2000 miles apart is a land that has mystified everyone over the years. Some call it the global financial center, some call it the best holiday destination. For me it’s one place I have always dearly wanted to visit (especially outside India).
Singapore | The Lion City | The Little Red Dot
It’s said that when the time comes everything falls in place! That’s exactly what happened with me too. I’ve been planning to visit Singapore since ages but it never materialized. The photos of people visiting this place would build up my desire to visit even more. The more plans I made, the more it felt short of something. Guess I was short on lady luck! 🙂 Last year however, my dream came true. Loads of discussions and research went on in what was to be one of the most memorable tours in my life. The thrill and excitement of a dream come true is truly amazing. You can see that smile stuck up on my face in the photo as well! (LOL)
There are zillions of blogs and loads of people who will tell you “whats-hows-wheres-whichs” about Singapore but nothing beats an actual experience. Marina Bay Sands, Marlion, Sentosa Island are some of the chart toppers but there are many more things which are an experience in itself. Some of the best ones that I enjoyed was the calm evening at Clark Kay, the beautiful roads on the way to Singapore Zoo, watching the Singapore skyline from the 21st floor of my hotel, meeting an old friend at Marche (a simple yet classy joint at Orchard Road) and lots more.
But the best one was the walk around the entire Marina Bay holding hands with my wife. This blog is a small token of love on our anniversary today! Reliving the best moments!
The trip to Singapore has opened up the book of dreams to lot more amazing destinations and I am planning to tick off yet another page along with her in the new year. Have a super time fellas!
10 years! Just can’t believe it! A dream that was shared by everyone, a sport that was loved by everyone, a tournament that became the spirit of sportsmanship and a bond that developed more friends that I could have ever imagined. Amit Joshi Memorial Softball Tournament or now rebranded and known as ASL (AAY’s Softball League) has now become a respectable name in all of India. The players who played the first year would remember how quickly this idea was materialised. An emotional attempt to bring friends together and contribute to the sport that made us who we are today. More than 1000 players have played this tournament and all of them have only good memories of these ten years. I remember each and every year how it evolved and how we made true every dream that we had seen as a young player.
The first ever tournament to be played under lights
The first ever tournament where all the players contribute in both organizing as well as playing
The first ever tournament where players share the gimmicks of the game with their rivals freely during the tournament
The first ever tournament where an “amazing catch” or “strike out” or “homerun” is cheered by everyone regardless of who takes it
The first ever tournament where guests wait till the match is over to greet the players
The first ever tournament where there is no politics involved
The first ever tournament where trophies were given by parents and grandparents who came to cheer for their kids
The list is endless and this is just Level 1 which I am talking about.
The first year was such a big success that players couldn’t control the flow of ideas that came through. The strength from the first year paved way for expanding the tournament into 2 levels. The first level was the intended to develop the sport in Pune and also provide a platform for upcoming/new teams across Maharashtra. It was also an emotional promise made by us to meet each year atleast once and play. It was also a small token of gratitude towards the sport which developed us as good human beings.
The teams playing at level 1 were intended to focus only on developing their softball game and look forward to becoming a better sportsmen. It is difficult to believe how true this intent still is. Even teams and players not selected to playing the Level 1 come to watch and learn this sport. They share ideas and cheer for teams they have seen for the first time. Without any barriers of caste and creed everyone is considered equal at AJMST.
Level 2 is a different ball game altogether. Efforts from senior members of the game helped in getting 12 sponsors. This sponsorship changed the face of the game. All teams got individual sponsors along with team kits, accommodation, food and travel allowance. The tournament ground also got a facelift. More lights, fence, stands, podium, live telecast, cash prizes and lots more. It’s a super tournament of sorts where some players consider to be better than the official All India Tournament that is being held each year.
This journey of AJMST or ASL will continue in the years to come with bigger dreams being realised and even better players who would contribute to the sport. You never know, a team who started playing in AJMST or ASL might even go ahead and win the World Series! I thank everyone who played and grew the tournament, who put their heart and soul into its success.
This was our team which won the first ever #AJMST!
“I was such a dangerous hitter, I even got intentional walks in batting practice”
This was probably the first quotes that I read as an amateur. Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron were automatically on the list of admired people (legends to precise) and their posters were the first to look for, before any match. Reading their records and watching the MLB matches was a favourite pass time during the 90’s. Even when, kids around me were glued to only cricket, I also found my moment of excitement in the homers of Barry Bond or the amazing saves by Derek Jeter (and even the amazing dunks of Michael Jordan + the legendary game of Sachin Tendulkar + the victory lap of Michael Schumacher, etc….). I always imagined myself walking into the batter deck with the pitcher perspiring just by the sight of me. I believed every time I walk in, the pitcher should atleast think about the above phrase once! Well, I even aimed for making this dream come true and strived for perfection as well.
These might have been similar sequence of events for many. Everyone learns a new thing and desires to be amongst the best, right?
Baseball/Softball is a game of hand-eye coordination and immense physical & mental application. There are various attributes to any sport but I feel when the brain starts working along with instinct, that’s a killer combo. Hitting is natural to some batters but many have to really strive to get the ball to even nick their slugger. This blog is amongst the series of blog for tips and tricks for Softball starters and also for those who wish to tweak their skills a bit and achieve that extra thing (the earlier one was on batting line up). Batters only succeed when they hit the pitch in the direction of the pitch or the ‘V’. Anything apart from that is just a power game which has a higher probability of failure.
When I started Softball, around 1994-95 we practised with a bamboo stick, then a wooden bat (one amongst all 15, sometimes even 30 players) until we got the aluminium slugger. I still remember we never worried about how to stand in the batter deck nor did we worry about where the pitcher is going to pitch and stuff! The game is no longer so simple these days. The way you stand in the batter deck or even hold the slugger will tell the pitcher which pitch would be difficult for you to hit. It takes a hell lot of practice to deceive a good pitcher by playing tactics in the batter deck. Batter deck is a cleverly defined space which can give you enough mobility to move around and leverage the speed and swing of the ball. If you do not make use of that, you are risking a safe hit and ultimately a win for your team. We will come to leveraging the batter deck in the coming blogs but for now lets see how we can improve the batting stance.
Tips and Tricks on how to improve your batting stance
Hold the slugger’s handle with both the hands and keep the slugger at the center of the home plate (this will allow you to have contact with any pitch that cuts the home plate)
Keep the slugger at the center of the home plate and move ahead of the home plate (in the same line) in case the pitcher is too slow for your swing or is swinging the ball in any direction (this will help you to hit the ball before the swing)
Keep the slugger at the center of the home plate and move behind the home plate (in the same line) when the pitcher is too fast for your swing or you need to hit a tap shot
Hold the slugger at the bottom for transferring maximum energy into the ball
Hold the slugger a fist above to hit a tap shot (make sure to swing completely)
Do not commit to any shot (bunt or hit) before the pitcher starts his pitching action
Keep both the legs in the same direction as the pitcher (keeping the leg(s) towards the 2nd base or shortstop indicates a shot in that direction which the pitcher can counter by pitching in the opposite direction)
Hold the slugger high and aim to watch the ball when it hits your slugger (even a minimum swing with a firm grip and right timing results in a good shot)
Do not rest the bat on your shoulders but hold it up at an angle so that it is exactly halfway between being vertical and horizontal (you won’t be comfortable if it’s directly pointing towards the sky)
A bunt is the most special weapon in the batter’s artillery. There are many types of bunts viz. pivot bunt, square bunt, sacrifice bunt and even a push bunt. Bunt in the direction of 3rd base when there is a runner on 2nd base and bunt in the direction of 1st base when runner is there on 1st base.
I know there are multiple videos on how to improve the batting stance and even techniques of using the bunt, line drive and sacrifice hits but this list should give a good insight for the teams starting to play Softball or introspecting their past performances for this year. My academy, (AAYS Softball Academy, India) is committed to help all upcoming teams in Softball and has been serving this game ever since its inception in Pune for the past 4 to 5 decades. We are also celebrating the 10th year of Level 1 of Amit Joshi Memorial Softball Tournament this year. Do share your views about the blog and make sure to visit/participate in the tournament (It’s considered one of the best tournaments held in India for Softball).