In ANY situation we come up against in life, there are going to be things that we can control and things we can’t control. It’s important to always take a step back in any situation, and understand which are which. Limit the excuses and understand what YOU can do better to get the most out of a situation.
You will recognize that my grievances have a common theme — worrying about yourself, controlling what YOU can, keeping a positive mindset and working as hard as up can. If you missed Grievance 1: Playing Time, then click here.
Grievance #2 : Competition Isn’t “Good Enough”
Uncontrollables: How fast a pitcher is throwing; ball/strike ratio of an opposing pitcher; how well the other team hits; how well your defense fields behind you as a pitcher
Controllables: Your intensity and focus in the circle; your intensity and focus at the plate; playing YOUR game at YOUR level; learning from game-like situations; making adjustments
Ok, fine. So maybe high school ball does not have as high of quality of players as the travel teams you play for during the summer, but really this excuse is laughable to me as an excuse of why they don’t like high school ball. Does this mean you’re going to use it as an excuse to play down to their level?
You have a choice to play down to the level of your competition or you can choose to shine!!
“The Pitchers Throw Too Slow / Too Many Balls”
Controllable: Swinging at good pitches; trying to be on time; going opposite field; good approach at the plate
Oh boy, this one is pretty funny to me. Okay, so you face a pitcher that doesn’t throw “hard.” You should be thinking LUCKY me not POOR me! A pitcher who isn’t throwing a lot of strikes? Perfect! I can work on taking pitches, seeing the ball all the way in. and my pitch selection. Visualization training. Patience training. Working on patience at the plate and understanding your strike zone is essential to being a good hitter.
The BEST players will be the players who can adjust the FASTEST, no matter what is thrown at them.
A pitcher who doesn’t throw as hard as you’re used to gives you more time to see the ball, more time to make a decision whether it’s a ball, or a strike and gives you the ability to work on hitting opposite field. Hitting opposite field is one of the things I see out there that is hardest across all levels. EVERY PLAYER can pull the ball. But NOT ever player can have the patience to let the ball travel and work one riving it on the middle or to the opposite side of the field (right field for a right handed hitter, left field for a left handed hitter). Clearly, if you are someone who struggles with slower pitching, this means this is something that you need to work on with your swing. I promise, even in college, there will be slower pitchers that you have to face and YOU have to be able to make an adjustment.
When you face a pitcher who is throwing slower, take it upon yourself to try to hit opposite field. Work on keeping your wait back, work on pitch selection, work on letting the ball travel. This is showing bat control. You can work on this and be someone who is able to adjust to different speeds of pitching with no problem. If you are saying this pitcher isn’t “good” then you should be perfect with you plate appearances and get a hit in your first at bat every single time that you go up to bat. Set an example for your team on how to adjust to a pitcher.
- Work on pitch selection
- Take your walks when they are given to you
- Work on letting the ball get deep and waiting on slower pitching (just like waiting on a change up)
- Take slower pitching to opposite field
- Work on quick adjustments
If you are worried about not being ready for travel ball pitching speed, then take some time on your own to have your travel team pitcher throw to you or go to a batting cage where you can raise the speed and still work on having quick hands and making quick adjustments. Also, go to the cage next to it and go to the slower speed. Alternate going from cage to cage and see how quick you can make the adjustment.
“I’m A Pitcher, and My Defense Can’t Make Plays Behind Me”
Controllables: YOU; Work a little bit more off the plate to get swings and misses; mix speeds to get them to swing and miss; add more movement or better location to induce ground balls that are not well hit; keeping a good attitude/body language; learning how to work through long innings with endurance and precision
At some point in my playing career, I know I have either been on a team or been in an inning where my defense just can’t seem to make plays back behind me. Does not matter what kind of level you are at, you will go through an inning or a game like this. It’s one of those things like having a homerun hit off you – it’s going to happen, and then it’s probably going to happen to you again, and then probably again. So you can get frustrated and upset over it, or you can figure out a way to be a little bit better in the circle to get more swings and misses or to not have balls as sharply hit to your infielders or outfielders. This CHALLENGES you; it makes you think; it makes you be creative; it makes you be BETTER.
Pitchers who blame their defense behind them for reasons that they aren’t getting better as pitchers – I can’t stand that. This is another EXCUSE.
You’re working through real-game softball situations. You’re working through problems. These are problems you will be faced with again at some other point in your playing career. Think of it as a challenge; think of it as making you a better pitcher to be able to work through adversity — working on your attitude and keep your emotions in check. BE A LEADER.
What CAN’T happen is that you get a bad attitude and show it to your teammates. That is going to make your defense that much more tight behind you, and then they REALLY aren’t going to make a play for you. This is a great test of patience of pitchers. If you can get through a team that struggles to make defense behind you, it’s going to make you that much better mentally and physically when you get to a team that has a sharp defense. By having better body language and a better attitude, you will help your teammates stay confident behind you; ultimately you a making your TEAM better. By being more concerned with your own personal ERA or how many runs are scored off you, you are more worried about YOU than the team.
It’s ALL about how you choose to look at the situation and how you choose to view what you are getting out of it.
Also, this is a great time to work on being a good teammate. It says a lot about a pitcher, whose defense continues to make errors back behind her, but who continues to stay positive towards that teammate and not letting it negatively affect her attitude. This can be a challenge, but this is ONLY going to make you a better TEAMMATE to be around so that your teammates can trust in YOU and believe in YOU even more.
When your defense is struggling behind you, you should get STRONGER and step up. If your high school team doesn’t play great defense, in my mind, the easy way out is to quit, blaming that the defense isn’t good enough. You are NEVER bigger than the game. It is what YOU make of it. When you start feeling uncomfortable, do you rise up to the challenge, or do you surrender? YOU control how you handle it.
You can’t change your defense. Instead of complaining and blaming, step up YOUR game mentally and physically. CHALLENGE YOURSELF. Challenge your mind.
- Stay calm
- Stay positive
- Work on small adjustments with locations of your pitches
- Keep good energy
- You get stronger when the situation gets tougher
- Think strategically to which of your infielders field the ball the best. Work on throwing to the side of the plate where the hitter will most likely hit it to your best infielder.
- Think of pitch calling and situations.
- Look to hitter’s weakness by noticing what they are doing in their swing.
You can be getting better by being creative in what you are learning in tough game situations and thinking/analyzing situations to make yourself a more well rounded pitcher.
“I’m a Pitcher and I Strike Everyone Out, The Hitters are Not Challenging For Me”
This is a perfect time for you to work on a different pitch you’ve been trying to learn or master. Maybe your curve ball is your favorite pitch, and you throw it 85% of the time, and you’re learning a drop ball. If you’re striking everyone out with your curve ball, then start working on your drop ball. Throw it in different counts. Work on placement of it and movement of it. Know that you can always go back to your curve ball when you need a strike or need an out. Working on a new pitch in a game situation is so important. This can create a new focus and determination to add another pitch that will help you, once you start facing more competitive hitters.
- Work on something new
- You can still work on getting better despite your competition
There is SO MUCH to be learned from game time experience, regardless of what THE OTHER team is or isn’t doing. Challenge yourself during the game to be the best teammate and lead be example. Any game-time experience is our greatest teach. Softball presents so many different situations in and throughout a game that practice cannot teach you. Be thinking one play ahead. Think one pitch at a time, but when you can be really creative and you’re a pitcher, think one pitch ahead.