Monthly Archives: June 2021
Most of the time my blog post are more oriented toward players (and their parents) who, shall we say, don’t have the greatest athletic gifts. Not to mention coaches who are trying to make their teams competitive through sheer hard work.
Today, though, I am going to turn that concept on its head. This one is for those players who won the genetic lottery.
You know the ones. They are naturally bigger, stronger, faster, with better eyesight, better hand-to-eye coordination, more fast twitch muscles and other attributes that most of us wish we (or our kids/players) had.
They are always a big fish, no matter what size pond they’re in.
Here’s my message to those players and their families: that genetic lottery has more than one winner. In fact, while the total number may be small compared to all the players who play the game, it’s still much larger than the number of spots on coveted teams.
Which means if you want one of those spots you need to keep working hard. Probably even harder than players with lesser natural ability because all your real competition is at least as able as you. Maybe even more gifted.
I know that may be hard to believe, especially if you don’t get to see a lot of ultra-talented players wherever you play. But believe me, they’re out there.
When you have more natural ability than everyone else it’s easy to fall into the trap of relying on it. After all, if your overhand throw is 60 mph and all your teammates’ (and opponents) are closer to 50 mph it’s easy to think you take it easy in practice or just rely on your ability in a game.
But in the end, you’re not competing against the players around you for those coveted spots. You’re competing against a small universe of players you may not see but who are definitely out there.
Which means you need to make sure your skill level and understanding of the game, not to mention your mental game, is on a par with them.
My suggestion, if you want to find a local role model, is to look at the player on your team, in your league or conference, etc. who doesn’t seem to have a lot of natural ability but is succeeding anyway. That player got there by working harder than everyone else and not getting discouraged when she failed.
Instead, when she failed she used it as fuel and a learning experience to help her get better.
That girl has to have better technique at whatever she does because if she doesn’t she’ll never see the field. Coaches aren’t falling all over themselves to get her on their team or put her in their lineup, so she has to prove herself every time she steps across the chalk line.
Study her. Learn from her. Do what she does.
If she boots a ground ball, she probably asks for another one. Do the same.
If she’s struggling to hit she doesn’t go into a funk. She pulls the tee out and works on whatever she knows her issues are. And believe me she knows what they are because she pays close attention when a coach is working with her.
Basically, instead of acting like a “super talent,” instead become a grinder. Work to gain the best technique not because you have to today, but because one day you will need it. Gain that mentality and you’ll find the road to the top is significantly easier than it would have been otherwise.
Talent, athleticism, whatever you want to call it, is definitely a good thing. If you won the genetic lottery be sure to thank your parents early and often. Genetics can’t be taught.
Don’t let that ability sucker you into complacency, however. Approach the game like you were the last one to make the roster instead of the first one invited and we just might see you on ESPN one day.
Photo by Lay Low on Pexels.com
One of the things that probably holds more hitters back than anything is having a tentative approach at the plate. They stand nervously in the batter’s box, shifting from foot to foot, death grip on the bat as they await the next pitch.
Then it comes and they wait until they can wait no longer, then finally flail at the ball as it goes whizzing by them.
It isn’t that they don’t know how to hit, or that they haven’t practiced the physical act of hitting. The problem is that they don’t have the right mindset.
They may be worried that they will strike out, looking bad in the process. Or that they will pop up, or hit a weak ground ball, particularly if they have been doing that a lot lately.
They may also be looking at how many runners are on base and thinking about the possibility of stranding them. They may be thinking if they screw up the coach will yell at them or take them out of the game.
Whatever it is, they’re thinking about the possibility of negative outcomes and therefore not focusing on the task at hand – which is to see the ball and hit it.
What they should be doing instead is adopting the mindset of a predator. A predator doesn’t worry about what might happen if it doesn’t catch the prey. It simply goes for the prize.
In fact, as my friend and fellow coach Heather Cole once told me, the predator loves the hunt more than it loves the kill.
In softball terms, that means the hitter shouldn’t be so focused on the outcome. Great hitters are all about the process of the at-bat.
They are not trying to defend themselves or the plate against the pitch. They are there to attack the pitch.
They are on the hunt, and every pitch is an opportunity to drive the ball into a gap or over the fence. They don’t worry about whether it will happen or not. They place all their focus on making it happen.
The funny thing is when you approach every plate appearance like a predator you start walking to the plate with a bit of a swagger. When you have that swagger you have more confidence in your abilities, which lets you get even more aggressive.
Before you know it all those outcomes you were worried about start taking care of themselves.
In this world there are two options. You can either be the prey or the predator.
If you want to be a great hitter, start thinking (and acting) like a predator.