[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 just 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.
[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.
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?
When learning the mental side of this game, one of the easiest ways to explain something new is to explain what it isn’t. More often than not, the opposite is what 99% of the world is accustomed to seeing, so drawing on that knowledge helps. So here goes … Wintality is the total opposite of the “look.” Not the negative talk, self inflicted “look” that I discussed in Wintality: 101. I’m talking about the “look” from one player to another that says “You just cost us our entire future.” The look that then translates into 5 more errors in the same inning, and hurt feelings that sometimes last a lifetime.
Wintality is a pat on the back, words of encouragement that render “I’ve seen you field a million of those in practice I know there’s nobody out here that works harder than you. I’ve never seen you miss 2 in a row so it’s all good you got this next one. Instead of a look with lasers, it’s the look that says “We practice together. We play together. And by golly even when we make errors we are going to stick together.”
In its rarest form wintality is one of the most contagious diseases on earth, yet also one of the rarest. I’m talking about wintality which manifests itself through ThrowYourselfUnderTheBusItis. (You may need to read that a few times.) This game is played on a field, and what happens on the diamond should stay on the diamond. But often times the on the field “look” translates into throwing someone “under the bus” as soon as the team leaves the field. Yet nobody can figure out why the team can’t win the tough games.
ThrowYourselfUnderTheBusItis is the strand of wintality that steps up and takes ownership of the problems and takes the eyes, stares and yapping off of the other player. Instead of “I’m sick of her not getting to those” it’s “I lost my focus and missed my location. I need to step up MY game. Hey before next game make me throw like a million outside curve balls in a row” Instead of “I’m so sick of her attitude. If she doesn’t want to play ball why doesn’t she just quit already?” Wintality involves “She’s my teammate. I know she loves this game, I wonder what I can do this week to reach out to her and find out what is going on off the field that she might be bringing onto the field.” It’s an attitude of “Hey driver, my teammate is injured right now (mentally), you want to run that bus over someone, then run it over me.”
Wintality like that requires a major commitment up front. It takes the belief that your teammates are worth that kind of effort. It takes the understanding that while you had no choice in choosing your teammates, you do have a choice in how you treat them. It takes the realization that in the long term their one physical/mental error meant nothing, but your response could carry through the rest of the entire season and set the tone for a lifetime.
Whether you are a player, a parent or a coach be honest with yourself. Do you give the “look.” Do you pile onto the bus when others are driving it?” Do you drive the bus? It’s not easy, that’s why it’s so rare, but what can you do today or this week to start spreading wintality?
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?”
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.
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.
As the season rapidly approaches you need to be in the best shape of your life.
P90X …. that’s old news.
Insanity … child’s play.
Cross Fit … boring.
In this 4 minute video Coach Dalton will help you get the MOST IMPORTANT MUSCLE in your body into shape and have you ready to seriously light it up this season.