Nov 6, 2011 8:17 AM
Before my team's practice last night a took a lap around the expansive community park in which we practice for a little exercise. A youth football team was also practicing in another area of the park and as I ran by I noticed how hard the kids were efforting. For sure football is a game of maximum effort on each play in which strength, technique and will power win both individual battles and games.
So what followed at our softball practice made perfect sense. We challenged both teams to really give maximum effort at practice in every thing we worked on, from leads offs to outfield drop steps, to situational bunting and defense.
You see I believe that your athlete can literally will herself to greatness in the game of fastpitch softball. In my book, How She Thinks is How She Plays, I talk about the three things your athlete absolutely has control over every time she walks on the field (practice or game): her effort, her attitude, and her mental focus. Just how aggressively she chooses to utilize those three will become her personal X Factor determining her ultimate performance level.
In the game of football it is far easier to see effort, attitude and focus in action with every play whereby fastpitch softball is a more subtle game in which the effort, attitude and focus switch must be manually turned on.
I ask you to challenge your athlete to raise the bar of her practice performance, to give maximum effort, to have a "can do" attitude, and double down her concentration and focus when her coaches are instructing or critiquing. As I saw again last night it is easy for young players to see practice as part softball and part goof off or social time. However, greatness is built one practice at a time. Greatness is never handed to you because you are a good athlete or a good person...it takes having a clearly defined plan. Like I tell my athletes, "Practice and play with a purpose."
|Autumn in Cali|
Despite the culture of the team in general or for just that one practice your athlete can choose to elevate her game any time she wants by just willing it. In my opinion most young athletes I coach do not give maximum effort, do not prepare themselves to be mental ready each pitch, and do not maintain the "can do" attitude in the face or adversity or failure.
The great news is that effort, attitude and focus are all a matter of personal choice. Excuses come out of peoples' mouths when they are not prepared and don't give their best effort. It's all too easy to point the finger outward and blame others or "circumstances" for one's failure. Like I always say, "It is easier to do it than explain why you didn't."
At your athlete's age she needs to recognize and embrace the fact that she does have control over her future both on and off the field and the best place to start is by her giving 100% effort, 100% focus, with a 100% "can do" attitude.
I believe your athlete can will her way to greatness. Is it an easy path? Certainly not, but it is a path with proper support and guidance she can travel successfully to achieve whatever softball (and life) goals she has for herself.
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For more mental performance info and tips visit me at: John Michael Kelly Sports.