Looking back, my successes on the company softball diamond can be traced back to one particular season of solid fundamental baseball in my youth. What made this coach stand out from all the others?
The Paddle Drill. It’s not what you think, so put down the phone to Child Services. This was a fielding drill where, instead of a mitt, you used a Ping Pong paddle. By doing so, you were motivated to trap the ball using two hands, instead of just scooping it up with your mitt. The lesson: Two eyes and two hands at all times.
The Turn and Run. Judging fly balls is tricky business. That’s why Coach took one thing out of the equation at first: following the ball. When the ball was hit over your head, you turned and ran as hard as you could. It was the responsibility of the cut-off man to tell you when to turn around. The lesson: If it’s over your head, all you can do is run all out.
The Bunting Drill. Coach was a big proponent of video tape. One day he filmed us bunting. When it was my turn, I squared up on the first pitch and watched the ball sail right into my left knee. OW! I limped around and used the bat as a makeshift cane. Did we skip my session when it came time to review the tape? NO! The whole team howled with delight as we watched me limp over and over and over again. The lesson: Get it right the first time. And lighten up. It’s just baseball.