Wednesday, October 19, 2016

10 Tips to be Your Best at Softball

Did you make the softball team? Congratulations! Playing softball is a blast and your family will have a great time watching you and cheering you on. Here are 10 tips to be your best at softball:

1. Work on Understanding Rules
In softball, rules matter and so you want to make sure you understand them thoroughly. In addition, pay attention to your coach's directions like how to use your softball cleats or shoes effectively, or how to stand on the field.

2. Work on Technique
Take advantage of every opportunity to learn more from experts:
  • Take lessons
  • Go to softball camp
  • Get extra coaching
  • Ask older players for tips
Whether someone shows you how to grip your softball bat correctly or how to best catch a fly, pay attention and practice what you learn. 

3.  Good Batting Stance
  • Stand with legs shoulder-length apart and knees bent
  • Grip firmly
  • Keep eye on pitcher's hip where she will release the ball
  • Stay relaxed
4. Good Hitting
  • Have good attitude
  • Keep both eyes on the ball
  • Swing hard
  • Drive hands and elbow to the ball
  • Do a full follow through as you swing
  • Keep head down on the ball, don't pull out
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
The truth? Softball is a game that requires mental toughness and repetition. So practice just as hard as you play. Here are some practice ideas:
  • Throw the ball back and forth with a partner at least 15 minutes every day
  • Bat using a tee into a wall, fence or net every day
6. Be a Good Team Member
Remember that no one can play softball alone and that everyone does better with encouragement. Be positive and remember to help other people out and give plenty of compliments and praise.

7. Communicate
People can't guess what you are thinking, so be sure to communicate clearly to coaches, team members or your parents if you don't understand something. Be respectful but tell people what you need and give them a chance to respond before getting upset or angry.

8. Take Care of Your Stuff
Your family has made an investment in buying you the softball equipment you need like bats, balls, gloves and shoes. Don't just throw your things down.  Protect that investment from getting lost or damaged by making sure you put everything in a protective bag. You can find great softball bags here

9. Take Care of the Park
You will spend a lot of time at the ballpark, so keep it nice for everyone by:
  • Cleaning up trash
  • Picking up the dugout
  • Keeping bathrooms clean
10. Have a Good Attitude
In sports competitions, tempers can fly. How you handle emotions is important. The best players choose to react in a positive way by staying humble and encouraging others.

One last tip? Remember being your best at softball means both sharpening your game and learning how to be a great team member. Unsure what kind of softball equipment might help? Longstreth Sporting Goods specializes in outfitting female softball players and will be happy to help you get everything you need to be your best.Click here to find the best softball bats!

Softball Parents - Here's How You Can Help Your Daughter

Have you become a softball parent? You probably love seeing your daughter excited about her sport. As you look forward to seeing her play and continue to improve her game, here's how you can help:

Get the Right Equipment
One of the first things parents can do is to make sure their daughters get the right softball equipment (buy it here) designed specifically for young female players. Parents can also help make sure your daughter gets the right equipment for her size, age, and position:
  • Softballs and bats
  • Softball mitts and gloves
  • Catcher's gear
  • Fastpitch cleats and turf shoes
  • Uniforms and team wear
  • Softball training aids
  • Softball equipment bags
Get Properly Fitting Equipment
Your daughter may see another player's bat and fall in love with it, but your job as a parent is to make sure she gets the equipment that is fitted to her needs. For example, buying the  right softball bat depends on your daughter's:
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Body size
  • Strength
  • Hitting style
Unsure how to get properly fitting gloves and other gear? Ask the experts at Longstreth Sporting Goods for help.

Be Supportive
Sports teach how to win and how to lose. Especially if your daughter is just starting to play, she will need support and encouragement if she does not have a good day on the field.  You can also support her by helping her get in extra practice time, or by providing her with support like a pitching machine to help her practice on her own time.

Be the Parent, Not the Coach
While it can be helpful for a parent to help their daughter do individual practice or remind her to pack her softball sports bag, parents shouldn't try to be her coach. Besides, you'll have plenty to do just being her cheering section!

Remind Your Daughter She's Playing a Game
In the intensity of competitive sports, young girls can easily lose perspective and get angry, upset, or discouraged.  That's where a parent can step in to help and remind her that softball is just a game and games are meant to be fun.

Encourage Practice at Home
Getting better at softball requires practice at home and you can help your daughter by encouraging her to set goals and keep to them.  She might want to:
  • Throw 15 minutes a day.
  • Do 10 minutes of hitting practice.
  • Do strength training exercises.
  • Practice running with softball cleats.
You might want to encourage her by watching or even joining in with her practices, especially by throwing some balls.

Turn Drills into Games
Softball parents can also help their daughters by making practice a game.
  • Is your daughter a pitcher? Have her try pitching socks toward a full-length mirror to check her body position. 
  • Batting inside? Try using a towel instead of a bat and swinging 25 times hard.
  • Pretend to catch grounders or catching a fly ball and practice good footwork.
Softball parents help by getting the right equipment, encouraging practice and helping their daughters keep a great attitude. When your daughter makes that run, catches that grounder, or shouts encouragement to her teammates after a tough inning, you'll know that being a softball parent is definitely worth it!

Monday, October 10, 2016

How to Outfit your Softball Catcher - All that you need

Has your daughter just come home excited that she is going to be the catcher on her softball team? While you are probably celebrating that she has been chosen for such an important position, you might also be wondering how to outfit your softball catcher. What is needed?  

Catcher's Mitt and Glove
The catcher's mitt is not the same as other softball mitts or a baseball catcher's mitt. Fastpitch catcher's mitts are larger and have a deeper pocket to handle the size of the softball. In addition, they have thinner padding on the edges for easier catching and transferring for a throw. While durable, they take time to break in. For protection, your daughter will want to wear a softball glove inside her mitt to help absorb the shock and prevent bone bruises. Try on the glove and mitt together to be sure they are comfortable.

Catchers Helmet and Mask
One of the most important protective pieces of equipment is the catcher's helmet and mask. Helmet vents will keep your daughter cool while the foam padding and hard shell will protect her from the ball. Most are made in a streamlined profile to fit snugly but move with the player. Choose a helmet that feels secure as she moves but feels comfortable. 

Chest Protector
Female catcher chest protectors are made to:
  • highlight athleticism of women
  • be easy to take on and off
  • reduce ball rebound
  • flex in multiple directions
To determine the right size of chest protector, measure from the top of your daughter's collarbone to the bottom of her navel.

Leg Guards
Leg guards will protect your daughter from the knee to her foot. When you measure for leg guards, you want to measure from the middle of the knee to the top of the foot.

Knee Savers and Thumb Guard
Whether your daughter wants knee savers or a thumb guard is optional. Knee savers are a block which works with the leg guard to reduce stress on knee joints. Thumb guards protect against injury in growing players or help a player who is recovering from a thumb injury.

Catcher’s Bag
Because your daughter is going to have to carry a lot of equipment including not only her softball cleats and body protective equipment but also her shoes and bat to and from practices and games, you probably want to get her a catcher's bag to carry it more easily. You will want a bag that is big enough for all of her gear to fit in easily so nothing gets damaged.

Final Tips for Outfitting Your Catcher
Make sure to try on catcher’s gear before buying! In truth, if your daughter is playing catcher, she will need more equipment than girls playing other positions. However, if she is just starting out, you don't need to spend an arm and a leg on softball catchers gear. Just make sure she has what she needs to be safe and comfortable so she can play her best.  Feel like you need help? At Longstreth Sporting Goods, someone is always available to answer questions and help you make buying decisions for your softball catcher.