1) Competing Against Other teams
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My mission is to inspire softball players to DREAM bigger, WORK harder, and SMILE more often. I look to not only help to improve their physical softball skills, but also show them the importance of confidence on AND off the field. Through my website you will find information on all things softball—motivation, inspiration, blogs, quotes, videos, tips, preparation, etc. Feel free to leave questions/comments, I’ll get back to them as soon as I can!
I pitched, hit and played first base in college, but I have a SPECIAL place in my heart for pitchers. While much of my motivation and many of my blogs can translate to any position on the field, most of what I write now is directed toward the leader in the circle with the ball in her hand.
I undertand, to the greatest extent, that pitching can take a toll on you and at times make you feel like you’ll never be good enough, you’ll never figure it out or like there’s no way you’ll make it through.
But you ARE strong enough to overcome.
You WILL build mental and physical strength along your journey. Let me help you…
1) Competing Against Other teams
“Daddy ball” – slang term in athletics for a team that is perceived by players and players’ parents on the team to have coaches who give more playing time to their own daughter than to other players on the team.
How do you or would you approach a “daddy ball” situation with your daughter?
A question can arise of what to tell a player who is losing confidence in her playing ability because of “daddy ball?” The question that comes to MY mind first is, “How does your daughter even know what ‘daddy ball’ is?”
Every situation is different and in various situations, “daddy ball” may or may not be actually happening. But regardless, I feel like there is a right and a wrong way to handle this situation where playing time is at stake for a player. In any situation, there are always things that you as a family can control with your daughter and there are things that you can’t control. Remember these lessons you are teaching your daughter now are making an impact on her 20 years from now. Consistently be teaching her about things that you can control, even as difficult as it may be in some situations for you. Blaming is instant gratification. Taking the high road pays future dividends that leave a lasting impression for everyone involved.
In my opinion, the word “daddy ball” should never be communicated by the parents to the player.
To me, that just puts a negative connotation in a player’s mind and brings resentment to her teammates, who have nothing to do with the problem. A young player doesn’t know how to handle emotions as well as an adult. All she knows is what her parents put in her head.
So if her parents are telling her that she is not getting playing time because of another girl on the team getting preferential treatment, then that can call for resentment of that particular player. This is going to hurt the lesson being learned of building team chemistry and being a good teammate. These are such critical lessons for an adult later on down the road to be able to work with other people and not blame others. Always remember why we play TEAM sports – to learn TEAM lessons and to win championships as a TEAM. No one player wins a championship, it takes a complete team effort. By causing negative emotions throughout the team because of politics, you are hurting the efforts of the entire TEAM!!
The coach’s daughter in the “daddy ball” scenario has NOTHING to do with making the lineup, so she never should be brought up around your daughter in a negative tone. She is just doing her own thing, minding her own business, playing the sport that she loves. It is wrong to bring her into it, and it’s not fair to the team or to the player.
Stay positive towards your daughter!
Support her by encouraging her to work even harder! Put more emphasis on work ethic than blaming.
Keep every conversation positive (as hard as it may be for you); do not make negative comments around your daughter about the coach, how he makes the lineup or about his daughter. When you discuss as a family her playing time, do not make negative comments about the coach, then it is easier for your daughter to question the coach during practice and games, sometimes even players will lose respect for their coaches. This will only make your daughter appear a bad teammate and un-coachable. At the end of the day, he is the coach, he makes the decisions, and he is the “boss” of the team. From a very young age it is important for athletes to respect their coach’s decision! A lesson learned that will continue to impact a girl decades down the road.
Instead of focusing on playing time, discuss with your daughter what she can be doing in the dugout to help the team and herself. Study hitters. Learn pitch calling. Chart pitches. Keep energy in the dugout for the team. Try to pick signals. Notice anyone warming up in the bullpen and what she throws. Notice patterns the other pitcher is throwing to your hitters. Teach her other ways she can be contributing instead of teaching her coaches who have daughters on the team give more playing time to their daughter. If you don’t know things that your daughter should be doing, ASK.
The way that I would discuss playing time is by telling your daughter (depending on age) to have a meeting with the coach and see what she can get better at in order to earn more playing time. Have a discussion with the coach instead of just blaming and assuming the “daddy ball” philosophy. 90% of parents think that their daughter should be in the starting 9 and are blind to what their daughter needs to get better at in order to become a part of the starting lineup. Every parent thinks their kid is the best (as they should!), but it’s also very important to be real about if your daughter actually is the best.
If your daughter is high school aged, she should ask the coach to meet with just her. At the high school age she is old enough to take this meeting on on her own. If she is younger than high school, then the player can be with her parents meeting with the coach, but I would still encourage the player to ask questions and do a lot of talking. It can be intimidating, but what an expereicne to give your daughter to speak to someone of authority! It also gives her ownership and responsibility in her own playing time, and it gives her a voice. I would recommend writing down a list as a family of the questions you want to ask going in. This will help your daughter speak up and give her comfort in not feeling like she is going to forget what she wants to ask.
Here’s how a few of the questions could be worded, “Hi coach. I feel like I am not getting as much playing time as I would like. I was wondering if you could tell me a few things I need to work on in order to get more time in the lineup.” or “Hey Coach, what are some thing that you would like for me to get better as so that I can more consistently find time in the lineup?” Listen to the things that he tells you. Write them down. Bring them to your private coaches and work hard on them at home. Give it time, the changes won’t happen over night.
The worst thing you can do in that meeting is blame! “Coach, you give your daughter way more playing time than anybody else and it’s just not fair!” This meeting will not go well and it will only leave with resentment. He will feel like he’s being attacked. No one likes to feel attacked. No one. Put it on you not on him.
Then, when your daughters gets her chance to show her coach how hard she has worked and the changes she has made, she HAS to show him and prove it to him come game time. You have to NAIL it when you get your big opportunity to prove yourself. If it’s innings of relief pitching or a pinch hit opportunity, you have to believe in your preparation and make the most of it!! Once again, another lesson learned of taking advantage of your opportunities. Something that will stick with her FOREVER.
Hopefully this can work if your daughter is able to prove to her coach that she has worked hard and has gotten better at the things she needed to work on. If it doesn’t work, then I encourage you to encourage your daughter to keep working hard and making the most of her opportunities she is given. These two things can go a LONG way.
Even if she is not getting the playing time (which you can’t control) tell her to focus on things that she can control: attitude, work ethic, being a good teammate. There are many things she can be learning, even if she is not in the starting lineup.
At the END of the season, if you feel like the team is not the best fit for you, it is then that I would suggest making a change and finding a team that may better suit your needs. But until that moment comes, it says a lot about a player and a family that they take the high road and stay positive towards other parents and teammates. Almost to the point where at the end of the season, people may be surprised that the player is leaving.
Blaming is instant gratification, and it can be a tease to make us feel a little bit better immediately. We want lessons that will take your daughter further into the future and help her become a leader through sports. “Daddy ball” is one of those teaching situations you as a parent come up against. Teach the lesson that work ethic is everything and blaming is never the best option. And remember; don’t refer to “daddy ball” around your daughter. Your daughter may not have even known what the word “daddy ball” meant if it weren’t for you.
Uncontrollable: Who is on your team; Other players attitudes; Other players work ethic;
Controllable: Being a good teammate; being a good leader; leading by example; not talking about people behind their back; putting the team first; being loyal
“I don’t get along with some of my teammates.”
“Most of my teammates have a really bad attitude.”
“My teammates don’t care as much I do.”
Well, you’re stuck with them! So you can either figure out a way to handle different situations that are presented, or you can opt out to quit. In high school, you don’t really have a choice of who you get to play with, what their attitude is like, how they treat people like and what their work ethic is like. When you get a job, you don’t really get to have much of a choice either. You can never change people, but you can always have a voice and try to lead by example in your own actions. When speaking up in a team meeting or to a teammate, have good intentions with where you are coming from with your statements. It’s always about the team, not always about you. Trying to prove yourself as “right” usually does not work in conversations with a teammate. Leading, reminding of a vision, reminding of the mission of the team works better than pointing fingers.
If you have a teammate who doesn’t have a good attitude, and you think it’s affecting the team, it’s completely acceptable to pull that player off to the side and let her know how you feel.
I recommend doing this before you go days upon days talking to your other teammates about the girl who has a bad attitude. Then it festers. Then it just makes the other teammates turn on her. It grows to become a cancer. Say something to her before you talk to all of you teammates constantly about it. It’s HER job to take it the correct way, so long as you are telling her in an appropriate manner.
Sometimes, before even going directly to the player, you can try to have team meetings. This works best without your coach even TELLING the team they need to get together. Be a leader and pull together the team before your coach recognizes that the team needs to meet together to talk some thing out.
If you are truly a leader on the team and want the best for the team, you are ok with standing up for what you believe in and what is truly going to benefit the team the best.
Remember, you don’t have to want to hang out with every player on your team OFF the field and be best friends. But ON the field, it’s your duty to find a way to get along with each other and take care of each other. From the outside looking in, nobody should be able to tell that you are NOT best friends. Supporting someone on the field does not mean you have to go to the movies with that person on the weekend. It’s a very mature thing to do to be able to separate the two. The same can be said in an opposite situation: your best friend plays on the team, but she is showing a bad attitude and not trying hard. It says a lot about you as a leader if you are able to tell your good friend that how she is acting is not helping the team, it is only hurting the team. You all have the same mission: winning together. And THAT should be what is remembered when it comes time to compete on the field and at practice
There is only so much you can say and so much you can lead by example when you notice it’s just not working, but that doesn’t mean it has to pull YOU down. When someone has a bad attitude around you, if you’ve already tried saying something, it’s best to ignore it. The strength of the team has to move forward to try to drown that person out. Don’t give that person energy. Don’t give that person time. If they’re not going to change, they’re not going to change. There will always be those “inbetweeners” on a team. Do you know who I’m talking about? Those are the players who could go either way – they can pull more toward the strong leaders or they can gravitate more toward the cancers. It’s your job as leaders to try to get them on YOUR side. They become the difference makers on the team. Empower them to feel the difference of what it’s like to be more on the positive side than the negative side.
Don’t get caught up in team drama!!!! Don’t do it! I know it’s temping, and it’s there (a lot). If you hear someone talking about another person, say you don’t want to hear about it. Maybe even tell them not to talk about that in front of you. Maybe you can tell them that if they have a problem with that person, they need to go talk to that person directly.
It’s not “cool” to be the teammate who talks about other teammates behind their back once you leave the field. I PROMISE.
What is your character like? What do you want it to be? It speaks volumes about you, not just as a player, but as a person, for the drama to end with you. It’s ok to be that girl who other teammates know they can’t talk about other teammates in front of! Be a loyal teammate. A loyal teammate does not talk about other teammates behind their back. For 4 ways to learn how to be a loyal teammate, click here.
Learning to communicate is one of the biggest things we can learn in this world.
Communication is SO VITAL in life and with your teammates. Learning to talk to someone in the right tone, and have a conversation, not a fight, is important in terms of respecting each other. Learn to say what you want to say with words without yelling.
Just because you are yelling doesn’t mean that someone is listening or understanding you that much better.
Set expectations and standards of how your team plays. Control your own attitude and your own work ethic. If you’ve tried to have a one on one talk and a team talk, and it’s just not working, don’t let it effect YOU. When talking in a team setting, it’s ok to say stuff out loud that you believe in and you know that’s right. At the end of the day, remember that every action is either hurting or helping the mission of the TEAM. I don’t know about you, but I like to win. Team chemistry and trust are huge parts of winning. Set a good example, treat your teammates the right way and do all that YOU can to help the mission of the team.
Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but everybody is not always a winner. We live in a society where everyone is scared to tell a kid that they lost and in a society where everybody gets a trophy or a ribbon, proclaiming they won. This just isn’t real life. How does this prepare a young player for the real world once sports are done?
Now, if you know me, you know that I am 100% always about making girls feel great about themselves and helping them become the best people they can be, not just the best players they can be. But here is what I know: There is always a winner, and there is always a loser. If there is not a winner or a loser, then there really isn’t a competition happening. If we are teaching kids that everyone is a winner, then we aren’t teaching them real life; we aren’t preparing them for what’s ahead. Knowing that there is a winner and a loser is what drives competitiveness. That competitiveness is going to be needed and used long after softball is over.
The more competitive players are going to be the players who show up to the ballpark every day with a desire to WIN. That idea of winning is going to be what motivates them to practice more, so that they can help out the team more when it is game time in order to WIN. The idea of winning is always going to be what motivates them to stay focused during the game for the entire 7 innings, because they know that if they lose focus, there could be a bad inning, which could result in losing. A will to win will also motivates them to be a leader and help their teammates become the best players they can be, thus ensuring more wins than losses.
Doesn’t this sound like the recipe for success in life? — Hard work. Focus. Leadership. Teamwork.
Hmm…those things sound familiar. Oh right! They’re the major keys to having success in life and success in a career. But, if everyone wins, then players will not feel that sense of urgency to have a work ethic and drive unlike any other. There has to be something at stake. And every time you enter a game, winning is at stake. Learn to win. Learn to lose. Hate losing more than you like winning.
Take an in-game example. Other than just on the scoreboard, throughout the game there is a winner and a loser with every at bat that happens. A pitcher either wins the battle or a hitter wins the battle. Think of that tense situation with the bases loaded, 2 outs, tie ball game. I want the pitcher in the circle or hitter up to bat on my team who KNOWS there is a winner and a loser. She doesn’t get scared of it. She just accepts it. BUT, she wants to win so bad that the will to win overcomes the fear of losing. Sometimes this player with the will to win and uber competitive drive isn’t even the most talented player on the team, and that’s totally okay. When it comes down to it, I want the competitive player over the talent.
Be so good they can’t ignore you.
If we aren’t coaching to win (to truly be the ONE winner), then we are not teaching to compete. You must lose to truly be able to appreciate winning. The way we learn is to fail. Losing is considered failing. If everyone is always a winner, then we never truly learn to fail and won’t push ourselves as hard to become better, learn more, work harder and become more dedicated. Losing is not a BAD thing. This is not a problem of erectile dysfunction. We’ve all been losers at some point. BUT, I would be likely to say that the loss fueled your desire to win even higher. It’s human nature. Nobody WANTS to lose. Everybody WANTS to win. It’s not always about your record, but it IS about teaching how to lose and teaching how to win. You can still be teaching these things and have a winning record. I totally get that it’s not all about your record or all about the scoreboard. However, the lessons to be taught by having a conversation about winning and losing, and teaching kids the meaning of winning and losing, has a lot to be said.
Hate the feeling of losing more than you love the feeling of winning.
Competitiveness is going to be what drives players and drives a team. A team understanding that there is always a winner and always a loser is one of the most important, fundamental concepts to learn about sports at a young age; let’s not ignore it. It’s there. It’s real. Teach it at a young age so it’s not a surprise once they become older, when the wins and losses and at bats have more meaning behind them. By teaching winning, you’re teaching fight, leadership, focus, hard work and team work. Sounds like a winning combination to me.
If you enjoyed this post, let me know in the comments or on Facebook.
Leg drive starts from the VERY BEGINNING. It’s important to create an athletic, explosive position in your push out to maximize your leg drive. Energy and momentum are created from the ground up. You can have the MOST energy by creating the best position possible to push off the rubber. More energy at the beginning of your pitch will create more energy at the END of your pitch. It all starts from the ground up!
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What’s the difference between mental toughness and feeling good to play good? Are they one in the same or completely different?
Mental toughness and feeling good to play good are different in my opinion. Mental toughness comes into play when a game is on the line and you can stay calm and focused when all of the pressure is on YOU. You are able to focus on the task at hand and ignore everything else that is going on around you (fans cheering, dugout hollering, the intimidating batter at the plate). It’s very similar to that idea of “clear the mechanism” in the Kevin Costner movie, For Love of the Game (if you haven’t watched this movie you need to!). Mental toughness also comes from ignoring tiredness that may be setting in or any kind of small pain you may be feeling. When you are mentally tough, NOTHING ELSE matters but the task at hand. Mentally tough hitters want to be the one up to bat with the bases loaded and 2 outs in a tie ballgame. Mentally tough pitchers want to be the one in the circle with a full count and the 4-hole hitter up to bat with the game on the line. Mentally tough players are not complaining about weather, umpires, opponents, soreness. Mentally tough players do not even notice these things. One thing about mentally tough players, they don’t even have to have the best mechanics — they are so mentally strong and their will to succeed is so high, they will do whatever it takes to win.
Feeling good to play good deals with the general feeling you get about the game itself. If a feel good to play good atmosphere is not created, then it will be more challenging for a player to be mentally tough in clutch situations. Feeling good to play good deals with the atmosphere and scene that is going on around the game itself. Do you feel like you have coaches who believe in you? Do you feel like you have parents who support you no matter if you strike out or give up home runs? Do you feel good in your uniform? Did you prepare enough at practice that week? When a player plays in an atmosphere that gives her confidence, she is going to flourish and surpass anyone’s level of expectations. Feeling good to play good is especially important for girls. Girls are different than boys. Girls have to FEEL good to PLAY good. And boys PLAY good to FEEL good. Surround a player in an atmosphere where it’s nothing but positivity, strong role models and a big support system, and you’re going to see a player SOAR when it comes to her results.
Lessons. Practice. Travel. Games. Recruiting. Repeat. The ingredients of elite softball are all in the air. Getting lost in emotions, information and games can be an everyday occurrence. Some days are easier than others. It’s a grind. Always remember there is light at the end of the tunnel, and the benefits of making it through the months ahead of you are completely worth it in the end. As a parent, remember there are other parents going through exactly what you are going through. As a player, remember there are other players going through exactly what you are going through. It helps to remember you’re not alone. It also helps to keep some things in perspective along the way to help you and your family stay sane.
I feel as though this is tougher for parents than it is for players. Players usually have a realistic understanding of their talent level and they can see through lenses that are not rose colored. When you start to get into elite softball, there is a general understanding and goal that you want to play at the next level. Period. Understand from the very beginning that at the top 25-30 schools, only 3-5 players will be recruited in your year. Putting expectations of only going to those 25-30 schools can be quite a letdown if you don’t make it. Put into perspective the amount of girls vying for those positions and how the probability is most likely higher that you won’t make it to that school. BUT, if you love the game and are invested in continuing your career, you are going to find a better fit at a school that has your name written all over it. Playing with unrealistic expectations makes you play tight, and usually leads to being let down. There is a great home for everyone.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from my dad when I was in the recruiting process was to stay humble. I was extremely lucky that many bigger schools were after me. At the time, since recruiting was happening a little later than it is now, it was quite common for schools to send in questionnaire profiles through the mail early in the recruiting process. I would sit down after dinner in front of the TV and fill out every single questionnaire that was sent to me. It didn’t matter if it was a junior college, a mid major or a top division 1 school. My dad’s thinking was that I was not too good for any school. If they were interested in me, I was going to be appreciative and never turn my nose up to anybody. You never know what could happen and you don’t want to completely shut anyone out until you know for certain where you are going. What if you think you are going to go to a big D1 school and you have a major injury? What if you go through something major that mentally takes you out of the game? You never know what can happen. Be appreciative for attention. Stay humble with coaches who are interested in you. Stay humble around your teammates. The same can go for the opponent you are playing. You’re an elite team, but the game doesn’t know that. Go into every game with consistent emotions by respecting every opponent. Respect the game. The game doesn’t know…
You and each of your teammates will most likely have a different experience in how you get recruited and who is watching you. It takes too much energy to compare. That energy should be put into YOUR skills, mindset and plan. Worry about yourself. If you are doing all that YOU should be doing on and off the field, then what other people are doing should not matter! Be you. Do you. Grow you. YOU are awesome. YOU have your own story.
This goes for players AND parents. With every person you come in softball contact with, you never know how much you might be around them in the future. I’ve noticed enemies in the softball world usually come from jealously. At every exposure camp, combine, all star event, opening ceremonies, make a good impression! A good impression could be just that, a good impression or it could be a lasting friendship. You just never know when you are going to possibly play with these people you meet again. You may meet someone at an exposure camp and may end up being college teammates with them. In the stands, be nice and supportive. Everyone you meet is going through exactly what you are going through. Don’t judge. Be respectful and just know that the softball world is a REALLY small world, so make a good impression. People talk, coaches hear. You want what they are talking about to be nothing but positive things about you and your family. With that being said – avoid drama.
As an elite athlete, you are pushing your body to its limits on a weekly basis. You have to pay attention to your body and realize when it’s talking to you and when you need a break. Be honest. Create that relationship with your parents and coaches from a young age where you can gain their trust and you can say “I need to take today off” or “I need a break.” Breaks are GREAT. They absolutely have to happen for your mind and for your body. You live a softball-is-life mentality, but mixed in there, there has to be time with no softball. You create your own balance. Figure out what that balance is so that you can perform the best. You want to love softball, not hate softball because at the end of this ride, softball continues to still pay off in your life – promise!
I get it, you want to PLAY; you don’t want to sit the bench. On an elite team, 15/15 girls on your team are GOOD and there are only 9-10 starting positions. The talent only gets better once you go to college. Many times, a player will learn a new position just to find a way on the field. Be flexible and be studious. There are so many examples of players getting to the next level and not playing the same position they played on their travel team and in high school. If you are not physically out on the field, it does not mean you become a spectator to the game. There is always something to learn, to watch, to do. Try to pick pitches. Try to notice pitcher’s tendencies. See if the defense is giving away anything. Create a role and totally own it. There is no time to feel sorry for yourself, you have a team to help, you have a game to win. Championship teams have roles and buy into those roles. This game is not about one person’s playing time, it is about the entire TEAM. Learn to contribute to the team and find a way to be involved in the game. THIS is a team player. THIS is the kind of person a college coach wants to recruit. If you are on an elite team, you will be competing for championships, so find a way to contribute.
Give your children responsibility for their softball career. Give them a voice. If it’s about playing time, have your daughter call a meeting with her coach to discuss what she can do better. Eventually your daughter will have to speak to a boss or another authority figure. Give her practice NOW so she can learn to communicate LATER. Mentor her and help her with what she should say or when she should say it, but don’t say it FOR HER. Once warm ups start, parents should stay completely out of the way. No bringing hot dogs and Gatorade to the dugout. No coming up to the dugout to remind her to keep her front shoulder in on her next at bat. The days of that are over. Elite softball is conducted in a businesslike manner. You’re there to compete; no distractions and you have a job to do. IN the stands during the game, remember you never know who is in the stands WITH you. If you are going to cheer, yell only positive things. (I honestly feel that saying nothing positive nor negative can sometimes be your best bet. Just let them play the game.) If you are going to chat with another parent on the team, make it positive. You NEVER know who is listening. Your daughter is taken as a direct reflection of YOU.
Even if you are not planning on going to some place like Harvard or Yale, your grades are so important. Your goal is to play at the next level right? Well, at the next level, if you don’t make the grades, you don’t get to play. Create good study habits and make school a priority. Because you are playing at an elite level and have big tournaments every weekend, some of which you are having to travel far, you are going to miss out on things with your friends because school + softball + family are more important. While you may be missing out on a birthday party or going to the movies, your friends are probably going to miss out on playing a sport collegiately. Rent the movie later and send her a birthday card/present to let her know you wish you could be there and you’re thinking about her. I PROMISE, getting the opportunity to play softball in college is WAY better than any movie or birthday party you miss. There is a much higher percentage of those you don’t play sports in college than those who do. Do whatever it takes to find time to study, write papers and do homework because this prioritizing is not changing any time soon once you make it to the next level.
This is tricky, but I am going to give you my mentality on this. I encourage people to play on the BEST (most competitive) team they can possibly play on AND be in the starting 10-11 players on that team that get playing time. It goes no good to be on the “best” team in your area, and all you do is sit the bench. If you are only sitting the bench, you are missing out on college coaches being able to see you in action and gain the experience of competing on the field against top level teams and competing for championships. Again, I know people are going to have different opinions on this, and I am just giving you my perspective. Find a team with a solid tournament schedule. Two things I want you to remember while thinking about this: 1) The college coaches are going to be where the best teams/talent are. 2) Don’t be jealous of the best player on your team, that “best player” is most likely pulling college coaches in to watch. Don’t just think of those coaches as being there to watch that player, think of this as an opportunity to grab some attention and as a mini audition! You WANT that player on your team because she helps you win and she draws attention…especially standout pitchers.
Understand there is a difference between performance skills and moral skills. This, to me, is the most important thing a parent can teach a player. The way you teach it is completely up to you. Some examples of performance skills: hardworking, competitive, motivated, confident, disciplined. Some examples of moral skills: unselfish, appreciative, loyal, caring, trustworthy, caring. There HAS to be a balance. When softball is all said and done, all you have is your character…your inner you. This goes for players and it goes for parents. Parents, you are not defined by how your daughter is at softball or the scholarship she gets. Neither is she. She is defined by being a good teammate, a good friend, a good daughter. Start noticing the differences and explaining the differences to your daughter and your team. THIS will help make leaders out in the real world and empower them with a different skill set once they grown into WOMEN.
We are all in this softball world together – don’t lose sight of that. While everyone wants to be on the team that is the last team standing at the championship game, this sport is so much more than just that. Play softball not to just eventually grow to pitch 70mph and hit 20 bombs in a season. Play softball because it grows you together as a family and each individual as a family. Along the way, be genuinely excited for teammates who get the big hit, the big strikeout or the big verbal commitment. Remember karma is a real thing. No matter how good you are, never stop learning. Never stop being appreciative. The schedules and commitments can get a little crazy, but always remember to take a step back and see something bigger than the scoreboard. Big things are ahead of you….
Okay y’all! I want to see you and hear from you! From NOW until Friday, March 14 at 11:59pm CT I want you to send in playing pictures (pitching, hitting, teamwork, teammates, fielding, etc) WITH a your favorite QUOTE that goes with the picture! Be creative!
— Quotes and pictures can be about ANYTHING – happiness, passion, working hard, dream, determination, focus, fun, beauty, energy, role model, etc. Think of something that motivates you or you believe in. Whatever you think the word could be, it’s totally ok! It’s all about YOU.
— One picture per email please WITH the quote in the body of email. Also, full name, age and team! (You can send however many emails you’d like!)
— Email picture and quote to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject of the picture you are sending in. Ex. “Happiness” Ex. “Passion”
— There will be at LEAST 5 winners that will receive a signed (optional) Amanda Scarborough t shirt. The winner may also find your picture in an EBOOK to be written this year by me!
— **By sending me your picture, you are giving permission to be my social media or my website. If you are not okay with picture going public, please specify in the email!**
SHARE this with your teammates, friends, family, whoever!!
My picture here is an example of the quote about a picture to send in like I am talking about.
“Do it with passion or not at all.”
What do you think is the most important part of being a mentally strong female softball player? (I’m going to skim the surface of a topic that people write entire books on…but it’s still helpful nonetheless…)
In my mind, one of the most important parts of being a mentally strong female softball player is the environment she is surrounded by. There are a lot of pieces that add to this environment. It comes from outside forces around the player: teammates, coaches, and parents. ALL of these outside forces can play into the mentality of a player. Some might call some of these “excuses” and things that players need to get over. But to me, these are real issues that need to be addressed and can affect the mentality of a player. Each one of these could be their own topic, but I wanted to just cover the basics first, then get into more detail some other time. Here are questions to ask about each of the following that can effect a player’s mental game:
Do you get along with your teammates? Is there drama on the team? Do you feel like your teammates have your back? Do your teammates have as much passion towards softball as you? When you don’t feel like your teammates have your back (especially as a pitcher in the field), you start to over think, overthrow, overswing and try to be too perfect. When you pitch on a field where you know players are going to make plays behind you, you can pitch your game and feel more confident to throw strikes. When you’re worried about the defense making errors behind you, it can be a tough thing to work through, but it’s actually a really good experience and one that almost all pitchers go through at one point or another. Teammates affect what is going on in the mind of a player – for better or for worse.
Are your coaches yellers? Do they embarrass you? Do you feel like your coaches believe in your talent? How do they tell you they believe in you? Do they help you set goals to achieve? Do you know their expectations for you? (short term and long term) Do they explain to you your role on the team? Yelling adds pressure. There are very few players who actually respond to coaches who yell. There ARE some players who respond to this, but the majority do not. The majority will shut down. Especially the coaches who yell across the field to a player and let them know what they did wrong. If I played for a coach like this, I would be terrified to make a mistake. Being scared to make a mistake is NOT a fun way to play sports (especially when you play a sport that revolves around failing: i.e. a .300 batting average is good). When you’re scared to make a mistake in front of your coaches, you can’t possibly be mentally strong.
How often do your parents tell you they believe in you? (Your kids want to hear it often and FEEL it, no matter what their results are) Do they talk more about results or about how you felt during the game? (All players are well aware of their results after a game, whether they went 3 for 3 or 0 for 4, it’s not necessary to remind them. Ask them about the process they went through in getting those results). Are your parents yelling out mechanics to you during the game? (Game does not equal practice). As parents, you are the biggest influence they have. Don’t talk to them about mechanical/coaching things more than you talk to them about believing in them and supporting them no matter what. I PROMISE they do and will remember the belief you had in them more than they remember the outcome of any game. Trust me on this one…
So here’s the thing…becoming mentally strong doesn’t happen overnight. You work on your mental game just like you work on a curve ball or hitting an outside pitch. This is an important realization for all of the parties involved, especially parents. A lot of times adults think that just by simply saying to a player, “You need to get mentally stronger” that that is going to help. False. That’s not going to help. You’re not giving her any tools. You’re not giving her any true support.
One piece of advice: Start with positive self talk, regardless of what is going on around you in your environment. In the game, are you telling yourself what NOT to do? Or are you telling yourself what you ARE going to do? Example: Don’t swing at a ball above your hands. (that’s telling yourself what NOT to do). Example: Swing at a strike. (that’s telling yourself what TO do). It’s been proven that the brain does not hear the word “not” in the first example. Start by practicing positive self talk at practice! Just like you practice other things a practice, be conscious of the thoughts that are going through your head. Let me tell you though – it’s easier for a player to have positive self talk when she is in a positive environment with positive outside forces. All a player wants is someone to believe in her. When a player as 3 different sets of people believing in her (coaches, teammates and parents) it takes pressure off, allowing a player to feel more relaxed, thus being more mentally strong. Create a habit of positive self talk and recognize the different in your game and how much more fun the game is to play when you’re out of your own head.
With all this being discussed about a positive environment, and as much as I think that outside forces an effect a player, I am not for sheltering a player from working through problems and working through adversity around her. I also do not endorse quitting teams in the middle of a season (I know there are exceptions) or being a team hopper because you can’t seem to find that “perfect” environment. There are always exceptions to every rule…
Which of these, in your experience, can have the biggest impact on a player? Leave me a comment and let me know!
One of the things every coach is looking for at any level are coachable players. Coachble means a willingness / openness to try new things and to learn new things. In order to be coachable…..
1) Show Humility – Have a sense of humbleness; a modest view of one’s own importance. You can always get better. There is always something to be learned. There are always people out there better than you. You can learn from anyone.
2) Have Faith in Others – Trust others. Everyone has had experiences. Be open to learning different points of views and seeing the best that others bring to the table. You must trust yourself first before you can trust others.
3) Be Approachable – Have fun! Don’t take yourself too seriously. When you are having fun, you are inviting other people to have fun with you, teach you and learn with you. The more people who want to give you information the better! Now you have all this information, you get to try it and sort through what works and what does not work! Invite people in to help you, don’t push them away.
4) Look Attentive – Look at someone in the eyes when they are talking to you. No matter who is talking, looking at someone in the eyes is a sign of respect. Your coaches, your teammates, family and your friends deserve this attentiveness from you. When you are attentive, your brain is soaking more things in!
5) Be Curious – When given feedback, ask questions. It shows that you’re more interested in digging deeper into what someone is trying to help you with. A lot of times people aren’t coachable because they are afraid to try new things and are scared of not understanding what is being asked of them. To fully understand, take a pause after someone tells you something, take a moment to understand and process, and THEN make a decision of whether you do or do not fully understand. If you do not fully understand, organize a question to dig deeper more into a better understanding. Ask questions!
At all times – listen with intent to learn. All of these fall under the umbrella and goes without saying, to have a good, positive attitude. The more coachable you are, the more enjoyable you are to be around as a teammate and as a player under a coach.
Understand if you are or are not coachable. If you are getting feedback from others that you are not coachable, be willing to change. If you are getting this feedback numerous times, quit blaming that it is other people, and understand that it is you not them. Accept it, commit to making a change and DO IT. There is always time to change and make a difference in your own life. You can do it! Have faith in yourself and have courage that you can become the best player you possibly can be!! It all starts with being coachable!!