GB Women work on hitting at long distance

Thu 30 May 2019

The GB Women’s Fastpitch Team will be competing this summer for a place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the ability to hit and score runs against their main rivals will be the key to success.  That’s why new Hitting Coach Linda Derk is using technology to carry out long distance work with the players.

Linda, who has 33 years’ experience coaching and developing successful programmes in high school, college, professional and international softball, is using Blast motion capture technology to design individual hitting programmes for the players selected to compete for the team in the 2019 European Women’s Championship and then, hopefully, the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier.

Blast Softball technology combines sensor-based swing metrics with auto-edited video clips in a mobile app that means the players can be provided with real-time feedback and analysis. 

The GB Women’s Team was able to purchase the technology thanks to the UK Sport Aspiration Fund grant received last December, with the money provided by the National Lottery.

Practising with purpose

Linda is working with each player at least once a week and sometimes more, reviewing videos from their week of practice that give feedback on both training techniques and swing mechanics.

The aim is to ensure that players are all on the same page with regard to philosophical approach, mental awareness and practising with purpose.

Linda said, “The feedback so far has been extremely positive.  My goal has been to develop a level of trust with all of the players, getting to know each player and their situation.  The Blast technology has helped because it gives me the ability to see training first hand no matter where our players are in the world.  I can give instant feedback and the players can implement that into their training immediately.

“Our goal is to come into the European Championship with all players ready to contribute in any way they can to offensive success,” Linda added.  “Everyone will have a role in that success whether they are a starter or non-starter, as long as they have the mindset to do whatever it takes.”

Competition

The GB Women’s Team will get together in the Netherlands about a week before the European Women’s Championship begins, then move on to the Czech Republic.  The tournament will be held from 30 June-6 July in Ostrava in the north-east corner of the Czech Republic along with nearby towns in both the Czech Republic and Poland.

If the team can finish in the top six at the European Championship, GB will qualify to play in the eight-team Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier, to be held from 23-28 July in Utrecht in The Netherlands.  The top six European teams will be joined in the tournament by South Africa and Botswana.

The GB Team is currently ranked third in Europe, and over the past few years has been able to play close and competitive games with main European rivals such as The Netherlands and Italy as well as many of the world’s top teams at WBSC World Championships.

But though GB’s pitching and defense has often been able to hold down the opposition, we have had trouble scoring many runs against top pitching and have often been on the losing end of tight games against the best teams.

The fact that GB Women’s Team players are scattered around the world means they can’t train together nearly as often as their key rivals.  But the hope is that the long-distance work that Linda Derk is doing with the GB players will give the team an extra offensive dimension when the summer’s competition begins and the top teams are chasing the prize of a place in Tokyo.

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