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.
Savana Lloyd, from SL Fastpitch, hit a hot topic, covering how often a pitcher should practice. As pitching coaches, we CONSTANTLY get asked this question. It’s everyone’s favorite! There is no concrete answer…but Savana describes how YOU (as a pitcher and as a parent) can come up with your own, customized answer for pitching practice time. Here below is a preview of the blog, to go ahead and skip to the full blog, click here
How Often Should You Practice?
“One of the most popular questions a pitching coach gets is, “how often should I practice and how many pitches should I throw?” The reason this is the most asked question is because there is no simple or magic answer. One thing that always comes to my mind when I get asked this is not only how often are you practicing, but what are you practicing. I am going to do my best to help answer this question in a way that YOU can determine your answer!
First, lets outline some of the questions you need to ask yourself…
Do you have a clear plan?
Practice is about excellence, educating yourself, being smart, and having a clear plan. To start, let’s determine your needs:
How much time can you give to pitching?
What can you commit and what is realistic?
Who is your catcher? Do you need a catcher every time you practice?
How old are you?
Younger pitchers need more drills to develop mechanics
Older pitchers need situational pitching in addition to basic maintenance on mechanics.
Are you having fun?
a. To have fun you need to have a certain amount of success and in order to have success you need to practice enough to get there.
Having fun is IMPORTANT
Losing the fun often leads to losing motivation
Becoming great at anything takes repetition, therefore pitchers who practice more often seem to have the most success. I notice pitchers who practice consistently for shorter amounts of time (5 days a week, 30-60 minutes) make adjustments faster than pitchers who go out for long workouts less often (2 days a week for 1-2+ hours).
With that said, practice too often can have a mindless approach: simply repeating drills and throwing pitches without thinking or having a specific focus will not help you. Your time is precious and it needs to be directed, not just random. What exactly is it that you need to work on; throwing strikes? your reaction when you throw a ball? your footwork? The older you get the more specialized these questions become, but you always need to ask them.
How to Set-up a Pitching Practice
Before even picking up the ball its important to get your body moving. The movements you do in this part of the warm up should ask similar things of your body that your pitch will. For example, arms overhead, hips open like your stride, push-offs….”
Someone asked me this, “What was the turning point for you? Was there a stage where you suddenly began passing people? And how much of it had to do with your willingness to out-work everyone? Were there times when you thought your work wasn’t going to pay off?”
My answer might surprise you….
This is actually something over the past couple of years I have given a lot of thought and always am trying to take a look back my travel ball days! I was not always the #1 pitcher for my team growing up until probably my junior/senior year, and even then we had several good pitchers on my travel team and it was always good competition. In high school, my fresh/soph year I pitched behind a girl who was a junior/senior. I earned my way up to the #1 once she was gone. In travel ball I started as a #2/#3, then solidified #2 then later was in competition for #1. And then, once I actually got to college, I was the #1 pitcher starting on opening day as a freshman in the circle. Then it was solidified.
But there was so much that led up to that moment…
When I was growing up, I never thought of it that way of where I was on the “depth chart.” I never thought of how much I enjoyed playing softball by the number of innings I was pitching, I just knew that I liked to do it. What I think was a game changer for me was the fact that I had an amazing pitching and hitting coach (they were married) from around the ages of 11-15 who taught me and showed me the foundation of mechanics of a swing and a pitch. They did this by constantly breaking down the pitch/swing from the very beginning.
(Let me focus more on the pitching aspect…….) Because of how much we broke things down, I was a little bit slower to “come around” when it game to full pitch progress and speed and consistency – that would come later. There would be days where over half of the lesson I would not pitch a ball but just look in a mirror and work on a balance beam and do tubing drills. They taught me through SO MANY drills about where my body mechanically should be. At the time when I was younger, I thought it was a bit boring, but here was the kicker……we would do video analysis about 4 times a year. Back then, video analysis consisted of pulling out a video camera, then putting the tape into the VCR and slow-moing the VCR and holding up photos of old pitchers like Lisa Fernandez, Dee Dee Weiman and some japanese pitchers. There was a check list of different mechanics that I, myself, needed to look at as we went through the full video analysis and write down what I did right and what I did wrong. Why I liked this was because we did it enough to where I could see I was PROGRESSING and getting BETTER because of my hard work. I literally got to SEE it on the screen. So not only was I working hard in between lessons on the things I knew I needed to adjust, I was able to get satisfaction by seeing the progress I was having.
My parents were not result oriented in the sense that they were constantly letting me know I was a #2 pitcher or I pitched x amount of innings and the other pitcher pitched x amount of innings. No. They were focused on the fact that I was getting better at these lessons and my mechanics were forming properly. I could SEE it, they could see it, I could feel it. That part was more the focus than the playing time & field RESULTS. I saw what I needed to get better at, I went back and worked hard at it, and then I was able to see the results of my mechanics getting better. We all need our little forms of “success” along the way in this softball career.
How are you defining success? By playing time or by actually getting better and progressing at something that you love to do?
Were there days where I felt like I wanted to quit? YES, absolutely. Were there days where I cried, 100%. It’s normal. I guarantee that every college player out there has had those days. My parents never panicked when I had those days, they took it in stride. They did not overreact, which caused me not to overreact. The thing when I look back that was defining was that it was just 1 bad day. 1 bad day didn’t turn into a bad week. 1 bad day was just that. The next day, after I breathed a little bit, got some sleep, I woke up with a fresh outlook and ready to go back at it and practice and take on the world. But that’s how you know you really have a passion or it. You are wanting to go out and practice and the bad days don’t linger for long. When you are back at it practicing, you are pitching with getting better in mind, not pitching with # of innings pitched in mind.
Lastly, I will say, the best thing my parents told me growing up and would remind me during hard times was that I didn’t HAVE to play softball if I didn’t want to, and they would love me anyway.
They would ask me if I still enjoyed playing and they would genuinely listen to my answer. We communicate with so much more than words – with our actions, body language, tone. They asked me in a way I knew they cared and I felt like I could be honest with them, and I answered by more than just a simple, “yes” in the way that I was motivated to practice and how I looked when I was out playing ball.
Many just see me as an All American and during my time at Texas A&M one of the best players in the Big 12….but I am so much more than that BECAUSE of the time and emotions I invested growing up.
I am GLAD I wasn’t the #1 pitcher the entire time when I was younger. It taught me so much more. Mainly about myself and giving me the ability to help make my own decisions, work extremely hard at something and then feel the reward of what it is like to actually EARN a #1 spot and earn the awards that followed in college. That work ethic and the process of working on mechanics when I was younger made me into the coach I am today. Because of that foundation of mechanics that I would spend hours upon hours without a ball and paying attention to my own craft, I have the knowledge that goes along with pitching and was able to stand at 5’5 and throw 70mph especially once I got stronger and developed physically towards my my final years of high school and into college.
Everyone comes around at a different time and it’s unfair to compare yourself to anyone else other than you.
Soooo….I am sorry that this is a longer answer, but this particular topic defines me, what I coach, how I coach and the career I lead. Never would I have thought that when I was 9-10 and someone told me that I never would be a pitcher that I would play at the D1 level, and then lead me past college to coaching clinics around the country and being a college softball analyst on TV. I can’t HELP but think and know that anyone else can find their own passion AND if you have a passion for it, if you REALLY have a passion for it, then things are going to work out. The things that don’t work out are the things that shouldn’t be forced and aren’t supposed to happen, anyway. There are ups and downs, but the ups are all greater than the downs if you truly love to do it.
If you don’t love it, then you let the downs define you, and you’ll eventually end up quitting. But in my mind, it just means you are meant to do something else anyway.
I can only talk about my experience and my own story….but looking back, I think it’s a pretty dang good one and it’s more the “norm” of what softball players across the country go through growing up WITHOUT being the #1 pitcher their whole life.
I look back over 2013, and I am somewhat in awe. I can honestly say it was the best year of my life. I am speechless about the opportunities that have come my way and the different places I have gotten to visit/events I have gotten to be a part of. The different friends I get to hang out with everywhere I go is so awesome, as everywhere I travel I either make new friends or get to reconnect with old friends. 2013 was definitely the most diverse year I have had when it comes to my career and new doors opening. Traveling, new adventures, new challenges, new learning, new friends, new opportunities — all in 2013. For a complete portfolio of my favorite pictures from 2013, click here.
January –New Years in Australia. 1st Speaking Engagements ever
The year started off in the southern hemisphere, as I brought in the new year in Sydney, Australia with the Texas Firecrackers Gold. New Years Eve we went out into Darling Harbor on a cruise for the evening and we were out on the water near the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge as we watched one of the most spectacular firework displays in the entire world. Sydney really does it up big because they are in the first time zone in the world to get to bring in the New Year. This was a trip that we all will remember for the rest of our lives. Australia was in incredible experience, as our team played several games against Australian teams, celebrated Christmas together in a foreign country and then brought in the New Year together. So many memories….
I got back and took on my first ever speaking engagements. One in Ohio, one in Houston and one in Waco at Baylor’s Winter Softball Camp. What a great learning experience and a way to work through some nerves. I got to meet a lot of high school coaches from Texas and Ohio at these engagements. Speaking in front of 100’s of people for the first time is a great way to quickly get over some nerves!
February – May : Covering the 2013 College Softball Season on ESPN and Longhorn Network
February-June is my favorite time of year because it’s the college softball season. My job during this time is a college softball analyst, which means that I analyze softball and talk about it on TV. Now, some people get super excited about college football and college basketball seasons (and trust me, I love those sports too), but nothing gets me excited like the college softball season. College softball is home. I LOVE staying involved in the game by getting to travel and see so many different teams play from all different conferences. Getting to talk about it on TV is the added bonus.
This past season I did over 25+ games on Longhorn Network (yes, I am an Aggie working for Longhorn Network). The cool part about the 2013 softball season was that Texas made it to the Women’s College World Series. They had such a strong team led by their senior class, so they were a lot of fun to watch and follow all the way to Oklahoma City. I also did about 15 games on the ESPN Networks, including ESPN 3. In addition to ESPNs family of networks, I also did my first game on Fox Sports Southwest and first game on CBS Sports Net. In all I got to do around 40-45 games in the 2013 softball season. I feel so very lucky to get these opportunities, as I know that there are a lot of people out there who would love to get a chance to do this amazingly fun job!
June – August : Traveling and Coaching the Texas Firecrackers
After the college softball season, our summer season with the Texas Firecrackers Gold gets pretty busy and serious. In these months we are playing in very competitive tournaments against some of the best teams in the nation. We play in various exposure tournaments, trying to get our girls recruited to play in college and also try to qualify for different national tournaments that take place in end of July/beginning of August. We have girls committed or signed to Texas, Nebraska, UTSA, University of Houston, Arkansas, Oregon, Lamar University and SFA.
August: RBI Softball Championship game in Minnesota on MLB Network
I had so much fun traveling to Minnesota and getting to cover the RBI Softball Championship game. I really did not know what to expect when I got asked to commentate this game for MLB Network. I was pleasantly surprised with the talent, passion and overall competitiveness of the teams I saw play in the tournament the weekend I was there. MLB Network just covered the Championship game, but I got to watch many of the games leading up to the Championship game, and let me tell you, RBI Softball is something that more people should know about. These girls were AWESOME. In the championship game, Houston played Atlanta and Atlanta ended up winning. I got to work in a 3-man booth with another familiar face, softball analyst, Cheri Kempf. Cheri has been around the game in all different ways for many years and she currently serves as the Commissioner for the NPF. We had a very good time together up in Minnesota getting to call this game together.
September – 2 Week Vacation to Thailand
After a whirlwind first half of the year, I was ready for a vacation. Other than softball, one of my big passions is traveling. I travel very often, and a lot of times my mom is my travel partner. I wanted to go to a place that I knew would be a once in a lifetime experience. Living in Houston, the Caribbean is a frequent vacation spot for us, and we wanted to do something that was not nearby. We got out a map and researched where all United flew to, as we both have frequent flier miles, and we wanted to try to use miles for our flight. We found Phuket, Thailand, which was also a place that my friend, Savana, had told us all about, too. Phuket is an island in Thailand with beautiful beaches and a hot travel destination, usually for Australians, because it is so close to them on that side of the world. So we booked it. All on our own we figured out our travel plans with no travel agent or anything. Thailand was AMAZING. I would recommend it to anyone. We both felt so safe. Beautiful beaches. VERY friendly people. Lots of different things to do and see. While we were there we went on a couple different island excursions by boat, rode an elephant, hung out with tigers, enjoyed the beaches and went on a helicopter ride over a chain of islands. If you are considering a vacation, go to Thailand!! Such a cool place. To see more pictures from my vacation to Thailand, click here.
October – First sideline reporting for college basketball on LHN
This year, along with being a college softball analyst, I wanted try to broaden and open up myself to other television opportunities like sideline reporting. So what does that mean exactly? Well, if you are ever watching football or basketball games, sometimes you will see or hear a sideline reporter covering a game and that person is down on the field or next to the court. There are the two main people in the booth who talk about the game, then there may be a reporter on the side of the field or court getting the scoop on human interest stories, injuries or any interest facts he/she may pick up while being on the side of the game. This fall I got to do sideline reporting for the first time for men’s and women’s basketball on Longhorn Network covering both the men’s and women’s teams in some games, as well as doing my first college football game: Western Kentucky vs Texas State. It’s definitely a new, learning experience to learn a new job and cover new sports! I am so thankful for these opportunities that have come my way and excited to see what the future holds.
November – Launch of bellalete (Nov 26, 2013) & DFW Softball Camp
It’s hard to tell you exactly which new adventure I am most excited about from 2013, but the launch and creation of bellalete might be at the top of the list. For those who don’t know, belllaete is a new athletic apparel line that I co-founded with my best friend, Savana Lloyd. bellalete is something that has been in the world and in our mind for over a year now, and on November 26, 2013, we officially launched it online and at a couple of different camps we had in Nov/Dec. Savana and I are both very passionate about empowering female athletes to help work on their self confidence and encourage big dreaming and big believing. Along with encouraging athletes to feel more confident, we are both very passionate about athletic clothes. So we put these two passions together to create bellalete. Our goal, through bellalete, is to spread a message throughout the country that confidence, happiness and strength is absolutely beautiful. Through comfortable clothing that feels amazing when it’s on your skin, to the words that are actually on the shirt, we want to help give females motivation to go out and take on the day and accomplish anything they can put their mind to. This is why we created bellalete.
The weekend after Thanksgiving, I was a part of a big softball camp in the DFW area run through ASA Softball. It was by far the biggest collection of coaches and athletes I had ever been a part of. The amount of coaches that got put together for this camp was amazing. We are hoping to make this an annual camp and get together for the weekend after Thanksgiving! Pictures from DFW Softball Camp!
December: A New Beginning Online With Launch of www.amanda-scarborough.com.
Another project and idea that had been in the works for about a year is a new website I wanted to create to be able to write blogs and connect with more softball fans, coaches, parents and players. I wanted my new site to also be a place to share my new adventures and travels. Over the past couple of years, I have really enjoyed writing and sharing different things that I have learned along the way – from being a player, to being a coach to being someone who travels and watches some of the highest level of college softball played for 4 months out of the year. I am still learning. I learn about myself. I learn about coaching. I learn how girls operate mentally. I learn about different mechanics, approaches and theories to coaching. I’m like a sponge and I never want to stop learning. Ever. So, because I like to write, and because I like to learn, I wanted to create a platform to share my knowledge and be able to help more people than just from around the Houston area. I want to hear from and share stories with people from all over! The one thing I could talk about all the time is softball, and amanda-scarborough.com allows me to get connected with people from across the country.
Miles Flown: 80,000 +
Foreign Countries visited: 2
New Career Adventures: Working college softball for 2 new networks; Sideline reporting for College Basketball & College Football; the creation and launch of bellalete
Favorite memory: Celebrating New Years in Sydney Australia. Taking a trip halfway around the world to Thailand with my mom.
One of the words I most frequently heard at Texas A&M from head coach, Jo Evans, was “COMPETE.”
Competition fuels desire. Competition adds drive. Competing has become somewhat of a lost art for this generation of softball players, and one that I hear from many college coaches that is a characteristic they are searching for in their future athletes. Nowadays, more often than not,competing is a quality that is having to be taught, instead of being innate.
When I use the word “compete” I am referring to that inner fire that burns to go out on the field and beat the team in the opposing dugout, to compete for a position and to compete against yourself to see just how good you can really be.
Competition is one of those lessons that sports builds in you, if you allow it. However, being around the softball fields at the select and college levels, I see fewer and fewer girls who are showing up and just flat out competing when they are out on that field.
Competing is one of the biggest things college coaches are looking for in players right now. Many times, they are claiming that it is a quality that is missing In recruits across the country. Some coaches will even take that desire to compete over a player who has better talent. It’s that competitive nature that makes you a great teammate and allows you to be a player that other coaches and teammates would want to go to war with. It’s not always about the player who has the most talent; it’s about the player who has talent and has a fierce competitive drive that runs deep inside of her.
Competing for a position
Now this form of competition isn’t as basic as competing against other teams. This one is a little bit tougher because it involves competing against your own teammate. This is specifically tricky with girls because most girls don’t want to hurt other girls feelings. Having competition at different positions around the field is so important for a team’s success because you get the very most out of your players. If there is no competition for positions, players can get complacent and never really grow. Competing for a position pushes both players to become the best they can be knowing that if they perform better than the other player, then they get to start in the big game. Competing for positions is a big reason why college teams will carry more players on their roster than a select team.
Competing for a position is THE BIGGEST lost form of competition, and I will tell you why. There are more select softball teams across the country than there ever have been before, meaning there are more options; and if someone is not happy with playing time, it’s very easy for them to pick up and leave and go to another team where they can fine more playing time. I’m sure you know them, the typical team hoppers who leave because everything just isn’t right. They always have different excuses for leaving the team, but in general, the biggest reason people leave teams is because their daughter isn’t getting enough playing time. So let’s think about this for a second. By allowing your daughter to change teams based on playing time, you’re telling her that she doesn’t have to earn that spot and compete for that position because if we aren’t getting what we want, then we can go find it somewhere else. The easy thing to do is pick up and leave and find another team so your daughter can play. The hard thing is to challenge up and stay on the team to earn that spot. I promise, in the long run, she will be better because of it.
If a player isn’t playing…I guarantee there is a reason for it other than the coach just simply having favorites and/or not liking the player. If I am the player who is not playing, I am going to find out why I am not playing (by asking the coach myself, NOT my parents) and then work hard on whatever the reason is when I am practicing. Maybe the reason you are not playing is because you are not clutch with runners in scoring position. Maybe the reason is because you make scary throws to first base on a ground ball. There is going to be a reason, but there is NO reason not to go work hard on whatever it is it may be. But here is the catch: if the player is NOT making the changes to become a better player, then WHY would the coach put them in?
Earning a spot can be difficult; earning a position can be challenging; but earning a position is one of the most rewarding things that can happen to a player. If you’re not getting playing time and you think you’re working hard enough? Work harder. Do you think you’re putting in a lot of time? Well put in more. Want it more than that other person. Eventually, you’ll get it; but it’s not going to come easy. A big part of competing for a position is taking advantage of your opportunities. For example: maybe a player doesn’t start but she is called upon to pinch hit with a runner at 3B and less than 2 outs. Does the player cave in this situation? Or does she get mentally tough to embrace this opportunity and make the most out of it by hitting a SAC fly and getting the RBI?
Another example of making the most of your opportunity is if the player who plays defensively in front of you makes an error, and your coach calls your out to go play in the field. The first ground ball that comes to you, do you boot it? Or do you make the play cleanly? TAKING ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITIES will be a way that you earn your spot and catch your coach’s attention. If you are NOT taking advantage of opportunities, then why would your coach want to play you? To take advantage of opportunities, you must be focused, you must know the situation and you must be mentally strong to believe in yourself. Someone might make an excuse after not taking advantage of your opportunity such as, “well I didn’t come through because I don’t get to play as much as the other players.” This is just an excuse for not coming through, and it doesn’t apply. If you’re putting in the practice time and fall into the trusting mindset in the game, you will be better served to take advantage of these opportunities physically and mentally.
Don’t teach your daughter the wrong thing – that if you’re not happy with something, it’s okay to pick up and leave. Teach her work ethic by teaching her competition within her position. Make sure you have a coach that is teaching this same philosophy, because maybe your daughter is the one at the “starting” position. Is she being pushed? Is someone right there next to her at practice pushing her with every swing and every ground ball? If not, then I can guarantee she will not become the best player she can be because there is no one right there next to her breathing down her neck wanting to take that position. That is pure competition.
Competing for a position will prepare her for college. The ultimate goal of any college team is to win, a coach’s livihood at his/her schools depends on it. So you better believe that the best players will play and that coaches want this friendly competition out on the field within their team so players are day in and day out pushing each other. If your daughter is not preparing for it now, she won’t be ready for it when she makes it to the next level, whichever level that may be – high school, all stars, league team, college. Encourage competition, don’t shy away from it. Teach your daughter that if she wants something, she has to prove a point and send a message by working harder than she’s ever worked before to be named the game day starter.
Lastly, an important thing to remember for this kind of competition is not to give up. Anything can change. Maybe the person you are competing with stops working hard, but you continued to work your very hardest and you end up beating them out at the end of the season. If you want it bad enough, you will work hard enough to achieve your dreams. If you don’t put in the work or make the changes, that tells me you never wanted it in the first place. Every player wants playing time, but it should always be earned. The reward is getting to be out on the field come game time. Passion, or lack of passion, is shown when competing for a position. How bad do you want it?
Is there competition at your position? Are you being pushed by your teammate? Are you pushing your teammate? Are you caving when you have opportunities? Make the most of your opportunities…be so good they can’t ignore you.
As you grow up and reflect on the years of your life, you can probably count on 1 hand the people who have made a major impact on you. You are told to surround yourself by people who make you better; a search to seek out the people who pull out the very best in you. But what if one of those people actually found YOU, knowing she could be the one to get the very best out of you? And then, what if you were surrounded by that person for 4 years, 40 weeks out of the year, 6 days out of the week, 4-5 hours of every day? Do you think this person would have a major influence on you in your life? I know firsthand, the answer is yes. I know from having the opportunity to be around Jo Evans, Head Softball Coach at Texas A&M, who just recently won the 1000th game of her career.
When deciding where to play ball in college, some players look at what majors a school has to offer, some decide based on athletic and academic facilities, others may look at a previous win-loss records or national championships. I looked at Coach Evans.
I saw a coach who could make me a better player, but more importantly, I saw a coach who could make me a better person.
I still remember being 15 or 16 years old, and seeing Coach Evans in the stands recruiting me and watching me play. I get asked often if I always knew I wanted to go to Texas A&M. To be honest, I wasn’t one of those players who ALWAYS knew she wanted to go to Texas A&M. I have no family members who went there and had no real ties to the university before I made my decision. When I was that age, I had no idea where I wanted to go to school! But then…Texas A&M showed interest in me, and it was almost as if I knew instantly that I wanted to play for her from the moment I met her. Jo Evans is what pulled me in.
The decision to play at Texas A&M for Jo Evans is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. When I was there, taking the field every day in College Station, I didn’t realize the magnitude of all that she was teaching me on a daily basis. In those 4 years, I was constantly growing as a player, growing as a leader, and helping to grow a program, all by the guidance of a spunky red head, named Jo.
Coach Evans makes a “big deal” about leaving a legacy, as she asks every senior class, “What’s going to be your legacy?” She reminded our senior class, as she does with every senior class, that we are leaving a lasting mark on a program, and we got the chance to control what it was going to be. From her, we knew we would be leaving a legacy at Texas A&M, but what she did not know at the time, was that she, too, was leaving a lasting legacy on us. A first impression may stay with you for weeks, a lifetime impression stays with you for eternity; it’s one that will stays with me well after I left my cleats on the field in Oklahoma City signaling my playing career at Texas A&M had come to an end. Coach Evans makes lifetime impressions on the players who play for her at Texas A&M University.
Little did I know when I was 16 years old, making the decision to play for Coach Jo Evans, that I would be playing for a coach would achieve the 1000 wins mark. That coach, the one who chose ME to come and play for her at her school, had a monumental weekend, as she won her 1000th career Division 1 game this past Saturday. Quite a milestone, as she becomes the only active coach in the SEC to have 1000 career Division 1 wins and becomes the 8th coach in the country to achieve this.
But in my mind, Jo Evans is more than a softball coach piling up scoreboard victories under her belt.
What has helped lead to those thousand victories is the fact she is a coach who teaches more than the game of softball through the game of softball. She genuinely cares about her players, and has the ability to get them each in the right mindset to go out and compete to their highest talent level, thus the ability to compete for championships. By caring, by teaching, by directing, she is making them better women when they leave her program to go and take on the real world, once their cleats are left on home plate.
It’s a college coach’s duty to teach more than the game of softball, as those 4-5 years of a player’s life are preparing them for the rest of their lives in more ways than one. I know in my heart that many other players feel like I do about the relationship they have or had with their college coach. I speak from my heart and from my own experience as to what I was taught in those 4 years that has honestly, completely changed my life and made me into the woman I am today.
I could write an entire book about what all Coach Evans has taught me. (I laugh because this article is already going to be long enough.) Looking back, I honestly cannot tell you which of these things are the most important and rank them in any particular order, but I do know that they all continue to change my life. Jo Evans left her legacy on us, just like she told our senior class to do on the A&M program.
1) Plain and simple — She taught me the game.
I really learned the ins and outs of the game from Jo. At practice she’s teaching, in the game she is teaching, after the game she is teaching. Doesn’t matter big or small, she will see it, and she will use it as a teaching moment at many point at practice or in a game. At practice, I learned the details of defense from her. In between innings, during a game, I remember her going over pitch calling with me for different situations and letting me know what I could have done better or chose differently. I learned a little bit deeper about what the whole “make adjustments” thing meant as a hitter and as a pitcher, alike.
In post game talks, she would let us know down to certain at bats and certain pitches/counts within that at bat what went wrong, what should have gone differently, and why it changed the energy and outcome of the game or an inning. Because she taught us, we could be more aware of different situations in future games to be able to make adjustments on our own when we experienced that same situation again. She was the best at reminding us of plays of execution throughout the game, that may never go down in the scorebook or get written about in the newspaper, but they were parts of the game that you can’t be a championship team without. During and after the game, she reminded us which plays were a “big deal” for our team.
A huge part of this game is knowing your role on a team. She made me look at the game in a whole new way when it came down to actually playing the game itself, but also, she taught me every player has a “job.” She pointed out different roles that were an integral part of a team; roles that went deeper than the star pitcher and the homerun hitter. Every single player on a roster has value and has a job to do. When you are being reminded that everyone has a role and a job to do at any point in the game, it brings a team together. EVERY player has value.
The more you respect each other’s roles, the better you play together, thus leading to more wins. You keep it simple and worry about doing YOUR job, not someone else’s.
This idea of roles and doing your own job made the game much more simplified. It was important to remember what YOUR job was, and not try to do everybody else’s. You have a job. You execute it. You succeed. “What can YOU do to help OUR team win?” — love that quote.
Looking back, her teaching me the knowledge of the ins and outs of the game has helped me immensely in my career as a softball analyst on ESPN. We did not learn to play as robots on the field – we learned to take responsibility and ownership for every situation throughout the game. Because I wasn’t a robot, I learned quicker and the concepts I learned were able to stay with me longer. Now, I can talk about an array of situations that happen on the field defensively and offensively, taking that knowledge I learned playing under her to relaying knowledge to the viewer on TV listening and watching the game. I know the game from Jo.
2. Respecting the game
Coach Evans takes more of an “old school” approach. She loves textbook softball when it comes down to execution and more importantly, upholding a certain standard to which the game should be played and respected on the field.
Our game has history and our game has value, and she is a coach that doesn’t just ask for her players to respect that history, she demands it. Respecting the game is one of the few things Coach Evans demanded of us, as she is really not a demanding coach. For the few things that she “demanded,” we knew that they were of extra importance, because her demanding anything from us, were things we knew WE could control.
Along with respecting the game, comes respecting the players who played in front of you. Not just at YOUR school, but the players who paved the way to get our sport to where it is today. This is a respect of what they sacrificed, and what they have accomplished ahead of you. Our sport is growing, and our sport is beautiful. This didn’t happen over night. It was made this way from those who laid the foundation before us to make this sport as we know it today. And for that, every time you take the field, you are playing for something that’s bigger than yourself.
What else does respecting the game mean? It means you play hard. It means you leave it all out on the field. It means that when you step out onto the field, nothing else matters – not school, not relationships, not any personal problems. It means keeping a good attitude. It means by knowing that if you stick with the process, the game will reward you. If you are player or former player, you know exactly what I mean.
I had never really thought about the game in this way until I had played for Coach Evans. Yes, I loved to play hard, but I did it a little selfishly, not understanding the real importance of respecting the game. However, she taught me to play hard, for something bigger than myself. Because she loves and respects the game of softball, it’s something that she has pulled out from inside of me to the forefront. Not that it wasn’t always there, because it was, but she showed it to me in a way I had never thought about the game before. If you know me, you know I love EVERYTHING about this game. Coach Evans brought that out of me.
3. Respect Your Opponent
With respecting the game comes respecting your opponent. Jo kept us humble with wearing that Texas A&M across our chest. Yes, we played at a school who week in and week out, usually found ourselves ranked in the Top 25; but she taught us the game doesn’t know who is supposed to win when you step on the field. She taught us that no matter who we were going up against, they deserved our upmost respect, because anybody can beat anybody on any given day. The more I’m around this game, the more I see this, and it’s actually one of the things that still gives me the most excitement about spots in general. As sports fans, we live for the underdog to get the big win. It happens, and it gives everyone out there a little bit of extra hope, as we all feel like an underdog at some point in our lives.
She taught us that even though we respected our opponent, no matter who they may be, a win and a loss 90% of the time comes down to a team playing THEIR game and not worrying about what the other team was doing. She taught us to give so much more attention to ourselves than to the other team, and control the things that WE could control. This is something that as we were playing, made the game seem a little bit more simple. Wow, what a thought – I don’t have to worry too much about the other team, because if we play OUR game, the way WE are supposed to play, then we will put ourselves in a position to win.
Coach taught us a part of respecting your opponent is winning and losing graciously. Any kind of attitude towards another team or disrespect of the game was not allowed. To be honest, we never even really came across anything like this during a game, because we were so engrained to respect our opponent, that it never was really an issue. Respecting your opponent means playing with class and playing within yourself. Jo reminded us of this.
4. Ownership Of OUR Team/ OUR Actions
At the very beginning of the season, Coach Evans will remind a team, “This is YOUR team.” The players are supposed to run the team, with the help of the coaches – it’s not the other way around. This gave us accountability for all of our actions. We monitored and patrolled each other for everything – whether it was about tucking in our shirts at practice, making in game at-bat adjustments or making the right social decision outside of the field. It’s kind of like when your parents buy you a car versus when you buy a car yourself. When you buy the car yourself, then the responsibility and accountability seems to go WAY up. It’s YOUR investment and it’s YOUR car. Every decision you make from that point on has more weight on it.
With ownership of your own team, came ownership of our own pitch calling. As a pitcher, I loved being able to call my own game. It made me LEARN. It made me a better player, and it made me a better coach after college was done. I loved challenging myself and having to think constantly throughout the game. In a way, it gave me independence and confidence in my own decision making. Think about it – I threw 100+ pitches in a completely game, which meant I was making 100+ decisions every time I was in the circle. I don’t know if this was supposed to be a direct bi-product of pitchers/catchers calling their own game, and I’ve never really thought about it this way before, but I think it’s pretty awesome, and it gave me accountability and confidence with my own decision making.
When the players take ownership of THEIR team, it’s astounding how much more accountability and investment it creates. You no longer want to just worry about yourself and YOUR actions, you worry about the TEAM more than you worry about yourself. The team comes first. Because of this, the team starts thinking big picture, monitors each other, and really, the team should pretty much be able to run itself. I can still hear her saying in our team meetings, “This is YOUR team,” and it was true. When we ran OUR team, it gave us more ownership of every win and every loss.
Jo Evans loves to compete. She HATES to lose. “Compete” was a word that we heard daily at practices and in games. The idea of not competing is just like not respecting the game. It’s a long season of over 50 games and Coach expected us to compete for all of them. She wanted us to go out and compete to represent the name on the front of our jerseys.
We had a duty to wear that jersey proudly with Texas A&M represented on the front, and we knew we were representing the 12th man and our incredible university. By not competing, we weren’t just letting our team down, we were letting the 12th man down.
Part of competing is that never give up mentality. To compete and to fight go hand in hand. Not every game is going to be an easy win. There are going to be times you fall behind and need to come back. When you have a coach with the experience and drive that Coach Evans has, she teaches to her team that there is always a chance to win if there are outs left in a game. If she thought that and believed it, then why wouldn’t we, as players, believe it, too?
I remember being a freshman and losing games for the first time early in the season. Some of the losses, we were just beat. Other losses we beat ourselves. But, a loss was a loss. A loss was to be taken seriously with no laughing and cutting up after the game. Our freshman class learned this very fast from our seniors (remember, we patrolled each other). A loss in college was taken much differently than in high school or tournament ball. I learned to hate the way it felt after a loss. As a team, we hated disappointing ourselves, but more than that, we hated disappointing Coach Evans. We hated the way losing made us feel, and we didn’t want to have to feel that feeling very often. We learned from our losses, and were able to move on, but losing was never fun.
Because she was so competitive, our team was competitive. Because she had fight, our team had fight.
Individually, we were expected to compete, and as a team we were expected to fight until the very end. It wasn’t a demand, it was an expectation. It is because of her I am more competitive and have more fight in me than when I entered her program. If you want to win, you’ve got to learn to compete and learn how to fight until the very end, because you never know when the game can change if there are any outs left…
I sincerely believe that Coach Evans taught me the true meaning of what it is to be loyal. She constantly talked to us about loyalty throughout my 4 years. Loyalty means allegiance and trust. When you build a loyal team, you build a team that is going to trust each other and play better together on the field. She encouraged us to be loyal to the program and to our teammates. If we were supposed to take ownership of OUR team, then a big part of that is feeling loyalty from and towards our teammates.
It feels good as a player to be surrounded by loyal teammates. It’s a long season. Not everything is going to go your way. There are going to be team talks, team meetings, and adversity. There are going to be things that are said in a team meeting that need to stay within a team. A loyal team keeps those issues within the team. It is so important to be a loyal teammate. Loyalty establishes faith and belief, and helps with team cohesiveness. Loyalty forms a team who plays for each other8
A team has to feel united at the end of the season to win games and win championships.
When you are a loyal teammate for 4 years, it becomes a habit in your every day life outside of softball. Because Coach Evans taught me the true meaning of loyalty, I bring that quality into my relationships with my friends and family. I hope that they call me a loyal friend – that might be one of the biggest compliments someone can give me. So much of being a good teammate and a good friend comes down to being loyal and trustworthy. If you have teammates who represent those things, then your team chemistry is going to help you get more W’s than otherwise, as Coach Evans taught us throughout the years.
As I saw in Coach Evans, motivation stems from passion. Coach Evans has the ability to speak in a room and motivate everyone who is listening – from the trainers to the managers to the players. Even now, in the rare cases where I get a chance to hear her speak to the team in a pre game/post game talk, it’s moving. It makes me want to go play. It doesn’t just make me want to go play, it makes me want to be great.
She can move you and change your mindset with the passion in her each of her words. Even when it can seem like there is nothing positive to build on after a bad game, she can find it. She can turn a room of emotions from defeat to compete within a few minutes of listening to her speak. She is an extraordinary speaker, because she speaks right from her heart. You can tell it comes from deep within a place built by experience and a place of confidence. It’s hard to NOT be motivated before a game when Jo Evans is your heard coach. It’s that motivation that gets her players ready to play before any given game.
8. She “Gets” Her Players
Coach Evans genuinely cares about her players on and off the build. She takes the time to get to know each player, and figure out a way to coach and communicate with them. Because of the way she forms relationships with her players, a sense of family is built within the program, firmly assembled on the foundation of respect. She can tell her players the hard thing. She is a coach who will always be honest with her players. It might not be always what you want to hear, but she can say the hard thing. She KNOWS her players. She even knows qualities about her players that the player might not have figured out about herself, yet. Sometimes, it takes a few years to understand and appreciate some of the things she brings to your attention in those meetings. It’s hard to hear the truth, and it can be hard to learn about yourself and understand how you are being perceived from the outside. This was “grown up stuff” we were learning to deal with throughout our tenure at A&M. However, in the end, no matter what, Coach Evans told us that she had our backs – each and every one of us – and she meant it. Because we knew she had our back, we had hers.
Coach Evans exuded these noteworthy qualities on a daily basis. We wanted to play and fight for her and for our school. She exemplified what it looked like to model all of the qualities that she was teaching us through her own actions. Because we saw it every day, eventually it just became a part of us. You want it to become a part of you. In some of our most impressionable years, ages 18-22, we were around a woman who was constantly teaching us how to be a good teammate, but an even better person.
For me, playing for Jo Evans at Texas A&M is like the gift that keeps on giving. The life lessons I have learned from her through the game of softball are amazing. I learned a way to play and understand the game, but more importantly I learned ways to improve myself that I could carry on into the real world. When you dig deep to understand why she is a coach who now has 1000 wins, it’s not too hard to figure out how win after win has accumulated over the years. You can tell she has passion, she surrounds herself with a trustworthy coaching staff who exemplify the same qualities that she is trying to teach and she has the ability to reach the players who are in her program to a deeper level. It’s the coaches who have surrounded her and who currently surround her, who cannot be forgotten about as well. Without the help of an incredible support staff, not as many games and championships can be won, trying to steer a program in the right direction.
In the end, it really doesn’t matter how much softball you know and how much strategy of the game you know, if you can’t get your players to play for you, play for each other and play for themselves, then that knowledge is meaningless. I look back to 12 years ago, and I am incredibly thankful she picked ME, Jo Evans picked ME, to play for her at Texas A&M. I cant imagine having played for anybody else, and I would not be the woman I am today without her.
A BIG congratulations to Coach Evans! Her 1000 wins mile marker is a “big deal!!”
An umpire’s strike zone should NEVER be used as an excuse of not performing well.
Can you control the umpire’s zone? No. What can you control? Keeping your emotions in check to be able to adjust to his/her zone. What are you going to choose to do about it DURING the game? An umpire should establish his/her zone within the first two innings. All you can ask of that umpire is to be consistent with what he is calling, and as a player it’s your job to pay attention to the zone that is set. You can actually use an umpire’s strike zone to your advantage if you look at it as an opportunity instead of disadvantage…
All you can ask is for an umpire to be CONSISTENT with his zone and whatever he is calling
As a Pitcher…
There is a lot a pitcher has to think about during a game. Pitch calling, setting up hitters, what a hitter saw her last at bat, what a hitter hit her last at bat, situational pitching, etc. To add to that list, it’s important for a pitcher to understand the zone behind the plate. You recognize it, understand it, and work with it. You are seeing with your own two eyes what IS and what is NOT being called. Is the umpire’s zone wide? (calling a lot OFF the corners of the plate or up/down in the zone). Is the umpire’s zone small? (squeezing you, not calling a lot of pitches you think are strikes). Recognize it. Don’t be fearful of it. Rise to the challenge – this is a great time to prove yourself. This is your time to bring out the competitive mentality that sports is all about.
You are definitely going to come across umpires out there who will have a smaller zone. Realize on the day you throw to these umpires, you will probably get hit a little bit more than you’re used to. Honestly, this is a tough challenge for a pitcher, especially one who is inexperienced with this type of situation. Consider it an opportunity to get better, not a disadvantage. An umpire with a smaller strike zone is making you tougher mentally and physically. Can you handle it? Look at it positively rather than negatively. An umpire with a smaller zone is challenging you to get more accurate and precise than you ever thought you would need to be. When you have a small strike zone, work on the plate to try to establish the strike zone early in the at bat, then as the count goes on and you get ahead, work more off the plate.
Work inches. Have you heard this term before? “Working inches” as a pitcher means to not make MAJOR adjustments at first with your location to try to find the strike zone. Work on bringing your pitches a little bit higher in the zone (if the umpire is not calling a low zone) or a little bitmore on the plate (if an umpire is not giving you much off the corners). See how far you can still live on the corners and get the umpire to call it a strike. If an umpire is not calling a certain placement of a pitch a strike, STOP THROWING IT THERE! It’s not rocket science! Don’t go from throwing a pitch a little bit off the plate to throwing it right down the middle when you are trying to adjust to the strike zone. WORK INCHES to find the zone. Try to find the pinpoint spot that makes an umpire happy. Remember, he’s not going anywhere. It’s your job to adjust to him, not his job to adjust to you.
It’s important with a smaller strike zone to challenge the hitter. Still make them earn their way on (i.e. put the ball in play, get a hit). Try to limit your walks, as when you have an umpire with a small zone, walks usually increase. Challenging the hitter means on a 3-0 or 3-1 count, you come more on the plate, even if it means throwing it closer to the middle of the plate, so that you do not walk the hitter. Challenge them to hit a strike. When you are challenging a hitter, think in your head how a hitter is meant to fail (remember a good batting average is around .300-.400, which means 6/10 or 7/10 times a hitter does NOT get a hit).
What is even more important, is not to get frustrated and show it with your outward appearance – your body language, facial expressions and overall presence. First and for most you are a leader on your team, and your team feeds off of your energy. If you show them that you are frustrated with the strike zone, they are going to get frustrated with you and play tight back behind you and up at the plate. If you show them that everything is under control, they will play more relaxed (aka stronger) defense back behind you — you will need it as hitters usually put more balls into play when there is a smaller strike zone because you have to come more on the plate to the hitter. Not only do your teammates feed off of the energy you are giving off, either positively or negatively, in response to the umpire, the opposing team recognizes your body language, confidence and attitude towards the zone. Don’t give the opposing team any ammunition to use against you as they will try to push you further down than you already are if you are showing emotion. And finally, the umpire is looking right at you for most of the game. When he sees your attitude and body language, that’s not really going to give him a reason to have more calls go your way. In fact, it’s probably going to have the opposite effect because you are embarrassing him and pretty much calling him out when you are showing emotion for not getting your way. Don’t make balls and strikes about you.
A wide zone should be in every pitcher’s dream. A wide zone should help a pitcher dominate a game. Understand how/when the umpire is widening the zone – Is it a certain count where he/she widens it up? Is it a certain pitch? Is it a certain location (up/down, in/out?) Analyze the strike zone! Analyze the umpire! If you are given a wide zone to throw to, there is no even point of coming on the plate with your pitches, unless it’s a 3-0 or 3-0 count. Why would you? See how far you can push the limits of the zone. Don’t come with a pitch on the plate unless you absolutely have to! When you have a wide zone, you have the ability to work off the plate first, then come back onto the plate later, only if you absolutely need to.
Notice the furtherst distance you can pitch off the plate (or down) and still get it a called strike. Live there until the hitter proves they can make an adjustment to hit that pitch. Honestly, most hitters will never be able to adjust to the wide zone, and you will be able to live on a corner or live on a certain pitch. Trust me on this! (Something extra to pay attention to is if a hitter makes adjustments as to where they are standing in the box based on the strike zone at hand).
With a small zone, you work inches to come back onto the plate. With a wide zone, you work inches to move the ball off of the plate.
Use a wide zone to your strategic advantage. A hitter is going to feel like they are going to have to defend the plate when there is a wide strike zone. They are going to be more defensive than offensive. With that being said, when you have a pitchers count, 0-2, 1-2, a hitter is going to be more likely to chase. The hitter is aware of the wide strike zone, just like you are. When she is aware of it, she is going to be more likely to swing at something out of the zone, especially with 2 strikes, because she doesn’t want the umpire to strike her out with his crazy calls.
Be proactive in your approach to understanding strike zones. Practice on your own by pitching “innings” to your catcher at lessons or your own practice time. Pitch to fake hitters in a line up and keep track of the count and outs as you try to work through the innings. Be your own umpire and challenge yourself. Work on a wide zone, where you are able to give yourself a lot of calls off the plate. Work on a small zone, where the umpire is squeezing you and you have to challenge up. Both of them are important to work on so that when it comes game time, you feel like you already have experience under your belt in dealing with adversity.
Don’t ever blame the umpire for not getting results you want in a game. The only person you can blame is yourself. There is always some kind of adjusting you must be doing as the game goes along, and adjusting to an umpire is something that can make or break your game and possibly even make or break your pitching career.
How do you practice dealing with umpires? I’m interested to hear other ways you guys have either practiced this situation or how you made adjustments in the middle of the game!
THE most asked question I get is how many pitches and/or how many days a week should my daughter pitch? Sometimes I think parents just ask me this question so that their daughter can hear me say or read that I say 1000 pitches a week or 6 times a week. It’s like parents are trying to use me as their backup and be able to say, “Seeeee, Amanda said you should pitch x amount of pitches every time we pitch.” Unfortunately, there is no magic answer for this question! I totally wish there was (it would make my answering questions a lot easier with an answer less lengthy).
I can easily say this as a GENERAL RULE. If you are practicing 3 times a week, you are most likely just staying the same. 4+ times of practice a week you are getting better and less than 3 times a week, hmmm how can I put this….? you probably aren’t getting better. (Please remember this is not a one size fits all rule, this is just a general statement. There are ALWAYS exceptions). I could throw out so many different workouts, but here is a general one where you can start if you are not pitching in games yet. 4 times a week, 100 pitches a day.
That answer is the easy way out! There is no uniform answer for every single person who asks me this question. In fact, every person will be extremely different. We are built differently with different strengths, flexibilities, minds and overall athleticism. We learn differently. We adapt differently.
But let’s try to work through this……The biggest question I can ask BACK TO YOU to answer is, “Are you getting the results you want on the weekend when it’s game time?” The answer is either yes or no. If it’s no, then you need to practice more. If it’s yes, then you can keep doing what you’re doing.
“But wait…I can’t remember what I did at practice this week…”
Write it down! Write down how many pitches you throw and exactly what you work on for every practice. This way, if you have a successful weekend, YOU can come up with YOUR OWN game plan about how you want to attack your practice plan.
I’m going to be completely honest…sometimes life isn’t fair….
Some pitchers may only have to pitch 1 time a week on their own and still go and dominate in a game. Those are the pitchers we are all so envious of. They are the naturally gifted athletes who are competitors and come from a genetic gene pool we can all only dream of.
Some pitchers may have to practice 4 times a week before they are able to go and dominate in a game.
The one thing I know is certain – you can’t compare yourself to anyone else. You are you.
This whole pitching thing is a LOT of work, I tell ya. It’s more than just learning how to pitch the ball and learning different pitches. Pitching is taking the time to understand what works for YOU and a big part of that is practice routine. It’s impossible to remember and make a practice routine without writing it down. It’s your own personal way of trial and error. Have a pitching journal that is YOURS and be able to write down any thoughts or feelings or anything you are working on in that journal.
“Okay on this week I pitched 2 times a week and threw 100 pitches, but I could have done better on the weekend. So next week I will pitch 3 times a week and throw 75 pitches each day and work on my spin every day while watching my favorite TV show.” For every pitching practice, have a focus (i.e. leg drive, endurance, accuracy, spin, location, attitude, body language.) Mix it up! Try to engage the pitcher and have her pick what SHE wants to work on! You can even There is ALWAYS something you can be working on. Even the best of the best have something they need to work on!
You see this question of how many times to practice a week is such a blank canvas for YOU! I can tell you what worked for ME, but I am not YOU. What I can tell you is that I had to work my tail off to get to the level I played at. I can tell you there were days I didn’t want to practice, but did anyway. I can tell you there were days I didn’t want to practice and ended up just taking a day off and listening to my body. I can tell you there were days my parents pushed me to pitch when I didn’t want to (although they were way fewer than the days it was initiated on my own). And I can tell you every week was probably a little bit different. Life happens and causes us to not get out as much as we “should” on some weeks. But the week after that, do you continue to be “busy”, or do you sacrifice and find time to make the next week better than the week prior?
It is MUCH easier to just ask me to tell you a magic number of pitches to throw a week and you go and do it and we hope for the best. But to me, it is way more fun to figure it out on your own. It’s like a mystery and a puzzle. Every person who asks me the question of how many times their daughter should practice is at a different level than the next person who asks me. Remember, every month may be a little different for what your body needs. Take the time to listen to it. Take the time to go through your results from the weekend and investigate.
Ask yourself some questions so that you can have an a better understanding of how you pitched:
When I gave up hits, were they good pitches?
In the game, did I throw as aggressively and intensely as I possibly could have thrown?
Was I getting ahead of hitters?
Was I able to try out the new pitch I have been working at in the game?
How did my change up work?
Were my outs coming mainly from pop ups or ground balls?
How was my stamina? Did I get tired later in the game (this means you need to pitch longer in each session during the week)
What pitch did I throw the most?
What pitch did I throw the least and need to work on?
(Side note: If you do not know what any of these terms mean or are confused about any of these questions, you need to ASK someone!)
I firmly believe YOU are your best pitching coach, I promise!! It just takes a little bit more work and belief in yourself and your knowledge. As a family, come up with a schedule TOGETHER, as a team for what fits best with your schedule, what you need to work on, and reflect back on your past outings! If you can, pitch 6 days a week! If you are questioning whether to go out and practice or not, GO! The more reps you can get in, the better you are going to become and build a better foundation for your future! Pick up a ball and spin it in your living room or pick up an orange and spin it in the grocery store! There’s so much more to becoming a great pitcher than just pitching FULL distance from the pitching rubber!
TEACH FEMALE ATHLETES HOW TO BRAND, TEACH’EM, TEACH’EM HOW TO BRAND!!
What exactly is a brand? Simply put: a brand is an IDENTITY. It is a set of associations we make with products or services and what differentiates particular products and services from competitors. In sports, we have popular apparel brands like Nike and Under Armour, league brands like the NFL and NASCAR, team brands like the Yankees and Manchester United, and athlete brands like LeBron and Tiger.
Wait, are athletes brands? Similar to the associations we make with products and services, a personal brand is the set of associations we make with a particular person. Athletes with strong brands can benefit from lucrative endorsement deals during and after their careers. Even after their careers end, well-branded athletes can transfer their brand power to entrepreneurial endeavors, appearances, or other business aspects. Want to be like Mike still?? He’s over 10 years removed from his playing days and his Jordan brand is stronger than ever. Well-branded athletes not only earn more, but they have the ability to influence larger masses and opportunities to transfer their brand power beyond the playing field.
So what about the not-as-well-branded or not-as-well known personas in sport? Are they still brands? Tom Peters says: YESSS! Peters is the author of the article titled “A Brand Called YOU” where he claims we are all brands. In fact, we are all CEOs and brand marketers…of our own brand. The way you dress, style your hair, the friends you associate with, the books you read, the food you eat, the car you drive, the content you post on social media. All of this makes up YOUR BRAND. As brands, we each have our own unique name, reputation, credibility, and image. We all have our own brand personalities, or the human element of your brand. We all have different qualities…..