Two Ways To Be A Better Pitcher

1-Take responsibility for your failures.
2-Fix it now.
On the surface these seem far too simplistic.

However, consider the society in which we live today. We have moved into an age of “enabling”. No matter what the behavior, there are excuses. Those messages come home to our kids. They begin to believe nothing is ever their own fault. Mommy and daddy are sometimes too quick to help them by finding someone or something else to blame when they fail.
If you have big dreams, avoid that trap. If you are going to be that one kid in 1,000 who takes it to the next level, you must be different from 999 who do not. You must accept responsibility. You have to work smarter, harder, and with a purpose. Here are some guidelines to help you keep a winning perspective, but don’t think these just apply to softball. They will help in your next career as well.

No excuses. Often parents will say to our Instructors, “We wish we had found you five years ago”. Be careful saying things like that. You may be enabling your daughter. She can interpret that as “Gee, we missed our chance”. You should have done your research and checked the track record of any professional you hired to work with your kid in the first place. If you are just now realizing that you made a mistake, take ownership. Develop a sense of urgency. Help her set up a plan to make up for lost time. Accept responsibility for the issue, and for changing it. It drives me crazy when someone says, “I guess it’s too late to make changes now”. Great. Further enablement.

The best way to avoid excuses is to be around people who do not make excuses. Surround yourself with winners. Get advice from those who did it right. It is human nature to want to justify our shortcomings by finding people to whom we can relate and those who are stuck in the same rut. It makes us feel better to grumble together. Do not fall into that trap. Find people who pushed through difficulties and succeeded far beyond anyone’s expectations. Listen and learn. Adapt. Adopt. Adjust.

Sometimes when you eliminate an excuse you may have pay a price. Perhaps the coach refuses to call your best pitches. One of our students was faced with this. She tried very hard to win with the pitches he wanted to call, but she found herself lowering her standards and starting to doubt herself. When she realized it was affecting her confidence, she asked the coach for a private meeting to discuss pitch selection. She was promptly benched for several weeks, but she accepted the punishment with a great attitude. Eventually she was given a chance to prove herself using her best pitches. She shined, and became a far better pitcher, and person, for having paid the price to eliminate an excuse.

Avoid using your team as an excuse as well. Just as there are days when you don’t have your best stuff on the mound, some days the shortstop will boot the ball. Be careful about the way you view these situations or you can easily begin to say to yourself, “Why bother working so hard?” Think, instead, about ways you could help them. Perhaps a few more strikeouts. More confidence on the mound might relax the defense so they can perform better. Sometimes you must realize that your team has limitations and there may be games where you need to put them on your back and carry them. Perhaps your work ethic and attitude will influence theirs.

Every single game is an opportunity to learn things you can do to improve. Do not “enable” yourself by blaming the umpire, the coach, your team, the heat, the mound conditions, or anything outside of your control. You lose a valuable opportunity to grow. Parents, be careful about saying, “Oh, honey, it wasn’t your fault. The umpire was terrible”. You might be better to say, “Yes, the umpire was challenging, but what can we learn from this situation that helps you better handle it next time?”

When you look at pitchers who make it to the College World Series, you don’t always see the best form, the most athletic kids, the top speed, or amazing movement. Most often you see a mindset. And, if you were able to hear their stories, you would discover a lot of kids who would never allow themselves to make excuses. They were tough on themselves. They studied winners. They fixed problems.

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