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Softball Performance Tips – Start with Great Expectations

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

The pitching circle, seen here at ASA Hall of ...

ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, where championships are won (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


To Win, Start with Great Expectations

Everyone has known a fastpitch softball coach or two who never seems to be happy.  Ask him/her how the team is looking and you get a tale of woe that makes you wonder how the coach gets out of bed in the morning.  Then you watch the team and you realize they are a manifestation of the coach’s negative view.

Our sport is hard enough without making it harder on ourselves — player, coach or parent. What’s often needed is a positive mental attitude — in other words, setting out some great expectations for ourselves and the team.

I’m not talking about being unrealistic.  You can’t take a group of marginally interested players and expect them to win ASA Nationals.  Ain’t gonna happen no matter how positive you think. But you can expect your team/kids to play to the level at which they are capable — and have been trained. When you do that, you can also expect them to win most of their games.

Winning and losing both tend to be contagious.  If you step onto the field expecting to win, you stand a better chance than if you expect to lose. And once you win a few and start believing in yourselves, more wins are sure to come.  It becomes a self-feeding mechanism.

The same goes for losing.  When you expect to lose it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  You make the little physical errors and mental mistakes that lead to losses, then figure “That’s what I thought would happen.”

The idea of great expectations v negative attitudes isn’t limited to full games either.  Years ago I coached a team that used to refer to having a “Thunder inning.”

What that meant was we’d be playing great, then have one bad inning that would cost us the game.  We were playing like champ before and after, but for that one inning it was like our players were replaced with look-alikes who had never picked up a softball or a bat before. We lost a lot of games we should’ve won that way.

Finally, I banned the use of the term “Thunder inning” in that context. I told them from that point on, “Thunder inning” meant we’d played really well. Seems silly, but we started eliminating those bad innings and winning more games. Because instead of expecting to fail we started expecting to succeed.

There’s an old saying that goes “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you are right.”  Playing great starts with the intention of playing great. Raise you expectations for yourself, your kids or your team and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Anyway, that’s the way I see it.

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