Mental advice

27
Jan

Taryne Mowatt

I first read the word “WINTALITY” in January 2011 on the Auburn Lady Tigers Facebook page, and I’ve got to say I immediately fell in love with it. There are a million catch phrases out there, many cliché’s but seldom does one get to experience the sheer pleasure that comes from hearing a brand new word. A word that has meaning only to the reader or listener. A meaning that can be neither right nor wrong. For the next several weeks I’m going to have a blast making up an entirely new definition of the word so that it fits what I want it to, hey I’m the one typing so I’m allowed, and sharing it with you. I look forward to reading your comments to see what the word may have meant to you as you first read it.

[Wintality] – win-tal-i-ty – noun; The act of mentally believing you have already won even before the game begins or has concluded. “I’ve never seen anything quite like that girl’s wintality.”

Making up a definition for a new word is the easy part. Conveying it to others in a way that will help motivate and inspire them is something else entirely. Because nearly any kind of learning is best accomplished when relating it to something you already know. With this word that is rather hard to do, because unfortunately most players, coaches and parents are familiar only with its 3 polar opposites – negativity, pessimism and selfishness. You know what I mean a hard fought game that is tied in the bottom of the 5’th inning and a physical error is made somewhere on the field and the player slaps herself on the leg, her head hangs low and you instantly see that she believes she’s already lost the game. On bad teams that one look generally translates into 10 other errors in the same inning. On the best of teams her teammates try to pick her up, but the very fact that they have to try and pick her up, distracts them from what they should be thinking about.

Fortunately for me I got to witness “wintality” long before I ever had the pleasure of hearing the word. At the time I just watched a player demonstrate it and thought “there is something different about this girl.” This girl, being Taryne Mowatt of the University of Arizona. In June 2007 I watched as she battled the University of Tennessee for the Women’s College World Series Championship. Repeatedly the Lady Volunteers managed to load the bases and what I expected to see was “the look” described above. But no, that’s not what I saw. That’s not what America saw. That’s not what the world saw. What we all saw instead was a smile. Wait, or was that a grin. A giggle perhaps? The look that constantly came across her face in those situations implied “I let you do that on purpose because you can’t possibly beat me. I’ve already seen the score at the end of the game. The score’s at the end of the series. And I’ve already won.”

Taryne Mowatt doesn’t have ESP. She couldn’t really see the score at the end of the game. She couldn’t really know the series was going to go to Arizona. What she had, and still has is wintality. The ability to believe in her mind that she is going to win, and has already won before she takes the field and regardless of the situation on the field. The important question isn’t whether you’ve seen Taryne’s wintality or witnessed it in others. The important question is “Do you have WINTALITY?”

Category : Mental advice | Blog
27
Jan

Lander Field

If a picture is worth a thousand words then a gorgeous photo of a ball field being kissed by the sky is certainly worthy of several posts. Fastpitch.TV was generous enough to allow me to do a series of blog posts about different aspects of this photo. The story unfolds best if you read the posts in order.

EXCELLENCE: Requires Sacrifice

EXCELLENCE: Requires Recognition

EXCELLENCE: Requires Relationships

EXCELLENCE: Requires Absolutely Nothing

Category : Coaching | Leadership | Mental advice | Blog
18
Jan

No I’m not talking about picking your nose.

I’m talking about what you do when you are alone that is going to help you win that championship game that isn’t for 6 months from now. You know the one I’m talking about. You will be stepping into the limelight.  The fans will all be cheering. Your teammates will be encouraging you. Your coaches will be advising.

That championship game.

We all want to be there.

We all want to come through in the clutch in that situation.

So I’ll ask the question again … What do you do when you are alone that is preparing you to deliver in that situation?

Are you jogging on your own? Are you lifting weights to build your strength? Are you doing speed and agility drills to increase your explosiveness?

Are you only hitting with your team or are you taking 100 swings per day on your own?

Are you waiting for something magic to happen at one of your team practices that will increase your endurance or are you doing a lot of cardio work on your own?

Are you hoping your coach provides a magic energy pill or are you following a solid nutritional plan that will help you after a long fought weekend or will your body let you down like it did this past year?

I gotta tell you one thing I’m really good at is math. And girl have I got news for you. There are so many more days/hours/minutes when you are alone than when you are on the field for practice. If you REALLY want to win that game that is just 6 short months away … you need to be using those days/hours/minutes when you are alone to your advantage. Commit yourself to the fact that what you do before the game while you are alone is going to be what helps you win that game when you are with your team. Commit yourself to doing the kind of things that other players just wouldn’t be willing to do. Then you will go into that championship game, step up to the plate with the game on the line knowing that your work is what you got you there and then deliver.
 

Category : Mental advice | Training | Blog
13
Feb

In the spirit of Valentines Day I couldn’t help but try and tie in softball to the most romantic day of the year. Not easy to do but fortunately for me reality TV made it easy for me.

I don’t mind the show, nor the staff nor the dresses. My problem lies in the fact that the vast majority of the brides seem to have put about $37.50 into their “relationship” yet are ready to drop $20,000 for a dress. Their dream romance seems to stem from having the fairy tale gown, rather than the fair tale marriage.

In fact I’ve actually watched shows, did I just say that out loud, where the “brides” are choosing the dress and don’t even have a fiance. Not kidding, I’m not sure I can understand the concept of caring more about the dress than the groom. I guess it’s harder to find the perfect gown, than a man who will spend the rest of his life loving you selflessly and sacrificially. Reality TV, here is a reality check … there is no fairy tale romance without the work. Ladies if you ever listen to anything I say … Say NO to the dress and spend the time building a solid foundation instead.

Here is how it ties into softball ….
Say NO to the new $300 bat and say YES to a $20 batting tee and a bucket of wiffle balls and DO THE WORK.

Say NO to the pretty new batting gloves with comfort pad and air conditioned grip and say YES to putting in enough practice that you develop blisters.

Say NO to the $200 sunglasses to wear in the outfield and say YES to running until you are sore learning how to judge the ball and block the sun with your glove.

Say NO to the new glove and say YES to wearing out the leather on your old glove learning to field and dive.

Say NO to worrying about how pretty the $4.72 trophy looks and say YES to the knowledge that you left everything you had on the field to earn it.

Say NO to a new color coordinated pair of cleats that help you look prettier standing around and say YES to learning how to be aggressive on the bases and actually producing runs.

Bats, helmets, gloves and cleats are tools that are needed for the job. But at the point that you put your hope in the “stuff” instead you are like a bride buying a wedding dress with no groom. Say NO to whatever that fairy tale items is that you believe is going to make you a princess on the field (your dress), and say YES to DOING THE WORK.

Category : Baserunning | Hitting | Mental advice | Training | Blog
6
Feb

What is the difference between a good team, a great team and a championship team?

Great question, but rather than write it all out for you I’ve created a video for this particular post

Category : Coaching | Leadership | Mental advice | Training | Blog
27
Jan

cat·a·lyst

/ˈkætlɪst/  [kat-l-ist]
noun
1. Chemistry . a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.
2. something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected.
3. a person or thing that precipitates an event or change.
4. a person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic.
That’s how Dictionary.com defines the word and I gotta say I dig it. Pretty obvious. Pretty simple.
What is a little tougher is putting it into practice because let’s face it … people don’t like to change and unfortunately the vast majority of examples of “catalysts” you may have seen are negative. You’ve seen the player who brings the entire team down when she throws a fit after a bad call goes against. The pitcher who gives “the look” at their fielders after errors have occured. Like a chemical reaction gone bad the team just explodes. The rest of the tournament might as well be phoned in. Their negative actions serve as a negative catalyst.
What is rare in our sport, or any sport for that matter, are those who are positive catalysts. Those that not only rise above the negative but bring others along. Often we tend to feel outnumbered and think “Why bother there is no way I can change the whole team?” Notice that the definition didn’t say that a catalyst had to change their entire team. It just said causes activity and change in two or more. That the person’s enthusiasm causes others to be more enthusiastic.
Chemistry is going to be taking place on ball fields all around this country …
Are you going to leave your mark on your team this year, or allow them to leave their mark on you?
Are you going to succumb to the negative catalysts on the team or are you going to positively impact at least a few others?
Drive the change you know needs to occur. Be the CATALYST.
Category : Leadership | Mental advice | Blog
30
Dec

2013 is almost upon us and with it comes a new season of softball. For many it involves being one of the new players on existing team, and for others it involves having new players join your team.

One of the interesting things that makes us human is our ability to quickly categorize people we don’t know. We lump them into convenient categories that we’ve formed based on our past relationships. “She is a hitter.” “She plays SS.” “She is to serious.” “She is to silly.” “She doesn’t practice hard.” “That coach is strict.” We feel good about ourselves the faster we “size up” new people. Gives us a sense of accomplishment. Forget about these new people for a minute and think about yourself though. Are you really that simple a human being? Could anyone really identify all that makes you you within 15 seconds? Could they capture who you are with 1 phrase? Could they even capture all that makes you a unique person on this earth if they watched you for 1, 2, 5 or 10 practices and games?

I doubt it. We know that we are unique. That we ourselves are more complicated than others give us credit for, yet we still try and judge the “new people” that come into our lives based on very little input. If the new girls has a few bad plays “shes not very focused.” No questions asked if she had lost a loved one earlier in the week. If you make a few bad plays and hear any laughter “they are mean.” No questions asked if the existing team was really laughing because a coach had tripped over something on a different area of the field.

We celebrate New Years because they offer a new begginning. A chance to correct the mistakes of the past year. A chance to challenge ourselves to do better the coming year. Take advantage of the opportunity that 2013 is about to present to you. Commit that 2013 is going to be the year that you quit jumping to conclusions about new people that come into your lives, and onto your teams. Commit that at least where you have control you are going to do everything you can to become a true teammate. Not someone who knows how to pass an egg the right way, or pass oranges under your chin correctly but someone who truly works to build a cohesive unit.

The following is a list of questions from Doc RobynOdegaard’s book “Stop the Drama! The Ultimate Guid to Female Teams.” Print the list out and take some time during your team practices and get togethers this coming season to go through them together. Let everyone see who you really are, and give them a chance to show you who they really are.

  • What is something about you that no one on the team knows?
  • What is something that is really important to you that no one on the team knows?
  • What kinds of things really stress you out?
  • What is your default response to conflict with someone?
  • Most people are leaders or followers depending on the situation. When do you want to lead and when do you prefer to follow?
  • How do you respond to stress?
  • What is something you are really good at?
  • What skill do you have that might surprise people?
  • What athletic skills do you bring to this team?

If you really want to get to know others ask this one:

  • What is your biggest fear in life?

One final thought as you prepare for this coming season … “a car’s windshield is much larger than its rearview mirror.” While it is good for us to reflect on where we have been, we shouldn’t dwell on the past. Yet more often than not I hear players referring to what things used to be like on their old team. How their old teammates acted. How their old coaches conducted practice. How players acted in the dugout. Bringing that kind of baggage to your new team isn’t helpful. Focus on what is ahead of all of you. Where all of you are heading together as a team. 2013 is coming quickly. Whether it is a Happy New Year or not depends on what you make of it.

Category : Coaching | Mental advice | Training | Blog
20
Dec

Are you a Purple Cow?

No? Well do you at least have any purple spots? Seems rather silly, but the fact is that the world needs more purple cows. But we are programmed from a young age to just fit in. To be a “normal” cow. To not allow others to see our purple spots.

3 of my 4 grand children are now at the age that they are starting to play with blocks. Each of the 3 has a completely different idea of what they are supposed to do with them. One likes to just set them up beside each other. One likes to stack them. And you can probably guess what my grandson likes to do … you guessed it he loves to knock them down. 3 very precious children, 3 very unique personalities. But that doesn’t “fit” into what society wants so when they are in first grade they will begin to be graded on whether their towers look like what the teacher expects of them. They will be told that when they are given a piece of paper instead of drawing the scenery that is missing from the paper they are supposed to color inside the lines. They will be told that skin is supposed to be colored with the tan color, not the violet color.

Basically they will be “indoctrinated” into what they are supposed to do, supposed to think and supposed to feel in order to be “normal.” Don’t get me wrong I don’t want my grandson walking around class in 12′th grade knocking down the towers that others have constructred. But I sure don’t want my grand daughter believing that houses have to be built up in the air and that she can’t build hers sideways if she chooses. But

Seth Godin’s book The Purple Cow wasn’t written for them, their “Pops” will do his best to be sure that they become the individuals that God intended them to be. His book was written for people just like you. To challenge you to show the world your purple spots instead of blending in and hiding what makes you different than others. To challenge you to be remarkable instead of ordinary.

What is that you are hiding from others? When did you stop being the you that’s in your head and start worrying about blending in?

What do you uniquely bring to the team that others can’t?

Are you encouraging others to show their uniqueness or are you more comfortable in a herd of black/white cows?

Whether you are a coach, a parent or a player I encourage you to take some time and think about what a team full of purple cows might look like. Go out there and quit blending in, show the world your unique “AWESOMENESS.”

 

Category : Coaching | Mental advice | Blog
13
Dec

If you are anything like me you hate making mistakes. Only thing I hate worse is immediately reading something new that would have helped me avoid the mistake. I’m going to share my most recent mistake … which involves running my mouth when I should have just been silent.

Last Friday evening I was hosting my 7th annual Christmas Batting Extravaganza. 4 straight hours of batting and competition at a local batting cage. Shannon Murray one of my former students and assistant coaches, is now a senior in college and came by to visit, hit and speak about her experience in the recruiting process and her experiences as a collegiate player. She did a fantastic job. After she completed I asked the 20 players that were if they had any questions for Shannon while they had this opportunity. Then I made a huge mistake.

I paused for an entire 1 and 1/2 seconds and when nobody shot their hands into the air I said “Wow, you have such a great chance right now and none of you want to take advantage of it.” Paused for another 1 1/2 seconds and proceeded to say “Ok lets get back into the cages since there are no questions.” Two huge mistakes on my part in less than 5 seconds.

The first mistake was that I answered the question “Why didn’t they ask questions?” in my head with a variety of negative assumptions:

  • They are just tired
  • They aren’t really interested
  • They are too focused on the fun to think about their future

Fortunately I recognized right away that was the wrong thing to do. These were great young ladies, most of which I personally selected to have as students. So I followed the advice I had just read earlier in the week and asked one of my students instead of trying to fill in the “why” for her. Her responses was something like “I thought of a question, but then I forgot it. Then I thought of it again, but then I forgot it again.” Very honest answer. Not learning from the prior mistake I followed up with another negative response to the next “why” in my head with “blonde moment.”

I returned home. Excited that the event had gone so well except for “in my head” the fact that the girls were to “intellectually lazy to even ask questions about what could be the most important pending decision of their softball lives.” I slept restlessly and awoke about 3 hours later. Decided I might as well read some more of the book that I’d been having troubles sitting down. Fortunately for me the author reached off the 2nd page I read and smacked me in the face with the answer I needed.

“Now if I have to think about what I want to say while someone else is talking, who is listening. Ahhh now there’s the problem: no one is listening because when one person is talking everone else is thinking about what they want to say. No wonder we can’t communicate.”

The problem wasn’t a blonde moment. The problem wasn’t that they didn’t care about their futures. Shannon had done such a great job communicating that she actually held the attention of 20 teenage ball players late at night. They were so focused on her and actually listened that they didn’t have time to formulate a question. The problem wasn’t them at all, it was that I could hardly take a breathe before I had to move on and fill the void of … silence.

Whether you are a coach, a parent or a player I highly recommend picking up a copy of “Stop the Drama: The Ultimate Guide to Female Teams” by Doc Robyn Odegaard. It is filled with practical explanations that will help you, like me, understand the silly things that we do that lead to drama. Things like filling in the “whys” in our own heads with negative responses instead of asking why. Things like the fact that if you want good questions, good responses you have to take the time and allow people to think. Even though the silence can be deafening while they are.

 

Category : Coaching | Mental advice | Blog
22
Nov

For many of the softball players I work with, and likely many around the country and the world this fall marks a serious time of transition. They started the year on teams that they had been on for a year or more and now find themselves on new team. Their former teams were marked with tremendous friendships and they knew exactly where they stood with the coaching staff. This weekend I watched many of these new teams finish the final games of this fall season, and frankly it hurt to watch many of them struggle.

If I could speak to those teams, I would say to them that just like an airport, teams are a “zero sum game.” You can’t see the romantic homecomings at the terminal gates, without also realizing that just beyond that couple there is a heartbreaking scene going as a family is separated. Planes cannot land, if they don’t first take off from somewhere else.

For those of you on new teams my advice is simple, remember the good times you shared but let go of the grip those old teammates have on your heart. Don’t spend your time comparing the players/coaches/parents of the new team to those people. Accept the fact that they are different. Embrace those differences. Look at each one of these teammates and realize that they are now in your life for a purpose and figure that out. Find what it is that you can learn from each of them.

For those of you who have lost great friends and have new teammates now on board. Try to imagine how they must feel, and how heart broken they must be for they are the ones who had to board the plan and depart from another town, another city, another team and they now find themselves smack dab in the middle of your team. Don’t wait for them to make the first move, and don’t just try and meet them half way, be the initiator. The one who opens your heart, is willing to accept the situation and reach out to them first, and reach out often.

Our former friends/teammates will always have a dear place in our heart, nothing can change that. But our new teammates can as well if we just let them. But teams can’t function effectively if players are still playing in their hearts with teammates that are miles away. There is sadness in leaving, but their can be happiness in new beginnings if you allow it.

Category : Coaching | Mental advice | Blog