Top 10 Habits of Highly Recruited Athletes

In southern California this time of year every weekend is filled with a different showcase event for 18u, 16u and some 14u fastpitch softball teams to show off their players in front of college coaches and scouts. Every player (and their parents) hopes for a stellar game or games to standout in some way, shape or form from all the rest of the players. And while playing well is the ultimate goal during a showcase how to prepare for that day is the topic of my post today.

If your athlete aspires to play ball in college and receive a partial or full athletic scholarship it is never too early to start having her focus on developing the kinds of habits and traits that top softball recruits have that both catch the eye of the scouts as well as allow them to play at a consistent peak level.

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Here are the Top 10 Habits and Traits of Highly Recruited Athletes:

1. They Have a Great Work Ethic - These peak performers have a crazy work ethic, and are self-driven to get better each day. They are the ones flying all over the field, and when they miss a ball in practice they immediately ask for anther one. Every coach would love to have 15 of these girls on his or her roster!

2. They Love the Game - Their work ethic is propelled due to their love of the game. Playing the game brings these elite players joy; they love the way they feel on the field and even smile after a mistake. It's all good to them whenever they cross the white line and their love for the game is infectious!

girls softball practice
3. They Possess Great  Mental Focus - These are true competitors who have cultivated the ability to stay in present moment awareness during crunch time. They have the unique ability to get into the zone and block out all distractions. These athletes are the ones who consistently play poised under pressure and seem to have ice in their veins in the biggest at bats and games.

4. They Expect Success for Themselves and Their Teammates - These positive leaders recognize the tremendous investment they and their teammates have made into the game and as a result expect success come game day. They have a consistent "can do" attitude and it is contagious on their team. Their presence in the dugout makes everyone around them better.

5. They are Students of the Game - These top recruits never stop being a student of the game. Each game and each practice they observe what their teammates and the opponents are doing, always looking for ways to improve their game. They master the little things in their game and constantly look for ways to gain the edge, like recognizing the umpire's strike zone or finding a defensive weakness and exploiting it. Coaches both love and respect these players!

6. They Focus on Effort, Not Outcome - These are consistent peak performers in part because they have learned to focus on the effort they give and not solely on the outcome of each at bat, play in the field or pitching performance. They recognize that the game is a tough one to master, filled with adversity. By focusing on putting forth maximum effort in the moment and not being concerned with how others judge their outcomes they are able to frame mistakes as a learning opportunity.

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7. They Bounce Back Well from Adversity - This ability defines top recruits. Because they have a high level of self-confidence, expect success, do not focus on outcome and have a plan of action these peak performers do not get "stuck" when adversity and failure hits. They know no one is perfect, shake off the mistake and move back to present moment focus quickly.

8. They Have A Highly Developed Level of Self-Confidence - Because of their mastery with the other nine items on this list these athletes have developed a rock solid level of self-confidence; their emotional tanks are full and their on the field success is predictably stellar. Without this trait your athlete will never be highly recruited because the game is simply too hard to master without it.

9. They Honor the Game - Top recruits have one thing in common...they respect the game and all the players in it. They honor their teammates, their coaches, their parents, the umpires, their opponents and mostly themselves. They know their is no "I" in team and respect all those who came before them to make the game what it is today.

10. They Have a Plan of Action -  These elite athletes all have clearly defined goals and  well rehearsed pre-game, in-game and post-game rituals to insure they will perform their best. They have positive trigger phrases they use to get ready for an at bat. They prepare themselves mentally, "seeing" their success in advance. They can summon intense concentration and focus on demand. After the game they reflect on their performance positively and look for things they can work on in practice to get better.

The time for your athlete to start cultivating these habits and traits is NOW, regardless of her age. In the end it is the intangibles that will make your athlete's game great and get her the scholarship you both want, and these intangible factors all start between her ears. The good news is that she has 100% control over all of these 10 traits and habits. It's time to get to work!

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