The Lake Zurich Baseball and Softball Association (LZBSA) is a non-profit organization run entirely by adult, primarily parent volunteers. In the Lightning program, players learn responsibility, hard work, teamwork and how these things add up to group success. Lightning players also build self-esteem and the confidence to take on difficult challenges later in life.
This statement of Lightning Philosophy has been assembled to summarize the expectations and to guide all Lightning coaches, players and parents in their softball activities both on and off the field. It is intended that this statement be broad enough to allow for continued innovation, yet specific enough to ensure that basic objectives are met.
LZBSA’s Commitment to Players and Families
The managers, coaches, board and officers are committed to providing a top-quality softball experience for its players and their families. Over the course of the program, players receive the opportunity to develop all basic, intermediate and advanced softball skills as well as knowledge of the game required to play at the high school level and beyond. These are gained by extensive practice and drills as well as through competition in league play and in competitive tournaments.
LZBSA will ensure that all coaches are qualified to teach the skills, rules and strategies of softball appropriate to each age group
LZBSA will actively work to establish mutually constructive relationships with the coaching staffs of schools attended by players living in the area served by LZBSA.
The first priority of all Lightning coaches is to foster the safety, confidence and self-esteem of their players. In addition, coaches will
· Treat players with respect and in a positive and encouraging manner in every phase of the Lightning program,.
· Abide by all LZBSA policies, rules, and procedures, including the LZBSA Full Time Travel Team Policy.
· Be qualified, through experience and study, to teach the softball skills and strategies appropriate to that age group.
· Work to improve their knowledge of teaching methods and game management techniques, by attending Lightning coaches’ clinics, outside clinics & classes, independent reading & video review, etc.
· Understand ASA Playing Rules before the start of each season.
The Manager/Head Coach accepts overall responsibility for developing his or her assistant coaches and holding them to these same standards of developing coaching skills and encouragement to players.
Good communication and administration are critical to the success of every team.
· The Manager/Head Coach is responsible for ensuring timely and accurate communications, including providing written schedules and travel directions.
· The Manager/Head Coach will provide team members with a written Team Policy, including attendance and standards of conduct for tournament travel with appropriate consequences for behaviors outside the standard, and will apply the team policy fairly.
Lightning players are committed to attend all practices, including winter indoor sessions, and games - except for excused absences and unforeseen emergencies.
The importance of this commitment comes from the basic nature of team sports. When any player misses a game or practice, it negatively affects every other player on the team, not only the missing player.
· Players should notify the Head Coach as soon as possible of any anticipated absences.
· Tardiness or unexcused absences may be cause for suspension or removal from the team.
· Players will abide by the written Team Policy and agree to:
Be on the field, on time and ready to play for all games and practices.
Hustle and put forth their best efforts on the field at all times.
Support their teammates and encourage them in their efforts at all times.
Complete any homework, such as reading, conditioning or skill work.
Conduct themselves in an appropriate, sportsmanlike manner at all times.
Follow all safety rules, including the LZBSA Travel Policy.
LZBSA recognizes the value of varied experience in the social & physical development of young athletes. At the same time, a primary Lightning Program objective is to prepare young players to compete at the high school level. As children get older, conflicts emerge and priorities become harder to reconcile.
In today’s society, opportunities for specialized, focused development in specific sports are plentiful. Many choose to commit to a single sport at a relatively young age. A high school multisport athlete will find herself in competition with peers that have specialized their training for some time.
The Lightning Program respects the multisport athlete and coaches will work to find reasonable schedule accommodations. Giving first priority to a sport during its “in-season” time is generally manageable at 10U & 12U.
However, as girls reach 14U and above, excessive conflicts can start to arise which may put the rest of the team in an unfair position. Practices cannot be effective without a minimum number of players and games can be/have been forfeited. Situations that generate this kind of result, at any level, for any reason, must be remedied. In extreme cases, methods may have to include roster changes.
Ultimately, each family must find a level of balance that works for them. LZBSA Board members, the Lightning President, and Lightning coaches are available to discuss concerns and can often refer families to additional sources of counsel.
Parental support is the foundation of the Lightning program. Parents established the LZBSA and serve as its coaches, board members, officers and financial supporters, as well as its most loyal fans. Lightning parents must also make some fundamental commitments to support their daughters in their softball efforts. Parents agree to abide by the LZBSA Full Time Travel Team Policy, as well as all other applicable LZBSA policies, rules, and procedures.
Lightning parents must reinforce the importance of the commitments their daughters make. This is crucial to rounding out the overall learning process for our players - without it, players may get "mixed signals" about the overall importance of commitment and responsibility.
Lightning parents must help with the on-going encouragement of all members of the teams, not just for their own daughters. The coaches will maintain a positive, encouraging environment for the players, but Lightning parents must also act as "cheerleaders" both on and off the field.
Coaches coach, parents support – Parents will not coach their daughter from behind the fence during the game. Lightning coaches are volunteers. If you would like to coach, please volunteer and be ready to make the necessary commitment of time & energy.
Coaches will consider player safety as an overriding priority. While injuries are a risk in any athletic activity, the Lightning safety record has been excellent over the years, with injuries to players being very few and generally very minor. The LZBSA will provide appropriate protective gear as required by the Amateur Softball Association.
Each parent is required to sign a separate Waiver and Release prior to a player's activity in the LZBSA program. The release portion of this form authorizes emergency medical treatment for a player if a parent is not on hand.
It is the Association's belief that players should receive training and playing time in more than one position over the course of a season. This makes our players more versatile and, therefore, better prepared for the inevitable day when they will be asked to play a "new" position (perhaps in high school upon the sudden arrival of a transfer All-State athlete who plays “her” position). Teams with versatile players are also capable of remaining competitive in spite of the unavoidable injuries, illnesses and absences which occur on every team.
All position players will receive instruction and practice in at least one infield position and at least one outfield position during the course of each season. Pitchers and catchers will receive instruction and practice in at least one other position. Coaches will make best efforts to see that players have playing time for new positions to ensure that these skills are reinforced.
A primary goal of the Lightning program is to prepare each player for a significant team role and for the playing time needed to reinforce the skills learned during practice. A key step in meeting this goal is to give every player a chance to perform in both league play and in tournament situations.
For all age groups, differences in playing time are determined by relative player commitment, work ethic and skill, in that order. Players in the younger age groups may expect more equal playing time, while playing time for the older age groups will be geared more closely to player ability. Assuming good commitment, attendance and hustle, players may expect playing time as follows:
Players on the 10U & 12U teams can expect to play about equally over the course of a season. For tournaments, these players will play at least half the innings in pool play and an average of at least 2 innings per game during championship play, all subject to time limits and "run-ahead" rule.
For the 14U and older teams, "starting" lineups are emphasized during the more competitive league games as well as in tournament play. For league play, players 14u and older can expect to play at least 3 innings of each regulation (7-inning) game, with teams batting the full lineup. Players on these teams may expect a continuation of the younger team playing time policy for tournament pool play. Substitutions in invitational tournament bracket play, metro, regional and national qualifier tournaments and national tournaments will generally be in response to competitive situations.
ALL TEAMS: Tournament playing time is typically restricted by the tournament substitution policies as set forth by the sponsoring agency (USSSA, ASA), which may affect the above stated playing time expectations.
The Role of Competition
The Lightning Philosophy embraces competition as an important component of player development. Athletic competition is healthy and is an exciting and stimulating part of the sport of softball. Competitiveness and player development may sometimes appear to be in conflict. There are some occasions when competition will play a decisive role in team decisions, but on most occasions competition should take a back seat to player development.
Emphasis on competition for Lightning teams differs greatly across the various age groups. Competition plays a minor role for the youngest age groups but increases in importance for the older age groups. As Lightning players gain skill and confidence, their natural desire to compete becomes greater and should be encouraged and developed.
Lightning coaches, players and parents are to conduct themselves in a respectful and sportsmanlike manner at all times. This is important because the actions or words of one Lightning will be automatically associated with the rest of the Lightning organization. It is the responsibility of the Manager/Head Coach to establish this tone and reinforce it strongly at all times.
Lightning players will show respect for their teammates and Lightning manager and coaches at all times. In return, Lightning players can expect to be treated with respect by their teammates and coaches.
Lightning players will show respect for opposing players and coaches. Lightning team cheers should be positive in nature and directed to our team. Cheers which are derogatory or insulting to an opposing team are not allowed at any time.
Lightning managers, coaches, players and parents will show respect for umpires at all times. Lightning parents and players may not argue with umpires or dispute their decisions at any time. Questions and/or protests by Lightning managers/coaches regarding rule interpretations must be made within the guidelines of the ASA Playing Rules.