This evening, I watched my ten year old daughter's softball game. She played a very good game and her team won 22 - 16 (yes, that's softball, not football).

As I watched them play I figured out how to easily win the game. All the players had to do was stand there and never swing the bat under any circumstances. You see, the pitchers at this level are simply not able to throw three strikes in seven pitches. They would have walked every one. Of course the league only allows a maximum of seven runs per inning, so we would have had to play defense some of the time.

So, when our team went out to pitch, I would have told them to forego the windmill pitching action and just do a slow underhand lob over the plate for strikes or close enough to force the other team to swing. The other players would have struck out some of the time, but otherwise, the only way to get outs was to get them in the field. Still the other team would have been limited to seven runs in an inning. Therefore, in order to win, all our team would have to do is limit the other team to fewer than seven runs per inning.

Nigel Davies comments: 

You don't think they missed out on a great lesson in flexibility and adaptability, rather than going through the motions of what they thought they should be doing? As Sun Tzu stated, "To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill."

In my experience playing-strength is fostered first and foremost by the pursuit of victory, with mentality and technique improving to meet new challenges. Those who focus on appearance and style usually turn out to be weak posers with no real substance behind their moves, just shadows of what a good player should be.

Rodger Bastien writes:

I am sure this piece was all written tongue in cheek. As a little league coach I am on a personal crusade to de-emphasize winning vs. learning to play baseball in K-6th grade. Granted, you could "win" using the methods you describe but my team "lost" a game last week by taking the exact opposite approach.

After witnessing a couple of innings of a an endless walks I could see a palpable lack of interest amongst all of the players. I instructed my players to go up there hacking and I’ll be darned if we didn’t rattle off 9 straight hits before the ump declared the "6 run maximum per inning" rule with no outs. In the bottom half of the inning our opponents maxed out on runs without taking the bat from their shoulders.

We lost the game but afterwards you would never tell that my guys were the losers from the pie-eating grins on each of their faces. In baseball, as in life, there is much more to be gained by taking your hacks than standing there with the bat on your shoulder.


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