went 27-6 in 2004 when these girls were freshmen. The players have learned some important lessons since then, and this has been the ultimate reward. I don’t think they understand the impact of their accomplishments, but I am so proud of them.” Norman gives all the credit to her players. “This group of young ladies is very self-motivated,” she says. “A lot of them play for travel teams over the summer, and it’s been a tradition for the girls to attend a local team camp before the season starts. During the winter
In addition to winning the Division 4 Michigan championship for the second year in a row, the Cabrini High School Monarchs of Allen Park set a national record for defense, allowing only one run all season. they ask my assistant coaches to open the batting cage a couple of times a week, not to mention the speed training and weight training they do on their own. I never ask anything of them in the off-season—they take it upon themselves, and I think it really helped them mature as individuals and mesh as a team.” The Monarchs’ winning streak reaches back to the 2006 season, when the players had their first taste of what it was like to go undefeated. “When a team from a small area like ours wins the state tournament, it becomes very easy to believe the press clips about yourself,” Norman says. “So before last season began, I started reminding them, perhaps a little too often, that
they hadn’t won anything yet. I didn’t want them to get too excited. But I talked to a few coaching friends who said, ‘If your team is good enough, tell them to go for it.’” Cabrini had some close games, winning a few 1-0, and Norman says there were a couple of close calls at the plate. Their opponents’ only run came during the first round of the district tournament, following a double play call that went against them. “That run really bothered them, and will probably continue to,” Norman says. “I told them to let it go, but it was hard for them to take. I think setting the national record at the end of the season may have helped ease the pain.”
LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD Cabrini has been a big fish in a small pond in Division 4 the past two years, but Norman says next year will bring on a whole new set of challenges for the players as they move up to Division 3. “The girls are already talking about next year,” Norman says. “I just want them to concentrate on doing well in our league first, and we’ll go from there.”
Cancer, College, and Community When Dickson County (Tenn.) High School infielder Kayla Cantrell was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer last spring, the star entered the fight of her life. While the disease eventually cost Cantrell her senior season, her fight galvanized a softball community and caught the eye of a college coach who wanted to make a difference. To start the year, Cantrell’s teammates on the Lady Cougars wore lime green shoelaces and hair ribbons in her honor, a gesture quickly copied by opposing teams as well. The coaching staff at Dickson posted information on a blog to keep supporters informed about her progress, and the Middle Tennessee Softball Coaches Association created “Pitching In For Kayla,” with teams around the region raising $7,500 for Cantrell. At Tennessee Tech University, Head Coach Tory Acheson decided to get involved as soon as he heard about Cantrell’s battle. “I read a newspaper article in which Kayla mentioned that before she got sick, she planned to attend Tennessee Tech,” says Acheson, who had seen Cantrell play in a couple of summer tournaments. “When I saw that, I knew there had to be a way we could make it a reality.” To do that, Acheson offered Cantrell an athletic scholarship to attend Tennessee Tech.
After Dickson County (Tenn.) High School infielder Kayla Cantrell (center) was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer last spring, Lady Cougar teammates and opponents donned lime green shoelaces and hair ribbons in her honor, organizing a series of benefits that raised thousands of dollars to help pay for her medical care. He doesn’t know when or if Cantrell will feel well enough to enroll in school and does not want to put any added pressure on her as she tries to recover, but he describes his invitation to join the Golden Eagles as an “open door” awaiting Cantrell whenever she is ready. Although the ultimate Hollywood ending would involve Cantrell suiting up for Tennessee Tech and homering in a big game, Acheson says her ability to hit and field isn’t why he offered her a scholarship. “The understanding we have is that she’s going to be part of our team in some capacity, whether that means she’s a manager, a scorekeeper, or a starting player,” he says, adding that Cantrell had college-level talent before her illness. “Even if she never plays softball again, the person she is and the determination she shows will make our team better. It’s a win-win situation for
us and we’re excited to be a part of her future.” Part of the reason Cantrell’s situation hit Acheson so close to home is that last season, his team graduated a player who survived cancer. “Seeing what she was able to accomplish and how being an athlete and being committed to softball helped her overcome the illness was amazing,” says Acheson. “Having witnessed a story like that, where a player beats cancer, graduates from college, gets married, and experiences all those great things in life ... well, the romantic in me wants to see it happen again.” Acheson is firmly committed to giving Cantrell an opportunity to continue her education and remain involved in the sport, and he says the decision was easy. “When you’re in the coaching business, your whole life revolves around trying to win games and be successful,” says Acheson. “But every once
in a while you get a chance to do something just because it’s the right thing to do, and whether it seems logical to anybody else is beside the point. “The most important thing is that she’s such a fighter,” he adds. “She’s battling this illness with such ferocity that we wanted to give her one more reason to keep fighting.”
Building New Rivalries In past years, cross-division games in New Jersey’s Skyland Conference took on the feel of exhibition matches. Since the contests didn’t count toward the conference’s final standings, coaches often treated these games as a break from the already intense divisional competition. But that changed this past season when, for the first time, crossover games helped
determine conference champions. Teams in Skyland’s Delaware-East Division played one game against opponents in Delaware-West. Teams in the Raritan Division played opponents from the newly formed Valley Division twice.
One of those scenarios played out this season when Bridgewater-Raritan High School defeated 2006 state champion North Hunterdon High School during interdivision play. The meeting was a prelude to a state tournament game in which North Hunterdon avenged the loss.
With five new teams joining the Skyland Conference last season, league president Carl Weigner says the change was a good way to create built-in schedules for athletic directors. It also helped prepare teams for the level of competition they would see in the state tournament.
“Now, teams can compete against each other in the regular season and end up meeting again in the postseason,” Weigner says. “This gives you the incentive to play hard all the time, because there are no easy games in your crossovers.”
“Coaches want to play the best teams they can,” Weigner says. “They know that facing the strongest opponents will make their players better when it comes time for the postseason, whether it’s a county tournament or the state tournament.”
Bridgewater-Raritan Head Coach Sandy Baranowski says the new format helped make the season more meaningful and added a wrinkle to inseason strategies. “This creates new rivalries between teams that didn’t normally play each other as hard,” she
In New Jersey’s Skyland Conference, where interdivision play now counts in the final standings, North Hunterdon High School recovered from an early season loss to win the conference title.
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Catch 22 Miracle Field—St. Louis, Missouri Circle No. 103 CoachingManagement_2006_Baseball1 1
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LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD says. “I don’t know why we didn’t start this years ago. Now every single game you play, even the crossovers, is critical. Maybe in the past you would sit your starting pitcher, but now so many things can happen because these games help determine the conference champion. As a coach, there is a lot more strategy in how I play my lineups and when to work in the backups.” The new format wasn’t without its detractors. Some coaches of smaller schools in the Valley Division complained about having to play some of Raritan’s larger schools twice. Others believed that scheduling two interdivision games gave them less flexibility to play the other teams in the state. “We had to try it first to see what would happen,” Weigner
says. “After evaluating it, even the coaches and athletic directors realized it wasn’t entirely fair to those small schools, especially in softball where one great pitcher can make a team dominant. After gathering feedback we tweaked the system it to make it more fair for everyone.” So starting in the 2008-09 season, all teams in the conference will play each crossover opponent only once. Weigner says the change won’t detract from the Skyland Conference’s objective of strengthening the level of competition across the board. “Even having them play each other one time will help those lower teams face good competition and still have a good chance to qualify for the state tournament,” Weigner says.
Family Ties When Emily Russell, Head Coach at Lee University, found out in the summer of 2006 that she was pregnant, she was ecstatic. “I always knew I wanted to be a mother,” Russell says. “I couldn’t have been happier.” After a quick calculation, however, she realized her due date was in midMarch—not exactly a slow time. “That’s when I thought, ‘Oh, wow. How is this going to work?’” Deanna Gumpf, Head Coach at Notre Dame University, could have told her how things would unfold. In February 2005, Gumpf gave birth to a daughter. Already the mother of a four-year-old son, Gumpf added an in-season pregnancy and delivery to a full plate of family and coaching responsibilities.
“Head coaching and early motherhood are often seen as incompatible,” says Gumpf. “There’s a belief that it’s just too hard to do both. I think that’s part of the reason for the decline in the number of female head coaches. But I can say from experience that it is possible to do both well.” After closing the 2007 season with a Southern States Athletic Conference title, a trip to the NAIA national tournament, and a healthy, happy baby, Russell agrees. “I’ve learned that it is possible to be a successful coach and a great mother at the same time,” she says. “With the right planning, you can balance both roles.” For Russell, the first step in achieving that balance was partnering effectively with her athletic director. “We had a very open discussion that got
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everything off to a good start,” Russell says. “I told my athletic director that my goal was to give the team the same high quality season we would have if I hadn’t been expecting. I wanted him to know that we had the same objective.” Breaking the news to her team was Russell’s next step, and she approached it cautiously. “I didn’t tell my players right away, because I didn’t want them to make assumptions about what the season was going to be like,” she says. “Early in my pregnancy, I could do all my normal duties, including catching my pitchers and being out on the field, so I just focused on getting a great year started. By the time I told them at a team meeting in late September, they had already seen that the season was still a top priority.”
came from themselves, not administrators, and that given the choice again, they would probably take more time off. “My advice is not to do what I did,” says Gumpf, who returned to full-time coaching two weeks after having her baby by cesarean section. “Coming back so soon really
feed him during the night, and learning how to care for him. “You have to expect to get up in the morning not feeling your best until the baby starts sleeping more, and that was something I didn’t think enough about,” Russell continues. “It’s a huge physical and psychological transition,
For Gumpf, feelings of guilt are the hardest part of balancing her roles. “When I’m at work, I wonder if I would be a better mother if I was home more, and when I’m home, I wonder if I’d be a better coach if I was at work more,” she says. “When it hits me, I remind myself that I am doing the best I can, and I try to look at reality—my children and my team are both doing well. It also helps to talk to other coaches with small kids and realize I’m not alone in feeling this way.”
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Also important was preparing assistant coaches for added responsibilities. “As my pregnancy progressed, I started having my assistants make more decisions,” Russell says. “Letting go was difficult at first, but I knew I needed to get them ready for when I would be gone. I had them call pitches and decide when we’d bunt or squeeze. By late February, when I had to stop traveling, my assistants were ready and did a great job.” Another strategy that worked well was to send an out-ofseason head coach on road trips when Russell couldn’t go. “Our volleyball coach drove the bus, handled the money, decided where to eat, and made sure the laundry was done,” Russell says. “I felt comfortable knowing if anything came up, she’d be there to support my assistants.” Both Gumpf and Russell coached until their babies were due—Russell even coached a game on her due date—and both were back to coaching part-time within a week of their deliveries. Both say the pressure to return immediately
zone issues,” she says. “At first, I was calling after dinner while my husband took care of our son, and we were missing the only time we could have spent together as a family. So we sat down and worked out a plan, and now I make the calls after they’re both in bed. It’s critical to keep talking about those things with your family.”
Two weeks after giving birth in 2005, Notre Dame University Head Coach Deanna Gumpf returned to full-time coaching duties to lead the Irish to their 10th consecutive Big East regular season title and finish the year with a 46-15 record. took a toll on my body. Inseason or not, take at least a month off. Trust your staff and let them lead the team.” Russell advises coaches not to underestimate the challenges of the initial postpartum period. “Before I gave birth, I thought, ‘If labor is the toughest physical workout I’ve ever done, it will take me about two days to recover,’” she says. “I didn’t factor in a crying baby, waking up to
and I think it would have been easier for me if I had been more mentally prepared for how challenging that part was going to be.” For the coming season, Russell is focused on learning to better balance mothering and coaching. So far, she’s found that communication and planning are the keys to making it work. “Sometimes I have to make recruiting calls from home at night because of time
Gumpf and Russell agree on another thing: If women are going to remain in coaching throughout pregnancy, birth, and mothering, they need to strike an effective balance between family and work. “I recently heard a coach who was a new mother say she was going to step down because she wanted to be a great mother, not just a good mother and a good coach,” Russell says. “I don’t believe that has to be the choice. I believe it is possible to be a great mother and a great coach. The more we as coaches subscribe to that philosophy, the more others will, too.” “Athletic administrations need to be more supportive with this issue, but it’s also a matter of women’s own attitudes,” says Gumpf. “If we project an image of being intimidated by the dual role, administrators will be intimidated by it, too. If we’re confident we can make it work, they will be too, and instead of looking for problems, they’ll start looking for creative solutions.”
Clint Myers Arizona State University
How’s this for a quick turnaround? In 2005, the Arizona State University softball team finished in the basement of the Pacific 10 Conference with a 417 conference record. In 2006, Clint Myers’s first season as Head Coach, the Sun Devils finished 53-15 overall and made it all the way to the Women’s College World Series, where they finished fifth. In 2007, the team capped a 54-17 season with yet another trip to Oklahoma City. Success has followed Myers throughout his career. As a high school baseball player, he helped his team win a state championship in 1970, then headed to Arizona State, where his team twice finished as national runner-up at the College World Series. After
CM: How did you turn things around after taking over at ASU? Myers: The first thing we did was address the mental side—we changed expectations. The players had struggled for a few years before I arrived, and I immediately said that our goal was to reach the College World Series. That surprised some people, but I meant it. I hired some very good assistant coaches, and they handled most of the nuts and bolts of teaching the game, but it all started with those higher expectations. At our first team meeting, I introduced the staff and said, “We are going to the College World Series. If you don’t truly believe that, then this isn’t the place for you. We’ll honor your scholarship this year, and then we’ll help you find someplace else to play.” Nobody walked out. With an unsuccessful season fresh in their minds, how did you get players to believe they could meet your goals? We made very clear that it was a new day. We conducted tryouts for every position, so everyone could see we weren’t dwelling on the past. We said we didn’t care who started the year before—the kids who’ll play this year are the ones who work the hardest, who go out and get the job done. It definitely shook up our lineup—at one point during the College World Series, we had five non-scholarship athletes in the lineup. By doing things like that, I earned the athletes’ trust. You can’t do that just by walking in and saying, “Hey, trust me.”
graduation, he played A, AA, and AAA minor league baseball before launching his coaching career at Casa Grande Union High School in Arizona, where his teams claimed three conference baseball championships. In 1980, Myers made the jump to junior college as Head Baseball Coach at Yavapai College. Three years and three Arizona League championships later, he moved on to Eastern Washington University, where he earned a master’s in education. After that, he landed at Central Arizona College, where he racked up a record of 887-235 coaching softball (1986-1995) and baseball (1996-2005). The following season, he joined the softball program at ASU. In this interview, Myers talks about building a winning program, motivating student-athletes to achieve their goals, and setting priorities in recruiting.
You have to lead by example, and when the players see you’re taking the program in a new direction and working hard to get there, they’ll believe in what you’re doing. For instance, when I started here, my players knew I was coming from baseball coaching, so I told them I’d be learning right along with them. They saw I was enthusiastic and committed, and it helped them buy into our program’s new direction. I didn’t ask the girls to do anything I wasn’t willing to do myself. What are the biggest differences between coaching softball and baseball? The teaching part of it is really the same. When there’s a ground ball hit to the shortstop, that player has to field it and throw the ball to first, whether it’s a softball or a baseball. The real difference, in my experience, is that women are more emotional and there’s more drama on a softball team. Everything is pretty cut and dried with guys. So I talk to my softball players a little differently than I did my baseball players, but not drastically. With either gender, it’s just a matter of figuring out how best to motivate people. What kind of motivational techniques do you use? This past year, the girls got on my back because I was making so many references to the University of Arizona—“Arizona does this, Arizona does that.” They finally
En route to being named 2007 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year, All-American Katie Burkhart compiled a 0.90 ERA, broke the conference record for most strikeouts in a season, and set a school mark for most career strikeouts.
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said, “Coach, they’re our biggest rivals. Why do you keep talking about them?” I simply replied, “Because that’s exactly how we want our team to be.” Mike Candrea has built a tremendously successful program at Arizona. For a program aspiring to reach a new level, it’s important to emulate someone like that. Mike is a dear friend of mine, and I’m in awe of all the things he has done for his program. If we want to build a winner, Arizona is a good place to look for inspiration. How do you divide up the work with your assistants? I had certain responsibilities in mind when I hired my staff. Rob Wagner is our recruiting coordinator, and we had coached together at Central Arizona, so I knew what he was capable of doing. The pitchers are handled by Kirsten Voek, who was an outstanding pitcher herself as an athlete here at Arizona State. I felt it was important to have another ASU graduate on board, to show that we value tradition. She’s the youngest member of our staff, so we’re mentoring her on some of the finer points of things like recruiting, and she’s learning a lot.
What are your highest priorities when evaluating recruits? First is talent. Everybody is looking for that. Second, and just as important to us, is character. We believe not everyone is meant for every program. We want people who will fit into our team from the get-go, with the right attitude and a strong work ethic.
learn a lot about a player from the way she interacts with teammates in the dugout and talks to coaches. Both of your sons, who play professional baseball, have worked as volunteer coaches for your Sun Devils program. What was that like? It’s such a special experience. It is quite
“Judging softball skill is fairly straightforward, but evaluating character takes a different kind of approach. We do our homework on recruits by talking to their coaches and by observing the way they handle themselves during games when they don’t know people are watching them.”
Judging softball skill is fairly straightforward, but evaluating character takes a different kind of approach. We do our homework on recruits by talking to their coaches and by observing the way they handle themselves during games when they don’t know people are watching them. If you’re paying attention, you can
an honor to be able to coach with your kids—to sit at a table as equals and evaluate a prospect or put together a game plan. When we had our first team banquet, I gave my son Casey a picture of the two of us coaching together, and it said, “ASU coaching shirt: $27.95. ASU coaching hat: $19.50. Coaching with your son at
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Q&A ASU: priceless.” That pretty much sums up how I felt. I’m a big believer in the importance of family, and I hope my players see that and are inspired to think the same way about our team. I’d like us to have the attitude that we’re all in this together, supporting each other, and helping to make each other the best we can be. How have things changed for college athletes since you were a baseball player at ASU? Today’s kids have a lot more technology available to help develop their skills. When I played, there was no video to help you work out the kinks in your swing. There are some really wonderful computer programs now that help players analyze their mechanics. I’m not much of a computer guy, but I can look at a picture and break down a swing. For a hitter, that’s a tremendous advantage, because there’s no substitute for watching yourself swinging. When you’re able to see the things your coaches are talking about, it can mean a lot more than just hearing their advice.
If you had to sum up your coaching philosophy, what would you say? Fundamentals, attitude, character, and family. Fundamentals are so important because that’s how you win games, and we use repetition until they become second nature. Here I go talking about the University of Arizona again, but one great thing about them is they never beat themselves. They make all the plays they’re supposed to, and that comes from a lot of practice and a focus on the fundamentals of the game.
You need short-term goals as a means of achieving that, but it starts with the big goal. I have a unique way of looking at goals with my players. We say our goal is to win our last game. There’s only one team that can say they won their last game of the season—that’s the national champion. You get there through perseverance, hard work, commitment, and all those things everybody else talks about.
Attitude and character fit together nicely, because you have complete control over both. I tell my players, “Be the person you want to be. If you want to be a great softball player, that means working hard, having a positive attitude in the locker room, and being a great teammate.” That ties into the last key, which is family. When players act like a family, they’ll be a lot more successful.
How would you advise high school coaches interested in making the jump to the college ranks? First, don’t be afraid to learn new things. Create opportunities to be mentored by someone you respect, increase your understanding of the game, and always seek to improve your knowledge of strategy and technique. If you’re lucky enough to find a college coaching job, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Sometimes that’s the best way to learn. I’m 55 years old, and I’m still learning all the time.
How do you approach goal-setting? We’re not reinventing the wheel—I think everybody pretty much does it the same way. At the start of the year, everybody’s goal is to win the College World Series.
Most important, you should be passionate about coaching. If you’re not, find something else to do. Life is way too short to do something you’re not passionate about.
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COACHING MANAGEMENT 13 AM 1/22/07 10:57:09
BY NATE DOUGHERT Y FRESHMAN
AT THE UNIVERS ITY OF 2004, INDIA CHILES COULD N’T
ries,” says Weekly. “Sh e did a great job of putting pressure on the defense and manufacturing runs for ed primarily for her spe our team.” ed as a pinchThrough aggressive bas runner, the right-hand e running and ed Chiles man- well-plac ed ground balls, slap hit aged only one hit in ters can eight trips to the leave a defense reeling and op plate, finishing the sea en holes son with a .125 for other hitters to succeed. Toda batting average. y, more and more coaches are But Co-Head Coach Ka making the slap ren Weekly saw a key part of their offense, dottin potential in Chiles. Th g the e left fielder pos- top and bottom of their lineu sessed great speed and ps with bat control, and slappers. In this article, high sch ool and TENNESSEE
HAVE BEEN MISTAK EN FOR A POWER HITTER. Us
MAKING CONTACT By converting some of their right-handed hit ters into slappers, co create new openings aches can expand their for traditional hitters, strategic options, and help student-athle tes reach their fullest potential. altho ugh she struggled as a conventional hitter, Weekly envisioned college coaches discus s how to identify the perfect role for her—slap hitter. Th good candidates for sla p hitting, how to e summer after Chiles’s freshman season teach the technique, an d how to convert , Weekly began training her to stand in righties to hit from the the left-handed opposite side of batter’s box, take a cro the plate. ssover step to begin running as the ball is delivered, and chop a hard groun From Hitter To Slapp der through the er hole between shortstop Coaches of successfu and third base. l slap hitters know it takes a specia The results were im l combination of mediate. In Chiles’s sophomore sea talents to execute a run son, her batting ning swing at a average improved to 70 mph pitch and make .353, and in her it to first base junior year she was the in less than three sec onds. It requires Southeastern Conference’s second-b est hitter with a a tenacious batter who’s eager to attack .437 average. As a senior the defense. , she was named SEC Player of the Yea “You want a kid who r and a member loves to chalof the Louisville Slugg lenge an opponent,” say er All-American s John Tschida, First Team, helping lea Head Coach at the Un d Tennessee to iversity of Saint the title game of the Th omas. “They’re the types NCAA Division I who look for Women’s College World Series. Nate Do “Her performance in the World Coach ugherty is an Assistant Editor at Series was the key to a lot of our victo- at: nd@ing Management. He can be reached MomentumM edia.com.
After learning to slap, Tennesseeâ€™s India Chiles raised her batting ave rage from .125 to .437, he lping lead the Lady Voluntee rs to the title game of the 2007 NCAA Division I Wome nâ€™s College World Series.
how they can exploit weaknesses. They also can’t be afraid to fail, because if they go up to the plate afraid, they won’t be able to find the extra gear they need.” When searching for potential slap hitters, Tschida also looks for players who will be resilient through the stresses of learning the necessary skills. “I want kids who say, ‘I can. And if I can’t, I will,’” Tschida says. Once good candidates are identified, they often need some persuasion to adopt the style. For many players, especially those who have never been on a slap hitting team, softball hitting prowess is measured in extra-base hits and RBIs, not ground ball singles. Louis Hoelman, Head Coach at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., says this prejudice can make hitters wary of an approach that focuses on reaching base by any means necessary. “Because they won’t have as many extra-base hits or drive in the winning run, it can be hard for some hitters to switch,” Hoelman says. “Until they see results, they can be stubborn and slow to
believe in the slap.” To help players feel more comfortable transitioning to slap hitting, Hoelman suggests showing them the success that can come with the strategy. “Point out other players who have made the switch successfully,” he says. “When a hitter gets on base three times in one game and three times in the next game, like a lot of slappers do, they’re going to be noticed. They may not be hitting home runs, but their contributions will more than make up for it.” When Paul O’Brien took over as Head Coach at Archbishop Spaulding High School in Severn, Md., a team that traditionally favored power hitters, he knew encouraging players to switch to an unfamiliar style would be difficult. But he also knew that the more familiar his players became with the slap, the easier it would be to convert hitters in the future. “In a program that’s established itself as a slap-hitting team, it’s easier to convince players to try it,” O’Brien says. “Here, it’s been a bit more challenging. But once I get some of the players I’m
Making The Switch Chiles was the perfect slap-hitting candidate: great ground speed and bat control, aggressive, and right-handed. While players may feel uncomfortable at first, coaches often find that hitters become more productive after making the change. To identify which right-handed hitters can make the switch, Tschida evaluates their natural swing and base running ability. “Typically, I’ll take a right-handed hitter who doesn’t have great power or mechanics but does have some speed and move them to the opposite side,” Tschida says. “The time spent teaching them proper mechanics for a righthanded swing can instead be used teaching them to slap.” Travis Scott, Head Coach at Angelo State University, uses a similar method. Scott lets batting averages help determine which players he will teach to hit
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working with now turned around, they will serve as good examples for others coming in.”
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left-handed and which he will keep as righties. “A lot depends on how good they are hitting right-handed,” Scott says. “If we have average hitter, say .260 or .300, who has the speed, we will try to move her to slap hitting. But if she’s a good hitter, anywhere above .350, we won’t mess with her. If she’s streaky, we might have her try both. In certain situations, like with no one out or leading off an inning, we’ll have her slap. But if she’s batting with runners in scoring position, we’ll let her swing.” Those without much softball experience can also make good candidates. Hoelman finds that at the high school level, right-handed newcomers with good speed can bring a clean slate into the batter’s box. With enough work, even right-handed hitters with previous experience can learn to swing naturally from the left-handed batter’s box. “If I have a kid who doesn’t know much about softball, it’s just as easy to put her on the left side as the right side,” Hoelman says. “For players who already have some softball experience, it is just a
matter of working until they feel as comfortable in the left-handed batter’s box. All it takes is one bobble or hesitation by the defense for them to reach base.” Mental aspects shouldn’t be overlooked when switching a hitter to slap-
Coaches must also remember that even right-handed hitters who can barely reach the warning track may see themselves as power hitters. “You have to groom them emotionally,” says Linda Wells, former Head Coach at Arizona State University.
Mental aspects shouldn’t be overlooked when switching a hitter to slapping. The player must be willing to put in long hours and countless swings to gain the level of comfort needed to progress to more in-depth drills. ping. The player must be willing to put in long hours and countless swings to gain the level of comfort needed to progress to more in-depth drills. “It’s tedious, mundane work because there are only a few skills to learn, but slap hitters need to practice them over and over and over,” Weekly says. “You need a player with the patience and work ethic to take thousands of swings from the tee to get comfortable hitting left-handed.”
“You have to clearly explain that this move will pay some real dividends over time.” To keep players on track, there are always examples like Chiles—athletes who improved greatly after the transition. “One thing I like best about teaching at the high school level is that when you watch the Women’s College World Series, there are always players who recently made the change to slap hitting and are already great at it,” Hoelman says. “That makes me unafraid to switch
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any of my athletes, because I know it’s being done successfully at the highest levels. I tell my players they can see results almost immediately, and they can be really great after a year.” Teaching The Slap For many coaches, the thought of teaching a movement as intricate as slapping can be intimidating. But Weekly says breaking the motion down into its basic movements makes it very easy for players to learn. “When you start out, keep it simple,” Weekly advises. “Some coaches make it too complicated by teaching players to take multiple steps as part of their footwork. Slappers need to learn how to cross the left foot over the right foot in the box for the motion. That’s it.” Perfecting the slap can be made easy for your players as they slowly build the needed skill set. “For those who are just learning, their ability level has to meet your challenges,” Tschida says. “If they don’t see themselves as being any good, start them off with easier challenges. That’s why we use a progression of drills, starting with a swing standing still and progressing to live pitches. You want that kid to get fired up and motivated to keep trying, so you need
to slowly add challenges that allow her to see how she’s improving.” When working with new slap-hitters, Hoelman starts with the kinds of drills players may have performed when they first learned to hit. Hitting off a tee allows athletes to focus on the crossover step before worrying about making contact with a moving ball. “If you’re starting off with a stationary ball, it’s easier to concentrate on the other aspects,” Hoelman says. “They can focus on their footwork first and make sure they have the step-back, step-forward before they think about hitting. After that, I’ll move to a short toss over the plate with a wiffle ball so they can see how the ball comes out of my hand. “Instead of having them use a bat, I put a glove on their left hand and have them follow the ball into the glove with their eyes,” Hoelman continues. “If they can do that, they can follow it all the way to their bat. As the old saying goes, ‘Bunting is catching the ball with your bat.’ Slapping is the same way. If they can catch the ball on their bat, they’ll be able to place their hits correctly.” Many players who are just learning to slap make the mistake of turning their left shoulder toward first base as they
If you ask five coaches how to defend against the slap, you’re liable to hear five different answers. But all will agree that covering the hole between third base and shortstop and putting pressure on the hitter are two of the best approaches. “There are all kinds of goofy defenses people play, where they shift in position because the slapper isn’t able to hit hard slaps and can’t take advantage of a second baseman playing 30 feet in front of her down the middle,” says John Tschida, Head Coach at the University of Saint Thomas. If a team faces a one-dimensional slapper, an extra infielder can help guard against hits while keeping base runners in check. “On defense, we’ll play a slapper straight up for the first at-bat to see what happens,” says Steve Miner, former Head Coach at Madison (Calif.) High School, who begins work ths season as an assistant coach at San Diego State University. “If she’s strictly a put-it-on-the-ground slap hitter,
make contact with the ball. This can lead to misplaced hits and ground outs, but can easily be avoided by focusing on the correct footwork. “When they do the crossover step, I want the left toe pointing directly toward the plate,” says Steve Miner, Assistant Coach at San Diego State University. “As a rule, when a player crosses over, it’s natural for that left toe to turn and face the pitcher. Have them focus on keeping it facing the plate instead, which keeps their shoulders and hips back so they can hit toward the hole between shortstop and third base.” Because ball placement is one of the most important aspects of slap hitting, Tschida borrows from billiards to teach his hitters. “When we’re doing drills off a tee, it’s very important to show them how best to aim the ball,” Tschida says. “So we’ll put a dot on the ball, like one you’d use when shooting pool. I want the dot facing directly opposite the shortstop hole, and through their motion the bat has to hit the dot directly. If it doesn’t, they’re going to pull the ball toward the pitcher or drive it down the line. “The other thing I’ll do is take a sticker of a pair of eyes and put it at the point on the bat where they need to
I’ll take the outfielder who plays infield the best and move her behind the pitcher. I leave right field open because most slap hitters who also hit for power won’t hit it that way. “If there’s a runner on first, this helps cover against the steal and allows the shortstop to focus on the batter,” he continues. “It plays games with the hitter, who reacts by trying to aim the ball to right field, which forces her to do something she’s not comfortable with.” With all the possible infield formations to combat the slap, coaches shouldn’t neglect their outfielders. “A lot of coaches know how to shift their infield when facing a slap hitter but don’t do enough with the outfield,” Miner says. “You can really, really squeeze the outfielders. I teach them that when they see the batter take a crossover step, they should start charging. This helps take away any bloopers that get over the infielders’ heads, and even though you might get burned once in a while, it generally works well.”
DEFENDING AGAINST THE SLAP 18
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make contact,” he continues. “Whether they’re drag bunting or slapping, they want those eyes to point directly at their target. If those eyes are facing the shortstop, that’s where the ball is going to go. If they’re facing the third baseman, it will go there.” Tschida knows there’s only so much
front of each of them, not necessarily to hold the ball but to make sure they keep the bat head in. Going through the motions together helps get their timing down. “I’ll have them do the same thing before they come to the plate,” Tschida continues. “If you watch the top teams,
“I’ll have four or five slap hitters stand behind the cage during batting practice. I’ll put a tee in front of them, not necessarily to hold the ball but to make sure they keep the bat head in. Going through the motions together helps get their timing down.” he can teach his slap hitters, so he encourages them to learn by watching each other as well. “Every hitter is unique, especially when they’re learning the different styles of slapping,” Tschida says. “So I’ll have four or five slap hitters stand behind the cage during batting practice. I’ll put a tee in
their on-deck hitters are in unison with the hitter at the plate, working on breaking the pitcher’s timing.” There is no one correct way to slap. Some players use a shuffle step as they leave the box, and others a more pronounced crossover. Some choke up on the bat while others may have better
control with lower hands. Picking a single approach for all your athletes can be counter productive. “The more I try to teach slap hitting, the more methods I realize are effective,” O’Brien says. “Instead of picking one technique and sticking with it for eternity, the wisest coaches look at all the different approaches being used and incorporate all the variations. Being open to the whole variety really helps your players, because what works for one might not work for another.” Getting Real Slapping a ball off a tee is one thing. Connecting when the defense is bearing down and a pitch is whizzing by is another. To fully develop your slap hitters, they need to undergo a “trial by fire,” where they can move past mechanics and understand how to use their skills in a real game. For O’Brien, that means inserting slap hitters into the lineup while they’re still learning. “It’s important to get them into a game to work on it,” he
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says. “They need to see live pitching to realize the slap is more effective than they might think. They need to practice reading the defense to know where those holes are going to open up.” Game situations can help slap hitters understand when a soft drag bunt might be more effective than a hard slap between the shortstop and third base. Coaches can help this process by explaining strategies and encouraging batters to open their eyes to better see the game around them. “The key for hitters is to be in control and know when to use each of their weapons,” Tschida says. “By watching video of game situations, they can see where holes are opening, so when they’re up to bat the next time it will be easier to recognize. “A lot of times, slap hitters will start a pitch intending to slap, but the pitch is bad and as they follow the ball into the catcher’s glove they lose focus on what the defense did against them,” Tschida continues. “It’s important to teach them to look up quickly after a pitch to see how the defense is aligned. I tell my players that’s the game talking to them, and they have to stop and listen.” By using variations on the slap, hitters can keep the defense guessing. “A lot of times I’ll have players show bunt before they slap, or even fake bunt then fake slap,” says Tschida. “Having them swing away at a pitch can throw the defense off. Even if the hitter misses completely, the outfielders will step back.” These variations can be especially effective when the defense knows a player will be slap hitting and tries to key in on her. “Against a good defensive team that’s trying to shut down our slappers, we’ll hit more of a power slap over the infielders,” Hoelman says. “The key is using different decoys, like a fake drag bunt to bring them in, then pulling back and slapping. “Also, I recently began teaching all my slappers to take full swings,” Hoelman continues. “I usually have my first two hitters stand in the left-handed batter’s box, and if the first baseman starts in, I’ll have them swing away. That keeps the defense on its toes and opens up the slapping game.” Aside from creating openings to exploit, slap hitters can make it more difficult for the defense to keep track of base runners. “If you’ve got a runner
on first, a slapper can hide her from the catcher,” Tschida says. “The catcher knows the runner is flying off the base, but can’t see her until the second or third step. With a runner on second, you can have her steal when the third baseman is charging the ball, and a lot of times that leads to the catcher throwing to an empty base and the runner getting a free run.” At times, slap hitters will inevitably fail. They will misplace hits and ground
out, pop up, or fail to beat out a throw. But coaches agree that sticking with the slap and continuing to pressure the defense will produce great results in the long run. “Slap hitting is like penicillin,” says O’Brien. “If you just keep going with it, it’s going to be effective sooner or later. It forces the defense to make difficult plays. And even if they can make those difficult plays in the early innings, they’ll have to keep making them all game long.” ■
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CREATING A BUZZ
Looking to climb the coaching ladder? To land an interview in today’s highly competitive job market, coaches need a systematic and dynamic strategy. You’re reading the morning newspaper or casually scanning the coaching job boards, and you see it: your dream job. You’re at a point in your career when your experience and skills fit all the requirements. You’re excited. You think about picking up the phone to tell the school’s athletic director that you’re the perfect person for the job. But then you ask yourself: Is that the right way to go? How do you land an interview for a coaching job you desperately want? The competition for coaching positions can be fierce, and getting noticed is not easy. For some jobs, hundreds of resumes will arrive on an athletic director’s desk, and only a handful of appli-
BY WILL REECE
cants will be interviewed. How you proceed over the next few days is critical. Your goal is to create a buzz about yourself with the athletic director and hiring committee members. You want to gather momentum so the committee will be excited to learn more about you. To do that, you need to follow a systematic approach to keeping your name in front of decision-makers throughout the application process.
a go-getter, but not as a loudmouth. You want to follow directions, but also show that you can exceed expectations. That’s why the first step in the process is to learn exactly how to apply for the position. No matter how you found the job opening, always check the institution’s Web site for the official posting. This description will tell you where to send your resume and provide any special instructions, like whether
Initial Contact The number one factor in landing that interview is how you present yourself. The trick is to be aggressive while also showing that you’re a team player. You want to stand out from the crowd as
Will Reece is the Founder, President, and CEO of Next Level Consulting, which assists coaches at all levels in personal branding and communications. He is also a former coach and athletic administrator, and can be reached through his Web site at: www.nextlevel.us.
they’re willing to receive e-mails or phone calls. If the posting says no phone calls and you call anyway, you are definitely not starting out on the right foot. If phone calls are permitted, you should contact the athletic director (or the appropriate hiring person) as soon as possible. Prepare a 30-second pitch that quickly highlights why you are a good candidate for the job. Tell them who you are, what position you currently hold, one or two professional accomplishments, and your intention to apply for the job. If the person on the other end of the line is receptive, ask how long the process will take, then close with a positive, confident statement. If you can’t reach the athletic director by phone, then leave a 30-second voicemail message or send a brief e-mail. Here’s an example of an appropriate phone message: “Mr. Smith, this is Jane Jones. I am currently the assistant coach at State, and I am calling to let you know of my interest in your head softball coaching position. We have been very successful at State. This past year we won the conference championship and were
ranked in the top-20 in the nation. We have consistently recruited the top student-athletes in the state. I am sending my resume and references, which should reach you later today. I look forward to having an opportunity to share my vision for your softball program with the search committee.” What are some tips for this initial conversation? You want to be positive and upbeat, but not obnoxious. You should come off as confident, but not cocky. And you want to be honest—if things work out, this athletic director will be your next boss, so represent yourself truthfully throughout the process. The day you make contact with the hiring school, fax or e-mail a copy of your resume. Follow that up by sending any additional materials, with another copy of your resume, via overnight mail. The value of sending overnight (or secondday delivery) is that recipients generally turn their attention toward overnight deliveries before opening regular mail. And by sending a printed resume, you can be assured everything will look the
way you want—rather than being blurred by lines on an old fax machine or jumbled because an administrator opened your text file with the wrong program. Check the tracking information, and three days after your materials arrive, make a follow-up contact. Send an e-mail inquiry asking whether your materials have been received and letting the search committee know they can call with any questions. E-mail is instant and the contact person can read it as their schedule permits. It also opens up an easy line of communication if they have any additional questions for you. If you call instead, keep your conversation brief while communicating the same message. Presenting Yourself On Paper Traditionally, applying for a job requires you to send in your resume and a list of references. However, in today’s world of coaching hires, that isn’t enough. To make yourself stand out, you need to present a polished description of your philosophy and accomplishments. The best way to do this is by compiling a portfolio.
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Each hiring process is different from the next, and some can be downright quirky. At one school, coaches may be hired solely by an athletic director who is eager for as many references as possible. At another school, a hiring committee may be used, with very strict rules on what information is allowed. To deal with the nuances, try to find out as much information as possible about the process. What is the timetable? Who are the members of the search committee? How will the decision be made? What type of coach is the school looking for? Why did the former coach leave? Getting this information is not as difficult as it may sound. Usually, you can find an inside connection who will be able to provide you with answers. You may know a coach who knows a coach at the school. You may be able to call the coach who is leaving. Or one of your references may be able to ask these questions for you. If not, it helps to establish good communication with the athletic director’s staff. Generally, you will have contact with them in the follow-up process. If handled
professionally, these people can be a great source of information.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
It’s especially important to find out how the hiring decision will be made. For example, if studentathletes’ parents make up a good chunk of the search committee and have a final vote, you’ll want to include something about working with parents in your philosophy statement. If the departing coach was let go due to poor academics by his athletes, add something about your student-athletes’ academic achievements in your portfolio’s highlights section, or even directly on your resume.
Since coaches are used to competition, many spend a lot of energy trying to find out who else is applying for the job. This is not a good use of your time—and it’s certainly not as important as finding out about the search process. All it leads you to is trying to discredit another candidate, which will ultimately reflect poorly on you.
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Today’s athletic directors want coaches with a vision and a professional image, so that’s how you need to present yourself. You need to accurately communicate your successes and beliefs. You need to come across as a multi-dimensional coach with a personal brand. Your portfolio should be broken down into three sections: biographical information, career highlights, and coaching philosophy. Strive to make your information clear, well organized, and easy to read, and make sure there are no grammatical mistakes or typos. Biographical Information: This is the section that most resembles a traditional resume. It should contain: education, playing experience, coaching experience, other related work experience, memberships in professional organizations and on committees, and any significant volunteer work. It usually works best to list your information chronologically, starting with the most recent position. First and foremost, be absolutely certain that the information in this section is accurate and truthful. There have been
several highly publicized cases in recent years of coaches “beefing up” their information and subsequently losing their jobs when the truth came out. Today we live in a society where information travels around the world in the time it takes to click a mouse. The chances of getting away with misrepresenting yourself are slim. If you have an established career and track record, you should simply list your past positions and dates. However, if you have limited work experience, add a couple of lines describing the duties and responsibilities at each of the positions you have held. This will impress upon potential employers that even though you may not have extensive work experience, you have had the opportunity to start building a quality skill set. You should be aware that including personal information is not required. In fact, employment law prohibits those hiring from asking candidates about their personal lives. Personal items include your birth date, marital status, family background, and health issues. You can include information about your person-
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al life in your portfolio, but employers are not permitted to ask follow-up questions relating to it and cannot use it to make their hiring decisions. Career Highlights: In this section, list your professional accomplishments. Include individual and team honors, awards, records, and other important information. Some coaches say they are reluctant to list honors because it will seem like they are tooting their own horn. But the truth is, if you’re not highlighting your accomplishments, nobody else will. Rest assured that listing these achievements in your portfolio is informative and not conceited. The first step in formulating your highlights section is to compile an exhaustive “brag” sheet. List every piece of positive recognition you have received throughout your playing and coaching career. Then include those honors in your portfolio that are most relevant to the position you are seeking. Also, be sure to include the accomplishments of your players. If you had a player named conference MVP, you as a coach played a role in developing
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(and possibly recruiting) that player. Think about how to “spin” your achievements. To be clear, you should never include information that is not true, but sometimes you can present the facts for maximum impact. For instance, you may have led your team to a respectable 16-14 record in your first season. But you can also compare that record to previous years to show improvement. Let’s say the team finished 4-26 the season before you got there. That means you accomplished a 300-percent improvement in your first season. You can also use this section to fill any holes in your resume. For example, if you have only worked at the NCAA Division III level and you are applying for a job in Division I, include some information on how your experiences have prepared you to work at a Division I school. Philosophy: It is important to have a coaching philosophy that is detailed, organized, and well written. I suggest breaking down your philosophy into technical and program approaches. A technical philosophy consists of how a coach
feels the game should be played. This may include offensive and defensive strategies, and your practice and strength and conditioning philosophies. A program philosophy includes all the factors that go into building and maintaining a championship program, such as motivating athletes, team building, academics, fundraising, recruiting (at the college level), discipline, and public relations. The position you are applying for will dictate whether to include your philosophy in your portfolio. Generally, if you are applying for a head coaching position, it is important to include an explanation of your philosophy. If you are applying for an assistant coaching position, it’s not appropriate to include your personal philosophy. As an assistant coach you will be expected to implement the head coach’s philosophy. Extra Touches: If you have the resources, you can add visual elements to make your portfolio stand out. Using the coaching example mentioned, you might include a bar graph showing four wins before you arrived and 16 wins the next
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season. This gives readers a visual image that jumps off the page. Photos are another way to highlight your accomplishments. Let’s say you’re an assistant softball coach at the NCAA Division I level and have recruited several All-American athletes. To send a powerful message, you could include a full-page picture of one of these athletes with a tagline that says: “Recruited to State by Coach Jones, Jana Smith went on to be a three-time All-American.” If you have written recommendations from well-known coaches, it can be effective to add a section of quotes from these people. You could even add small photos of the coaches to accompany their quotes. Bringing In The Big Guns Once you’ve made initial contact and sent in your portfolio, it’s time to bring in the big guns! These are the coaches who are respected by other coaches and administrators, and may include your current boss, a former boss, a coach for
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whom you played, or a coach you met through networking. You should ask two or three of these people to call the athletic director (or whomever is the contact person) to recommend you for the position. Arrange these calls to come on consecutive days so the contact person is hearing about you each day. And be sure to send a copy of your resume so your references can refresh themselves on the details of your career before they call. Selecting those who will call is of the utmost importance. Many young coaches approach “big name” coaches they might have had a 10-minute conversation with at a clinic and ask them to call. This generally backfires. The coach doesn’t know you well enough to answer questions the athletic director might ask about you. He or she may actually end up recommending another candidate with whom he or she has a personal relationship! Choose coaches or administrators who know and respect you. If there are specific points you would like them to bring out, discuss them in advance. For
example, if this would be your first head coaching job, ask them to talk about your leadership skills and how you are ready to take on a higher profile position. Think of anyone who would strike a chord with the contact person. If you know a coach who has a relationship with the hiring athletic director, you have an ideal scenario. If the contact person is not an athletic administrator, then it may be beneficial to have someone in a similar position at your current institution call on your behalf. High school coaches often ask me what it takes to jump to the college ranks. This is a tough move to make, and bringing in the big guns is critical. Working camps, attending clinics, and volunteering at events are all important steps to build relationships with college coaches. When networking, look to build authentic relationships. If you are trying to make friends just to move up, you will only end up hurting yourself. This type of jump often necessitates more than two or three phone calls from successful coaches who can recommend you. And in addition to their phone calls,
you should have a long list of references available by mail, e-mail, or fax. Playing It Cool As you make your way through this process, there are two more tips to keep in mind. One, make sure to time your approach: Make contact, send in your portfolio, follow it up, and bring in the big guns, in that order. This timetable ensures decision-makers will be hearing your name throughout the process. Two, don’t become a stalker. If you or your references call too many times, you run the risk of inundating the decision-makers. Although being persistent is a great trait for a coach, being overly persistent could be a real turn-off. Play it cool and use a systematic approach that keeps your name in front of the search committee, while respecting their time and the job they have to do. Play up your strengths and come across as a confident, savvy coach who knows how things should be done. ■ Versions of this article have appeared in other editions of Coaching Management.
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BALANCE OF POWER
BY VERN GAMBETTA
D AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS
O YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME
you tried to do something athletic with your nondominant hand? For me, it was shooting a layup left-handed as a kid. It was a disaster. That was my introduction to lateral dominance, and I’m still intrigued by the concept today. Technically, lateral dominance is the preference for one extremity or a half of the body over the other. It is a fancy term for saying someone is right- or left-handed—but it means a lot more than simply identifying which hand a person writes or throws with. Unless they are ambidextrous, every athlete is more proficient with one side of their body than the other. In softball, a player’s dominant hand is one of
Helping players work past their natural tendency to be right- or left-handed can improve their proficiency on both sides and develop them into more complete athletes.
her defining characteristics. Pitchers are either righties or lefties and batters stand on one side of the plate or the other. It’s also a huge part of game strategy. But lateral dominance plays a role in so many other aspects of the game, and overcoming the preference to favor one side can lead to performance enhancement. Why Is It Important? There are several reasons why lateral dominance is important in training your athletes. The most obvious is that an underdeveloped limb or side of the body can limit performance. No matter which arm your fielder is throwing with, if she can move both arms and both legs with equal proficiency, she gains an advantage over the athlete who cannot.
An infielder will benefit from having superb coordination on both sides of her body, allowing her to move well to the right and the left. Another clear reason for addressing lateral dominance in training is that if an athlete progresses through her career only using the dominant limb or the dominant side, she runs the risk of overuse. Through repetitive stress, a structural or functional imbalance can occur and lead to injury or impaired performance. Vern Gambetta is the President of Gambetta Sports Training Systems in Sarasota, Fla., and a frequent contributor to Coaching Management. His daily thoughts on training athletes can be viewed on his blog at: www.functionalpathtraining.blogspot.com.
STRENGTH & CONDITIONING
Iâ€™ve seen plenty of pitchers with overuse injuries in their pitching arms. But there are also some less obvious reasons why you should pay attention to this concept. In particular, it is often the nondominant side that performs the function of deceleration. Think about your shortstop running toward second base to field a ground ball, stepping on the bag, and throwing to first to turn a double play. As she approaches the base, she uses her dominant leg to position herself for the throw. If her body is off balance as she makes her approach, her nondominant leg will play a huge role in decelerating and stabilizing her body. If that nondominant leg needs to shift at the last second to avoid a base runner sliding in, it needs to be strong enough to do so safely and effectively. Otherwise, performance will suffer and injury may result. There is also the idea that training the nondominant limb may improve performance with the dominant limb. This concept is called bilateral transfer. For example, an athlete who has one leg in
a cast can do strength-training exercises using the non-injured leg to help keep the injured leg strong. The technique has been used in rehab for years and the positive implications are obvious. The question is, can it also work for performance enhancement? We are talking about the same body and the same nervous system, so logic tells us that it should work when training a healthy athlete. Unfortunately, no research has been conducted on the concept. But anecdotally, I have found it can be effective. When I was the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Chicago White Sox from 1987 to 1996, we experimented with having our pitchers play catch using their nondominant arm the day after they pitched in a game. Their dominant arm was usually pretty sore from pitching the day before, so we wanted to work their opposite arm and take advantage of bilateral transfer. The results were hard to measure, but those pitchers who committed to the exercise liked it and felt it helped their dominant arm. Having used bilateral transfer exer-
cises for several sports, Iâ€™ve observed heightened awareness and improved coordination on the dominant side after having worked the nondominant side. Janis Lusis, former world record holder and multiple Olympic medalist in the javelin throw, is right-handed, but he used to end each throwing workout with 10 to 20 easy-effort left-handed throws. He said the exercise helped hone his balance and coordination. Obviously this needs to be studied further, but I am convinced there is merit to the concept. Development Of Dominance To understand the larger concept of lateral dominance, itâ€™s helpful to examine it as it relates to growth and development. In this field, laterality refers to the conscious awareness that there are two sides of the body. Through movement experience during growth, children become increasingly aware of their right versus their left side and develop patterns of dominance. Between the ages of five and seven, these patterns really begin to reveal themselves, although research has
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shown that a preference for use of the right or the left hand is not permanently established until age nine or 10. Foot preference, however, seems to be established by age five. Therefore, the ideal period for children to develop bilateral movement is during the so-called “skill hungry years” of six to nine. This does not mean that we should train young athletes to be ambidextrous—not at all. Rather, we are simply attempting to develop nondominant limb skills with the goal of enhancing the efficiency of the entire body. How does this concept work neurologically? In motor learning, as in all learning, the brain needs to receive information in order to develop. The body provides that information to the brain, which processes the data and turns it into signals that trigger the appropriate movements. The brain has two hemispheres: the logical left brain, and the right brain—what I call the perceptual side. Optimal learning occurs when there is rapid communication between both sides. The term for this is cross-lateral control.
One book on the subject that really opened my eyes is The Dominance Factor, by Carla Hannaford. This book approaches the concept of lateral dominance from the viewpoint of a learning disabilities specialist, but the implications for sports performance enhancement are intriguing. Hannaford goes beyond just identifying dominant arm—she identifies dominant eye, ear, and foot. She also talks about how these dominance patterns interact to provide information to the brain. An obvious way these ideas cross over to athletics is examining how a dominant eye affects the way an athlete tracks a ball. A more subtle concept, however, is how dominance patterns affect the manner in which an athlete learns. It can be very helpful to know if an athlete processes information better using auditory cues or by receiving visual cues, or if processing complicated feedback will be difficult. The book also made me think about how important it is for all areas of the brain to be in sync when processing information. According to Hannaford, “The optimal learning state is one of
whole-brain integration. In this state, both hemispheres are equally active all the time, thus accessing all sensory information and effectively communicating, moving, and acting on information.” As coaches, we know that our most effective practice sessions occur when an athlete is totally focused, with every muscle of their body eager to respond to stimuli. The more we understand how the brain works, the better we can train our athletes to achieve this focus. If therapists can teach students to overcome disabilities rooted in certain brain dominances, we can teach athletes to overcome lateral dominance and enhance performance. Training Both Sides I am not saying we should train the right-handed pitcher to throw left-handed, or devote half our training to developing the nondominant side—that would be a waste of time. Ultimately, most athletes must perform optimally with their dominant limbs, so everything we do in training should focus on enhancing skills in those limbs. However, I feel that spend-
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ing a small amount of time training the nondominant side of the body will help achieve this overall performance goal. The obvious question, then, is when and how much should the nondominant side be trained? The answer depends on the athlete and her training and performance goals. The first step is to assess whether the athlete has major problems caused by lateral dominance. You can do this
through observation and testing. Tests should be agility-based and force the athlete to move both right and left. If deficiencies due to lateral dominance are affecting the athlete’s play, find out why they are better at going in one direction than the other. Is it a strength imbalance? Does a prior injury limit their ability to move to one side? Is it a problem with motor perception? To remedy this situation, it is necessary to find the
Practicing synchronization of movement will heighten body awareness and improve coordination of the nondominant side. Here are some examples of these simple exercises: ■
Perform circles with one arm and punches with the other. Quickly switch arm movements after about 10 reps.
Jump forward and backward with both arms overhead moving side to side.
Stand in place and rotate the hips clockwise and the head counterclockwise.
cause and systematically address it. This requires a specially designed program for each individual athlete. If lateral dominance is not causing major problems but you’d still like to improve an athlete’s nondominant limb proficiency, I suggest adding small doses of nondominant training to their workouts. Most of this training can be classified as remedial work and can be implemented as part of warmup or cooldown. I have
Dribble a basketball with each hand using equal effort.
Dribble two balls with unequal effort—hard with one hand and soft with the other.
Dribble two balls of different dimensions. For example, bounce a volleyball in one hand and a basketball in the other.
Catch and throw with the nondominant arm.
Kick with the nondominant leg.
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also found these types of exercises to be good “homework” for athletes to do and can be as simple as throwing and catching with the nondominant hand. I wrote earlier about getting both sides of the brain to work together. A great way to achieve this is through crosslateral physical movements—where limbs coordinate with their counterpart on the other side. The simplest form of crosslateral movement is crawling, done using both arms and both legs. I include crawling as part of every warmup and add a specific crawling module to my coretraining workouts. Examples include bear crawls and Spiderman crawls. For coordination training, I incorporate work that involves the nondominant side in novel tasks, not just the sport skill exercises. I am not seeking a direct transfer with these everyday exercises, but practicing synchronization of movement that heightens body awareness and awareness of the nondominant side. These unrelated movements will open neural pathways and wake up the nervous system (See “Coordination Drills” on page 34). A good place for your players to work toward bilateral transfer is in the weightroom. Obviously, this kind of exercise is not feasible for every workout, but I use it where it fits. The idea does, however, require a whole paradigm shift on the role of strength training toward enhancing coordination and the efficiency of movement patterns. This type of work does not improve heavy lifting, but it is more functional because it develops more useable strength. For example, have athletes do an alternate dumbbell press instead of a twoarm press with a bar. Lunges and singleleg squats can be used for the lower body. This will facilitate lateral transfer while also achieving standard strength gains. In core strength and stability training, it is very important to work both sides of the body in a balanced way. This does not take any extra effort—it just means setting up your drills to focus on both sides equally. It’s also a good idea to examine some everyday things athletes do that affect their lateral dominance. For example, base runners always run counterclockwise around the bases. To achieve greater balance, simply have them do a portion of their training—such as their daily warmup and cooldown runs—in a clockwise direction.
Lastly, remember that lateral dominance is not just about training left and right body movements, but also about other nondominant patterns of movement. Therefore, work the following movement combinations into workouts where appropriate: ■ Right/Left ■ Forward/Back ■ Up/Down ■ Over/Under ■ Clockwise/Counterclockwise ■ Side and Diagonal.
Training both sides of the body will ultimately enhance total movement skills. Doing so doesn’t mean you have to revamp your practices or workouts, it just requires thinking about going to “the other side” in your program design. It will open new movement territory, enhance body awareness, and help your athletes explore the body’s potential. ■ Versions of this article were previously published in our sister publication Training & Conditioning and in other editions of Coaching Management.
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Rapid Dry drying agent quickly wicks excess water away from your softball field and helps improve soil consistency. It’s not a dusty powder, and its granules are perfectly sized for both stability and absorption. Rapid Dry’s sand-like texture even improves footing on slippery surfaces. Just pour it on any wet spots and get back in the game, fast. When you need a game saver, you want Rapid Dry drying agent in the lineup. Circle No. 510
Z Clip attached Field Wall Pads from Promats are constructed of 3/4-inchthick exterior-grade (sealed) plywood and 3-inch-thick high-impact foam. They’re covered in 16ounce high-UV vinyl. This style of wall padding can be used on concrete, masonry, block, or wooden walls. Because the vinyl is stretched tight and stapled to the back side of the plywood, this product is ideal for applying advertising copy or logos directly to the pad surface. Circle No. 513
Pro’s Choice Red infield conditioner is designed to meet the challenges of wet, dry, or compacted infields. This legendary product is the first choice of professional groundskeepers for building and maintaining winning softball fields season after season. It manages the moisture on your field, keeping it in top playing condition. Pro’s Choice Red infield conditioner is the all-star veteran of the Pro’s Choice lineup. Circle No. 511 Beam Clay® 800-247-BEAM www.beamclay.com Beam Clay® offers FenceGuards™ protective covers for chain-link fencing. FenceGuards are available in six colors—safety yellow, dark green, red, white, blue, and orange— and in premium, standard, and lite grades. These heavy-duty, UV-resistant polyethylene covers protect players from chain-link fence injuries and provide a neat and distinctive look for fencing. FenceGuards come in cartons of 10 eight-foot pre-drilled sections and include UV-resistant ties for securing every two feet to the fence. Circle No. 512
Qualite Sports Lighting, Inc. 800-933-9741 www.qualite.com Qualite’s factory-wired, pre-aimed, preassembled lighting systems allow for easy on-site assembly and reduced installation costs. Choose the Gold Series, ProSeries™, or International— each one offers unique characteristics to solve a facility’s specific lighting needs, and all systems are backed by one of the best 10-year warranties in the business. These systems provide excellent spill light control with optimum field lighting. Standard remote ballasts are used for all these systems, and the patented MDS allows you to conduct important safety tests from the ground with the power turned off. Circle No. 514 SPI Nets, Inc. 866-243-6387 www.spinets.net SPI Nets’ full-service net building facility offers top-quality nets at unbeatable prices. The company stocks and custom builds 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, and built in the USA to meet all your needs. Call SPI Nets toll-free or go online to learn more. Circle No. 515 Universal Sports Lighting 217-648-5201 www.uslnet.com The baseball field at the LaPlata County (Colo.) Fairgrounds features a Universal Sports Lighting system that
maintains 50 footcandles of light in the infield and 30 footcandles in the outfield. Following IES design criteria, this field has a system that can provide consistent levels of light throughout its lifespan. The lighting system is environmentally sensitive—it includes internal controls that provide outstanding spill and glare control. Circle No. 516 Stabilizer Solutions, Inc. 800-336-2468 www.stabilizersolutions.com Stabilizer Ballyard Products designed the Hilltopper product line specifically for the game of softball. The Hilltopper family is a leader in all-weather field amendments. These products shed water from the playing surface and are dust-free. They do not require water for installation or maintenance. This innovative line includes the Hilltopper Mound & Homeplate Clay, Hilltopper Infield Mix, Hilltopper Warning Track Mix, and Hilltopper Conditioner. Whatever your style of play, Hilltopper delivers. Circle No. 517
Softball Field 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. 518
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. 520
Soft Touch Bases 866-544-2077 www.softtouchbases.com Soft Touch “progressive release” bases Untitled-1 are designed to flex and absorb energy
www.AthleticBid.com to contact these companies.
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as a player slides into the base. In the case of uncontrolled slides, the “progressive release” action allows the base to flex until enough force is applied to “pop” the base free from its mount, unlike a stationary base. Circle No. 519 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, college, and professional baseball and softball programs—and is available at considerable
Batting Tunnels Protective Screens • Field Equipment Custom Netting • Outfield Screen 8410 Wolf Lake Drive, Suite 106 Memphis, TN 38133-4049
Circle No. 133 COACHING MANAGEMENT
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ADVERTISERS DIRECTORY CIRCLE NO.
101. . . Adams USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
134. . . Nemo’s Speed Hitting Program . . . 41
127. . . Beacon Athletics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
139 . . . PIK Products. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BC
132 . . . Beam Clay® . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
111 . . . Pro’s Choice Field Products . . . . . . 17
114 . . . BetterBaseball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
119 . . . Promats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
107. . . Cardinal Publishers Group . . . . . . . 13
104. . . Qualite Sports Lighting . . . . . . . . . . . 8
108 . . Diamond Pro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
129. . . RevFire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
124 . . . Dutch Mill Bulbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
116 . . . Ringor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
120. . . eFundraising.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
105. . . Russell Athletic. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
103. . . Fair-Play Scoreboards . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
118 . . . ScorePAD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
113 . . . Fastball Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
130. . . Soft Touch Bases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
102. . . Game-On Field Conditioner . . . . . . . 4
117 . . . SPI Nets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
110 . . . GameMaster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
115 . . . Sports Attack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
100 . . girls got game . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IFC
121 . . . Sports Tutor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
126. . . I-ON Eye Trainer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
122. . . Stabilizer Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
131 . . . Joyner Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
112 . . . Universal Sports Lighting . . . . . . . . 19
106. . . M.A.S.A. Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
133. . . VPI Sports. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
123. . . Master Pitching Machine . . . . . . . . . 28
128. . . WeatherBeater® . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
138. . . Maxsport . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IBC
136. . . Zeeni . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
109. . . Measuring Plate
137 . . . Zingbat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
. . . . . . 16
125. . . Muhl Tech . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
PRODUCTS DIRECTORY CIRCLE NO.
542 . . Adams USA (Chest Protectors/Leg Guards) . 46
528. . . Master Pitching Machine . . . . . . . . 43
541. . . Adams USA (Knee Guard) . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
554 . . Maxsport . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
537. . . Adams USA (product launch) . . . . . . . . . . 45
521. . . Measuring Plate
535 . . ATEC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
525 . . Muhl Tech
(Advanced Skills Tee) .
500 . . Beacon Athletics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
524. . . Muhl Tech
512 . . . Beam Clay® . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
540 . . Nemo Speedbat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
543 . . BetterBaseball
(Easy Auction) .
529 . . EZ Tee
501. . . BetterBaseball
(nets and cages)
. . . . . . 46
. . . . . . 41 . . . . . 42
. . . . . . 42
. . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
. . . . . 36
544 . . Power Systems
549 . . Boathouse Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
545 . . Power Systems
(L-Bands system) .
. . . . . . . 46
558 . . Cardinal Publishers Group . . . . . . . 48
510 . . . Pro’s Choice
(Rapid Dry) .
538 . . Cho-Pat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
511 . . . Pro’s Choice
(Red infield conditioner)
518 . . . Diamond Pro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
513 . . . Promats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
555 . . Dutch Mill Bulbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
514 . . . Qualite Sports Lighting . . . . . . . . . . 38
505 . . Earth & Turf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
531. . . RevFire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
556 . . eFundraising.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
546 . . Ringor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
506 . . Fair-Play
. . . . . . . . . 36
552. . . Russell Athletic
(game jersey) .
. . . . . . 47
507 . . Fair-Play
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
553 . . Russell Athletic
(New Knicker) .
. . . . . . 47
. . . . 46
. . . . . . . . . . 38 . . 38
523 . . Fastball Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
548 . . ScorePAD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
503 . . Game-On . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
519 . . . Soft Touch Bases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
504 . . Game-On
515 . . . SPI Nets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
526. . . GameMaster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
532 . . Sports Attack
551 . . . girls got game
(adidas Jersey/Pant) .
533 . . Sports Attack
(Junior Hack Attack).
550 . . girls got game
(Russell Jersey/Short) .
. . 47
. . . . . . . . 44 . . . 44
534 . . Sports Tutor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
557. . . Goldner Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
517 . . . Stabilizer Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
530 . . Grand Slam Pitching Machine . . . . . 43
539 . . Stromgren . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
547. . . I-ON Eye Trainer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
516 . . . Universal Sports Lighting . . . . . . . . 38
527. . . Joyner Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
520 . . VPI Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
508 . . M.A.S.A.
(Fence Guard Lite) .
. . . . . . . . 36
502 . . WeatherBeater® by Colorado Lining . 36
509 . . M.A.S.A.
(White Line Markers)
. . . . . . . 37
522 . . Zingbat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
10/15/04 9:55:25 AM
Hitting & Pitching Aids AKH Sports, Inc./The Measuring Plate 888-406-4347 www.hplate.com
Zingbat 866-ZINGBAT www.zingbat.com
Fastball Sports 281-398-4329 www.fastball-sports.com
The Measuring Plate is perfect for all levels of play in baseball and softball. It’s simple to use and has a lightweight double-wall design. It is ideal for pitching practice and warmup anytime and anywhere. Pitcher/ catcher camps and clinics for all ages can benefit from the Measuring Plate, and it can add a new dimension to indoor training and off-season practice away from the field. Advanced uses include flat practice (softball pitching), pitching rehab (all levels), and private instruction and training centers. It features rugged UV- and weatherresistant HDPE plastic construction with adjustable 60’ 6” fiberglass tape. Circle No. 521
Zingbat™ offers the 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 inches, 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. 522
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. 523
Check out www.AthleticBid.com to contact these companies.
Nemo’s Speed Hitting Program • Nemo Bat • Videos • Hitting Tee Endorsed by:
Karen Linder Head Softball Coach Kent State University Mid-American Conference 2006 Tournament Champions, Eastern Division Champions two of the last three years
New Product of the Year Award
Available for Clinics ONLINE: www.CoachNemo.com Circle No. 134
COACHING9/27/07 MANAGEMENT 10:08:01 AM
Hitting & Pitching Aids Muhl Tech 888-766-8772 www.muhltech.com Muhl Tech Baseball & Softball offers equipment to make your practice time more productive. Since 2001, the company has been developing a line of “skill-specific” training equipment that gives hitters instant feedback with every swing. The products are designed to withstand heavy use during high school and college team practices. Muhl Tech also offers its own line of batting cages and screens, sold direct to save you money. Circle No. 524 Why is the Advanced Skills Tee used by more than 2,000 high school and college programs? You get instant feedback with every swing. Its unique forward arm and outside barrier help
develop a nice swing path and keep the hands inside the ball. The tough polyurethane construction will give you years of worry-free use. Try one this season, and if you don’t like it, Muhl Tech will buy it back. Circle No. 525 GameMaster 800-646-4225 www.gamemasterathletic.com The new and improved Instructo-Swing was developed to help hitters practice and learn how to swing a bat the correct way. When training with the Instructo-Swing, the good habits
bars help the hitter to develop the correct swing path to the ball. The new angle adjustment feature helps develop the type of swings that produce line drives, hard ground balls, and fly balls that carry. Circle No. 526 Joyner Technologies, Inc. 770-867-1957 www.AllstarBP.com Joyner Technologies received the American Baseball Coaches Association’s 2007 Best of Show award for its technologically advanced Allstar Ace 5000®. This programmable multi-pitch video simulator features Sports Tutor’s HomePlate pitching machine and SurePitch synchronization system, making it an ideal fastpitch training tool. Coaches can choose from a wide variety of pitch types with different speeds and different locations, and also film their own pitchers. This video simulator is easy to operate with a remote start/stop and simple
Hitting & Pitching Aids setup. Attractive lease options are available to accommodate all budgets. Circle No. 527 Master Pitching Machine, Inc. 800-878-8228 www.masterpitch.com 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. 528
PIK Products Corp. 877-845-7845 www.pikproducts.com www.baseballtrainingaids.com The patented EZ Tee is lightweight, durable, and portable. The legs fold for EZ storage—no more clunky home plates. Use it with a golf-size Wiffle™ ball for sharpening hand-eye coordination, or with a baseball or softball. The friction collar makes for EZ adjustment. The rubber topper is flexible so it won’t damage game bats. It allows the hitter to strike the ball more cleanly, so the tee stays upright. The EZ Tee was voted Best New Product at the 2007 American Baseball Coaches Association show. Circle No. 529
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 selffeeding reservoir holds more than 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. 530
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Hitting & Pitching Aids RevFire 866-414-3040 www.revfire.com Easier to use than a radar gun, the RevFire measures the spin of pitches as well as the speed. Adopted by college teams and clinics across the country, coaches report dramatic resultsâ€” pitchers throw a more effective breaking ball when they receive spin rate feedback. The RevFire is quickly becoming standard equipment among high school programs, private instructors, and serious pitchers. Go online to learn more. Circle No. 531 Sports Attack 800-717-4251 www.sportsattack.com The Hack Attack softball pitching machine has a unique three-wheel
design that provides complete ball vision, lifelike timing, and pinpoint accuracy. Simply adjust the wheelspeed dials to throw fastballs above 80 mph, risers, drops, right-handed and left-handed curves, screwballs up and in to right-handed and left-handed hitters, and knuckleball changeups. This machine is a professional training tool designed for college and serious high school athletes. Circle No. 532 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 above 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. 533 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. Choose the auto-feed model, which holds up to 40 12-inch dimpled softballs, or the hand-feed model, starting at $4,495. Circle No. 534 Athletic Training Equipment Co., Inc. 800-998-ATEC www.atecsports.com Used by hundreds of college and pro teams to maximize practice time, the ATEC Rookie throws fastballs and changeups at variable speeds up to 55 mph. A powerhouse for defensive drills, the Rookie rotates 360 degrees left-to-right and boasts 120 degrees of vertical pivot, allowing coaches to throw realistic liners, grounders, pop-ups, and flies accurately and repetitively. The Rookie carries a five-year limited warranty and is available in two models: standard and battery-operated. Circle No. 535
Circle No. 137
NEW Product Launch TRACE® Softball Catcher’s Gear Unique features: • Chest protector has a Memory Foam front to absorb ball impact and Thermo Foam backing • Removable extended breast protection and shoulder pads • Adjustable backstraps with leather reinforcement at stress areas Beneﬁts for the user: • Antimicrobially treated CoolMax™ lining • Available in three sizes: adult female, young adult female, and youth female • Available in four colors: scarlet, royal, black, navy
Adams USA www.adamsusa.com 800-251-6857
Bicep/Triceps Cuff Unique features: • Patent-pending cuff affords protection from overuse injuries to individuals performing repetitive lifting • Applies pressure to the upper and lower portions of the bicep and triceps to spread out the stress and directly pull on the muscle attachments Beneﬁts for the user: • Helps reduce the likelihood of developing tendonitis or tendonosis in the upper arm
Cho-Pat 800-221-1601 www.cho-pat.com
Circle No. 537
Circle No. 538
Stromgren Polar Gear™ Cold Weather Shirt (model 1258RLP)
Nemo Hitting Tee
Unique features: • Antimicrobial fabric • Specially designed cold-weather pitching shirt with raglan sleeve and mock turtleneck • Compression sleeve fabric reduces arm and elbow fatigue Beneﬁts for the user: • Helps reduce muscle vibration, which can help reduce fatigue • Available in black, royal, and navy stock colors with many sleeve color choices • Available now at team sporting goods dealers and at Stromgren’s online store
Unique features: • Innovative hitting tee with unique brush design • Allows batters to practice hitting inside, outside, and middle pitches • Easy to use and adjust
Stromgren Supports www.stromgren.com 800-527-1988
Nemo Speed Hitting Program www.speedbat.com 888-717-7742
Circle No. 539
Beneﬁts for the user: • Provides instance muscle memory feedback • Prevents bat barrel drag • Corrects excessive downward swing plane from the shoulder to the contact position.
Circle No. 540
Team Equipment Adams USA 800-251-6857 www.adamsusa.com The Trace 46000 Easy-On Easy-Off Sliding Softball Knee Guard offers flexible knee protection. It is versatile and durable, with a playerfriendly CoolMax™ lining and breathable foam that’s treated with antimicrobial BacShield™. The patented “keyhole” side design allows for superior flexibility without restriction of movement. Heavyduty polyester/spandex covers 3/8-inch foam for superior protection. There’s no need for shoe removal to put this unit on, and it’s machine washable. Four color options are available. Circle No. 541 Adams USA’s new Chest Protectors and Leg Guards are stylish and treated with antimicrobial Bac-Shield™. Available in six colors and four sizes from youth to adult, these protectors and guards are ergonomically designed for a superior fit. The Memory Foam front protector absorbs ball impact, removable and adjustable shoulder pads add protection, and open-cell foam with a CoolMax™ back liner provides moisture management. Lightweight, adjustable back straps enhance the custom fit. There’s extra ankle and instep protection on the guards, Bolistic mesh on the wings, and adjustable back straps for even more comfort. Removable and washable Memory Foam with a CoolMax insert on the guards provides moisture management. Circle No. 542 Betterbaseball.com 800-997-4233 www.betterbaseball.com 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. 543 Power Systems 800-321-6975 www.power-systems.com The simple, effective Bola Trainer is hands-down one of the best eye-hand coordination training devices on the market. It’s great for softball players who want to develop lightning-fast reactions, ambidexterity, coordination, spatial awareness, and balance. Basic to advanced moves can be mastered with these two one-pound foam balls connected by a 36-inch bungee cord. The Bola is suitable for all levels and comes with a training DVD. Circle No. 544 The L-Bands system from Power Systems is an innovative tool to improve speed, balance, control, and agility by promoting activation of the hip flexors to produce a faster stride. Condition and train the muscles to exert maximum effort. Bands help the athlete remain in an efficient running position while using the leg muscles to generate force and power during runs and agility drills. Adjustable nylon thigh and foot straps are connected by resistance tubing that’s available in three lengths depending on the athlete’s height. Circle No. 545 Ringor Corp. 877-274-6467 www.ringor.com Ringor’s women’s Diamond Star is specifically designed to be the ultimate softball shoe, blending durability, comfort, and lightweight performance. The
Diamond Star is available in a metal spike and a non-metal TPU model. Mid-high models and Pro-Tec-Toes models are also available. The Diamond Star is the perfect team choice, with 10 color options: red, royal blue, maroon, black (pictured), green, white, navy blue, purple, orange, and pink. Circle No. 546 I-ON Eye Trainer 877-3-HIT NOW www.i-ontheball.com The I-ON Eye Trainer improves performance at the plate. Developed by an optometrist, the I-ON adjusts to block peripheral vision during softtoss and tee work. The feedback and results are immediate--athletes experience improved muscle memory, better hand-eye coordination, and development of the less dominant eye. This product is endorsed by Todd Helton and comes with an instructional DVD containing recommended drill work. Circle No. 547 ScorePAD Sports, Inc. 678-270-4001 www.scorepad.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 personalized 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 their family members. Circle No. 548
Uniforms & Apparel
Boathouse Sports 800-875-1883 www.boathouse.com
Russell Athletic 678-742-8750 www.russellathleticteamsports.com
Many Colleges and Universities Choose PIK
Boathouse Sports offers everything your team needs to look its best, from high-quality uniforms to warmups, training and travel suits, multiple styles of team jackets, and even classic sweats. Choose from three different fabrics: Tech-Mesh for a lightweight feel Vindicator jersey and maximum moisture transfer; Clima-Guard for loose-fitting performance without restriction or interference; and Sport-Dazzle. Circle No. 549
New for spring 2008, Russell Athletic is introducing a revolutionary performance game jersey made with Stretch Power and Ventilator technology. The Stretch Power fabric allows the jersey to Softball Game Jersey move with the athlete’s natural motion, increasing mobility. The Ventilator technology allows for airflow to keep the body cool. This jersey was designed specially for females—shorter sleeves and a tapered body improve freedom of movement. Circle No. 552
PIK Products manufactures baseball and softball training aids for players at all levels to develop hitting, throwing, and fielding. The company’s products include Swift Stik, Grand Slam Pitching Machine, Head Down Trainers, EZ Tee, Arm Strong Pro, and Arm Strong Basix. All products are guaranteed to improve players’ ability. Here’s a list of just some of the programs that have used PIK’s products:
girls got game 866-600-9905 www.girlsgotgame.com
The New Knicker softball pant, available for spring 2008 from Russell Athletic, has a low-rise waist and hits under the knee. This stylish new game pant, constructed with a double knee that extends to the bottom opening, has a twoGame Pant snap closure and an elastic waistband. Circle No. 553
You believe in women, and so does girls got game. The company offers performancedriven products for softball players who take their game seriously. Products include uniforms, footwear, team wear, equipment, and accessories. Instock items ship the next business day, and customized items ship in two to four weeks. Russell Conquest Racer See the quality for Back Jersey yourself—call today to order a sample. and Short Circle No. 550 girls got game offers innovative uniform styles, top-quality branded products, uncompromising performance, fit, and function, and service that’s second to none. girls got game is a leading choice for competitive women’s softball teams across the country. Circle No. 551
adidas Mesh Game Jersey and Low Rise Belted Pant
Maxsport 866-246-8881 www.maxsportusa.com There are champions at every level and high school players demand the best. Maxsport apparel allows players to be in a position of strength. Maxsport’s technology includes a four-channel fiber woven into the garment. This innovative construction rapidly transports moisMaxsport ture from the skin to the outer layer, where it dries four times faster than cotton. This is important—wearing a Maxsport garment allows athletes to use less energy, stay better hydrated, and keep cooler while maintaining a competitive edge. Circle No. 554
University of Texas University of Florida Stanford University DePaul University Florida A&M University Florida Atlantic University University of Minnesota Georgia Tech University Auburn University Louisiana State University University of Alabama Mississippi State University University of Notre Dame University of Virginia University of Michigan Michigan State University University of Illinois University of Tennessee University of Oregon Florida State University Purdue University Kennesaw State University Kent State University Ball State University Butler University Dartmouth University Yale University West Virginia University Oklahoma State University University of Kentucky Southern Illinois University The College of Wooster Ripon College Quinnipiac College Broward County Community College University of Arkansas University of South Carolina University of North Carolina Arizona State University University of Arizona
PIK Products P.O. Box 2108 Norwalk, CT 06852 877-845-7845 Fax: 203-345-2274 firstname.lastname@example.org www.pikproducts.com COACHING MANAGEMENT
Calling Cards Here is what these companies are most known for:
Fair-Play designs and manufactures quality scoreboards, message centers, and accessories. www.fair-play.com
“Creating a safer place to play” with protective wall padding. www.promats.com
Providing top-quality field materials, maintenance equipment, and technical assistance. www.beaconathletics.com
A leading provider of sports and recreation coverage. www.kandkinsurance.com
A leader in innovative, quality sports training equipment. www.sportsattack.com
Daktronics is a world-leading designer and manufacturer of scoreboards and displays. www.daktronics.com
Fully customizable tackle twill uniforms with the One Price Promise. www.prolooksports.com
Accept “No Substitutions” for quality sports products. www.adamsusa.com
High-quality, affordable topdressers and linear aerators incorporating “simple, well-built” design. www.earthandturf.com
More Products Dutch Mill Bulbs, Inc. 800-533-8824 www.dutchmillbulbs.com Dutch Mill Bulbs is a profit machine. Devoted to fundraising since 1960, the company has extensive experience, and feedback from its customers has helped shape and fine-tune its highly successful, extremely profitable, no-risk fall and spring flower bulb fundraising programs. The low-priced, guaranteedto-grow bulbs are an easy sell. Groups earn a minimum of 50-percent profit on each item sold. Tabulating orders and calculating profit is a snap. Let Dutch Mill Bulbs help make your next fundraiser the most profitable ever. Circle No. 555 eFundraising.com 866.235.9660 www.efundraising.com eFundraising offers a truly unique and highly effective online magazine fundraiser that can help your team or
league reach its fundraising goals quickly and easily. The program gives you a free Web site and online magazine store, with all the tools you need to easily reach supporters from coast to coast. Go to eFundraising.com/magazines to get started. It’s completely free, and you get 40-percent profit on all sales. Circle No. 556 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 prod-
ucts, including team caps and T-shirts, trophies and awards, fundraising items, giveaways, and much more. Circle No. 557 Cardinal Publishers Group 800-296-0481 www.wishpublishing.com The Female Athlete: Train for Success by Michael Bradley, Matt Brzycki, Luke Carlson, Chip Harrison, Rachael Picone, and Tim Wakeham is now available from Wish Publishing. Six experts in the field of strength training and athlete development have come together to create this comprehensive and user-friendly guide to enhancing female athletic performance. It includes chapters on coaching and motivating the female athlete in the weightroom, the principles of strength development and strength training for the multi-sport athlete, and much more. Call today to order your copy. Circle No. 558
Contact your local team dealer or call 877.845.7845
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