The difference determination makes
Had another one of those experiences last night that goes to prove once again that it’s not the teacher, it’s the student that makes the success.
One of my pitching students, a young lady named Rae Ann, has been working on learning the screwball all winter. She actually has the spin down, and has had it for a while. But she has been unable to get her arm to go along the right path to get it over the plate. She has consistently been well inside on her throwing side (lefty pitcher).
Last night the pitch was 95% there. A few missed inside still, but she was getting a lot of them over with good movement. Her dad told me she went out for three hours to work on it one day over the weekend, then spent another hour outside the next day doing the same thing. She had decided that she was going to get this pitch, come hell or high water, and darned if she didn’t!
Learning new things, whether it’s a pitch, hitting, playing a musical instrument, or even riding a bicycle doesn’t happen overnight. It only happens when you are determined to make it happen. Once you make that decision to achieve a goal, and that nothing will stop you, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It was exciting to see Rae Ann throwing that pitch. I’m sure it will serve her well this summer. More importantly, though, the lesson she learned about working at something you really want will serve her well long after her softball days are done.
Posted on March 29, 2007, in Coaching, General Thoughts, Pitching. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.
First let me tell you how much I enjoy reading your articles and the comments posted by others. Then let me say that I’m not a coach, nor do I claim to be. However I am a fan of this sport and sports in general. I don’t really know where, in these articles, my comment belongs however determination seems fit somewhat. Actually what I have is a question instead of a comment. But first let me give a little back ground. I am the Father of a 15 year old Freshman girl. She pitches and plays outfield for her High School Team, and has sense 7th grade. Being her Father, of course I am very proud of her. She is a pretty good player, but mostly I’m proud of her for her attitude and character. No matter how bad, or good, things might get she always seems to keep her composure. She has always been perceived as a leader both on the field and off. With that said, not all, or should I say, very few, of her team mates display these qualities. Most don’t take the game seriously and some don’t act as if they really want to be there. My daughter always talks to me after practice and/or the games about what’s going on with in the team. What she tells me, is sometimes very frustrating. You see, a lot of the other players constantly complain about things such as drills in practice, how they had rather be somewhere else, and nothing is ever their fault, etc. They talk about other players on the team and don’t put out any real effort into improving. All of these things are really upsetting to her as well as her mother and I. In the coaches defense, we are from a very small town, (only a little over 300 students) so these kids are all he has to work with. My question is; what advice do you give a player or your child in this case? She loves the game, but sometimes gets disgusted, when she feels like some of her team mates aren’t putting out any effort or taking any responsibility. I keep telling her to hang in their and be a team player. I tell her that you have to lead by example, and that if you stay positive your attitude will eventually rub off on some of the other girls. Truth is, I’m actually concerned that this has been going on so long, that it could begin to have an influence on her. Any suggestions?
Hi Robbie,Ah, the wonders of high school softball. Your daughter is in a tough situation. It’s always tough when you are a dedicated player on a team of lazy or uncaring players. I know how frustrating that can be. I think the first thing she will have to realize is that she is not going to be able to change the behavior/attitudes of her teammates. She can try to set an example, cajole, push, and otherwise do what she can, but at the end of the day if softball is not important to the other players then they will continue to behave as they do now. It’s no different than working in a bad company. The HS coach might be able to change it, but it would be an uphill battle, especially in a school that small. He/she may find there aren’t enough kids left to field a team. These kinds of situations tend to have a lot of inertia. It’s like starting up a 100-car freight train; lots of noise and fury in the beginning without much movement. By the time the train gets rolling your daughter could be long gone.So what can you do? Get her to first understand that the team situation is unlikely to change. Then convince her it doesn’t mean all is lost. Instead, she needs to focus on her game and being the best player she can be, and don’t worry about the wins and losses. She can learn a lot about her own character by giving her all every time in a difficult situation. Have her set goals for herself, things she wants to accomplish as an individual that are outside of wins and losses. Perhaps she wants to add 50 to 100 points to her batting average, or improve her slugging percentage. Maybe she’s never made a diving catch in the outfield because she’s playing it conservative to prevent a disaster. Now’s her chance! And maybe, just maybe, she can convince one other player to put more effort in. That might be easier than trying to improve the whole team in one gulp. If that happens, and each of them can convince one more, it could start a trend!A friend of mine played football at Northwestern U back in the 1980s when they were setting the record for most consecutive losses. He said it was tough at times, but he focused on his individual performance, and how it would contribute to the team rather than on what was happening with the entire team. He credits that experience with helping him become successful later in life. Hopefully your daughter has a good summer team to play for. If so, remind her that summer is just a few weeks away. Hope that helps. Ken
Robbie – one thing to keep in mind is that kids tend to reflect their mentors’, who are usually the parents. That means the mindset of these kids have been groomed for 15 years or so. It would be very tough to change that now. Not saying impossible, but very tough. I wish life was a Disney movie – everyone would be awesome athletes and caring people in the end if it was. It sounds like you have made a good go of it with your daughter and she has a very positive mindset. She is in a tough spot but this is quite the challenge for her to keep her head high and make the best of it. Like Ken said, sit down with her and review her goals. Determine what can be done to reach those goals and go even further. Her goals will surely help the team in both the short and long run. Don’t let her give up on being a team player because that is who she is, just help take the focus off of the negatives and have her focus on the challenges.