by Ken Krause
If the movies have taught us anything, it's the importance of the pre-game pep talk. Whether it's Knute Rockne telling the boys to win one for the Gipper (played by former President Ronald Reagan, by the way, in his second most famous role) or Herb Brooks telling the US Olympic hockey team they could beat the Soviet Union in 1980, we see that the big, inspirational speech is the key to victory.
Or is it? That kind of rah-rah speech may work in football or hockey, where you pretty much have to get yourself amped up to a fever pitch in order to take and dish out the hits, but in fastpitch softball it may not be such a good idea.
Softball is a game of precision more than adrenaline. Getting over-amped can cause you to rush, break down your mechanics and actually under-perform. It can cause your heart to race and your breathing to get more rapid, taking away the calm sports psychologists recommend for most precision activities.
But the real point is, as a player, you shouldn't need a pre-game speech to get you ready to play. If you feel you do, you might want to re-think your choice of activities.
The opportunity to play fastpitch softball itself ought to be all the incentive you need to play. Sure, there may be days when you're not 100 percent, especially as a long season grinds on. But once you hit the field and the umpire calls "play ball!" hopefully the excitement will return.
I know for me as a baseball player I never needed anyone to get me "up." I loved the game and couldn't wait to hit the field. If any coach tried to do the Big Speech I probably would've wondered why he was wasting time when there was a game to play.