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NPF Association Column

Volume 4, No. 7 - October 2009

The Off Season – Where Great Players Are Made

By Mike Steuerwald Assistant Coach, Rockford Thunder

As summer came to a close, it got me thinking about all the incredible opportunities the upcoming school year presents. Not only is it a great time to reflect on all the incredible memories of the past summer, but also it gets me excited to see a lot of my college and high school athletes, and the growth each of them has experienced over the summer.

The offseason is a period that a lot of players enjoy because they get some time away from practice and the daily grind of playing every day. It is also a time that a lot of coaches dread because you are away from your players, and really do not have much control over what your players are doing. However, it can also be an exciting time for coaches because you know that your players that love softball are working to improve themselves in every aspect.

Photo Courtesy of Dina T. Kwit

As a player, there are a lot of reasons why the offseason is an important part of your training. Typically, most players are coming off a long season, so it is important for each player to be able to recharge physically and mentally. For some, this can be getting away from the game completely for a few days or maybe a week or two, and taking some “me” time. Maybe you enjoy a special activity such as reading, or maybe you like to play another sport. The offseason is a great time to be able to take advantage of some of the other activities that you enjoy doing.

After you are able to get recharged, the offseason becomes important for building for next season. As an athlete, it is a crucial time for you to get better for the next season. Some athletes choose to participate in other sports during this time, which is great because it keeps you active, but it is also important to remember to work on the skills necessary to make yourself a better player next season.

No matter what level you play, one of the first things you should do heading into the offseason is to ask your coach about things that you need to work on. When our coaching staff gets to the offseason, we make it a point to sit down with each player and discuss the positives and negatives of the prior season. Then we ask each player what they feel they need to improve on. A lot times, as a player you already know the things that you struggle with during a game, and if you are unsure your coach will be more then willing to help you out. Not only can your coach help point out areas that you need to improve on as a player, but your coach can also give you tips and drills to work on those areas where you need to improve.

Once you know what you need to work on, and have specific drills to do, it is important to sit down and write out some goals. Whether your goal is to hit a certain average next season, throw more strikes as a pitcher, or field every ball hit to you on defense, as a player it is important to write down every goal and be specific so you know what you are working toward in the offseason. As you write your goals don’t be afraid to share them with your coach, your parents, or another teammate so you have someone holding you accountable. Having someone check in on you throughout the offseason will help you stick with the goals.

The last part of offseason training is to remember to have fun with it. Yes, you are working hard as a player to improve for next season, but the offseason is a vital part for every player to be ready for the upcoming season and if you do not enjoy putting in the effort that it takes to become better it will become hard to stick with your training. Make things fun and challenging everyday that you are training for this great sport of softball. Think about the athletes that you look up to and remember all the hard work that each of them has put in to get to the level that they are at.

It takes a lot of work to be successful in life, and in softball, so as you begin your offseason think about where you want to be next season. Do you want to be in the same spot you were this past season? I hope not! Continue to work hard at your goals, and once you reach the goals you have set, continue to move the bar higher. Remember that each day is about making progress not about being perfect so this offseason don’t wait for things to happen go out and make them happen and become a great player this off season.

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