In this week's softball blog, head coach Yvette Healy writes about how the team has set both team and individual goals for the season. Check back to UWBadgers.com for regular updates throughout the season.
After a great opening weekend in Austin, Texas, winning four games, we're back working hard in Madison. One of my favorite things we did as a staff this weekend was set game goals for the team. As coaches and student-athletes, we often get caught up in the outcome instead of focusing on the process. As new staff here at Wisconsin, we know how important teaching the game is. We've spent a tremendous amount of time meeting with each student-athlete, getting to know our team on a personal level and communicating our philosophy and goals.
Our staff understands that you don't just go out, cross your fingers, wish for good things to happen and win games. Although we are very positive and motivational, there is a lot of theory and method behind our approach. You win games by executing the fundamentals. If your team can focus on the process of getting people on base, moving runners and getting clutch performances from defenders, pitchers, and hitters when it counts, you'll win games.
The University of Wisconsin athletic department really is one big family. Our coaches are great collaborators and it makes us all better. Each month the coaches get together to share best-practices, philosophies and strategies in a meeting called, "Lessons Learned". Last week our softball staff was asked to present alongside Head Track and Field Coach Ed Nuttycombe on the topic of "Building a Championship Program".
As the newest staff here at Wisconsin, I thought this might have been a joke, or hazing. Our staff has been in Madison for just a few months, and Es is one of the winningest coaches in NCAA sports. Under his direction, the Badgers have won 11 of the last 14 league titles during the indoor season and 10 of the last 15 titles in outdoor track. Ed became the winningest men's track coach in Big Ten history in 2007 when his won his 23rd title. Essentially, we were asked to present alongside a legend when we had yet to coach a game in the Big Ten.
Ed spoke a lot about doing the right thing, being organized and honest and caring about your kids. One of his quotes that I love is, "Track and field is about DOING IT, when you are supposed to DO IT". That's such a huge part of our game. It's not enough to hit great in practice, but you need to do it in a game. Sure home runs are fun any time, but big players hit them with runners on base in key situations, when it matters most.
To help our team focus in executing on clutch situations like Ed spoke about, Coach Schneider created individual goals for each student-athlete in our program and team goals for each game. It was so fun during the games in Texas to see our Badgers up on their feet cheering for a momentum changing defensive play, a key hit or a strikeout with two runners on.