Monday, December 5

Wanna Get Better? Change Your Approach

There is an old saying that defines insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results." This line of thinking definitely applies on the softball field.

Success in a difficult game like fastpitch softball requires that teams and individual players make adjustments in every aspect of the game if necessary. And, as always, it starts with her thinking.

Here are some examples of what I'm talking about:

1. The pitcher keeps throwing the ball on the outside corner (or inside corner) but the batter refuses to swing the bat,  finding herself in an 0-2 and 1-2 count all the time, leading to a ton of strikeouts. Unless she makes a conscious effort of adjusting her thinking she will likely continue getting the same results.

CAUSE: Likely she won't swing at that pitch because she believes she can't hit it (little if any confidence in doing so). She fears failure and the embarrassment of looking bad swinging.

SOLUTION: Trust herself to start swinging at the outside pitch, each time increasing her comfort level in doing so. At a certain point (with much practice) she will welcome the outside pitch as her self-confidence soars.

2. The player who refuses to dive for a ball, causing her coaches to question her commitment and desire; not to mention it costing her team runs.

CAUSE: Again, fear and lack of self-confidence win again. She is either afraid of making a mistake and missing the ball (incurring the wrath of coach or parent), looking bad in the process (embarrassment), or hurting herself (because she's never gotten comfortable with the proper diving form).

SOLUTION: Recognize her fear(s) and the fact that most coaches will reward the effort regardless of the results. Embarrassment must be overcome and the pain of diving can be solved by practice and increased mental toughness.

3. The pitcher refuses to throw a certain pitch on a certain count (maybe a changeup behind in the count) even though her coach reasons the hitter is swinging early and will likely never hit that pitch. She shakes off the catcher, throws something different or executes the pitch poorly.

CAUSE: Again, lack of self-confidence in throwing a certain pitch, fear of the pitch being hit, the embarrassment of looking bad throwing that pitch. Maybe a touch of stubbornness thrown in for good measure.

SOLUTION: Obviously more practice mastering the pitch, but also a willingness to step outside her comfort zone and trust herself to execute. If she thinks she can't she likely won't.

Most failure on the softball field is caused by two things: hesitation due to lack of trust or self-confidence at key, pivotal times of the game; whether batting, fielding, pitching or base running...or due to lack of mental focus and concentration (being distracted or spacing out too much).

To become a consistent peak performer your athlete must be supremely focused in the present moment allowing herself to react without hesitation. The game of fastpitch softball is too fast for her to think about whether she should or shouldn't in the split second she has to react. Her thinking must come well in advance to the moment of truth, cultivated in practice and in her mind creating a solid foundation of self-confidence which makes reactions quicker and results better.

As coaches and parents we get frustrated watching players and teams seemingly make the same mistakes over and over again. Unless she makes the mental adjustments that will improve her self-confidence and her performance the same results will keep showing up like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day!

If your athlete lacks the rock solid self-confidence to make the adjustments necessary to become the consistent peak performer top coaches want on their team the best place to start is The Game Changer Program: A Mental Skills Blueprint to Make Her the Best She Can Be. This multimedia fastpitch softball specific program contains over 6 hours of audio lessons, plus John Kelly's new 174 page ebook, How She Thinks is How She Plays and many other bonuses...all for less than a one hour hitting lesson. The game is 90% mental. How much is your athlete investing in her mental game?

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Learn more about the 21 mental performance killers that may be holding your athlete back. http://SoftballSmarts.com