In posting about all my adventures and interactions with the new culture, I sort of forgot to write anything about softball. Whoops.
I'm going to assume that all of you reading these posts know me because of softball......and if not, how in the world do I know you?!? Almost positive that all the people in my life - other than my family, of course (even though they all adamantly follow my career), I have met in someway due to softball. All of my best friends are through softball, both from Valencia and Michigan. Either way, I'd be shocked for a person that knew me and did not know I played softball - it kinda controls my life....
Anyways, my softball world has been rattled and rocked. The Japanese players take diligence and perfection of their craft to a whole new level. I thought I worked hard through high school and college to get to the point that I am. However, it comes absolutely nowhere near the amount of work these girls put into the game. They LOVE practice. When Maki told me that, I immediately thought "Good lord, why??" I mean I like practice. I like improving and learning new things. But Love??? No. If anything, it's a love/hate relationship.
You see, as a pitcher, my workouts take roughly an hour.....MAX. Then there's pitcher fungos - which we are oh, so good at (joke). If you have never witnessed a pitcher-fungo session, just don't. You will probably not understand why most of us are successful athletes. Then running, since we have to keep up our "endurance." So, that's about 2 hours, maybe, out of practice that we are working. Then........nothing. Practice usually runs about 3-4 hours, depending on how bad/good you did in the previous weekend or if your coach is just in a bad mood (ahemmm...Carol Hutchins). Haha, just kidding Hutch, I loved those 30 foul poles that "weren't punishment" after losing to Michigan State. Just kidding again......please don't make me run.
Anyone want to take a guess to how long the Japanese teams normally practice? Anyone.......
Well, it ranges slightly. You see there's the "normal practice" that goes from 1:30 to 6:00. Then there are the all-day practices that go from 8:00-6:00. Yes, that is real life. No misprint over here. Although, we do get a lunch break. I already had problems bullshitting and stalling through a 3 hour practice.......so WHAT IN THE WORLD am I supposed to do for 9 HOURS?!?!?!
I have officially taken my stalling tactics to a new level. Whole new ballgame. This is what a normal practice looks like for me:
Warm-ups - usually takes about an hour. They run what seems like a mile prior to stretching
Sprints - they do reaction drills which I am beyond awful at. They move so quickly and it always involves some thinking - a.k.a. they put up a number on both hands, which you add up, and you have to turn a certain way according to whether it's odd or even. If you're confused, don't worry, I still don't get it either. They also do these reaction things that change every practice. There are signals for various movements such as jumping, spinning in the air, punching, shuffling, squatting, etc. Seems simple? Well they go at such a speed that you are still doing move #5 while the girl is flashing a signal for move #10. Again, don't worry if you're confused, I usually only go through half of the drill before giving up.
Throwing - aka "Catch Ball" since they can't pronounce "Throwing"
Fungos - I like to call this "Ninja time." They get EVERYTHING. It's a joke. Legitimate joke. The coach hits the ball as hard as he can about 20 feet away from them and they throw their bodies around to get it. For the first few days that I was here, I did not see one backhand. Apparently the coach was "going easy" on them. I took some groundballs and felt like I was in a torture session of dodgeball.
Hitting - I like to train for my emergency role as an outfielder. I'd like to point out that I have received many compliments of my not being completely uncoordinated. Holllllllllaa
Pitching - again, ultimate stall tactics. I take longer water breaks, do random sets of spins, etc. I throw for a max of an hour. The Japanese pitchers basically throw for 3 hours. How in the world their arms are still attached, I have no idea.
And by then it's about 10am.....
Just kidding, it's like lunch by then. Then I do random ab workouts and running for the second half. Sometimes I play hide-and-seek from the coaches. They don't know I play though (so I win every time!). I'm used to running for a 20-30 minute period. Well, now I do 3 different sets of 30 minute runs. It's usually because I get bored and feel completely useless. Basically there is no way that I will come back from Japan in the least bit out-of-shape. And if I do, it'll be a scientific anomaly. I constantly ask permission to leave early from practice to go inside to lift and run. I have yet to see the end of practice. Usually, I'm dying, drenched in sweat by the time the girls come in to tell me that practice is done.
For fans of my "Back Bend" pitching style......I have some bad news for you....
R.I.P. Back Bend. It has been put to rest for good. And for those of you who didn't like it, screw you, I hope you don't like my new one either....
I've actually changed my style several times over my career, so anyone who may be panicking....it will be just fine. I promise you. Woooosa.
As you can imagine, the motion doesn't exactly put an ease on my back. Upon arriving to Japan, my back was already under a bit of duress. I was tired of sounding like an old lady constantly saying "oh, my back!" So, I made the executive decision to change my motion.
Personally, I like my new motion....bit more simple with a little bounce.
And, for anyone who has asked me this question, or at least thought it..... I have a unique motion because I don't want a normal one.....
I mean, honestly, who wants to copycat another pitcher? (at least who's your age). I used to have some girls come to clinics and say I pitch just like you. I immediately told them don't do it, your back will not survive to my age. In all honesty, I "created" my pitching motion because it gives me momentum to push off the mound. That's all I'm trying to do. Not trying to get a cool picture or create a "signature" look. Just momentum.......sorry it's a boring answer.
Ok, this post is far too long and not really funny so I'm cutting it off. We have only played scrimmage games so far, so I don't really have any substantial stats or anything to report. Y'all will just have to wait. And when I say y'all, I really mean my mom. Yes, mother I'm calling you out on Blogger in front of all of these people. I love you but I have no updates. You can thank my mom for this post, too, since she is a woman who loves her information, especially about softball (and me, but mostly softball, haha). Love you mama!
and I love y'all as well!
Sayonara from Japan!