For many newcomers, the hand signals made between the coaches and players can seem like complete gibberish. Unfortunately, it can also be like that for the very players communicating!
While hand signals have remained a cherished part of softball and baseball culture, it can also lead to miscommunication and errors.
So what’s the solution? Many softball teams have started using softball wristbands instead. These wristbands contain personalized team charts that the coach can call out to avoid any visual confusion.
It’s a creative solution, but is it the right fit for all softball teams? In this article, we’ll explore some of the pros and cons associated with the new strategy.
But first, to see why softball wristbands may be preferable to traditional hand signals we need to understand why the latter can lead to mistakes.
Why Do Hand Signals Lead to Miscommunication?
Hand signals have been around for a long time. They’ve become an iconic part of the game — a catcher holding up a finger or a pitcher swiping the rim of their hat.
So why give them up?
Simply put, there’s a lot of things that can go wrong with hand signals. For one thing, it can be difficult to give specific instructions with a hand signal.
For example, it may be easy for a pitcher to distinguish the difference between a fastball and a curveball, but the specific location can be hard to communicate.
It’s also fairly easy for an opposing team to catch on to hand signals as the game progresses. When this happens the softball team is essentially telegraphing all of their plays directly to the opposing team.
Also, it’s difficult for every player to see the hand signal — especially players in the outfield on defense. With a shouted number instead, the entire time can quickly become privy to what’s going on with the play and defensive strategy.
Why Are Softball Wristbands a Good Alternative?
To understand softball wristbands we first need to understand how they work. The wristbands that players wear contain a small chart on the inside of the wrist. Each chart contains a play or pitch with a corresponding number next to it.
Typically the wristband is laid out in a grid format with the numbers running across the top and the plays running along the bottom.
Coaches then call out the number of the play they want, and players can quickly double-check the corresponding meaning. Wristbands can be used for offensive plays or for defensive plays depending on how the coach wants to utilize.
So what are some of the advantages of using a softball wristband?
For one thing, wristbands solve the location problem we mentioned earlier. Instead of signaling whether a pitch should be up, down, inside or outside, a coach simply needs to call out a number.
It’s also much harder for the opposing team to read or steal your signs when you use a wristband. Hand signals, on the other hand, can be fairly easily cracked. Wristbands also solve the common problem of memory failure.
In the heat of the game, there’s a lot of pressure on players. As such, it’s easy for them to accidentally blank out the meaning of a hand signal in the middle of the game.
A wristband fixes this problem by attaching a reference sheet directly to the play. That way, if they forget the meaning of the signal they can quickly check it to make sure they know.
Where Can Softball Wristbands Go Wrong?
Unfortunately, wristbands aren’t perfect. One problem is that they rely on sound. As the catcher of the Blackhawks explains, if players can’t hear the coach call out the number of the pitch they want, then the operation can fall apart.
Coaches should try and take this into account when they play larger softball fields with lots of crowds and noise. Always have a backup plan in case the first one falls apart.
Also, it's important to realize that both wristbands and hand signals can go wrong if your softball team isn’t properly trained. It can be difficult making players commit to memorizing an entire sheet of signs.
And it’s not just the players who can make mistakes — even the coaches can get disorganized and make mistakes if they aren’t careful.
However, if the players and the coaches commit to the chart to memory, then the play will quickly become second nature to them.
In addition to making sure they memorize the signals, you should also make sure they’re properly drilled. Here are four types of softball drills we recommend for beginners.
How Do You Make Softball Wristbands?
There are plenty of services that offer wristbands for athletic purposes. The problem isn’t getting them — it’s fitting plays inside of the wristbands.
You can handwrite or type them, but this takes a lot of time and you will need to change them often. Luckily, some companies offer software that makes it easy to organize your specific plays onto each wristband.
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We hope this article helped you learn more about softball wristbands. While they may not be right for every team, we think for the most part it’s a more efficient system of communicating with players on the field.
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Softball and baseball season both typically start in the spring. But when exactly do you or your daughter start getting ready with your team?
In this article, we'll answer the question of "When does softball season start?" in addition to discussing the origins of the game.
If this is your first softball season, buckle up for an amazing ride.
What is Softball?
Softball was invented in the 19th century as a joke during a Yale versus Harvard football game. While awaiting the outcome, one alum swung at a balled up glove with a stick. As a result, they started a pick-up baseball game that eventually was called softball.
By 1930, "mush ball," "pumpkin ball," "indoor baseball," and "kitten baseball" had evolved with its own set of rules. Although similar to baseball, it is played with a larger ball than a baseball. Softballs are, in fact, not soft, but are harder than baseballs. The pitcher throws underhanded instead of overhanded, and the diamond is typically smaller than a baseball diamond.
When Does Softball Season Start?
If your daughter, or you, are playing for a college, Olympic or semi-professional team, you'll likely start conditioning in November. This can also apply to serious high school teams or other competitive teams.
Conditioning starts the players on a "work out" session to ensure that they can physically handle the game itself. Softball players need to be able to run and have quick reflexes, so conditioning is essential for competitive players.
Depending on where you or your child is playing, practices typically start at the end of January. If your child is playing a more casual form of softball, it may start a little bit later in the year.
It is at this point where you or your child will begin to actually play the game. During the time, players will play their own team. They will also polish their pitching, running and swinging with drills to make sure they're on point for when the games begin.
Let the Softball Games Begin!
Most often, softball games start at the beginning of March. The season typically runs til the end of April. However, this may vary depending on your school or league. You should check with them to learn the official start date of the softball games you or your child will play.
Regionals, Sectionals, and Championships
In some leagues, or in college softball, the best teams of the season will go on to compete in the regionals. This is typically done at the end of April through the month of May.
The best teams advance to sectionals, in which you or your daughter will battle it out with other regional winners. This will take place in May or June.
After sectionals, teams typically compete in a state championship game or series of games in June.
Whether you're a fan of softball or just starting to play, the answer to the question of "When does softball season start?" varies from league to league. Generally, it should follow the pattern listed above.
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