Softball featured at Youth Sport Trust Girls Active Coaches Camp

Tue 9 Apr 2019

BaseballSoftballUK was invited for the second straight year to showcase the sport of softball at the annual Youth Sport Trust Girls Active Coaches Camp, which took place from 5-7 April at Loughborough University.

The three-day residential camp provides 150 young female coaches aged 15-17 with the opportunity to learn and develop their skills through workshops, mentoring and practical sessions across a range of “new” sports, which this year also included boccia, badminton, football, netball and ultimate frisbee.

Seventeen young coaches, who had pre-picked softball as their sports activity, received a five-hour course over the weekend delivered by BaseballSoftballUK North West Coach Linni Mitchell, assisted by Emma Agostini.

The course began with basic softball skills, then moved on to learning the game, leading the game and, importantly, adapting the game for different situations.

SMILES

The Youth Sport Trust uses the acronym SMILES to highlight how to deliver a high-quality session, which translates as:

S – Safety
M – Maximum participation
I – Involvement
L -- Learning
E – Enjoyment
S – Success

At the end of the softball course, the girls were asked to plan a session to deliver to their peers back at their school, using what they had learned and applying every element of SMILES.

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Linni Mitchell said, “I was quietly surprised and impressed at the number of girls in our group who said they had played softball before, and that their school has equipment.  Once the girls had a good grasp of the game, we focused on what adaptations could be made for softball to fit at their school, taking into account space, equipment and players.  We were able to lead a number of drills for the young coaches to take back to their schools with the emphasis on having fun as well as learning the skills required to play.

“It was important to keep it simple to keep everyone engaged,” Linni added.  “We know softball has so many rules and it would be impossible to learn everything in a day, so instead the emphasis was on how to deliver a fun and engaging session.”

Emma Agostini, who has been coaching softball since the age of 16, grew up on Long Island near New York City.  She came to England in 2017 to complete her PGCE and is now a secondary school maths teacher in Manchester.  Emma has set up a fastpitch softball club at her school, Whalley Range, and has over 15 girls attending the lunchtime club every week.

Emma said, “I think the girls at the camp really benefitted from participating in a sport that they don’t have much experience with.  Making them step out their comfort zones and think outside the box really helped them learn how to be leaders, even in an unfamiliar situation.  I hope I helped to inspire the girls -- as a young coach myself, I know how important it is to inspire them and treat them like gold dust!”

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