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The thing about team sports is when you put on the jersey; you are now connected with your teammates to achieve the same goal, winning. Together you represent your program, whether it’s travel, high school, or college ball. While you may be performing as an individual, you are competing for your team.
One of the most remarkable things about softball is the amount of athletic diversity the game welcomes. Whether you’re tall, short, strong, or speedy, there is a place for you to thrive. A quick player might find themselves in the outfield or becoming a leadoff slapper for their team. A strong player can find a place in a clean-up spot or pitching in the circle. The ability to succeed in this sport, no matter your size, emphasizes how much we should appreciate the different talents your teammates bring to your program.
To be the best hitter in the state wouldn’t have much effect on wins and losses without the help of a fantastic pitcher and defense to keep runs off the board. Bring what you do best to the table and have the confidence that your teammates will do the same. Great teammates will encourage the progress of their peers in order to help the team achieve as a whole.
Sports as a whole have begun to advance more than we’ve ever imagined. Players are starting training at earlier ages, and we’re seeing the results unfold at the professional and D1 levels. It seems like every draft or new year of freshman seems bigger or stronger than the last. Additionally, athletes commit more of their time and dedication to their sport with a larger pool of talent to compete against. This knowledge can create immense amounts of pressure on young competitive athletes.
Travel/competitive softball requires commitment and sacrifice from both parents and players. Throughout just one week (including a tournament), softball can take up multiple hours over 5-6 days. To put this in perspective, this includes two days of practice, one day of lessons, and a Fri-Sun tournament weekend. This schedule isn’t for all teams, but this is usually the expectation at the higher levels. This cycle can feel like all they do is eat, sleep, go to school, practice, and play softball. For athletes so embedded in this seemingly endless cycle, it can make them lose sight of who they are off the field.
When the saying “softball is life” hits a little too close to home, it can feel like the sport is everything we are. When softball is so heavy in a young athlete’s life, it can be tough to have bad days because they associate their performance in a game with their presentation as a person. They must remember their failures on the field do not make them a failure as a daughter, student, leader, etc. The reminder to not let the game define you helps convey to these athletes that softball is just a game.
1. Trying to please everyone. Pleasing everyone is almost impossible. Do something because you love it regardless of what other people think. Your happiness and goals come first.
2. Fearing change. Change is how we grow as people and players. The change is what challenges us to overcome adversity.
3. Living in the past. The player who made 2 errors yesterday doesn’t have to be the same player who steps on the field today. You make the choice.
4. Putting yourself down. We are the hardest on ourselves. Focus on your successes.
5. Overthinking. When the game seems difficult, simplify it. “Bat on ball” can make one of the hardest things to do in sports sound so simple.
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