Attitude may not be everything…
…but it sure is a lot. Last night I was teaching some pitching lessons at one of the local facilities. In the next couple of cages there were girls from an 18U travel team working on their hitting, with a couple of their coaches in attendance.
As my student was retrieving the ball her dad/catcher had thrown away on the return, I was distracted by something happening two cages over. A hitter was hitting off a machine that was being fed by the female coach. The coach noticed something in the girl’s swing — I didn’t get it all, but it sounded like she was over-coiling or doing something else that was causing her problems — and she pointed it out. The player’s response was “That’s how I swing.” And she said it with one of those “end of discussion” tones.
I have never understood that type of attitude. I don’t know what the player was doing or if the coach was right or wrong about it. But it sounded like the coach had some idea of what she was doing, and she was trying to help the player. But apparently the player (whom I do not remember being on the USA National Team or anything like that) wasn’t interested in any help. She was content right where she was.
What’s interesting is when you read stories about actual National Team players from any country, or MLB players, or most pro athletes in general, they’re some of the easiest players to work with. They’re always looking for an edge, and willing to try anything to get it. Many times they’re more open to new ideas, in fact, than youth players.
I know people who have worked with players at that level many times and they confirm that elite players tend to be very coachable. It’s probably what sets them apart from kids with equal talent but not equal accomplishment.
It’s a shame. I felt bad for the coach. She called over the other coach, a guy, to take a look and it sounded like there was more resistance. I didn’t really key in on it since 1) I had to focus on my lesson and 2) it wasn’t my business in any case. But that’s the kind of thing that can keep a player and a team from reaching its goals.
If you’re not willing to try new things or change what you’re doing, you’ll never be more than you are today. You don’t necessarily have to stick with it, but you should at least give it a try. You never know when some coach on a cold night January might be trying to hand you the keys to the kingdom.