Mental advice


Typically, I am a little more creative with the title of my articles. I like to keep you guessing where “I might be going” with my writing. But for you the loyal reader I wanted to leave no doubt what I believe to be the absolute most important part of being an infielder is quite simply to get the out.

Oddly enough I wrote this post for another media outlet when my first grand daughter was born over 10 years ago. I started thinking then, that if she does play softball she may have 10-20 different coaches throughout her career plus dozens of different instructors at camps, clinics or for personal lessons. Here I am 10.5 years later and I have not 1, but 2 granddaughters playing the sport.

I didn’t write this to help my granddaughters avoid awful instruction. I trust that the clear majority of the information they hear will be solid fundamentally and will be delivered with good intention. Instead I wrote a series of things about the one thing about each skill that I would deliver to my heirs if we were sitting down in the shade eating an ice cream discussing the game. They might look at me with their adorable eyes and dirt covered uniforms and ask, “Pops what is the most important about …” and in this case playing infield.

I would stop licking my chocolate raspberry truffle cone, look her right in the eyes and say, “sweetie that’s easy the most important part of being an infielder is to GET THE OUT!”

She would probably follow up with something like “But Coach A says we have to be down and ready a thousand times each game.” Being set and ready is a great thing because it ensures you are in a position that gives you the best chance to get to the ball which helps you get the out.

“And Coach B constantly yells out that we should know what we are going to do if the ball comes to us.” Sweetie thinking through the play before the ball leaves the pitchers hand is also a great thing because it ensures that you are in the best mental position to help get the out.

“And at the last camp Instructor C had us practice our footwork over and over. She said we don’t have to go straight to the ball we can come around so we are in a better position to throw after wards.” That’s also an awesome thing to practice. It helps you be in the position to throw to help you get the out.

You can probably guess that I could go on forever and if I were enjoying an ice cream cone with my grand daughter talking softball I you better believe I would drag that moment on for as long as possible. But since this is you, you don’t have an ice cream cone, and have other things to do, I won’t.

There are a million things that as coaches/instructors we try to drill into players heads. Generally, we emphasize the one(s) we believe to be important. Sadly, there is also a lot of competition between coaches/instructors over the words they choose to use when trying to emphasize their points. I can’t tell you how many plays I’ve sat and watched where a player gets the out and is still yelled at by her coach. “You should have charged it sooner.” “You shouldn’t have stood up you should have tossed it.” “You shouldn’t have tossed it you should have stood up and made a solid throw” “You shouldn’t have tossed it to her you should have led her to the base” You should have … You should have … You should have.

All too often what I see is coaches, parents and players getting hung up in what they know about the game. They forget about the simple fact that all of the millions of practice hours are simply to help us prepare to get the out.  My challenge for you this month is to figure out not only how you will teach the skills, but how you will help players learn that each skill alone is simply a tool to help them increase their chances of getting the out.

Help them understand that when the play is over, if the out was made then it was a perfect play. Don’t let them beat themselves up just because they missed 1 of the 127 things you practiced the weekend before. And certainly, don’t beat her up to the point that she focuses on doing that skill right to the detriment of getting the out.

If I ever have the privilege of watching any of grand daughters play a championship game and they simply kick the ball to the other fielder for the game clinching out I will be the first one in her ear saying, “Sweetie that was the best infielding play I’ve ever seen.”

Category : Mental advice | Training | Uncategorized | Blog


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

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 granddaughter in mind I sat down and wrote out my thoughts.

I hope you enjoyed my two previous posts on Princesses but my youngest granddaughter doesn’t like getting her braided all fancy-schmancy and is unwilling to wear a princess costume. What she is though is absolutely fearless. She is also open to trying to new things and persists at them until she’s got it. Of course, I tend to persist at things as well so I tried to be creative and work her and the Disney Princesses into a serious, thought-provoking article on what position you should play.

To me the most important part of choosing what position you should play is to identify who you are. What are your strengths? What skills has God blessed you with that make you unique? What position are you best suited to succeed at? In fact succeed is kind of a weak word. What position are you best suited to stand out and shine at? Often the easiest way to learn about ourselves is to study others so I’d like to introduce you to Team Disney the newest of the elite level travel softball teams.

Team Disney is obviously coached by Belle. She’s strong, smart and doesn’t judge a book by a (its) cover. Clearly great qualities for a softball coach. More importantly she isn’t afraid to go toe to toe with a Beast so I know she’d do a great job with umpires and athletic directors at the collegiate level or booster club presidents at the high school level.

The pitcher for the team is clearly Rapunzel. She is one tough chick. She simply won’t back down and absolutely will go after the hitters that other pitchers fear. Plus she clearly has the hair to pull off all of the hairdos and support the various forms of hair bling that seem to be required of the position to distract batters.

How about the hot corner at third base? Is there a “princess” that is really suited for that role? Hello! The title for her biographical movie was Brave so clearly Merida can own that position with no problem.

How about the newest Disney character Queen Elsa? She can literally throw frozen ropes and we all know that is a key trait of short stops. Her sister Princess Anna has a true gift of supporting the main character and sacrificing herself. So she’s obviously going to catch.

More than likely if you are old enough to be reading this and play the sport you are likely very athletic. You can “play” any position and likely do what your coach asks of you. Before I go further know that I’m all about you playing whatever position your coach/team needs you to play. But I’m not talking about just “playing positions.” I’m talking about choosing to play the position that lines up with your individual skills and interests so well that you will standout playing the position and redefine what coaches start looking for in others. Kind of like the way Pocahontas would stand out in Center Field. Fast. Check. Depth perception. Check. Can paint with all the colors of the wind and go where she knows it will carry the ball and not just track where it is going at first. Check.

Yes, your momma will get better close ups of you if you play first base instead of right field, but is that really the best position for you to utilize your crazy God given speed? You’re a pretty good pitcher now in 12U because you are bigger/stronger than other pitchers your age. But the problem is you hate practicing, so you don’t and you know that others keep getting better and you aren’t. Why not find the position that does thrill you and makes you want to give everything you have for it? So that in 2 years you are the one standing out and passing up the other girls who are stronger in those positions right now.

I know there are many parents, friends and fans in the stands that cheer more for particular “positions” than they do for others. I get that there are lots of girls fighting over certain positions and turning their noses up at others. Many who believe that there certain positions that only exist so that bench warmers can actually get into games now and then. But I’m praying that both you and my granddaughter Hannah aren’t influence by any of them. That your decisions of choosing a position to dedicate hours and hours and hours and hours of practice will be based on the position that lets your talents and your passions absolutely shine. Whether you or she wears a tiara off the field or not really isn’t my concern. But helping you line up your skills, talents, passion with the right position to make you shine on the field like a princess is.

Since writing this post back in March of 2014 for Fastpitch.TV, Hannah has become quite the softball player, is still pretty fearless and does like having her hair done with beautiful braids.

Category : Mental advice | Blog


Have you cast aside the word “good” in favor of words with more pizzazz like “awesome.”

Have you set it aside in favor of words that portray more enthusiasm like “phenomenal.”

If you were to describe your softball play in 1 word would you choose the word “good” or something more intimidating like “relentless.”

I must confess that the word “good” has seldom passed through my lips. I’m a motivator for crying out loud. People get to choose what they are going to read. Who they are going to train with. Their time is valuable and I’m competing with “fantastic focus” “tremendous power” who wants to hear/read about a simple word like “good.”

That was until a trusted friend challenged me recently, partially in jest, but none the less I was challenged. They called to my attention that in Genesis chapter 1 God created the heavens and the earth. All that was in them. As He looked down after each day He saw that it was …. wait for it … wait for it … He saw that it was “good.”

That’s right. We are talking about the creation of the entire universe. About the creation of puppies. About the creation of mountains and mountain views. About the creation of Oceans and babbling brooks. About the creation of stars. About the creation of trees that yield cocoa beans for crying out loud. About the creation of very precious human beings. All that and it was good.

If God’s perception of those things was that they were good I’d be hard pressed to explain what I really mean when I say tremendous to describe how a hitting session went.

So yeah my friend sort of had my immediate attention and I promised them I would carefully think it through and write an article about the word good. Always the student I first decided to check out Wikipedia thinking it shouldn’t take more than 5 seconds to copy and paste their definition. Have you looked up the word good lately? I was overwhelmed at just how many different areas of life the word good is used in and how valuable the word has been through history. Here is 1 example I pulled straight out of Wikipedia:

Summum bonum is a Latin expression meaning “the highest good”, which was introduced by Cicero,[1] to correspond to the Idea of the Good in Greek philosophy. The summum bonum is generally thought of as being an end in itself, and at the same time as containing all other goods

Cool stuff huh. So good that it’s an end in and of itself and contains all other goods. Awesome. Fantastic. Tremendous. All consumed by the word good.

I know you were hoping for a good post on softball which is why you were on this site so let me transition to just how valuable the word is in relation to softball. Imagine you are a member of a softball team …

Would you like a defensive player who is tremendously athletic and once per year dives in the air to catch a line drive and while still in the air does a back tuck and throws the ball back to double up a runner while upside down or would you like a defender who consistently makes good plays?

Would you like a batter who has phenomenal power and can hit the ball 943.7 feet if the wind is blowing out and the pitch is a perfect 52.5 miles per hour right at the belt down the middle or would you like to have a player who has good situational awareness and consistently produces runs?

Would you like a speed burner who runs from home to first in 1.3 seconds but can’t follow the ball after she gets on base or would you like a good base runner who capitalizes on every opportunity presented to her?

Would you like a player with a cannon for an arm but who frequently misfires that cannon under pressure, or would you like a player with a good arm who understands that the perfect throw involves an out not her looking good doing it?

I’ve watched so many teams in the recent past lose games because they couldn’t get a bunt down. A bunt for cyring out loud. You stick your bat out and stop the ball from going into the catchers mitt. How badly do you think the coach would have settled for a good bunt in those situations?

How did this happen to our sport? We can’t even bunt any more because that’s not good enough to be worthy of practicing and taking pride in. Seriusly?

When did we lose sight of the value of “consistently good?”

Coaches are your tryouts even geared at finding the players who are good or are they like so many that I see where dozens of players are quickly run through, and each gets 5 swings. One lucky phenomenal swing and a player makes the team. A good batter who hits .450 each season but gets 5 bad pitches from the dad throwing the ball is sent packing.

Players when did y’all stop trying to be good. When did you leadoff hitters replace the fact that your job was to get on base with the idea that you needed to look awesome by swinging like the cleanup hitters? When did you decide that fielding 50 ground balls and making 50 good throws to first base wasn’t good enough? When did that become boring to you and need to be replaced with throwing 49 balls away while trying to make your throw look remarkable?

My friend was absolutely right. That’s why she’s a trusted friend. I suppose I could state the obvious a good friend. There is tremendous value in the word good all by itself. It doesn’t need to be bedazzled. It doesn’t need any bling. It doesn’t need to be something it’s not. Guess what you don’t either. You are perfectly created in the image of God and He sees you as “good.” So stop the frantic pace of trying to be more than that. Likewise stop assuming that anything you do can detract from that.

Category : Mental advice | Training | Blog

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 …


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

[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

[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

[Wintality] – win-tal-i-ty – noun; The act of controlling the only thing of which you really have control. “Her wintality enabled her to respond to a negative situation in a positive way.”

Anyone can look good when everything is going there way. You know what I’m talking about. The pitcher who throwBrains the ball in the dirt and the umpire calls it a strike anyway. The player who never shows up to practice, finally does, makes 1 catch and the coaches are all over her like she’s the next Caitlin Lowe. It’s easy to walk around with a smile on your face when everything is going your way. But how you react when you are in the batter’s box and the umpire made that strike call even though the ball bounced is what really separates the average players from the great players.

Average players allow the “happenings” around them to determine their “happiness.” While the players with wintality maintain control of the 6” between their ears despite the circumstances around them going against them.

Average players react to bad calls from umpires in a way that disables them from contributing in a positive way for the team, and often carry those calls with them for several innings if not all the way home with them. While players with wintality understand that umpires are only human, they accept that they have no ability to change the call and remain focused on the next pitch/play instead.

Average players bring their baggage from the SUV onto the field with them. While players with wintality are able to leave that baggage in the SUV realizing that they can’t play their best if they carry it around with them.

Winners are separated from others …

Not by the score

Not by the amount of RBI’s they generate

Not by the number of strike outs they ring up

Not by who wins the biggest trophy

Winners are separated from others by the way they control their effort and their attitude.

Whether you are a parent, a coach or a player there are a million things that you have absolutely no control over no matter how much you try. Close your eyes for a few minutes and think through several recent really bad situations. How did you react? Did you let the umpire, your parents, your coach, your teammates, the other team, your boss, your colleages control  the 6” between your ears or did you demonstrate wintality?

Wintality isn’t demonstrated when everything is going your way. Wintality is demonstrated when you retain control of your effort and your attitude despite everything going against you.

Category : Mental advice | Blog

[Wintality] – win-tal-i-ty – noun; The act of admitting your weaknesses and working to correct them. “Her wintality inspired others on the team, and our season totally turned around.”

When I began this series I shared that each week I would have fun just making up definitions for this great word that I first heard from the 2011 Auburn Lady Tigers. The thing I juLainest love about wintality is that it really explains the characteristics that we see and admire in the great ones but that we have trouble explaining using common words, since the traits are admirable, but uncommon. Since I’ve confessed to making it up as I go I suppose it is safe for me to share that honestly I wasn’t sure what to write about this week until I received inspiration from a teenage ball player that I’ve never coached, nor instructed but one who reached out to me via Facebook.

I’ve often gotten blurbs from players that start with “Did you hear how great I did?” “Did you hear about my no-hitter/my homerun/my great dive?” But I’ve never gotten a message on Facebook quite like this one. A message that was so open and so amazingly honest. No beating around the bush. No trying to find out if the mood was safe. She just blurted out “I have a real problem trying to pull the outside pitch. Do you have any ideas that might help?” I thought: “This is going to be interesting. There are no easy answers to that problem, because if there were 95% of the players in the game wouldn’t have it. Plus she’s a teenager, and certainly her attention span will wane before I can even finish giving her my suggestions, but since she asked I will give it a try.”

So I began sharing in small paragraphs that each ended with “Does that make sense?” Partly to ensure she got it, and partly to see if she had already moved on to texting with some friends. But she responded to each one, and always immediately. I wasn’t sure what it would lead to, but I was impressed nonetheless because it isn’t often that a player, a teenage player is able to admit that they have a problem, nor does their attention span often allow them to wait out what can often be my long winded answers. A few days later she reached out to me again with a message that basically read “I tried what you suggested and it was really hard. But I never gave up and eventually I got it. After I got it I just kept working at it and working at it. Then at a practice that me and another player asked to have even though most of our team was on spring break I was killing every outside pitches our coaches tried throwing to me.” Then last night the important message came “In our game I got an outside pitch and I crushed it for a double.”

She still has a lot of hard work to do, but more important than this issue was her willingness to face the problem head on. I think it will establish a lifelong pattern of success for her, and I’m excited to see it become contagious with her team, a team that I happen to love. Most humans have the amazing ability to put in 10 times the effort to make excuses for our weaknesses/problems, but as a teenager she’s already out broken out of that. More importantly as a player, coach, parent or spouse what aspect of your life is getting in the way of you really becoming all that you can be? You’ve tried hiding it. You’ve tried masking it. You’ve tried using excuses. Why not take the chance and admit your problem to someone and ask for help. Then however difficult their advice might be, take it. Laine’s wintality really inspired me this week, I hope it does the same for you.

PS – This story was first written in late 2011. As I post this onto my site for the first time I’m happy to say that this year Laine became the 16U A National Championship and then followed that up shortly after by also becoming the 6A High School Georgia State Champion and her team was ranked #1 in the country for High Schools. Her WINTALITY has indeed continued to grow and she still inspires me.

Category : Mental advice | Training | Blog

[Wintality] – win-tal-i-ty – noun; The act of mentally turning an adversity into an advantage. “We all felt sorry for that girl because of X, but her wintality seemed to use it as fuel.”

Webster’s defines adversity as “an adverse fortune or fate; a condition marked by misfortune, calamity, or distress.” The definition itself is rather ominous, with words like calamity and distress. Often we are trained based on the words alone to just give up. In times of calamity/distress we say things like “If I can just survive …. I will be a happy camper.” But wintality is about thriving, not just surviving in the face of adversity.Mountain Climbing

A few years ago I had the great pleasure of meeting Erik Weihenmayer and hearing him speak. Erik’s goal (which he had accomplished) was to reach the summit of the 7 highest mountains in the world. One of his stories involved a graphic depiction of how mountain climbers cross crevices which can be hundreds of feet deep. They take typical ladders and connect them together with bungee cords, lay them across the divide and then walk across them with their very odd shaped climbing boots. One misstep, one point of the boot misses its mark and you plummet. After a dramatic pause he continued “Can you imagine having to cross that rickety contraption with full sight seeing 300 feet straight down and have the fear of missing a step?” Did I forget to mention that Erik is totally blind? For someone like me who is terrified of heights I certainly got that. What those of us who have sight saw as an unconquerable adversity, Erik actually used as an advantage. What Erik has is most undeniably “wintality.”

Last year one of my players suffered what could have easily been a career ending knee injury. I’ve seen it before with other players I’ve coached and worked with. She chose to have surgery and endure arduous physical therapy. After the first of 6 months of recovery I asked if she thought she was going to be as good as new. Her response was “I’m going to be 10 times better than I was before. I used to think I worked hard, but now I realize that I’ve got a lot more in me that I was never willing to let out before but my trainer has brought it to the surface. I’m going to continue working harder than anyone else out there because now I know what I’m really capable of.” She wasn’t about to just survive and get back to “normal.” She used a tragic injury to her long term advantage. What Mari has is most undeniably “wintality.“

Often our adversity comes at the hand of our own poor decisions. The majority of people wear the guilt of those choices with them for the rest of the season, year and sometimes life. Others dedicate their entire lives to trying to undo the decision, as though their commitment level and the pain they force themselves through will allow them to travel back in time and undo the wrong. I’d like to suggest something rather simple … it is impossible to unscramble an egg. Instead of wasting time on what can never be, start with the circumstances that you now find yourself in and make a fantastic, delicious omelet instead.

We all face adversity. Are you using your adversity as an excuse to fail? Are you hoping to just survive the situation? Or are you demonstrating true wintality by using your adversity as an advantage?

Category : Mental advice | Blog