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Softball Performance Tips – Control Your Attitude

By Dalton Ruer

If you’ve read any of my former posts you probably realize by now that my writing is meant to encourage athletes, coaches and parents alike. I try to string together words that perhaps you have read before, in a way that makes them sound fresh. Recently one of my batting students made me realize how cliché some of our sayings can be at times and yet how critically vital they are to continue to repeat.

One of the things as a coach and an instructor that I realized a long time ago is that anyone can look good when everything is going there way. But how you react when you are in the batter’s box and the umpire made that strike call even though the ball bounced is what really separates the average players from the great players. What I’ve found is that average players allow the “happenings” around them to determine their “happiness.” While the players with the ability to win long term, and throughout life, are able to maintain control of the 6” between their ears despite the circumstances around them going against them.

That’s so profound right. Just follow that advice and all the weeds in your life will turn to roses. Well on paper everything sounds profound, but when you are a 14 year old girl like my student Jessie how does that work when you are in a big tournament and the coach benches you 2 games in a row for no fault of your own, 2 tournaments in a row. How do you control that 6” between your ears then? That’s kind of where the “rubber hits the road” as they say.

Back to what I was writing … Average players tend to react to negative situations in a way that disables them from contributing in a positive way for the team, and often carry those situations with them for several innings if not all the way home with them and sometimes throughout their entire life.

While players that control the 6” between their ears by realizing that the umpire, the coach, their parents, their teammates, other coaches, other players all have one thing in a common; they are human. Humans make mistakes. Humans let you down. Humans tell you one thing, but do another. If you accept in your mind that others will make mistakes, just like yourself, then when they do it isn’t quite so hard to accept/handle.

softballhittingBack to Jessie … final game to get into the championship and she finds herself on the bench. End of the game, 2 players on base and the coach calls her in to pinch hit. She could pout right? “Sit me on the bench and now you want me to hit?  Well I don’t care if YOU lose the game or now this will teach you.” She could have done that. But what she did was wait for her pitch, no I’m not going to tell you what her pitch is because you might play her at ASA Nationals, and drives the snot out of it and helps her team win the game. Surely now she’s earned her way into the lineup for the championship game.

But No! Championship game starts against one of her best friends and she finds herself on the bench again. After the coach had previously apologized for having done that in the past and said he would do a better job of remembering who sat which games.

Back to what I was writing … Average players bring their baggage from the past onto the field with them. The players that want to be their best, the players that want to win are able to leave that baggage at home because they realize they can’t play with all of it draped on their back.

Winners are separated from others …

Winners are separated from others by the way they control their effort and their attitude.

Whether you are a parent, a coach or a player there are a million things that you have absolutely no control over no matter how much you try. Close your eyes for a few minutes and think through several recent really bad situations.

How did you react? Did you let the umpire, your parents, your coach, your teammates, the other team, your boss, your colleagues control the 6” between your ears or were you able to control of your effort and your attitude despite everything going against you.

Back to Jessie … Championship game. Late innings. Score 0 to 0. Coach once again calls upon her in a crucial situation and asks her to bunt. Ouch! How’s that going to work? She’s got to be furious. She’s got to want to kill the ball and prove something to her coach and her best friend. Yeah NO! That’s not how Jessie rolls. She lays down a perfect bunt and not only moves the runners into scoring position, she gets on herself. Next girl delivers the game winning hit and she is now a champion. Or was she already a champion for controlling the only 2 things which she could control; Her Effort and Her Attitude?

 

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