Believe In Yourself

Believe In Yourself

“Believe in yourself and you will be unstoppable.”

We have so many incredibly talented athletes within our organization and that come in for lessons who are determined, strong, diligent, and smart! BUT they are holding themselves back with their mental game. Somewhere along the way of their softball journey, they lost their self-confidence, self-trust, and overall just believing in themselves and what they are capable of. Instead, they are afraid of failure, embarrassment, and being seen as mediocre or less.

Where and when did our athletes lose their confidence and have it replaced with fear? Some have lost it from having coaches who don’t believe in them, coaches who are negative, being on a team where their teammates don’t include them, are mean to them, or have bad attitudes. Sometimes it is their parents who influence their loss of confidence through harsh words, negative perspectives, and misunderstanding their athlete’s actions, words, and beliefs. Or maybe they had a bad practice, game, or season that played a role in adding fear over their confidence. Many people, experiences, situations can be the start and influence of causing your athlete to no longer believe in themselves.

No matter what caused their confidence to slip away, it is our job as parents, coaches, and as role models to help them believe in themselves again! If you were the cause in the past, fix it! If your athlete is on a team or has a coach that is causing it, ask questions! If your athlete is being bullied, speak up! If your athlete talks to herself negatively, give her a new perspective! Our athletes are at a sensitive time in their lives, and we need to be the ones who are looking out for them, doing what is best for them, but overall believing in them and making sure that they believe in themselves and what they are capable of!

Whether you see or hear your athlete’s lack in self confidence or not, start talking to your athlete, ask questions, and just pay attention to what they say, how they act, and what is being said to them. Yes, they have to learn to stand on their own, but they also need guidance, perspective, and a positive influence that believes in them, cares about them, and cares about their present and future.

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.”

Written by Nikoli Sharp


YOUR Words, YOUR Choices, YOUR Actions, YOUR Consequences

YOUR Words, YOUR Choices, YOUR Actions, YOUR Consequences

There is a lot of different coaching styles that come from so many different personalities and perspectives that stem from different backgrounds and experiences. As a parent and/or a coach, we become our own person with our own beliefs and styles of discipline, teaching, and coaching that we find most progressive for our kids and athletes. But sometimes, we stop progressing ourselves. We lose our sense of awareness and stick to what we know and what we are comfortable with, instead of tuning our skills to what our kids and athletes need.

No one kid is the same. Our styles have to be versatile and meet the needs of each kid individually in order for them to learn, grow, and progress as a student, athlete, and overall person. We have to learn with our kids in order to help them in the best way we can. If we stick to one way, more ways than not, we won’t be helping every athlete in the best way we can, only reaching the ones who can take the style of coaching, teaching, and discipline that we choose.

One thing I hope to leave you with today understands the effect of WORDS. Some words can be incredibly impactful in good ways and bad ways, and we have realized what we are saying, why we are saying it, and how it will affect our kids. Sometimes we speak without thinking and words of negativity, doubt, anger, frustration, and disappointment slip out because we are letting our emotions take over and instead of understanding what we are saying and how it is making our kids feel, we deal with the consequences after. Whether it be you make them cry, yell at you, ignore you, or speak words of hate back to you. To me, it’s heartbreaking. As an athlete who grew up with a father who chose to yell, belittle, and speak before thinking, I know what it’s like to feel disappointed not only in yourself, but in your parent/coach. It didn’t make me try harder, it hardened my heart each time and hurt my relationship with him. Of course I’m sure many of you would say he just wanted what was best for me, but I truly think that if you want what is best for your kids, you will LEARN who your kid is; learn about their strengths, weaknesses, personalities, mannerisms, and emotions. Learn what helps your athlete stay positive, progressive, and help them believe in themselves! The minute we become the influencers of negativity, they start to lose their sense of trust and belief in themselves and in you, and start to lose the determination, diligence, and passion for what they love to do.

As a parent and as a coach it is so crucial, important, and invaluable to constantly and consistently be a growing student of life. Learn with your kids! Grow with your athletes! Be aware of your words! Be aware of your influence!

We are all capable of being such wonderful, caring, positive, and passionate influencers that help our kids succeed not only on the field, but in life.

Be the person you had or wish you had that helped you become the person you are today.

Written by Nikoli Sharp


The Green Monster

The Green Monster

“Never take your crown off to make your haters feel comfortable.”

Jealousy is inevitable. Some feel it more than others, but it always arises among all types of people, teams, groups, friends, family, peers, etc. We can’t help it, it just happens! BUT it is so incredibly important as coaches and parents to set an exemplary example for our athletes so that they know how to handle situations where jealousy becomes an issue. It is sad and upsetting when coaches and parents get jealous and not only cause problems among themselves, but they cause a problem among the athletes and the overall team. Emotions run wild, feelings get hurt, and attitudes change. So, how do you handle your jealousy? Why are you jealous?

More often than not, you are jealous because someone is getting praised more than you, is marked as smarter, stronger mentally and/or physically, more athletic, better work ethic, greater skill sets, more experience, etc. We become frustrated and instead of looking into how we feel, why, how we can better ourselves, and how to deal with it properly and respectfully, we lash out, say demeaning and hurtful words, and treat the person(s) you are jealous of with disrespect and negative attitudes. WHY!? Why allow ourselves to treat others in such a disappointing way? Just because your team isn’t as strong yet, your athlete isn’t as successful yet, or your feeling less than another, doesn’t give you or anyone else the right to be mean and blindside someone who has done nothing wrong but work their butt off, put in extra practice time, go to camps and clinics consistently, and be a positive influence to your team. If anything, you should be grateful your athletes are being challenged, learning about what they need to do and should be doing to become better, but also learning how to handle uncomfortable, disappointing, and challenging situations.

Complaining, yelling, speaking without validity or a positive purpose is not helping the team, your athlete, or yourself. It is hurting everyone involved. Not being in control of your actions, words, and behavior is a big problem that is influencing the environment you are in and the people you are around. As a coach and parent, I would never want to influence my athletes into a negative manner when they are faced with challenges that can range in a multitude of situations and categories. I will always strive to think before I speak, because words are critical, they can truly make or break a situation, cause unnecessary harm, and disappointing acts. We should be acting in a positive and purposeful way!

Is someone stronger than you? More successful? Better at hitting, fielding, catching, pitching, etc.? Getting more praise and compliments than you? Instead of letting the green monster take over, think before you speak. Think about why they are stronger or more successful, what can you be doing to improve so that you are getting stronger and more successful? Blaming others, picking them a part, and using demeaning words and behavior is NOT OKAY. It is immature and wrong. You are hurting someone who has worked hard to be the best they can be, a parent or coach who has put money and time into helping their athletes succeed, and by judging them poorly based on your jealousy is faulting them for their hard work.

If you or your athlete are jealous, look at the situation before you speak and act. It is so sad when we see, hear, and have to deal with parents and coaches acting and speaking negatively, and seeing young athletes treating their teammates poorly. RESPECT is crucial for any person, athlete, coach, and parent, that’s common knowledge, but what is ignored, is how disrespect can truly influence another.

Our children should never feel at fault for being great at what they do, and as a parent or coach, we should never be put in a situation where we feel at fault for everything we do and have done for our athletes.

Written by Nikoli Sharp


The Unsure Athlete

The Unsure Athlete

“What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”

As parents and coaches, we go through phases, and our athletes also go through phases; one phase that athletes go through is feeling and wanting to “not play anymore.” Now, this can be completely upsetting for us! We will become frustrated, disappointed, get mad or sad, and sometimes act on our emotions too quickly, rather than talking it out with your athlete. Before any decision is made, as we all know, it is important to think it through, ask questions, and to look at all perspectives.

Ask Questions!

Asking your athlete questions is not only to help you understand how they are feeling and why they are wanting to make this choice, but it is also important because you are helping them think it through, understand why they are feeling this way and wanting to stop playing the sport they love, and to bring insight.

  1. Why don’t you want to play anymore?
  2. Is it not fun anymore, or is someone not making it fun for you?
  3. Is there something you are missing out on because of the sport?
  4. Are you scared of failing?
  5. Is there something else you would like to do?
  6. Do you need to take a break?
  7. Are they struggling with school because of the sports?

There’s a lot of questions you can ask yourself and ask your athlete, so ASK! Be a listening ear, a confidant, but also be an adviser! Give your point of view, give them examples of your own experiences, and explain what their decision means.

As an athlete myself, I remember having a hard time missing out on dances, school functions, football games, and just being a “normal kid”. More often than not, this feeling of wanting to quit comes when high school begins. So much is going on in their lives and no many new people, interests, and events are becoming a part of their lives. Helping them through these feelings can be tough, but it is also a crucial step in helping your athlete see their potential, understand what their future may hold, but also providing support and knowledge behind their feelings and decisions.

Most of the time, your athlete realizes she doesn’t want to quit, it was simply emotions of feeling left out or missing out on new things in their lives, but with our help, they will realize that they won’t be missing out on every single thing, just a few sacrifices that will be made; another life lesson that softball gives-sacrifice is a part of life, and you have to be willing to look at the whole picture before you make a big choice.

But if they do decide they need a break after everything is talked through and questions are addressed because they are burnt out, they are struggling in school, or they are no longer having fun-give them a chance to click that pause button briefly…they may really need that so they get that fire back into their hearts to play again and to get those grades up!

We have to remember that the relationship that we have with our kids and our athletes is extremely important, so we have to make sure we aren’t jumping to conclusions, yelling at them, and becoming mad or upset when they tell you “I don’t want to play anymore” because there is always a reason and there is always room for questions, explanations, perspective, and life lessons. We are more than a parent and a coach, remember that!

Written by Nikoli Sharp


Injuries…What do we do?

 Injuries…What do we do?

“Never let a stumble in the road be the end of the journey.”

Unfortunately, in any sport, injuries are inevitable. Some are minor and some are major. Some can be even life changing and altering, while some can be a small scrape to the knee. But what can we do to prevent injuries from happening or to make them less likely to happen????

Many athletes and parents don’t realize that conditioning, weight training, speed and agility, and flexibility are CRUCIAL in helping prevent injuries. Our athletes need to be strong and agile to not only perform well on the field, but to also stay mentally focused and healthy. If your athletes become tired because they are out of shape whether it is during a practice or during a game, they are more likely going to gain an injury. When your athlete is in shape and consistently keeping their muscles strong and their bodies flexible and agile, they will be less prone to injuries because they will be able to control their body on the field when they competing during those long game days.

So what can we do as coaches and parents to help our athletes stay strong and healthy? Here are just a few examples below, but CONSISTENCY is key!

  1. Include conditioning in practices
  2. Work on speed and agility at practice
  3. Higher a trainer to come out to practices
  4. Provide a training program for them to follow at home during the season and for off season
  5. Make sure stretching is a high priority

This is just a small, yet simple list that can be incorporated into your athlete’s routine. Better yet, you will also be getting your athlete ready for college ball when 5am weights and conditioning begin! You can even personalize and tailor it to the positions they are playing on the field so that you work on specific muscle groups along with full body workouts that will keep their bodies alert, strong, and in shape for each season.

What do you do after your athlete already had an injury?

Sometimes our athletes make an astonishing play, but get hurt, it happens! OR maybe your athlete’s body got tired and they tweaked their knee, or their mechanics at a young age led to an injury as they got older. Injuries are part of the sport, and while we work hard to prevent them, sometimes it’s just a matter of timing and luck!

If your athlete is injured, make sure you are taking the doctor and physical therapy sessions serious! Learn as much as you can about the injury-ask questions about the injury, how to prevent it from occurring again, and any exercises that they should and shouldn’t do for it specifically. The more you know about your injury, the more you will be able to take care of yourself, prevent it from happening again, and be able to keep it strong for future seasons.

 Don’t wait on helping your athletes, start NOW in helping them perform their best while preventing injuries!

Written by Nikoli Sharp


Don’t Pout! The Selfish Athlete

Don’t Pout! The Selfish Athlete

“You can’t be a smart cookie with a crumbly attitude!”

Selfish athletes? Do you have them on your team? Do you have players who pout, complain, and disrupt your team dynamic? Unfortunately, there is always an athlete who is selfish and sadly, it causes a much bigger problem within the team than most care to give attention to. We have coaches who will tell the negative athletes to knock it off, be a team player, and just deal with it every practice and game instead of getting to the root of the problem, talking it out, defusing the problem, and laying down the rules of respect, team, and leadership.

If  we as coaches and parents allow an athlete to behave selfishly, than we are allowing them to hurt the team and the team’s success. We can’t just let it keep producing negativity on the team, we have to make sure that we are teaching our athletes not just the mechanics and fundamentals of the game, but the respect, diligence, and teamwork that holds great value within the sport.

  1. Realize the fault

We have to realize the faults on the team. See who, what, and why is being affected and causing a lack in the team dynamic, respect, and success. We have to take action and rid our team of the faults!

  1. Accept Accountability

Make sure not only YOU are accepting accountability to get rid of the problem, but that the athlete or athletes are also accepting accountability for their actions, behavior, and attitude that has caused problems among the team. If each of you are able to speak about the problem and come to a conclusion to work out the issues, and to get rid of the negative effects, than you will be cutting out the selfish acts and helping your team become stronger not only on the field, but also within their mental game.

Softball isn’t just a game and sport; it is a part of life that teaches us as coaches and parents lessons and gives us the ability to teach our young athletes life lessons that will help them on and off the field.

We have the opportunity to help our athletes become the best version of themselves, so let’s keep ourselves and our athletes accountable for their actions and attitudes as we all strive for the best success of our athletes in the sport and in life!

“Life teaches us through errors. When we accept the lesson from our mistake with humility and gratitude, we grow that much more.”

Written by Nikoli Sharp


School Comes First, Right?

School Comes First, Right?

“Don’t wait for tomorrow when you can start today.”

As athletes and parents we tend to get blinded by the excitement when the words “college” and “softball” are fused together on the horizon for our daughter’s future. We forget or sometimes lose the ability to find balance with our busy schedules; lessons, practice, tournaments, training, school, and tutoring, not to mention all the traveling, work, and the others kids you have to take care of! Softball takes up a vast amount of our time, but we can’t let our kid’s education get put on the back burner. Your daughter will work her butt off to get to her highest potential on the softball field and she WILL get recruited! BUT she still has to get ACCEPTED into the school. So make sure she is also working diligently on her school work as well!

Our athletes put so much time into their sport; taking lessons, going to training, practicing on their own, watching new drills, and going to camps to better their skills and mechanics. Softball is challenging and fun, so we need to make sure our athletes also see the benefits of school! Your athletes won’t realize how incredibly important all of those lessons and basic classes they took in high school until they get into college, so start telling them now! Just like softball, you learn the basic fundamentals and then you grow and heighten your skills. School is exactly the same! They have to learn the basic fundamentals in order to keep building their knowledge and reaching higher levels of education. If you don’t have the basics down, then it is extremely difficult to be successful whether it is softball or school. We need to make sure our athletes understand that they are STUDENT-athletes. School is crucial to get into college to play ball, and to get a career they want to thrive in.

School is frustrating and also time consuming, and it is hard to find the balance between school and softball, but make sure your athlete is working within a schedule that is built on helping them become successful in the classroom and on the softball field. Of course it isn’t easy, and all of our kids are different, so find what works best for them! If they are struggling, make sure you’re helping them whether you can help, a teacher can help, or going to tutoring. Don’t wait last minute to find help, because it is not easy to work their way back into a passing grade!

We have to remind and keep reminding our athletes that they are students as well, and if they want to go to college, play in college, and have a career that they love, then they have to work hard in each of their classes, not just on the field!

We have brilliant athletes who are different types of athletes, learners, have different personalities, and have different goals and interests, but it is up to us to help guide them onto the path that will help them learn hard work, passion, and dedication towards the importance of education and the sport. Help them thrive in the classroom and on the field. Hold them accountable. Teach them values. Talk to them. Communicate with their teachers. And always make sure they are understanding the importance of everything they are doing and where the diligence is taking them. They have dreams, help them get there!

Written by Nikoli Sharp



Who is she playing for?

“You have to know that you are good enough and worth it. Once you master belief in yourself no one can steal that love from you.”

Who is your athlete playing for? Is she playing for herself, or is she playing for you, her parent, coach, or mentor? It is all too often that our athletes talk to us in lessons and in mental training about playing for someone other than themselves. They are playing because their parents want them to or their coach tells them quitting on their team is wrong and disrespectful because they are counted on. They are pressured by their surrounding peers who probably and usually want what is best for them, but happen to make their athlete feel like they don’t have a choice to make for themselves, or they feel like they have to play to benefit everyone else around them. It’s sad when we see and hear that our athletes are not playing for themselves first, and not having fun with the sport. They are terrified of disappointing their parents, coaches, and even their team. They feel like they will be letting others down, losing friendships, and even hurting their relationship with their parents if they make mistakes or don’t play up to their expectations. Our athletes start to lose the love for the game, and start to feel forced into playing the sport they no longer want to be a part of because their parents or coaches have made it about them, and not their athlete.

We can’t be living through our athletes, putting pressure on them, and making them feel like the sport isn’t about them. Of course the sport is a team effort, but in order for your athlete to have fun, love the game, and to perform their best, they have to believe in themselves while playing with the passion they have for the game; they have to know their own worth and know that they are good enough within themselves and not based on what they hear and think their parents and coaches say and believe. It is an amazing thing to have everyone around you believe in you, love that you are their athlete, and be excited about your future in the sport, but it takes more than that. It takes your athlete believing in herself and believing in what she is capable of instead of being told. She has to know and feel it from within, not just hear it from outsiders, because when your athlete is constantly being told it doesn’t feel like support, but pressure.

I’m not saying that pressure isn’t good, that your athletes don’t need to be told they are good enough, or that they don’t need consistent support. THEY DO! But they also need room, perspective, and time to find it within themselves to believe in themselves and to believe in the sport they are playing-not because of the fear of disappointment or what others want, but playing for what they want and what they believe in.

Sports aren’t just physically tiring, they are mentally draining, and we can’t be the ones that add to the pressure of the mental game. We have to be the ones that help them believe in themselves, because without self-worth and the love for the game, they won’t be playing for the right reasons and they won’t be reaching their potential. They will be slowing down their athletic growth and eventually resenting the sport and possibly even their parents and coaches because they will feel like the game they loved and were great at was taken away from them. Don’t be the one that takes it away, be the one that helps them see WHY they play; for the love of the game.

Written by Nikoli Sharp


I Don’t Fit the Mold

I Don’t Fit the Mold

“Don’t follow someone else’s way, find what works for you and stick to it.”

Fitting in is easy for some and hard for others. We have young athletes who want to have the coolest clothes, makeup, shoes, games, and so forth, not necessarily because they like those materialistic things, but because they want to “fit in”. For some reason, as young individuals, being different or simply being yourself becomes an uncomfortable or “bad” thing that our society has reflected onto the minds that are too scared to be themselves because of what others will think, say, or even do to them. Rumors, embarrassing moments, feeling alone, and losing friends is inevitable, but it is also really hard on our young  student-athletes as they are learning their emotions, who they are as an individual, and who they want to be. Everyone tends to fall into the hole of society where you do what the magazine, T.V., and computers tell the world. “Don’t do that, do this.” “Wear this, not that.” “That is wrong, this is right.” But as we get older we start to form our own opinions, judgements, likes, and dislikes. We start to create the person we are based on what we value and find morally acceptable. We start to become ourselves, the one person we wish we had always been, but were too scared to be because of the mean students in school or what we read or heard was what we should be, how we should act, and how we should look. We become an individual in society, instead an invisible follower.

As a role model to my athletes, it is important that I reiterate the advantages of being different! There are so many advantages of being confident in yourself as an individual, accepting what makes you different, using your own strengths, and finding what works for YOU, not what works for “everyone”. Our athletes are each unique in their own way, and if we try to mold all of them into the same exact swing, throw, pitcher, fielder, and competitor, we are doing them a disservice; we are letting them down, because we are not helping them become the best version of themselves, but merely the image of majority. As a coach, we are here to not only enhance their skill levels and to provide them with basic mechanics and fundamentals, but to help them become their own athlete, own competitor, and own person as they grow, learn, and become the best version of themselves.

Each of our athletes learns, acts, and responds differently. They each have different skill sets that are strong and that are weak. We have athletes who get mad at themselves when they make a mistake and gravel in it, and we have athletes who brush it off and reset themselves. While it is our job to help them see different perspectives and ways to find success in their sport, it is also important that we let them learn what works best for each of them on their own. They might need to get angry at themselves to light a fire under them and work harder, or they may need to take a deep breath and refocus to stay mentally strong through the game. It is so incredibly crucial to guide our athletes on a positive path in the sport, but it is also crucial to allow them to fail, to allow them to make mistakes, learn what works for them and what doesn’t, and to give as much knowledge, experience, and perspectives as we can to help them see through a multitude of lenses to look into and see themselves in.

We know what worked for us as athletes, and we share that with our athletes as they are getting older and past the basic fundamentals and mechanics. They have to learn who they are not only as an athlete and competitor, but also who they are as a student and as a person. We want what is best for our athletes, and sometimes everyone loses sight of what is truly important and why we are coaching or playing the sport. It can be so incredibly challenging and mentally draining, but I wouldn’t change a single thing, because if I can help my athletes reach their highest potential not only on the field, but in the classroom and in life, then I am making a difference, and as coach, isn’t that what we are here for, to make a difference?

“When you are born into a world you don’t fit in, it is because you were born to help create a new one.”

Written by Nikoli Sharp


I’m Busy: Don’t Be Busy, Be Productive!

I’m Busy: Don’t Be Busy, Be Productive!

“You did not wake up today to be mediocre.”

Busy. A common word we use as an excuse when we don’t want to do something. A word that is severely misused and misunderstood. If you look up the definition of busy, you will find: “occupied with or concentrating on a particular activity or object of attention” or “full of activity” with synonyms ranging from active, hectic, lively, and strenuous. So why is it when we use the word busy, we aren’t ACTUALLY busy? Busy is a cover word-a word that is empty when we need an excuse to not do something that we should or need to be doing. But WHY do we lack that motivation and determination to put the work in? Why is it so hard to be productive? Why do we wish for things instead of working for them? It’s sad that life is so full of incredible opportunities, yet we let our excuses get in the way of grabbing onto them.

Are your athletes falling into the pile of excuses? Are they lacking motivation and determination? Do they understand that wishing for something doesn’t make it happen? Do they know what they need and should be doing to be the best they can be?

Are you being an accessory to their laziness, or are you fueling the fire that will keep them motivated and determined to work hard and be productive every single day? Are you being a role model that influences their motivation to grab onto opportunities, to go out on their own and practice, and to WORK for their potential?

Whether we are a coach, parent, teacher, role model, or instructor, I don’t think we realize how much our athletes watch, observe, follow, mimic, and do the things that we say, do, and act. They follow in our footsteps, and it is up to us to make sure those footsteps aren’t hindering their abilities, negatively affecting their actions, and creating barriers and challenges that are unnecessary.

Sometimes we need to take a step back and reevaluate ourselves to understand why our athletes are doing, saying, and acting in ways we don’t approve of, understand, or worry about. We have to take responsibility for our actions and our words and instead of blaming our athletes for being lazy and making excuses, maybe that behavior is stemming back to their coach, teacher, instructor, parent, and/or role model.

We are much more of an influence than we realize, so take a step back and make sure you are striving towards the best version of yourself, so your athlete strives towards their best self.

“Never let someone out work you or out hustle you. Ever.”

Written by Nikoli Sharp

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