What defines greatness? We could all probably write a laundry list of traits and factors that we each believe to be the causes for greatness. However, sometimes we look beyond the most obvious factors...the ones that will really make the difference between good and great.
At practice last night I told both my teams, in essence, what I am writing about today; that each of them could be great if they only focused on doing the following:
1. Pay Attention (A.B.L.L. - Always Be Learning & Listening) - During practice my teams were hitting live and the dozen or so girls who were not hitting or in the field were confined to the dugout for safety reasons. Sadly I had to remind them not to turn their backs on the action on the field and yack away, but rather turn around and see what they could learn by watching and observing. Fastpitch softball is a game of subtle nuances that take a long time to learn. By being a student and always paying attention your athlete can master those nuances and her game far quicker than the average athlete with her back turned...guaranteed! This included listening to her coaches...ALWAYS.
2. Give 100% Effort...All the Time - As I always write about...your athlete's work ethic can set her apart in the eyes of her coaches, her teammates, her opponents and the recruiters. And this 100% "leave it all on the field" effort starts in practice, whether on her own, with private coaches or in her team practice. Becoming great takes an certain attitude, a personal drive that pushes her beyond what any other player is doing. If she can challenge herself every time she practices to go beyond what she did the day before she will absolutely exhibit greatness on game day.
***As an important caveat it's crucial that your athlete recognize that she is a unique individual with unique talents. As such her greatness may not be her best friend's greatness. She should strive to be the best Megan (whatever her name is) she can be and not compare herself to any other player.
3. Mental Focus - As a coach nothing is more frustrating than seeing a player fail simply because she was distracted or simply not prepared for the ball to be hit to her, or prepared properly for her at bat or time in the circle. Mental focus is always a choice and 90% of all mistakes on the field are do to a simple lack of mental focus. Mental discipline or "toughness" defines all great athletes. if you athlete can cultivate this focus she will leap frog 80% of the girls in the sport on her way to the top of the recruiting list!
Give your athlete the gift that will change her game forever!
4. Expect Success - This is a subtle factor that can greatly increase your athlete's self-confidence level. The mere act of expecting success with a "can do" attitude will do wonders for her game. Don't confuse this with arrogance. If she is giving 100% all the time she has the right to expect success as a return on her investment of time and effort.
5. Have a Plan - Having a plan can be as simple as knowing the game situation, the score of the game and the umpire's strike zone. It's stepping into the batter's box knowing what is expected of you in that at bat (e.g. looking for a low outside pitch to hit on the ground to 2nd base to score the runner from 3rd). Having a plan means your athlete leverages her powers of expectancy and anticipation to up her game to a different level. The increased production and performance combined with a higher sense of accomplishment that will follow "having a plan" will be mind blowing! It's truly amazing what being prepared can do.
The great news for you and your athlete is that all of these factors are 100% within her control to execute. it is ultimately her choice as to how good she wants to be in this game. Even if she does not possess great speed, power or athleticism she can rise above other athletes with more natural skills simply be leveraging the five factors for greatness I've laid out in this post...the choice is hers!
Thanks for reading! -- John Kelly
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