At my travel team's practice last night I was struck by how hard our girls worked. We generally practice with two teams together and it was such a pleasure to watch 28 athletes being put through a grueling three hour practice that will no doubt make them all better fastpitch softball players.
Does your athlete have a great work ethic? The game of fastpitch softball requires that a ton of effort be expended if one ever hopes to master a very difficult game. In our practices we drill the nuances of the game; particularly on defense where most games are won or lost. We will work 30-40 minutes on one aspect of the game knowing that the muscle memory and, as I call it, mental memory will take root with enough repetitions.
Our girls come ready to give it 110% every practice. We love it when the first girl dives for a ball during a drill, then another one dives and another. We set the bar high but in truth it is the players themselves who set the bar high expecting maximum effort from each other. Having a great work ethic is contagious and hopefully your athlete plays on a team where the bar is also set high for effort.
However, if your athlete is not on such a team where extreme effort is the norm she can be the one to set the bar higher for achievement. It takes just one committed player to change the culture on a team. Your athlete should NEVER play down to the level of her teammates or competition. She needs to play her game all the time and push herself to be the best she can be even if no other player or coach is pushing her.
I had the opportunity to speak at length with the University of Kentucky softball Head Coach Rachel Lawson while watching the ASA 18 Gold Nationals last summer. Coach Lawson was adamant about the value she places on effort in a player she is recruiting. She indicated that many of the mechanical nuances of playing the game can be taught by her and her staff once a player gets to Kentucky, but that the attitude and effort an athlete demonstrates cannot be taught.
Coach Lawson and I watched a particular play in which a right fielder failed to give maximum effort on a foul fly ball near the fence, letting the ball drop. I asked Coach Lawson if she knew who that player was (given that there were dozens of college coaches scouting players on every team). She said no, but if that player had of laid out for the ball showing maximum effort she (Coach Lawson) would have looked at her roster sheet to see who the girl was.
Coach Lawson went on to say that it was not uncommon for her to be at a game scouting a particular player only to have another player catch her interest simply through her hustle and effort.
The moral of the story...instill a great work ethic in your athlete and her game mastery will accelerate dramatically as well as put her in an optimal position to draw the attention of top coaches who want her on their roster. The hidden benefit of maximum effort...a good night's sleep for a job well done!
Learn more about how your athlete can become a consistent peak performer playing with passion and joy at Winner's Edge Softball.
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