Q&A with Deb Hartwig, Founder of Just Softball

by | Aug 28, 2023 | Blog

In this special feature, Marcela sits down with coaches across the country to ask them questions about coaching, the value of video analysis and ground pressure analysis, and using V1 PRO. For more information on Just Softball or to contact Deb, email her at [email protected].


Marcela: Deb, hi. Thank you for joining. We really appreciate you for doing this. Nice to see you.

Deb: Good to see you, too. Always. Always good to see you. 

Marcela: Can you give us a little background on you and Just Softball?

Deb: Just Softball has been in existence for 23 years now, which is a long time. A long time for me. I was coaching at the Division I ranks and was starting to get into private lessons as a side business while coaching. I came up north to El Segundo area in California and started working at a baseball facility. I worked hard at building a softball business for them, and had over 300 students. 

I ended up leaving and starting my own business. And the name Just Softball came from the fact that I was surrounded by baseball everywhere, and I wanted something that was just for softball. 

Marcela: Thank you for that background! Let’s just dive right into your usage of our software.

Deb: I started using V1 PRO right after the acquisition of Right View Pro, so it was a good transition from one to the other and most everything stayed the same.

And you know, you’re the best customer service ever. You [Marcela] made the transition very easy and helped me learn it real quick.

Moving to V1 PRO actually opened the door to a lot of other things for me as well that we didn’t have in RVP like the Pressure Mat and the online lessons that I can do now, it’s all a lot easier through V1 PRO.

Marcela: How are you using the V1 Pressure Mat in a typical session? 

Deb: Well, the relationship with the ground is something that we have said and talked about as coaches for a long time, and there’s really never been a way to show the athlete what we mean. 

And, you don’t really know what that is until you stand on that Pressure Mat and you can actually see those heatmaps or the pressure on that screen. 

Marcela: So at what age do you use it? 

Deb: I use it with all ages except for the really, really young ones, just because they’re not quite heavy enough.

When I first got the Pressure Mat I used it with almost every single kid for a whole week. I just showed it to them. I just showed them their feet. I just showed them the pressure, the blues and the greens and the reds and the yellows.

That’s all I did with them. And then we hit a couple off the tee because I was using V1 PRO Mobile with my iPad and I just let them see what they’re creating if they’re creating anything. And there were plenty of even bigger, stronger good hitters that weren’t creating any pressure or relationship with the ground. 

It was an eye opener for them. Every couple of weeks I put them back on the mat just to make sure that they’re still doing it.

Marcela:  Would you say in every session, no matter what, you’re always capturing their video?

Deb: Almost every one. I am capturing their video, whether it be from front or from the side or even the target.

So last week I had a kid come back for more coaching. She played for us in the 12U All-American Games for USA Softball. She is a phenomenal catcher, phenomenal ball player. But she didn’t hit very well. And so she’s come to me a couple of times just for some emergency work to figure out what’s going on. Last night, we put her on the pressure mat and I showed her how she’s getting no pressure on the front side, her front foot, her front leg.

She wasn’t even creating a little blip of vertical force. I was able to show her then we experimented a little bit and she changed it within one lesson. She started just raking the ball last night and her mom actually started to tear up.

Marcela: That’s so cool. I love that story. Can you share an example where video feedback helped identify and rectify a technical fault in a player’s performance? 

Deb: I was working with a 12 year old, She’s five foot nine, huge, huge, strong kid. And yesterday we were working on that separation between lower body and upper body.

And I asked her to do the little test of just putting her arms across the shoulders and turning her belly button and not letting her shoulders move. She had good external rotation going away from the pitcher. She had a tight internal rotation going her belly button towards the pitcher. 

So right there I was pointing out to her and the parents that we need to get on the OnBaseU website to find some drills for her to do at home and start improving that so that when she then does go to swing that she has that good separation between lower body and upper body.

Marcela: When I played, I didn’t have access to these technologies, so I just had Coach Frank yelling at me all the time. And I was like, man, I wish I could see what he was talking about, you know? 

Deb: As an instructor you can spend months to years trying to get a kid to do something. You can just sit there and bang your head, bang your head, Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. Well, if the kid isn’t physically capable of doing it, we’re just wasting time. If you can get that assessment done immediately in person it saves time. You’re very pointed and direct and success happens immediately instead of months to years later.

This particular athlete last night said to me, “I’m a very visual learner”. And she said, “and all they do is yell at me.. They just yell at me to fix it or to make adjustments, and I don’t know how to do it”. And she said to me that you made it so simple and so quick that I was able to make that adjustment tonight. And within one lesson. But that’s because we have all the tools that we have like V1 PRO video analysis and the V1 Pressure Mat. 

Marcela: In what ways has video feedback improved the communication between you and your athletes during coaching sessions? 

Deb: It’s sped everything up. There will be times when I’ll stop pitching to her and I’ll walk up to her and I’ll start to say something, then I’ll say let me just show you and we’ll take a look at the computer and I’ll show her. She’ll see it. I’ll give a little bit of instruction on the computer screen and then I’ll say, Let’s go try it. 

It’s a lot faster. I used to go home exhausted from talking and talking and talking and talking and trying to demonstrate. Show and let them try and then let the drills do the teaching.

Marcela:  We learn 25% of what we see, 50% of what we hear and 75% of what we feel. Everyone’s a different learner! How has your video analysis impacted your ability to track and measure the progress of your athletes over time? 

Deb: Well, this is a great one because I don’t know if everyone will know who Tiare Jennings is, but she’s going to be a senior at Oklahoma this year. She’s probably one of the best hitters in the college game right now.

I’ve known her since she was eight years old. And I watched her develop. I got to be a part of her journey from when she first started and all the way up through college. She still comes in occasionally and asks for help and work. But the best part about it is I have a video of her when she was eight years old. And when I have a young athlete coming into the facility who you can tell has a desire that she wants to play at the next level I can show them a video of Tiare when she was eight, nine, ten years old and show her how it looks ‘just like you’. 

Tiare didn’t come out of the womb a great hitter. She developed into a great hitter with all the help from all the people surrounding her, her tribe helping her. So that’s how the video helps over time being able to show them the progress. To take that video of a student from 8 to 10 years old and look at the difference and how they’ve grown over time.

When Tiare was in the recruiting process, we talked about how one of the questions that she needed to ask of the school was how do you use video analysis? Do you use video analysis when you’re working with your athletes?

She’s not the type of kid that you can just talk about hitting when she was younger. You just had to show her and you had to let the drills do the teaching.

Marcela: What is Deb Hartwig up to for the next 1 – 5 years?

Deb: Most recently, I’ve started the Just Softball Foundation to help young ladies that can’t afford our sport. We got our first donation last week to put into the pot. You know our sport is becoming very expensive. We’re pricing out a lot of kids in playing our sport, travel expenses, hotel expenses, tournament expenses, equipment expenses and private instruction expenses. 

So we are working on raising the funds to take care of those kids to help them along their journey like we did with Tiare and others to reach those dreams. We have to figure out why they are there and provide for those kids whether they are there just to have a mentor, to have an opportunity or vehicle for an education or to play at the highest level like Tiare does. 

Marcela: There are so many things you do and I feel like we just scratched the surface here, always more to come with me and you, Deb! Thank you for trusting us and for using V1 PRO, V1 Cameras and the V1 Pressure Mat as part of your amazing lineup at Just Softball. 

Deb: You’re the best. Marcela. Anybody who gets to experience your support is getting the best experience possible. You don’t take failure. You won’t accept failure. You’re going to problem solve everything you can and you’re going to help them. I can even call you if I have trouble with my printer. 

Marcela: Yes, you can. You have before too. I’ll take your call any time of the day or night. And that’s what it’s all about. I love passionate coaches that help players because I’m not the coach. I never pretend to be. I’m just the product expert that helps you become the expert. 



Have questions about using V1 BASEBALL, V1 PRO, or the V1 Pressure Mat in Baseball and Softball coaching? Connect with Marcela at [email protected]


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