A bit more than a week after arrival and we already spent over 40 hours practicing. Welcome to Japanese Softball!
I definitely got rid of the jetlag by getting up at 6.30am and going to bed by 10.00 pm, but getting enough sleep was a challenge this week. And that showed… Thursday afternoon my body said stop, tears rolled down my cheeks as I was disappointed that I could not keep up with practice. After a short walk with one of the other pitchers I could recover, finish the practice and at dinner the girls told me it was okay and understandable.
It is so weird, how you know that of course you will have a hard time with the jet lag, new environment, going outside, lots of practice hours and less sleep. But still you do not want to accept that your body has a limit, or at least you don’t want to admit it, until you break down.
I knew beforehand not everything was going to be easy or comfortable, and that is why I needed this challenge. So after Thursday I had a better night of sleep, and even though my body still wasn’t fully recovered, I was able to have a better practice, be honest about how I felt and enjoy the day.
What did this softball training week look like?
Monday: flight and bus to Yatsushiro + afternoon softball practice (mainly pitching)
Tuesday: softball practice 2x, pitching, fielding, hitting.
Wednesday: softball practice (pitching) + fitness
Thursday: softball practice (indoor), pitching, fielding, hitting.
Friday: softball practice + fitness
Saturday: softball practice 2x, fielding, hitting
The days at the field start with getting the equipment and setting up the field. Not like the Dutch three buckets of balls and putting the bases in. There are 9 crates of 48 balls each right now and the field distances are measured and the lines are put down. And, 9 crates, but there is one blue crate with nice new game balls for fielding and throwing practice, yellow crates with balls with an F on it, for the free batting practice (live bp/pitching practice) and yellow crates with balls with a black dot on it for just regular hitting. We keep the blue crate balls nice by cleaning them after practice and all balls are put in the crates in a pattern so we never miss a ball.
Okay, on to practice. We start with a core workout, followed by 25 minutes free warm up time, then running dash, most of the time followed by throwing and fielding drills. After this the catchers and pitchers had their own program, or worked together as a battery, or there was hitting.
As you can see there is quite some room for your own drills, and input. We all practice together, but everyone has different things to learn and improve. I really like this setup. We are all together, helping each other, but at the same time we are all getting better in a way that fits the person. So far we discovered quite some differences between Dutch softball and Japanese softball and implemented both in the practices.
Speaking of differences, we eat while sitting on pillows on the ground and of course the food is different. You get about 5-7 different kinds of food for one meal. There is always one bowl with some sort of rice and then all kinds of vegetables, miso soup, meat and fish and most of the time some kind of sweet.
So far I have enjoyed the food, but was not always able to finish it all, they eat quite a lot here, while I eat quite a lot for my standards because of the 6 hours of practice each day, maybe I can keep up with them once my jetlag hungry feeling gets up to date :) Besided liking the food, the sitting on the ground has been a bit of a struggle, my lower back is sore and my legs have been sleeping quite some times already haha, I will be flexible by the June for sure, nice mobility practice while eating.
Oh and if you missed the photo I posted, Dinet has arrived! The team surprised me by not telling me she came to the camp two days earlier, pretty good surprise!! So then yesterday we had our first practice together on Japanese ground. We went to the high school team from one of the current Minamo players to have practice on their field and also do some drills together. A fun day with lots of new impressions of the Japanese softball culture, now shared with Dinet of course.
Today is an off day here, much needed! We are going out for lunch, some shopping and then to a Japanese spa: ‘onsen’. We went there on Wednesday after practice as well. You shower and wash yourself (sitting down), and then go into a hot bath to relax and recover. In the onsen here there are giant grapefruits in the water. The girls did not know why that was, maybe because of skin treatment or maybe just the smell. Anyways, I found it pretty cool!
Well, so much to talk about again, but time for Pitch it, step 6. We keep going with the arms. The arm ‘circle’ that isn’t a circle, from the top down, always faces the side, not the top of the circle. You can practice this by standing right next to a wall, facing the wall, and making the circle by keeping the ball in contact with the wall.
See you next week, sayonara!