Author Archive

13
Mar

Eagle

When you think of birds you probably lump them all into a single category and probably just think of them all flying because after all that’s kind of what birds do.

Well what about the Penguin? They are a bird but they don’t fly.  Kind of embarrassing. Kind of a let down to be a bird but not be able to fly. Could be why the waddle around with their head down so much. Thinking how awful and horrible and useless they are because they can’t fly. Right? Well the truth is that while they can’t fly and do waddle around they are actually very gifted swimmers. Since they love to eat fish that’s a pretty special talent to have don’t ya think. But that isn’t what you think of when you see them is it? But this article isn’t about penguins it’s about you. Are you focusing on the talents that others have and just waddling around with your head down wishing you could be like them? Or are you quietly going about the business of being “you” swimming and doing what “you” do best even though the fans are focused on those flying?

One of the most common birds in the world is the chicken. You may not know this but chickens can actually fly. Not far distances and not very high but they can indeed fly. But you’ve probably never seen a chicken fly. Why? Some people think it’s because they are afraid. What an opening for me right? “What is holding you back from being the bird that God intended you to be?” But actually that’s not where I’m going with the whole chickens can fly but don’t dealio. My thoughts are that chickens don’t fly because they don’t need to. They have a perfectly good life on the ground. So let me ask you this … Are you happy just being you or are you focusing on the things that others around you tell you that you are supposed to do that would make you “better.” You are made to be “you” not someone else. There are millions of things you “could do” if you chose to, but just because a million others may do them doesn’t mean you have to. Are you focusing on, and are you thankful for what you do have like a chicken or are you worried about trying to be like some other “bird?”

I’ll bet you didn’t know that the smallest bird in the world is a type of hummingbird known as the bee hummingbird? They are just 2.5 inches in length and weighs in at only 1.8 grams. Compare them to the largest flying bird which weighs 46 lbs and you kind of have a mismatch. While they can fly and many do migrate like other bird families they can only fly short distances before they have to stop and eat. So why bother? What team would really want a tiny bird that can hardly keep up on a long flight? Any team that wants to win that’s who. Can you imagine how determined you have to be fly thousands of miles to migrate but having to stop over and over and over and over in order to eat and rest? Also the hummingbird is the only bird in the world that can fly forward and backward. That’s a special talent. It can also hover in the air long enough to get the nectar out of a flower and is smart enough to remember every single flower it ever gets nectar from. So let me ask you this shorty. Small fry. Weakling. Are you focusing on what you bring to team that others don’t or are you busy wasting energy just comparing your size to theirs?

The eagle is probably the most revered of all birds. When I was young I often tried to flap my wings like birds to fly. Fortunately I wasn’t like friends who thought they really could fly if they jumped off high things before flapping. You may have tried the same thing yourself at some point in your life. So what is it about the way eagles flap their wings and fly that makes them stand out from other birds? You see that’s entirely the wrong question. In fact you hardly ever see an eagle flapping their wings. That’s their beauty. They wouldn’t have the strength to fly to the heights and for the lengths that they do. They use the wind around them. They simply put their wings out and glide and trust the wind to carry them … and it does. Are you soaring high trusting those around you or are you flapping your wings hundreds of times a minute, like a hummingbird, trying to do it all on your own?

Each and every bird is gifted in unique ways just like each and every softball player. Instead of envying the gifts of others you should be focusing on what type of “bird” you are.

Category : Mental advice | Blog
13
Mar

HannahThat’s a GREAT question!!!

One that players ask me all of the time. “I like playing this” “Dad wants me to play this” “Coach won’t let me play this but I want to.”

Probably all of the same things that have gone through your head more than once or twice in your career.

With my youngest grand daughter in mind I sat down and wrote my suggestions for Fastpitch.TV. Sure hope it helps you.

What Position Should You Play – For Fastpitch.TV

Category : Mental advice | Blog
13
Mar

Haley_PrincessHad to share a few of the characteristics about Disney Princesses that I don’t believe lend themselves to softball. If you haven’t already watch Part 1 be sure to catch that first.

Should Princesses Play Softball – Part 2 for Fastpitch.TV

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
13
Mar

Ella_PrincessOne day when I was sitting around with my grand daughters playing with all of their Princess stuff I got a crazy thought in my head. Being me I sat down and videoed my thoughts for Fastpitch.TV about the kind of characteristics that Disney Princesses have that would lend themselves to softball. Be sure and catch Part 2 as well.

Should Princesses Play Softball – Part 1 for Fastpitch.TV

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
1
Mar

DiveBackHopefully you are sitting down as you read this. Because what I wrote recently for Fastpitch.TV might really surprise you.

The Pursuit of Good for Fastpitch.TV

Category : Mental advice | Training | Blog
10
Feb

_DSC6549“Oh girls they want to have fun
Oh girls just want to have

That’s all they really want
Some fun
When the working day is done
Girls – they want to have fun
Oh girls just want to have fun,
They want to have fun,
They want to have fun”

Cyndi Lauper’s tune is a catchy one for sure. You start singing it and any hope of accomplishing anything that day just flies out the window because you just can’t get it out of your head.

_DSC6438Well I’ve got it in my head now because I think it’s the perfect way to describe the Aggressive Baserunning Clinic’s I get to do. As you can see in the pictures the clinic’s I conduct like this one for the 12U Atlanta Flames are no picnic. We “work” on attacking the bases and not just waiting around for other players to knock them in or for coaches to tell them to go.  We “work” on each and every player sliding flat on the ground and distributing their weight evenly. When I say that we work on Diving I mean that we “work” on each and every player actually diving in the air just like Super Woman.

You might think that getting girls to do something like this would take a miracle. But guess what? You would be wrong. Dead wrong.

These are softball players. Hardened athletes who are willing to do whatever it takes to win ball games._DSC6316

Once I help them get over their initial fears of the unknown and make it “fun” just look at the results. For a little fun in the dirt they are willing to work harder and push their bodies beyond anything you may have imagined. Once they catch on that GETTING DIRTY is “fun” there is nothing they won’t do._DSC6453

As you study their faces you’ll see that each is unique for sure but each is also intensely focused. Not the kind of expressions you expect to see when having “fun” I suppose. 

Your image of “fun” likely involves girls being silly. Cutting up. Laughing. If you were with me you might even say out loud that these players don’t really look like they are having “fun.”

_DSC6425I have perhaps a different perspective of “fun” than most folks which is likely derived from my premise that athletes enjoy pushing themselves to accomplish new things.

That while they are in every sense working hard externally, internally they are actually having “fun” because they know they will go to bed that night a better player. A tougher player. A player who has skills that will never be taken from them. Skills that they will use in the coming weeks, months and years to differentiate themselves from their competition.

Some shutter at the thought of hard work. They cringe at the concept of discipline. Pride? Passion? Excellence? Merely cute quotes to “share” on Facebook or Instagram.

Three things that I can tell you with absolute assuredness:

1. The young ladies on the 12U Atlanta Flames were indeed having a ton of “fun” while working hard because for them Pride – Passion – Excellence is what they are striving for as athletes and as young women.

2. There is no greater “fun” in this world than looking young ladies right in the eye and seeing that they truly get it.

3. I wouldn’t trade the moments like in this picture for all of the money in the world.

_DSC6533

Category : Training | Uncategorized | Blog
4
Feb

Thats HotTwo and a half years ago I was blessed with the opportunity to do some instruction at the annual Higher Ground camp for elite softball players. The camp is held each year in Columbus, Georgia in mid June. If you know anything about the south, and that area in particular you know that the thermostat can pretty much go off the charts during that time of year and combined with the humidity it can become unbearable.

Despite the title of the post and the picture which shows what the thermostat read in my car on the way to my afternoon speed and agility session, this article has absolutely nothing to do with the temperature. Like anything in this great game called Fastpitch softball, temperature is only a problem if you can’t control your mind and you allow it to be a problem.

One of my favorite things to teach is speed and agility. Partially because I believe that athletes can do everything better if they train their bodies to react faster to what their brains tell them to do. But more importantly I love challenging girls to push themselves beyond the limits they’ve often imposed upon themselves. Typically my sessions are 45 minutes long and include a combination of core training, agility drills and speed work. I taunted all 63 campers all week long telling them that it was just crazy that Higher Ground founder Bobby Simpson had given me 75 minutes to punish their bodies in this kind of ‘heat.’ I whispered to most of them that they weren’t tough enough to even show up, because most girls can’t complete the 45 minute sessions and that they should find another session.

Yet 14 girls were brave enough in 111 degree temperatures to meet me on the field. We warmed up with 25 minutes of grueling core training drills isolating and working core muscles and large leg and arm muscles. At this point their muscles were screaming at them for being crazy enough to show up. I didn’t take much time to listen to those screaming muscles, so we then pushed right into 25 minutes of agility drills. Constantly moving. Constantly increasing speed. Now that I had the full attention of their core, their muscles, their brain, their heart and their lungs we started working the speed ladder. Two speed ladders actually so that instead of just slacking off and going through the motions I challenged them to compete at the end of this grueling experience. I also challenged them to do the same drills we did through the ladders on our feet using their hands instead. In all fairness I did warn them all.

One young lady named Raven got my attention, the first time through the ladder. She clearly didn’t have much experience using a speed ladder and she was paired up against a player who obviously had lots of experience. Her comment was something like “I just can’t do this.” So I took pity on this poor young lady who clearly had given her all and I paired her up with someone much slower. Well that’s what she hoped would happen when she said it, but that’s not the way I work. Instead I called her out right there in front of the other 13 young ladies. I told her that I admired all she had done to this point, but that she was at an elite camp. That I don’t accept “can’t.” That she needed to push herself beyond what she ever believed she could accomplish. That she didn’t need to beat this player the first time through the ladder, she only needed to keep improving and beat her before our session was over. That she needed to look this bigger, stronger, faster player right in the eyes and tell her that she was going to own her very soon.

So how did Raven respond? Did she just give up? Cry and then go get a drink? No! My girl stepped up, shouted that she would own her, and proceeded to improve each and every time through the speed ladder and eventually tied her and then beat her once. As Raven pushed herself further with each step or hand through the speed ladder so did the other 13 young ladies. She dug deep and realized she had more inside her that she had never let the world see before, and the other 13 weren’t about to let her be the only one to step up to another level.

On a muggy 111 degree day in mid June 2011, in Columbus, GA, 14 young ladies stepped forth and met a challenge like they had never faced before in their lives. They fought through the pain, the scorching heat and muscle fatigue and emerged as warriors. NOW THAT’S HOT!

On a muggy 111 degree day in mid June 2011, in Columbus, GA, Raven stepped forth and met a challenge like she had never faced before in her young life. Not only did she have to fight through the pain, the scorching heat and muscle fatigue she had to overcome being called out in front of 13 strangers and then overcome her Goliath. And she did it. NOW THAT’S HOT.

On a muggy 111 degree day in mid June 2011, in Columbus, GA, 14 young ladies demonstrated for about 30 parents who’s jaws were dropped in amazement as they watched them, and most of whom weren’t the girls parents, that they were indeed amazing athletes and not just girls playing softball. NOW THAT’S HOT!

On a muggy 111 degree day in mid June 2011, in Columbus, GA, 14 young ladies touched my heart, and reminded me exactly why I LOVE THIS GAME and LOVE working with players that want to become champions, regardless of the cost. NOW THAT’S HOT!

Category : Training | Blog
27
Jan

I interrupt the regularly scheduled post on Wintality to bring you some important, tragic news that Crystl Bustos has an irreversible mental disorder. I’ve met with several leading psychologists around the world to discuss her case and the term they use starts with a “C” …. Give me a second and let me flip through my notes … oh here it is …

CONFIDENCE.

It’s such a shame because she’s a very healthy young woman apart from this illness. Apparently from talking to others who’ve known her longer than I have, she’s had this condition since she was a teenager. It’s a pretty rare disease that tends to alienate those who have it. She just believes in her mind that she’s playing a different game than everyone else. She believes she’s going to make any play, or hit any pitch. I should rephrase that last part … she believes she’s going to absolutely destroy any pitch that is thrown.

The good news for you is that you don’t have to worry about catching this disorder by accident. That just can’t happen. In order to come down with confidence you have to actually go out and work hard for it. You have to put in the kind of effort that Crystl does. On the recent Softball Clinic Cruise Crystl mentioned that her hitting warmup for the 2008 Gold Medal game was over 3 hours. Not 3 minutes. Not 3 good hits. Not 3 buckets. 3 hours. She walks to the plate, believing she is the best hitter in the world because she prepares herself to walk to the plate believing that.

Many of you have hundreds of dollars worth of bats in your bat bags. How many of you take the time to use those bats with a  $20 batting tee and $20 worth of waffle balls so that when you walk to the plate you believe in your mind that you will hit? Not hope to hit. Not dream of a good pitch. Not pray to avoid striking out. I’m talking about you’ve hit so many balls throughout the course of the week, the month, the season that you “KNOW” there is no pitch that can be thrown at you that you can’t drive.

How many of you have sore chests/throats/arms from practicing hard hit hops so much, so you beg for the ball to be hit to you because you “KNOW” you will make the play?

How many of you have sore legs from practicing your leadoffs so much so that you “KNOW” you will have the needed jump in order to score that winning run in ITB?

Confidence isn’t genetic.

Confidence isn’t taught.

Confidence isn’t read about.

Confidence. Real confidence. The kind that Crystl Bustos exudes from every fiber of her being, comes from putting in the time outside of the game, preparing yourself mentally and physically so that you can’t fail. So that you walk to the plate, sprint onto the field, explode off the base knowing you are the best. That you will succeed.

I guess in the end. After all of the humor. After making up so many phrases. These 8 posts, that all started as a result of a single post on Facebook by the 2011 Auburn Tigers softball team, come down to this one word. Confidence. So I shall wrap up in the way I started

[Wintality] – win-tal-i-ty – noun; The act of believing you will succeed.

Category : Mental advice | Blog
27
Jan

[Wintality] – win-tal-i-ty – noun; The act of mentally attacking everything on the field as though it may be the last time you ever play the game. “That player’s wintality is just infectious.”

While he hasn’t played for a great many years, if you were to have a discussion with baseball folks about passion and hustle the name Pete Rose would jump off of their lips. The game of Fastpitch softball has it’s own version of Mr. Hustle in the form of Kristin Schnake. Prior to playing the 2010 season for the USSA Pride, Kristin spent 4 seasons as a University of Georgia Bulldog.Schnake

At a recent tournament I watched one of my batting students softly jogging on to the field like her teammates. I challenged her to explode on and off the field instead of walking and her response was that she wanted to save energy for later. I have to say it kind of broke my heart that despite everything I’ve written about and talked to my players about I must have forgotten to talk to them about playing the way Kristin plays.

Kristin never walks anywhere on the field. She doesn’t jog into position to save energy. She doesn’t even just sprint to her position. She sprints past her position then comes back to it. She demonstrates through her actions that deep down inside she really wants to be there. When she leaves the field she does so with a gusto that makes you think she knows she’s going to drive in 10 RBI’s that inning or something. She absolutely exudes an energy. An excitement. A passion. A love of this game. A wintality if you will, that is infectious to her teammates, and to all those who have the pleasure of watching her play the game.

As Bob Hope once said “You never get tired unless you stop and take time for it.” I’m challenging all of my players this week to spend time thinking about what their actions entering and leaving the field are saying about them. So this week I’m going to challenge you players and coaches to do the same. When you are taking the field do you leave the impression that you want to be there more than the other team wants to hit? When you are heading to the dugout is it clearly obvious that you desire to attack the ball at the plate? Kristin Schnake has crazy wintality. Do you?

PS – I first wrote this post in late 2011. The player I mentioned in this article read it and changed immediately. She is now referred to as a “rabid squirrel” the way she takes the field and became the 16U A National Champion this year.

Category : Mental advice | Blog
27
Jan

[Wintality] – win-tal-i-ty – noun; The act of mentally forgoing your own desire to feel  better for the betterment of the team. “She was devastated internally after striking out, but her wintality kept her from showing it.”

I’m going to start out with a question for you:

You are up to bat in an important situation and you don’t come through – or – during an important play in the field and you make an error. How do you respond?

If you are like most players you draw mAngerore attention to yourself by showing your anger with what you just did. Kick dirt. Call yourself an idiot. Curse. Throw your helmet. Throw your glove down. I’ve seen it a million times but I’ve always wondered is why. They know they end up playing worse afterwards, and yet they do it anyway. I think I’ve finally figured out the answer this weekend while I was watching a team go downwards in a spiral. You know what I’m talking about, 1 mistake that leads to 5 more.

I think the answer lies in the players desire to beat themselves up before others do. I think that starts in childhood. If a child is remorseful and acts upset their punishment is generally always lighter. After all, the goal of punishing is to help children understand what they did was wrong. So if they clearly demonstrate that they understand what they did was wrong, then why punish them?

But when they act like they didn’t do anything wrong, or don’t say they are sorry then they need drastically punished. Imagine that a player drops an easy fly ball and they just start smiling and get back to their position. What would you think of them? Aren’t they at least supposed to say “I’m sorry” or “my bad.” Do they even care whether we win or lose?

But my question is why? Why should they, or you, ever have to apologize on the field of play? If all of you are practicing with everything that you have, and doing everything you can to prepare then does anyone really need to apologize for making an error or not delivering at the plate?

In my book the answer is emphatically no. In my book the apology or self defeating behaviors after mistakes aren’t really intended to help the team, they are intended to try and avoid what the player assumes is coming because it’s what they think of others. What’s funny is that the same behaviors are usually occurring off the field by the parents, usually with the same level of drama: “Poor thing she is such a perfectionist, she gets so frustrated with herself when she lets her team down.” If parents get that in first, then who can really say anything negative about the error or the negative behavior of the child.

The problem is that for a team to succeed. I mean really succeed, each player better be focused on what they have to do so that they can contribute. That’s kind of the definition of a team, individuals each contributing together to the best of their ability. At the point you ask 11 other individuals to focus on you and how mad you are at yourself, then you’ve stopped being a team. A team needs to be comprised of players that focus on how they can help others the second their turn is over, and not comprised of players that are self centered and focused on what they didn’t achieve. So back to you… If you are in an environment where you feel like you have to apologize then help break that cycle. If a teammate makes an error, immediately fill in the pause in their head with something like “wow that was some wicked hop girl because I’ve seen you make a million plays like that before, I know you got the next one.” Or “Whew that wind is vicious today because you’ve been running like a gazelle all day I can’t believe even you couldn’t get there for that one.” If you set the tone that you know they are prepared, that you know they are giving all they have, that you know they want to contribute then they don’t have to take any kind of action to try and prove it to you. As you begin on this path you will see how much better others perform when they don’t beat themselves up, and how much better the team does as a result. If you then want to actually take some of that advice yourself and stop apologizing so that the team can focus on themselves instead of on you, well that will probably work to.

Category : Mental advice | Blog