After the season start two weeks ago it is time for another blog about Dutch softball. This time I’ll tell you all about our National Team program and the road to Bollate, Italy, this summer.
As some of you might know the Dutch program used to be a fulltime program until the World Championships of 2014. After the tournament the national sports federation decided to quit supporting us financially, and there the program changed. Some players ended their National Team career, a new head coach got announced and from practicing ‘full time’ during the days, the practices were scheduled at night after study and work hours.
Honestly I can’t say this switch hurt us. We might have had some struggles then, rushing to fields from school and work and then getting home late while getting up early to go to school or work again. I can say it was nice to have the Friday night off!. After reading many of the blogs from other European Countries obviously we had nothing to complain about, we could still practice together as a team. But I can’t say we found it easy, managing our the time we basically didn’t have.
Together, probably the keyword of the past two years of Dutch softball leading up to the 4th place at worlds. When we started working as a group of individuals in April of 2015 we had a whole road ahead of us. Looking back on what happened the following summer and then the following year leading up to the World Championships there were definitely some defining moments where the team got closer together and showed what it is capable of.
That being said and having the 4th place behind us, the Dutch sports federation decided to support us again. From February 2017 we started our new program. A four days a week program with our National Team in addition to the club team program.
Every month has been different, every week has been different and the times has flown by since we started. The team got tested for physical health, speed, strength, mobility and of course softball skills. All elements are combined in different aspects of training. A little different from just playing softball; A transition that takes time but is starting to show, from softball players to athletes.
What did we do so far? Of course we are still in the Netherlands, and as many of you probably remember for the 2014 World Championships, we can have some rainy days! February and March we practiced indoors. Focus points where hitting, pitching and strength and conditioning. April is the month where we always go outside, still pretty cold, but hey we are Dutch haha
Besides the practices, last week the team is playing some practice games leading up to the European Championships. We just started last week and will go on until the first week of June. Since our country is pretty small we travel to the north, east, south and west for these games. For the people who are in the Netherlands, the schedule is online now!
This was already the last blog of April, a few more countries to go and two more months until the European Championships where all the countries will meet and the European Softball World will get together for over a week. I’m looking forward to it, as well as the other blog writers, who can count on as our fans?! See you there!