Improved pitching is at the top of Kevin Gettins' list of challenges to get his White Sox to the 2020 Olympics.
"It's pretty exciting times for the women's game in our country. But there are a whole bunch of challenges which need to be overcome and we're going to have to move pretty quickly," the Hawke's Bay-based New Zealand women's coach said this week after the International Olympic Committee confirmed softball and baseball would return to the Olympics in Tokyo.
Improved pitching was the biggest work-on Gettins noted in his diary after the White Sox finished eighth with two losses from seven games at last month's World Series in Surrey, Canada.
"We need to lift the level of coaching for our pitchers and have specialised battery coaching programmes. It's time for our code to adapt to Olympic standards when it comes to preparation and training.
"It's not something we're used to. The hockey girls and swimmers spend a lot of time training ... our girls are almost all part-time players," Gettins explained.
The national general manager of operations for Ravensdown, Gettins will seek reappointment to his head coaching role when he attends his review of last month's campaign at Softball New Zealand's Wellington headquarters later this month.
Gettins stressed his players needed stronger national competitions to play in. He also repeated his call to have White Sox players playing in men's competitions around the country.
The multiple national age group title-winning coach with Hawke's Bay teams and a national women's interclub title-winning coach with Hawke's Bay Dodgers in 2014, Gettins first made this call in February after returning with the White Sox from the Australia Down Under Series in Sydney.
During that series the Kiwis lost 13-0 and 10-0 to Japan and Gettins said his players were not used to the pace of the Japanese pitchers and playing in men's competitions would help close the gap.
In their only losses at last month's World Series the White Sox were beaten 9-2 by Japan and went down 8-2 against the Netherlands.
Six women's teams will play at the 2020 Olympics. Gettins said the top two teams at the 2018 World Series in Chiba, Japan will gain automatic entry and if Japan was one of those two the third best would also qualify.
The other three teams will be the winners of regional qualifying tournaments.
This would mean if the White Sox didn't finish among the top two or three at the World Series they would have to win their Oceania-Asian qualifying tournament to earn a spot in Tokyo.
While softball and baseball will return in Tokyo climbing, surfing and skateboarding will be new sports at this level.
The White Sox competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and softball was dropped from the Games programme after Beijing in 2008.
SNZ chief executive Tony Giles said the Olympics were a great incentive for the White Sox and planning would start to ensure the Olympic qualification tournament "is a clear and defined priority."