Tuesday, October 15

Your Athlete Chooses How Good She Wants to Be

This fall I have the privilege of coaching with our 18 Gold team. Having been with first year 14u teams the last four years it is quite interesting to watch how the 18 Gold girls approach their game.

At the 14u level I have talked endlessly to my players about their effort and their attitude, both of which are ENTIRELY within their control. Often, if only in my head, I would question many players' effort; particularly in comparison to other teammates or players we competed against.

My take was often wondering how much these kids really loved the game and whether they truly grasped what the end game was (playing softball in college with a partial or full athletic scholarship, and what it took to get there)?

Now on the other side of that question I am coaching kids now that absolutely love the game and know exactly what the end game is; many of whom have already verbally committed to a college. Their effort and attitude, for the most part, is excellent and their level of play reflects that.

But here is the question you should be asking your own athlete...how good does she want to be? What is she willing to do to get there, both physically and mentally?

Does She Stand Out? 

As I now attend showcase events I get to observe firsthand how these young athletes are put on display before the critical eyes of college coaches who watch their every move on and off the field; before, during and after the games.

As collegiate softball becomes bigger and more competitive, which is happening from coast to coast at a rapid pace, coaches are under more pressure to recruit the right players. Each program has a strict budget and scholarship limit as well as the burden/opportunity of high expectations for on the field success each spring.

In other words college softball programs today can't afford to make a mistake with the players they recruit.

Ohio U. player giving her all!
Because of this college coaches scrutinize players they scout to be sure they are "the one." They are looking for girls who stand out from the crowd, and often it's not the 250 foot home run or 65 mph rise ball...but an athlete's hustle from the dugout to the field, how verbal they are in the field or dugout, their willingness to lay out for a ball that gets the college coach's attention.

Again, because effort and attitude are choices your athlete, by design or by default, chooses how good she wants to be. And often your athlete will only get one opportunity to make a great first impression on a college coach, enough so to make them want to come back and watch her play again.

Here's the bottom line...if you hope to get your daughter into college with a softball scholarship you need to know just how competitive the process is. I have stood or sat next to college coaches as they watched games and I see how the little things get their attention.

In reality most college softball programs will likely change your athlete's hitting, pitching or fielding mechanics to the way they want them to be. However, more than one college coach has told me that they can't teach effort or attitude. Meaning if an athlete 15, 16, 17 years old doesn't have it and show it on and off the field they likely will never do it at a higher level.

So encourage your athlete to give it all she's got every time she steps on the diamond. If she loves the game, show it! The bar is getting higher and higher each year for performance as softball becomes an increasingly competitive sport all across America and beyond.

The good news is she can be as good as she wants to be!

2 comments:

  1. A good coach knows that hustle and drive make all the difference on the field. You can teach skills but it's hard to teach someone how to motivate themselves. A girl that always gives it her all, no matter what, is always a good addition to the team.

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  2. It's so true, effort and attitude make all the difference. I received a college scholarship offer because of a single effort play I made. With a runner on second there was a ground ball to the third baseman that kicked off his glove and got past him. I was playing shortstop and was able to field the ball behind the third baseman and after catching it I ran directly to third base hoping to catch the runner rounding the bag too far. I dove to make the tag on the runner and just missed him diving back to the bag.

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