Feb
14

Listening, Learning, Understanding, and Reacting to Different Perspectives

Listening, Learning, Understanding, and Reacting to Different Perspectives

Getting constructive criticism, feedback, or having to listen to something you don’t want to hear can cause negative reactions, emotions, and future problems among coaches, players, and even parents.

Do you get defensive when someone else has a different opinion than you? Some of us can be so quick to feel attacked and judged, leaving us with a sour taste in our mouth. But why do we feel like we only have two choices? We either hold our tongue or nod our heads while allowing it to bother us, cause us to lose focus, and control our emotions, or we lash back with a critical comment on their opinion leading into an unnecessary argument or punishment. Instead, why don’t we just accept their opinion, and then ask a question that involves learning about their perspective? Maybe instead of feeling like we all absolutely have to be right, we can learn and grow. For some ridiculous reason we tend to feel threatened when someone doesn’t see what we see, believe what we believe, or hear what we hear. Who knew opinions could cause such a stir!

Opinions are the beauty of learning and growing whether it is in the classroom, on the field, or in life’s circumstances. Instead of getting defensive and only seeing in black and white, we should embrace the grey area. Listen to what you don’t know. Listen to what you don’t understand. Don’t backlash because it’s different and you feel embarrassed, or demoted. You may surprise yourself when you open your eyes to something new and actually learn from it. You may learn something you never even considered, and finally be able to fix one of your weaknesses or reach one of your goals!

We all place walls up, guarding ourselves from feeling inadequate, misunderstood, or under qualified. Break the walls down! We shouldn’t hold ourselves back. We should embrace the difference in opinions, perspectives, and beliefs that others share. I’m definitely guilty of feeling defensive when someone else didn’t agree with my opinion while I was growing up. And I definitely held my tongue when I wasn’t sure about another point of view. Instead of listening, I completely ignored it, and put up a wall. I could have learned something new, broadened my viewpoint, and created a completely new understanding. I could have developed my growth in that specific topic, whether it was a trigger for understanding my perspective with new insight I was able to exemplify, or maybe it encouraged a new perspective and understanding of a subject or skill. I could have gained more knowledge and input, but I faltered and just blocked out any opinion that wasn’t my own, or judged it for the differences. I should have just listened and asked questions with curiosity, instead of feeling defensive and attacked. Luckily, when I matured, I realized the importance of multiple perspectives, asking questions when I didn’t understand, and applied my new learnings in helping me reach my highest potential as an athlete, student, and person! I want the same for our athletes! They shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions, be frustrated with the difference in opinions, or feel the need to be defensive when they don’t understand. They should be excited to learn and grow as athletes of the game, students in the classroom, and as a person in life itself! If they build walls up, they won’t be allowing themselves to ask questions, reach new underatandings or perspectives, and the ability to apply and react in a manner of optimism, determination, and motivation in becoming a stronger, more knowledgeable, and mature athlete, student, and person!

We all have to remember that constructive criticism isn’t a judgement full of negativity, it is an observation backed by knowledge and care! Our coaches, teammates, parents, or guardians wants to HELP you succeed! Understand that the more accepting we are of others opinions, constructive criticism, and differences, the more you will learn, the more we will succeed, the more we will be able to help yourself and others, and the more likely we will be in reaching our highest potential!

Opinions will always range in any subject and topic. Opinions will change, subside, become strong, weak, and everything else in between. Opinions are what we create based on our knowledge, morals, and understanding. Opinions shouldn’t be seen as black or white, right or wrong. Look into the grey areas. Find more meaning, understanding, and optimism that will encourage a stronger, different, new, and unexpected point of view. Learn, grow, and never settle for the black or white, right or wrong that has become comfortable in your mind. The world is full of opinions. So if you are willing to share yours, listen, and hear what someone else has to share as well, you just might be surprised.

Written by Nikoli Sharp

Jan
31

Being A Good Teammate by Nikoli Sharp

What makes a good teammate?

Is it a person who is kind, thoughtful, and trustworthy? Is it a person who is honest, hardworking, and inspiring? Is it a person who challenges you, motivates you, and helps you?  Who said that the words “good teammate” had to be categorized and defined in one way?  Being a good teammate does not come down to one or two things; it has a vast amount of characteristics! Just like we are all different as human beings, we are all different when it comes to how we are as a teammate. Of course we need to have common goals, diligence, respect, and motivated behavior, but if we were all the exact same type of teammate on the field, sure we would be decent, but having the diversity and differences in our personalities, strengths, and skills are what will make the team GREAT! We need all types of teammates  ranging in all types of strengths, personalities, and skills to create a challenging, motivating, and inspiring team that flows with chemistry and brings a sense of pride, confidence, dedication, and respect to the field whether it is at practice or in a game.

Unfortunately, we often get athletes who are stuck in the mindset of the following:

- “I don’t want to hurt her feelings”

- “I don’t want to make her mad”

- “I’m afraid of pitching to her”

- “I’m afraid she will yell at me”

- “I’m better than she is, so I’m not going to help her.”

- “I don’t care where they go to college, it’s about me.”

- “She lost the game for us.”

And so many other scenarios that are stemmed from fear, blame, bitterness, frustration, and negative thoughts and actions that are undoubtedly hindering the progress of your athlete and team success!

Being a good teammate is not just about being a kind person who is there for you through emotional barriers that they will all face, but a teammate who will also be there to hold each other accountable, compete with one another, volunteering to pitch live batting practice, offering to do extra skill work with, and overall, CHALLENGE one another. A good teammate helps make her teammates and team BETTER!

We have to get rid of the worries, fears, bitterness, and negativity that hold each of them back from progressing emotionally and skillfully, and replace it with positive thoughts and action, understanding and knowledge they are each capable of thinking and doing. Each and every athlete has the potential to be GREAT, but they can’t do it alone.

-Having a teammate that will tell you what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear will make you STRONGER.

-Offering to pitch to your teammates is CHALLENGING yourself and the team.

-Being a catcher that throws down for her stealing teammates is helping the TEAM get better, faster, and more knowledgeable whether it is running the bases or throwing in the catcher position.

-Asking for help from your teammate is making you BOTH BETTER.

-Volunteering to go to your teammate’s lesson to help whether it is feeding a machine, pitching, or catching is HELPING each of you.

-Offering to study with your teammate struggling in school is making you both SMARTER!
Being a good teammate is more than just offering high fives and cheering them on, it’s about being a person and friend who is willing to put in the extra mile not only for herself, but for her teammates and team. So get rid of the negativity that lingers in your mind, and start taking initiative in helping yourself, teammates, and team SUCCEED!

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Written by Nikoli Sharp

Jan
17

Comfort Zone by Nikoli Sharp

    Written by: Nikoli Sharp

Many of us, athlete or non-athlete, have a fear of getting out of our comfort zone. We were not wired to do things that are uncomfortable, scary, uncertain, or difficult with ease. We were wired to protect ourselves from those things. To protect ourselves from embarrassment, hurt, and failure. To protect ourselves from the uncertainties that come into our lives, placing an obstacle in front of us while putting us in an unfamiliar situation that makes us want to run and hide. These situations bring out stress, tension, and fear while hindering our progressive state.

Your athlete may be fearful of one or many things in the sport of softball that can range from simply communicating on the field to the fear of diving to get a ground ball. No matter how big or small the fear is, it is hurting their attitude, performance, and success. In order for them to become a more confident, dynamic, and courageous athlete who can defeat the detrimental state of hesitation caused from the uncertainties, fears, and worries, the best thing I found as an athlete that helped me, was breaking down the fear.

1. Break down the fear to get a better understanding of the athletes perspective that is the root of the problem. This will help you understand their mindset, help them see through a new lens, and help ignite the game plan in facing the fear and knocking down the wall!

2. Break down the skill they are afraid of performing so they can practice it in increments in order to feel more comfortable and confident in their game performance.

3. Support from coaches, teammates, and/or parents by listening, encouraging, motivating, and giving advice to reach past the fear and grab onto the courage and knowledge that is needed for progress.

As a coach and instructor myself, I want to be the best role model, supporter, and encourager for my athletes! It is important for us role models to help our athletes understand that our accomplishments are on the other side of our fears. Sometimes our patience is tested, we get angry, and completely frustrated when they aren’t performing well. Majority of the time, your athlete is already feeling upset, confused, and embarrassed. So instead of adding to those negative emotions that can be detrimental and hindering, we have to be the listening ear, the encouraging words of advice, the motivating teacher, and the lighter to the passion they have for the sport. We have to make sure we listen, ask questions, and encourage them so that we can understand the problem and act on fixing it instead of making it worse.

They are capable of so much more than they can imagine, and if we can help shape their perspective in running towards their fear and facing it head on, instead of running from it, they are going to break down the barriers and walls they place before themselves, reach a higher potential, obtain new goals, and acquire the ability to break down future barriers!

Our athletes have exceptional potential, and as a former athlete who chased her collegiate-athlete dreams like her colleagues, I want to help them get there! We ALL want to help them get there! It isn’t going to be easy, but it’s possible. The life of an athlete is ALWAYS going to have highs and lows, we just have to help them see through a more confident lens, to create a brave heart, and a more courageous demeanor as they work through their goals and reach their dream.

So, jump onto the roller coaster ride and hold on. It will be fun, a little scary, but absolutely worth it.

Apr
29

Coaching For Commitment

Find our EBook Here!  commitment

The road to collegiate softball takes time, hard work, and discipline within the athlete; but how do we instill the commitment necessary to achieve greatness?  How do we prepare them for the next level with extracurricular activities, social media, family events, and other various on-goings outside the game? The importance of commitment is slowing deteriorating.  Athletes are excused from their responsibility to their sport without question; it is disparaging to their game, and furthermore, their recruitment.  Female athletes need constant structure and discipline to succeed at the next level and as coaches; it is our responsibility to create commitment and ownership within our teams.

Following the 4 key steps to teaching and implementing commitment in your female athletes will not only strengthen your team as a whole, but inspire maturity and dedication in your individual athlete.

  • Time Organization. Every female athlete needs organization.  It is understandable that academics will always come first before a sport, but they need to have a plan.  “I didn’t have time,”  “I need to work on my project,” “My group is meeting the same time as practice,” are all unacceptable excuses to disengage from their commitment to their team.  Every athlete should write out their weekly schedule, include due dates, practices, and other time commitments.  Once their schedule is completed, they will notice the free time they have to fit everything in.  A coach’s responsibility is to make it clear that time organization is a must and disciplinary actions will take place for missed practices or games.   The ability for your athletes to be organized within their academics, athletics, and social events will better prepare them for the next level of play.  They will be ultimately responsible for their schedule in college and the better you can prepare them to be time efficient, the more successful they will be in their future aspirations.
  • Structure and follow through. It is incredibly important to set the ground rules early on and stick to them.    If you, as a coach, stay committed to structure, your athletes cannot question your expectations.  The hardest part of setting guidelines is sticking to them.  As you get to know your team and get comfortable around each other, it’s easy to let the little things slide; “She was only a few minutes late to the game today”, “She went on a camping trip this weekend, so it’s ok she’s not at practice.”  Once the individual commitment is gone, the team commitment fades.  As much as you want to have fun with your athletes and enjoy working with them; the structure needs to be instilled on a daily basis.  At the end of the day, you are their coach and they may not like you all the time, but maintaining structure will earn their respect over time.  It’s always important to remind your athletes of their common goal and the work ethic it takes to achieve that goal.
  • Respect. Respect the game.  Respect your team. Respect your common goal.  Whether you are coaching 7 year olds or 17 year olds; respect should be taught from the beginning.   Respecting the game means your athletes come to practice and games with a purpose.  They come to work hard, better their skills, and accomplish preset goals.  Athletes respect their team through dedication, positivity, and camaraderie.  They respect the common goal by showing up as a sisterhood and leaving it all on the field.  When your athletes respect the reason they play, they will feel a need to stay committed to their sport, team, and coaches.  Coaches can set the standards high before the season starts; Coaches are addressed as Coach XXX, not by their first name, athletes approach coaching staff, not parents, athletes write down individual and team “game time” goals.  Maintaining respect among everyone working towards a common goal drives athletes to stay committed through thick and thin.
  • Focus. The more focus and drive within the athlete, the better prepared they will be to play at the next level.   Without focus, your athletes will never succeed.  Female athletes are easily distracted with the social aspects of their lives and need to learn to separate it from their sport.  Coaches cannot completely take their athletes out of their social realms, but it can be minimized when the focus needs to be on the sport.  Lay out rules for your team regarding social media and phone and internet use.  Phones are to be put away 1 hour before practice time, 2 hours before game time, 1 hour before bed time, etc.  Female athletes’ emotions can change on the drop of a dime and any outside influence that will affect their game negatively should be removed.   Teams that travel can implement rules while they are on the road; no phones at team meals, team captain collects all social media devices at the end of the day, etc.  The athletes may hate this rule, but it will help the team to bond and create chemistry; and as always, a clear head helps them to stay focused on the game.  With time, they won’t even miss it.

 

 

As the common goal is to play at the next level, athletes need to create a routine of focus, discipline, respect, and organization that revolves around their athletic commitment.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, but if you stick to structure, and follow through with your agenda, your athletes will respect the work to stay committed to their sport.

 

Jul
01

How to Teach Commitment and Perseverance

                All too often we let our female athletes “off the hook.”  We let them give up, we let them put their head down, and we tell them, “It’s ok”.  We feel bad for them, we see how tired they are, we see their emotions on their sleeves, come on, they’re just girls.  If you haven’t had this moment as a coach, you’re lying to yourself. 

                We have all been there, because they are just little girls, but are we doing the right thing?  Should we cut these girls so much slack?  Absolutely not.  They may be your princess, the apple in your eye, but just as you would your son, let them fight the battle.  You are setting your female athlete up for failure if you let her give excuses and let her give up.  If she is in constant belief that she doesn’t have to give 110% at all times, she will never know what it feels like to earn the starting position.  She will never understand the dedication and commitment it takes to be successful, a life lesson we would prefer them to learn before they enter the real world.

                So how do we take a stand?  How do we teach and motivate them to make a commitment and persevere?  3 key facts can help keep your athlete’s head in the game:

  1. Never let her give upThis is a duh moment right?  Of course you would never let your female athlete give up; however, how many of you let her quit a team before they earned
    playing time?  You may be as frustrated with your athlete’s playing time as she is, however, let her pay her dues and earn the spot.  Many coaches are loyal to their standing roster, so it takes time to work a way into the lineup.  This is life.  A CEO isn’t going to offer you a VP position the first day on the job; you can’t expect a coach to do the same with your female athlete.   
  2.  Don’t miss practice. I’ve heard a lot of excuses for missing practice: I have too much homework, my cousin’s uncle’s roommate is getting married, I have a cold.  Practices are usually 2-3 hours, in a 24 hour day; your athlete can go to practice.  Unless she is on her death bed, she should be at practice.  Athletes don’t have the option to miss practice in college, so it’s best to learn how to manage athletics, academics, and social life now to be prepared for the future.  If your athlete wants to play, she has to make an effort to show her dedication.  There is a huge difference between saying you want the spot, and proving you want the spot.  
  3. Support Teammates.  Nothing is worse than an athlete who pouts about playing time on the bench.  If your athlete is on the bench, she needs to make the effort to be an effective member of the team.  She can keep score, keep stats, learn more about her mental game, learn about positioning, pick her teammates up, etc.  The bench is a time to develop both physical and mental skill and that time should be utilized to its fullest; don’t let them make it a negative experience.

These aspects of the game will help your athlete learn the importance of commitment and respect the completely satisfying feeling of preserving.  Always remember, athletics teach us incredibly important life lessons and if a Female Athlete
is pushed to preserve through adverse situations, she will flourish as a young adult and career woman who was taught to never give up.

Dec
10

How to Build Confidence

    Many of you may look at the title of this post and think, “Oh thank goodness, someone out there knows how to help my athlete gain confidence!”  Well, it may not be that easy.  There is no quick fix, or perfect words to immediately fix your female athlete’s insecurity or lack of aggressiveness.  If it was that easy, every athlete with pure talent and the best potential would exceed the limits of their success.  If it was that easy, we would all have All American’s on our teams.  Although there is not a quick fix to gaining confidence, you can help build it.

Whether you are a parent pushing your daughter, or a coach attempting to showcase an
athlete’s potential, the key is patience. Female athletes respond emotionally before they exude their physical talents.  If this leaves some of you confused, it’s perfectly normal.  A female’s first response to most situations is through emotion.  “I didn’t strike out the worst batter, I feel frustrated,” “I didn’t take the shot to win the game, I feel upset”.  Most coaches and parents don’t understand
that emotion leads our physical state, which further invokes our mental game.  When something negative happens in
our game, when our potential is questioned, we back off.  Unlike male athletes, our first reaction
isn’t to prove people wrong, but rather to fall in line and simply “go through the motions”.  Please don’t look at this
as a negative aspect of the female athlete; it’s good to be emotional, however, it’s necessary to learn what emotions are appropriate in the game.

If you ask a female athlete about how negative performance makes them feel, you will hear them say, “I’m upset about my game; I was frustrated that I didn’t perform the task like I knew I could.”  Frustration.  I have coached hundreds of athletes and after bad games and the first thing I always ask is how they felt about their performance in a bad game; about 99% of the time, they say they were frustrated.  I cannot stress this fact enough: Frustration is the worst emotion a female athlete can have about her game.  Frustration digs an athlete in a hole where they can only focus on the negative and struggle to find the positive in their performance.

Let’s face it; you may be as frustrated as they are.  You are their coach, parent, mentor, and feel for them more than they can understand.  Frustration may be your first emotion too, but it is your job to bring them out of that emotion.  It is your job to help them focus on the positive aspects of their game, regardless of their performance.  There isn’t a game that your athlete plays that doesn’t have some form of positive feat.  They may have gone 0-3, but they blocked a ball that saved a run from scoring.  Your athlete won’t recognize that play, but you have to bring it up.  You have to help your athlete remember the positive aspects of their
game to keep the growth of their confidence.

Now when you tell your athlete to “stop being frustrated and play like you know how,” you will more than likely get a negative reaction, which in turn, can make them more frustrated.  Now, you may think I am crazy for saying this, but your athlete needs to get mad.  Your athlete needs to turn their frustration into anger which is a workable emotion for game time.  This doesn’t mean I support athletes being mean people, but they need to play mad.  When female athletes get mad, all other questioning emotions fly out the window and you have an aggressive, confident athlete that you may have never seen in prior situations.  Anger helps an
athlete to focus on the game without thinking about all the little things that normally bother them.  It is also important to help your athlete remember that there is a difference in playing mad, and playing with arrogance.  Playing mad implies that the athlete pushes herself to be better than her best, playing arrogant implies that an athlete is cocky without reason.  As simple as it sounds to acknowledge the difference, female athletes struggle with the idea of “playing mad”.  They worry about what others will think and what reputation they will build as an aggressive athlete.  They need the reassurance and confidence from you that her performance is good
, and that this kind of reputation is good.  I have always told my athletes, “be a nice person off the field, but give them a reason to talk about you on the field.”

Now your second thought, “Well my daughter is a nice girl; I don’t think she knows how to play mad.”  This is a good point,
a lot of us our nice girls.  A great way to promote confidence and push aggressiveness is to have your daughter compete against the athlete playing the same position.  Most female athletes play the game their way, but don’t think about their opponent.  The best way to maintain aggressiveness and the best game out of her is to make her compete no matter what.  Say your athlete is a short stop, have her watch the opposing short stops warm-ups and game as they are playing.  This will not only keep your athlete’s head in the game, but also promote competition to be better than their starter; if she hits a single, your athlete wants to hit a double; if she dives for a ball
, your athlete will dive and make the play, etc.

Aside from making competition, have your athlete create goals for herself.  Say she is a pitcher starting the game.  What does she want to accomplish?  Have her set goals, in example, where she only allows 2 hits
per game, 1 walk per game, and strives for 6 strikeouts.  Creating competition within herself will only better her skills and help her to challenge herself in playing to her full potential.

When you love the game, you love it for all the right reasons.  When the game is your life, it is a tremendous feeling to play aggressive, with confidence, and make a name for yourself.  I implore you to support your athlete in bringing out the best of her abilities, and by not playing nice, so to speak.

 

Key Facts for
Building Confidence:

  • Play mad,
    it’s the best emotion a female athlete can have when they are in the game.
  • Focus on
    the positive attributes of your athletes game.
  • Find
    competition within the game and make it personal.
  • Make
    personal goals to achieve higher standards
    .

Oct
07

In Her Cleats- A New Documentary

Thank you to everyone for your constant support in Coaching a Female Athlete.  We appreciate every read, share, and positive comment we have received over the past two years.

We wanted to share our newest endeavour with all of our readers, “In Her Cleats”.   “In Her Cleats” is a riveting documentary following female athletes in the road to collegiate athletics.  You will see their struggles and triumps in trying to attain scholarships to go to college.  This documentary is extremely insightly and puts light to the small world of female athletics and the difficulty of managing school, lessons, travel, games, and recruitment.

We greatly appreciate any feedback and any backers we may receive on Kickstarter!!  We truly have a passion for what we do and whole-heartedly believe in this project.  Thank you in advance for your support, check out the project in the link below!!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inhercleats/in-her-cleats

 

May
14

Monkey See, Monkey Do: Looking the Part of a Softball Coach

Monkey
see, monkey do.  We have all heard this saying, and when we
have children, we understand the saying.
What we don’t tend to take into account is the impact we have as adults in
the simple four-word phrase.  Every
action we commit
, every word we say, children pay attention; they are sponges
and they absorb the things we do and say and can mimic us at any given moment.  The same applies in athletics.

If you do not look like you know
what you are doing, you won’t get the respect that you seek from your
athletes.  Female athletes
are extremely
observant.  The first things we notice
about people are their outward appearance
and mannerisms.  If you lack athleticism, if you can’t do a
drill with ease or perfection, why should you expect your athlete to perform
that way?  Before you demand an action,
figure out if you can do it first, or at least look like you can do it.  Your female
athletes will not only appreciate
that you can do what you teach them, but they will trust you and what you are
doing.

The majority of male coaches have
never played softball, but baseball
.
Being so, they have a tendency of thinking both sports are taught the
same.  Softball and baseball are worlds
apart not only because they are different games, but because males and females
are so different.  Nine times out of ten,
a baseball skill won’t be effective when performed by a female athlete.  Our body strengths and mentality towards the
game differ from a males; something so simple in male athletics can seem like
rocket science to female athletics, and vice versa.  Being so, it is best for coaches to learn
softball skills, as well as a softball
mentality, to better relate to their
athletes.

There are many ways you can learn
softball skills and drills
for female athletes; you can read online, go to
classes, attend coaching seminars, all of which great.  The best way for you to retain all of this is
to watch yourself perform the drills yourself.
Think about all the things you have your athletes do at practice then do
them in the mirror.  This is the best way
to see yourself do the drill and analyze what you are doing correctly, and what
you need to fix.  Once you perfect the
drill, you can successfully demonstrate to your athletes.  When you look like you know what you are
doing, not only will your athletes respect
you, but parents and other coaches
alike as well.  The more, well-rounded
every member looks on your team, including the coach, the more respected they will
be on the ball field.

Key Facts about Looking Like a Softball Coach

  • Know how to perform what you ask of your athletes
  • Take time to learn softball skills and drills
  • Watch yourself perform softball drills in the mirror until you can do the drill yourself, or at least look like you know what you are doing

Mar
18

“Bats, Gloves, and Glitter” is now available on Amazon!

Thank you all for the great, positive feedback regarding our Coaching a Female Athlete Blog.  With such great response, we are happy to announce our first eBook entitled, “Bats, Gloves, and Glitter: 7 Must-Know Facts about Female Athletes.” 

We cover the most essential, and sometimes daunting, aspects of coaching young, female athletes in an easy-t0-read guide to successful coaching.  “Bats, Gloves, and Glitter” is availabe through Smashwords for the top-rated eReading devices and most recently on Amazon in the Kindle Store!  Check it out at the link below.

http://www.amazon.com/Bats-Gloves-Glitter-Must-Know-ebook/dp/B00BUHQBXW/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1363626504&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=bats%2C+glvoes%2C+and+glitter

 

Aug
30

How to Coach a Pitcher

Many coaches run into the issue of how to coach a pitcher, especially when they have never been a pitcher before.  Even if a coach has prior experience as a baseball pitcher, it simply isn’t the same; mentally or physically. 

            Coaching a female athlete, for one, can prove to be a difficult task in itself; coaching a pitcher is a whole other story.  Not only are you dealing with the emotions of a female athlete, you are dealing with one that has the pressure of the game on their shoulders.  The pitcher controls a large portion of the outcome and it is well known that they have to be mentally prepared, ready, and tough to see success within the game.  Wins and losses are heavily weighed on the pitching performance and can affect the mental and physical stability of the pitcher.  As a coach, it is your job to help them maintain confidence and aggressiveness in practices and games without putting excessive pressure on them, without being overly critical, and by showing that you support them.

            Many pitchers already understand the pressure of the game and their role as a prominent player.  Pitching is 80% mental, 20% physical and a coach can easily play into those percentages.  If a coach is constantly nagging their pitchers, telling them that they need to throw this and that without error or else they will be pulled, that pitcher will fail.   Regardless of how mentally tough that pitcher may be, the lack of confidence and negative consequence from a coach will only lead to negative results.  Your lack of confidence in her pitching will only deteriorate her confidence in herself. 

            It is expected that a coach supports their pitchers simply because they picked them up on their team for a reason.  If they didn’t have faith and confidence in their pitchers ability, they should not have brought them on the team.  Yes, it can be extremely frustrating to watch a pitcher struggle in a game, or not throw to her ability, but getting mad and showing disappointment in that athlete will not help the situation.  Again, with pitching being 80% mental, there is probably something going on with her that is deeper than her physical ability.  As a coach, and an adult, remember that you are there to support and show them that you will stand behind them as athletes in both their good and bad outings.

            So aside from “having your athletes back,” get to know your pitcher.  If you don’t know anything about your pitcher, you will struggle to understand her while she is in a game.  Female athletes can be hard to read, so the more you can get to know her, the better you can connect regarding pitch calling, her endurance, and her mental stability on the mound. 

            If your pitcher goes to a pitching coach, attend a lesson.  See how she interacts with her instructor and key in on the things she is focusing on developing.  A huge point for male coaches to understand is that you are not a pitcher.  You have never played fastpitch softball, you have never been a fastpitch pitcher, and you will never be a fastpitch pitcher.  Despite thinking that you could coach a pitcher mechanically, understand that you are wrong. J  Even though you may think you see certain things that your pitcher could work on, discuss it with their pitching coach first.  They may already be working on that exact thing, or they could be working on something entirely different.  It is important to maintain that connection with their pitching coach as they have more one on one time, they confide in them, and are in their profession for a reason.  Once you make this connection, it will better your relationship with your pitcher and you will be able to reiterate what their pitching coach tells them during practices and games.

            As a coach, it is your role to be a supportive figure for all your female athletes.  Pitchers in particular need to know that you trust them, you have confidence in them, and that you believe in their ability.  The more you show them this support, the more confidence they will have in their own game, in turn, bettering their performance every outing. 

 

Key Points:

  • Pitching is 80% mental, 20% physical; a coach needs to play positively into these percentages
  • A female pitchers wants to feel needed and important on a team, more so from their coach than her teammates
  • Be supportive of your pitcher; the more confidence and faith you have in them, the more they will perform 

 

 

 

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