By “little” I am talking about running through first base properly, rounding the bases properly, tagging up on fly-balls properly, sliding properly, and getting a great jump on steals.
If you are going to be aggressive on the bases, you want your players to be as sound fundamentally in their technique as possible. You will find your players in a lot of “bang-bang” plays…and proper softball base running technique will often be the difference between safe and out.
We have even asked our track coach to come out and teach running form to our team. We will take every little advantage that we can get!
Key #2: Don’t get mad at your players for making aggressive mistakes
For an aggressive offensive philosophy to work, you will need to preach to your players how to make smart decisions while being aggressive at the same time. A few players will be overaggressive by nature, but most will be overly conservative and afraid to make a mistake.
It takes time to get the whole team on the same page, and you will have players that make mistakes in their “calculated” risks. Chances are they have not played in a system that stresses the importance of aggressive baserunnning.
When these mistakes happen, it’s crucial that as coaches we see it as an opportunity to teach rather than simply getting upset at a player.
If you want your players to be aggressive, you want them to feel free to take chances when they see the “door open.” If they play scared, this will not work.
Key #3: Dare to make aggressive decisions yourself
We can preach all day long to our players to be aggressive, but we must then have this mindset ourselves.
We must take chances sending runners home when we know it will be close. We need to look for the opportunities to steal bases even when the catcher has a good arm.
For example, is the shortstop covering the bag well? Does the catcher throw high or wild when she is rushed? Perhaps the defense has communication problems and reacts slowly? Or is stealing third base a good option?
Bottom line is that you have to have this mindset as well, and as a result look for those opportunities to be aggressive. You cannot steal bases or take the extra base on every play, but if you aren’t looking for the opportunities they will pass you by during the course of a game.
Being aggressive on the bases is fun for your players when they learn how to do it, and it also helps your team score more runs. Yes, you will get thrown out at times. And yes, players will make some mistakes.
But when it is all said and done, the pros far outweigh the negatives during the course of a season. Fastpitch softball, in my opinion, was never meant to be slow and boring…but rather fast and exciting!