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.
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
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.
If you really want to get to know others ask this one:
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.
There is an interesting phenomenon in life, that perhaps I’m the only person who has ever noticed it. It seems to me that when people practice something, they get better at it, and they start making it look easy and attractive to others. I know that may seem absurd, but that is the pattern I’ve noticed.
For instance I see young pitchers start practicing and the first couple of practices are hard. They get blisters on their finger tips. They get winded really easily from having to drive off the mound so much. But as they practice more and more eventually the become pitchers. Not kidding, it seems that it really works.
Same goes for hitters that I work with. At first they hurt my ears by hitting my batting tee over and over. They start complaining about blisters on their hands. But after weeks of hard work they start actually making the swing look easy. Eventually others besides their parents actually call them hitters.
Sometimes those pitchers/hitters do so well as a result of their practicing that they make it look like something that others want to try. Am I crazy or have you noticed that too? Not that you can really answer me, well you could reply or comment but nobody every does for these blogs. It’s not like it’s Facebook or something.
The problem I’ve seen a lot lately, is that all too often players, parents and coaches are practicing the wrong thing. It all starts innocently enough with some excuses that seem legitimate at the time. After that is practiced, then it becomes more of a group event. After it has been rehearsed enough people get really brave and start actually broadcasting it. Loudly.
Are you still with me. I’m talking about quitting. Surely you’ve seen that to. You know where the player/parent doesn’t like having to sit the bench for 5 minutes of a game so they decide that they won’t come back to that league/team/coach, but they feel guilty so they just slip away quietly at the end of the season. But now that they’ve practiced the next time quitting is a little bit easier. This time when the coach doesn’t give her exactly 52.5 innings of pitching time like they promised they would months ago, they justify quitting during the season by saying “we pay to much money for her not to pitch” or “we paid to much money on her new bat and lessons for her to bat 8′th instead of 5′th.” Pretty soon those people don’t just leave at the end of the season, or even leave by just telling off the coach, pretty soon their guilt about quitting is gone completely and they are bold enough to start recruiting others to quit with them. “Aren’t you unhappy too? If you leave with me then we’ll really make a point.” I even heard of a family that comitted to a team, and then literally quit after the very first practice.
For everyone reading this I assure you that you will become really good at whatever it is you are practicing. If you are practicing pitching you will become known as a pitcher. If you are practicing hitting you will become known as a hitter. If you are practicing quitting, then you will become known as a quitter. It gets easier. It’s just how life works.
My best advice to you is to instead practice not quitting. Honoring your comittment. Sticking to your word. You know all of those things that you admire seeing in others, but are afraid to try yourself because it’s hard. Yes it’s hard to honor your comittment when the team is falling apart, but the more you practice it, the better you get at it. Pretty soon you are known as the person that never gives up. You know the one that everyone else admires. The choice is yours, you will eventually be, whatever you are currently practicing to become.
It’s not the trendiest new dance club in New York City. Nor will you find it as you walk the Las Vegas strip. But “Club 10” is every bit as exclusive. In fact you can’t pay for admission you have to earn it.
Normally I write about “heady” things that make players/coaches/parents stop and think. Things that allow all of you in the cyber world to use your own application to what I’ve written. Not this time. This article, and “Club 10” are the exact opposite. You see “Club 10” was simply what I wrote on my blackboard when I recently made a shift from subjective evaluation of my batting students to a more objective approach. I simply wanted a way to see if they could actually reproduce their swing 10 times in a row. 10 straight line drives off of the batting tee in their favorite position. No thinking at all. No subjective hypothesis of how good their load, stride, elbow, eye contact was. Simply a statistical measure of whether or not they could take the same swing 10 times in a row. If they hit the tee, hit a popup or a ground ball they had to start back at 0.
I was pretty amazed at how long it took most of players to be able to achieve that number. The ball was on a tee, in their favorite position. Yet the pressure of actually being measured seemed to weigh on them. Instead of just swinging after 5-6 they started thinking too hard. Good thing for them that in games there is no pressure. There is nobody standing there watching them and measuring if they get on or don’t get on. Oh wait! That’s exactly what happens in games.
As with all great clubs, “Club 10” was expanded once it became a hit (pardon the pun.) Girls had to deliver 10 line drives off of soft toss in different locations, including a change up or two. For some it was much easier as they didn’t have to worry about nicking the tee. However, for others it became an even more difficult challenge because they tensed up while waiting for me to toss the ball.
Nearly all of my batters have now achieved entrance into “Club 10” off the tee and soft toss. During the most recent testing I had 7 out of my 40+ students who were able to achieve entrance into Club 25 (25 straight line drives off of soft toss.) That achievement permitted them to apply for the VIP room of Club 10. Which means I took them to a batting cage and gave them a full half of hour by themselves to try and hit 10 straight line drives off of the pitching machine.
The name “Club 10” really isn’t important. What is important is the confidence that I’ve seen developed in my students as they have seen themselves repeating a great swing over and over. They can then take that objective measurement and confidence into their games because they know their swing will be there for them. Not because I say it’s a good looking swing. Or because mom/dad say it’s a good looking swing. They know it’s a great looking swing because they’ve seen the line drives delivered one after another.
So what about you do you want in to “Club 10”? Admission simply involves your ability to repeat a solid line drive swing 10 times in a row. First earn your way in the door by hitting 10 in a row off a batting tee. Then move to 10 in a row from soft toss. Finally try to earn admission to the VIP room by hitting 10 solid line drives in a row off of a pitching machine. Basically what I’m suggesting is to stop thinking, stop talking, stop discussing, stop analyzing and start hitting.
As I’m sure you have figured out by now if you know me, I love quotes. I just absolutely love quotes. Whether they are about chasing dreams, building confidence, working hard anything that I can use to inspire me. So I love watching some of the all time classic sports coaching movies. The ones where at just the right time emotionally the well respected old coach delivers the perfect motivational saying. The one that rallies the troops to come back from an insurmountable score, the one that sticks with you the rest of your life and you just wait for the right time to share it with others and pass it on.
One of the lines that has stuck with me for 18 years now actually comes from one of the most unexpected places. The comedy classic “Cool Runnings” which is about the Jamaican Bobsled team. The coach in the movie is played by John Candy and throughout the movie he is the exact opposite of what you would expect from a “great coach.” He’s not very disciplined. He doesn’t even try hard. As the move progresses you learn that he got kicked out of the sport he loved, bobsledding, for cheating. Clearly not the kind of person you would want leading your daughters … right?
After rolling on the floor for over an hour at the rib splitting humor in the movie, it finally transitions to that pivotal moment. The central character in the movie finally has that “heart to heart” talk with the coach and asks him “Why did you cheat?” The laughable, fool hardy, undisciplined coach finally opens up and shares “I let the pressure get to me. I felt like I HAD to win. Don’t let that happen to you. If there is one thing I want you to know” and here is the line I’ll never forget “If you are not enough without it, you will never be enough with it.”
As this season kicks off, and practices are in full swing let me ask you this simple question “Why are you going through all of this?”
If you are doing it to win your parent’s approval … don’t bother.
If you are doing it to prove something to your coach … don’t bother.
If you are doing it to win some $3.74 trophies … don’t bother.
If you are doing it so you have bragging rights at school … don’t bother.
The only reason you should be playing this game …
The only reason you should be putting your body through grueling workouts …
The only reason you should be beating your body on the field during practice …
Is for YOURSELF.
When was the last time you picked up your glove and a ball and played catch with a friend just because you love playing catch. Nobody watching. Nobody pushing. Nobody telling you that you are doing something right or wrong. You did it just because you love playing catch.
When was the last time you asked dad to just drop you and a friend off at a field or a batting cage and you just hit for the sheer fun of hearing that magical sound that comes from hitting the ball right on the sweet spot? Nobody watching. Nobody pushing. Nobody saying “great hit” or “fix this.” You went and hit just because you love hitting.
When was the last time you fought all weekend long. In bone chilling cold or brutal heat. Dug deep within yourself, won the 3.74 trophy and then handed it to your little brother/ sister or your mom and thanked them for being there and giving up their time to support you all weekend long.
I want to challenge you right now to take some time and examine why you are playing this game. Whatever else you may be playing for other than yourself, isn’t going to fulfill you. Because … “If you are not enough without it, you will never be enough with it.”
One of the hardest things in this game is knowing as a coach where the line is between a player being hurt and a player being injured. The longer I’m around this game, and the more amazing young ladies I watch the harder it is for me to know the difference between her needing to come out of the game, and her being able to push forward. Just when I think I know the level to which they can ignore the pain, another player comes along and demonstrates to me that I still underestimate the ability for heart to go further in overcoming the pain that I had previously seen. This past weekend I watched one of the players that I work with frequently do something that raised my expectations of just how tough a player can really be even further.
Before I share the specifics about her let me share that I already had high expectations. At a recent National Professional Fastpitch event I had Caitlin Lowe sign a poster I had made for one of my top slappers. When I gave my player the poster she said “Coach you have no idea how much I love Caitlin Lowe. As a young girl I watched her run into a fence and break her nose. I want to be like her.” At which point I interrupted her and asked “you want to break your nose running into a fence?” She said “Of course not. She came back the next day and played ball. I want the chance in my career to show the world how tough I can really be, just like her.” Of course I knew what Caitlin Lowe had done. I had also watched this player gut out a 102 fever one time and the flu another time to play exceptional ball. So I had no idea that what I had witnessed from her didn’t even scratch the surface of what she was really willing to go through if need be in order to show the world how much love she really has for the game.
So back to the story … this young lady dove for a ball in the first game of her tournament. The timing was off just a bit and she broke both knuckles on the index finger of her throwing hand as she tried to cover up the ball. The odd shape of her finger, the purplish color of it and the fact that it was about double the size in seconds was the first clue that it was definitely broken. Her coach and the umpires both wanted to do the humane thing and take her out of the game. Fighting through the tears and the pain she refused to leave. You would have to know her to understand that that battles wasn’t one that her coach or the umpire were going to win so they allowed her to remain in the game. Big deal, seen that lots of times, that just the background for what I really wanted to share. By morning her finger was swollen worse and it was obvious that she couldn’t throw. But she insisted on hitting, and in practice demonstrated that she could still hit despite being down 1 critical finger. She destroyed the ball all day long. I was there to watch her the first game on Sunday and honestly looking at her finger almost made me sick. But she was determined to continue hitting. Not only did she hit, she ended up in a situation that I’m not sure I’ll ever forget. At my clinics I teach/encourage very aggressive base running. Well here she was on base after crushing the ball, and just when I thought she’d done all she could to impress me she took a huge lead and begged the catcher to snap back to first base and then proceeded to do a perfect dive back into first. Broken finger and all.
Macy showed me this weekend that her heart was in fact much bigger than I had previously given her credit for. I’d love to hear from others who’ve seen girls with amazing hearts that shine through the pain and the tears. Those that have demonstrated for you that the line between being hurt and being injured is sometimes really hard to find.
One of the neat people who will be aboard the Softball Cruise Clinic is Gary Leland, the founder of Fastpitch TV. Fastpitch.tv is a neat site which has over 100 episodes available online that offer some of the best advice, instruction and advice available in the softball world. Seriously! In the shows Gary brings you well done interviews and demonstrations from the best in the world that you can watch right from the comfort of your chair.
Gary has compiled these episodes while traveling the country as a road warrior. Getting you the “up close and personal” with the biggest names in coaching as well as playing. Here are a few examples:
Nearly every player I’ve met has asked “How can I do a better job hitting the change up?” Well lots of thoughts on that, but why not “tune in” and check out what the great Lisa Fernandez has to say: Fastpitch TV – Hitting the Changeup
If you are a pitcher and are thinking about the Softball Cruise Clinic, why not tune in and watch/listen to Angela Tincher one of the great presenters who will be onboard at: Fastpitch TV – Softball Cruise Clinic
Hitting to the opposite field? — It’s there
Drills to increase pitching speed? — It’s there
Tips on bunting? — It’s there
Did I mention that Gary has made his entire series of shows available completely free of charge. So what are you waiting for go check it out and increase your knowledge immediately.
I had a blast yesterday with several of my Cross Training students conducting a Home Run Derby. I start them in the outfield and everytime they hit a home run they back up 10 feet. I love seeing the look in their eye as they see a ball clear the fence. But more importantly I love seeing them make the adjustments that it takes to hit a line drive and they can clearly see it. As much as I’d love to I cannot reproduce that in a cage, so sometimes I have to go to the field and let them light it up. All of the girls did a great job and none of them complained about the extreme heat.
Call me a softie, but I really enjoyed Dairy Queen with all of them afterwards. Yes! Real coaches enjoy chocolate blizzards after a tough workout too.
We had instructors from Canada, California, South Carolina and Georgia and players from Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. The one common factor among all: FUN. In fact it should be illegal, but glad it isn’t, to have as much fun as we had this weekend at my Memorial Weekend Softball Camp.
All of us as instructors were touched by the incredible effort put forth by the players on both days of the camp. Session after session all of the girls dug deep, did what they were asked, then hustled right over to their next session. Yes they were hot. Yes they were sore from crunches, running, diving but they managed to do it all while smiling.
My hat goes off (and shows my bald head) to Howard Kobata, Marc Dagenais, Ashley Tomlinson, Tori Fobb and Keith Prichard for their efforts this weekend. Hopefully the players appreciated the effort that each and every instructor put in to trying to help them develop their skills. It’s easy to just pat girls on the back and move on to the next girl it’s much harder to do what we did in paying individual attention to each player and showing them what they needed to work on and then pushing them to make the improvements.
All in all …. just way to much FUN!!!!