Everyone always talks about how experience helps you improve. But now that the season's over, that doesn't mean you can't raise your game and make improvements for next season. In fact, the off season is the perfect time to make significant changes to the way you do things.
What Players Can Do
Now is a GREAT time to get in shape and get bigger, faster, and stronger for next season. During the season it's not easy to dedicate time and energy into making big gains in strength, speed, and conditioning.
Hopefully, your practices have built-in training for these areas. But if they don't, keeping up with your fitness level during season can be a huge challenge. Now is the time to get yourself into the best physical shape you can for next year.
Many agree that the off season is the best time to make any "mechanical" changes. If you want to work on cleaning up throwing mechanics or hitting mechanics, the off season is the time to do it!
There's no need to go out seven days a week for hours a day. Just 3-4 sessions a week for 30-60 minutes is more than enough to make progress during the off season.
You definitely don't want to keep up the brutal pace of regular season throughout the entire year. That's asking for injuries, burnout, and other undesirable side effects. Be smart and focused in your training so that you can accomplish the most in the least amount of time.
What Coaches Can Do
Even without the challenge of competition, there are many ways to improve over the off season. How many times have you seen great new drills, or heard about awesome strategies or tips, but just never got around to incorpating them during the season?
The off season provides a wonderful opportunity to sit down and think about all the new drills, techniques, and approaches you want to try for next season. It also gives you a chance to spend more time networking with other coaches, participating in online forums and browsing the multitude of online and offline coaching resources available to you.
Get a binder, a notebook, or open up a document on your word processor and jot down all the new things you want to try to incorporate when season rolls around again. Here are some areas you may want to make changes:
- Speed Training
- Coaching philosophy
- Coaching Goals
- Program Goals
- Program Vision
- Hitting drills
- Defensive drills
- Team Building drills
- Time Management
I'm sure there are more, but you get the idea. Take a few moments to think of whether or not you have come across great new ideas for each area (if not, you may want to look up problem areas you need help with). Maybe you saw something you thought would work for your program, but never had a chance to implement it. Jot those ideas down and keep them in a place your sure to see before the next season starts.
One of the most common mistakes coaches make is not applying new knowledge. Often times we spend time and money learning new things (attend conventions, attend clinics, buy DVDs or books, browse the internet, etc), but we don't put much of what we learn into practice.
The off season is a great time to review all the new knowledge you acquired throughout the past season and take a serious look at HOW you can USE it next season. Then begin making a solid plan to actually incorporate the new knowledge you've gained in the past year.
The off season and a lack of games is no excuse for those who want to achieve more in this game of fastpitch softball. There's always something you can do to prepare for next year. Preparation can have a big impact on how great (or how bad) your upcoming season turns out.
Rest is great, and even necessary for optimal softball performance so I'm not saying you shouldn't take a break from the game at all. I'm just saying, don't use the lack of games or the fact that you're "off season" as an excuse as to why you "can't" do anything about taking your game up a notch.
There are things you can do if you want to get better. Stop making excuses and start taking ACTION!
If you need help with this and would like some simple tips and strategies for actually making USE of what you learn as a coach, visit CoachofAction.com, a site dedicated to helping you take ACTION and make positive changes in your coaching.