Last weekend, softball expert Cindy Bristow, a National Fastball Coaches Association Hall of Fame coach, player and clinician, who has written seven books about softball, came to Schaumburg to teach the Schaumburg Athletic Association's Slugger Travel Softball coaches and players some of the finer points of softball.
"Coach Bristow challenges us coaches and players so we all know the 'whys' of what we do," said Coach Jeff Ardito.
Casey D., for example, said about reading the direction of the ball, "When we were working on the angle of the bat, it never occurred to me to see the angle of the bat and of watching for the barrel or knob of the bat."
Twenty coaches and 20 Sluggers from eight different teams came together Saturday, Sept. 16, to participate in the explanations and drills. Coaches were challenged to sometimes demonstrate, and all times, explain what defensive skills to use in different situations.
"One critical teaching method Coach Bristow used all day was to ask specific questions, which led players to thinking about how to execute the skill," said Coach Brett Lehnert.
"I learned more in five minutes about the backhand than I did all last year," said Rachel K.
Saturday evening, Coach Bristow addressed Slugger parents and advised how to positively support the girls, the team and the coaches. For parents of players at the older ages, advice was based upon Bristow's previous week's Pitching and Hitting Summit, which was held at her Florida facility and included 160 college coaches from across the country.
"Enjoy watching your daughters, and remember that the coaches are donating their time to make all the players better," said Bristow.
Sunday morning, the clinic ended at the Slugger Training Facility. Coach Hill explained the game situation. The girls then decided the best defense to employ and the coaches attempted to execute the play.
"It was fun telling the coaches where to position themselves and to give them a hard time if they made an error," said Peyton D.
"Now it's time to use what we have learned to realize our season's goals," said Coach Dan Long.
Later that week, the Sluggers conducted a Program Practice, which was organized by Coach Swiatkowski and run by the Slugger 16U and 18U teams.
"My favorite part was when we celebrated winning a national championship," said Kim K.
For two hours, Sluggers practiced several softball skills and concluded with practicing something 18U Gold Champion Coach Tony Rico preached: "Make your games movies. A good movie is one where no one wants to go to the concession stand. Keep your games spirited and fun for all, especially you."
Coach Phil Falcone concluded, "Judging by the excitement all of the kids showed, the practice was a great one."
For information on Sluggers Travel Softball, contact Commissioner Frank Hill at (847) 707-8658.