Do It Anyway Written By Charity Butler
The loud crash of glass shattering on the tile floor somehow resonated deeply. My heart was heavy, and a clumsy mistake generated an unexpected epiphany.
Trust, like glass, is fragile. While removing glass shards from the floor, I felt the sting of shattered trust. Unfair treatment from those close to us cracks confidence and cuts deeply. Mother Teresa’s says it best:
“People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you win false and true enemies.
The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.”
When people experience unwarranted heartache, we say silly things like, “Don’t’ worry. Time heals all wounds,” and “Remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Growing through adversity is definitely valuable. Facing challenges personally and professionally will thicken the skin and strengthen the backbone.
Difficulties cultivate depth. Problems change perspective. Obstacles create opportunities.
This article, however, is not about digging deep, toughening up, pushing through or getting gritty. As coaches, hopefully these concepts are a lifestyle we demonstrate daily and attempt to teach our players.
Today, I do not challenge you to “bow up” or “come out swinging”. I dare you to tackle unfairness in an illogical and unnatural fashion. I challenge you to forgive and it let go.
Life is not fair and sometimes it has a way of sucker-punching in the gut (or kicking in the teeth, according to Mother Teresa). Instead of staying angry or getting even, I challenge us all to get moving.
Surrounded by shattered glass, I tangibly saw the confusion and chaos brokenness brings. As I carefully, meticulously and intentionally began picking up the pieces, I processed.
The same is true when picking up the pieces after unreasonable and ill-treatment from others. Move forward carefully, not emotionally. Pain inevitably elicits emotion, but someone’s irrational actions and words are probably the initial cause of the predicament. Be willing to address problems and speak truth, but exercise caution.
Once emotions are in check, get meticulous. Sweep, vacuum, and wipe each tile by hand. Remove every glass fragment that could cause grief in the future. Could anything have been done or said differently? What can be learned or improved upon? What motives are driving the drama? Where is the potential for character development through the experience?
After analyzing, intentionally move on. When the glass of life shatters, carefully pick up the pieces, and be willing to meticulously process. Then be purposeful about the next step.
What if I had deeply gashed my finger on a piece of broken glass? Embracing the cliché that time heals all wounds, I refuse to carefully, meticulously and intentionally clean and dress the cut. Infection sets in, and without proper attention the infection grows worse, not better, over time.
Likewise, the infection of un-forgiveness will grow and spread. It will not heal on its own, no matter how much time elapses. Covering or pushing infection below the surface does not promote healing but sickness and even death.
What fights infection? Antibiotics… intentional treatment is the only viable option.
Festering bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Un-forgiveness binds us, while the glass which caused the injury could care less. Be willing to walk in the freedom of deliberate forgiveness.
To live healthy, balanced lives we must forgive. When reminded of the hurt, intentionally keep forgiving. Be resilient. With grace and strength, move forward.
Don’t feel like forgiving? Me neither. Mother Teresa tells us both to “do it anyway.”
“Greatness is best measured by how well an individual responds to the happenings in life that appear to be totally unfair, unreasonable and undeserved.” –Marvin J. Ashton
Greatness is ahead!
How to Give the “After Game Talk” Written By Keri Casas
After years and years of witnessing, being a part of, and giving the “After Game Talk,” it is evident that it plays a HUGE role in team communication, confidence, and attitude. Many coaches fail to really understand the importance of this talk as they simply want to get their point across, (good or bad), repeat their point, and tend to do so over a long period of time.
Now some coaches may give positive feedback after a well-played or won game, but many tend to save their disappointments and frustrations with their team for these talks. This is absolutely the worst place a coach could express those feelings. Female athletes do not respond well to constant, negative criticism. It is understandable that coaches are frustrated after losses, but guess what; your female athletes are frustrated too. They understand when they do poorly and when they don’t have a great game. After a game, the last thing they need to hear, especially from a male coach, is how poorly their game was executed.
Female athletes tend to hold on to things, whether good or bad, and constantly think about them; “Why did I look at strike 3? I can’t believe I missed that ball. I had a bad game.” Things like this constantly go through a female athletes head; we self-analyze and criticize more than any other person could. Already feeling defeated after a game, the “After Game Talk” can be crucial to your female athletes’ mental game.
If a coach tends to talk about all the mistakes, both individual and team, he could make their athletes feel very insecure. No female athlete wants to be put down, or made an example of in a negative fashion. The truth is, they already know if they made a crucial mistake, and their teammates know as well; putting the athlete “on blast” can really hurt an athlete’s confidence and security.
After all that, do any of you coaches feel badly about your “After Game Talks?” Did you notice how I droned on about the negative aspects of the “After Game Talk?” It does not feel good to be constantly criticized and now you can imagine how your athletes may feel. So how does a coach give a proper “After Game Talk”? Although this may seem ridiculous to many adults, it is extremely important to female athletes; compliments. Compliment the things that they did well and the plays they did right. This does not mean that every talk has to avoid the negative aspects of the game played. A coach can let the female athletes know what went wrong, but focus on the next game and stay positive. Dwelling on the game that just ended will only help the girls carry that negativity into the next game.
Here is a good example of a quick “After the Game” talk:
“Well, ladies, we didn’t play our best in that game. I saw a few mental errors, but they are things that we can fix for our next game. Let’s be aggressive, strong, and put that game behind us. Taylor, great job with that sacrifice bunt; Sarah, nice throw into home; Emily, great pitching today, you fought really hard. Let’s take the good things out of that game and bring it into the next game. Let’s have lots of energy and work hard every play”
Having a talk like this allows for the girls to understand that they need to perform better in the next game, but it also highlights positivity in a negative outcome. It is important to find a compliment for every athlete, as every athlete plays a significant role on your team.
Another good activity in your “After Game Talk” is to have the athletes do the talking. Sometimes it is necessary for the coaches to step back and let the athletes share their feelings about the previous game; this way you can get an understanding of their opinions and thoughts on how they played and what they can improve.
To maintain team unity, it is a good idea to end the talk by having all the athletes say one good thing that their teammates did during the last game. For example, Jordan tells Annie, “Annie, you pitched really well in that game.” Annie tells Julia, “Julia, you had a great hit to center.” Etc. This helps the team stay positive and helps your female athletes to support each other rather than break each other down after a loss.
Key Coaching Tips for the “After Game Talk”
1. Keep it short and simple. Female athletes will lose your attention after awhile so it is best to make you point quickly while they are listening and attentive.
2. Stay positive! The more negative you are during a talk, the less they will listen to you. Remember, female athletes do not like to be talked down to.
3. Be careful with your words. Whatever you say will stick with the female athlete and carry on into the next game. If you want better performance out of your team, do not dwell on a loss and have a strong outlook for your next game.
“OU Hopes Pitt Transfer Follows In Footsteps Of Recent Transfers” Written By Bill Plummer
In recent years the University of Oklahoma softball program has had good luck with transfers.
After her freshman year at Arizona, Shelby Pendley transferred to Oklahoma and has developed into one of the team’s mainstays, playing third and pitching. In 2014, she was named to the WCWS All-Tournament team, batting .444 after being named an All-American earlier. Pitcher Kelsey Stevens left Stanford after her frosh season and she had a record-breaking sophomore season for the Sooners, winning 38 games as the only experienced pitcher on the team. The number of wins is a single-season OU record.
In 2015, OU hopes University of Pittsburgh transfer, outfielder Tori Nirschi, duplicates the success of Pendley and Stevens. Nirschi played her first two years at Pittsburgh and batted .333 and 287 during that span, with decent power, hitting 19 homers.
“I am very excited to get an athlete as experienced like Tori to join us for what we believe will be a very special season,” said OU head coach Patty Gasso ” Tori will fit in with this team in a fantastic way as she brings left-handed power.”
Nirschi is expected to play the outfield and could be one of the mainstays, replacing standout outfielder Destiney Martinez, who graduated.
Gasso is hoping that 2015 be another special year in the history of the OU program. The years 2000 and 2013 were special years and the Sooners earnmarked them by winning national titles.
The 2014 team was recognized after the first quarter of the OU football home opener against Louisiana Tech in recognition for winning the 2014 Big 12 Championship.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Softball fans will see a familiar face on their television screens as three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Lori Harrigan-Mack (Las Vegas, Nev.) will be competing on the latest season of The Biggest Loser the Amateur Softball Association (ASA)/USA Softball announced today. Aptly titled Glory Days, the 16th season of the NBC hit features 20 professional and non-professional former athletes who will aim to change their lives and earn “The Biggest Loser” title and a $250,000 grand prize. Be sure to tune into the season premiere of The Biggest Loser on September 11 at 7 p.m. CT on NBC.
“After I retired in 2004, I met my husband, got married, we had a beautiful boy and after that I suffered eight miscarriages,” Harrigan-Mack told People Magazine. “So after that I think I kind of went into, obviously, a depression and I just didn’t deal with it at all. With my husband 100 percent behind me, I said The Biggest Loser is where I have to change. I have to do this.”
Harrigan-Mack is a member of an elite group of four women who hold three Olympic Gold Medals in the sport of softball, setting a record at the 2000 Olympic Games after becoming the first individual pitcher to throw an Olympic no-hitter. Harrigan-Mack’s Olympic accolades include a perfect 4-0 record with a 0.00 ERA, 29 strikeouts and just seven hits allowed in 27.2 innings of work. In addition to her three-Olympic Gold Medals, Harrigan has won three International Softball Federation (ISF) World Championships (1994, 1998, 2002) and three Pan American Games Gold Medals (1995, 1999, 2003) during her 12 seasons as a member of the USA Softball Women’s National Team.
A three-time ASA Women’s Major Fast Pitch All-American, Harrigan-Mack collected one Women’s Major Fast Pitch National Championship with the California Commotion in 1999. Enshrined into National Softball Hall of Fame in 2011, Harrigan-Mack is also a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame as a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Softball Team.
Catch the season premiere of The Biggest Loser on September 11 at 7 p.m. CT on NBC. To find out more information on this season of The Biggest Loser and to find a list of contestants competing, visit http://www.nbc.com/the-biggest-loser.
6 Proven Tips to Keep Your Athlete Motivated! Written By John Michael Kelly
One of the challenges I hear from parents and coaches frequently is how to keep their kids motivated. This task has become even harder now that so many athletes are playing fastpitch virtually year around.
At the younger ages of 8-12 athletes most often play because they like the sport and don’t really need much motivation beyond that. They also enjoy the social aspect of the game and that can be a main motivator as well. In my travel organization we often call kids at this age “little robots” because they will virtually do whatever mom, dad or their coaches tell them to do!
Once the child gets to 13-14 she plays because she’s played the game for years and mom or dad drive them to practices, lessons and games. They are still in the “robot” stage, but not for long. Sure the child usually wants to play but often the social component now shifts to friends and activities outside the game. This is normally when the first signs of grumbling and not wanting to get out of bed for those early Sunday games.
At the high school age often burnout can set in unless the athlete truly has her goals clearly in sight and her motivations in high gear. At this age the social sacrifice being made is tremendous and the obsession and pressures of achieving a college scholarship can accelerate burnout.
Here is one of the main challenges with lack of motivation: depending on her personality type your daughter may not tell you she is tired of playing (as my daughter didn’t tell me for over a year) for fear of disappointing you. Since you probably aren’t a mind reader I have some help for you!
Here are five tips to keep her motivated and fired up for those 8 am Sunday games!
1. The Conversation – Sit down with your athlete at least every six months to reassess her commitment for the game and all that goes with it. Don’t “tell her” rather “listen to her,” and be open to her feelings about where she is at and what she wants to do. At the heart of all motivation issues is your athlete, at some point, has to start playing for herself instead of for you. The sooner she makes that shift the better.
2. Internal Motivations – Ideally your athlete has internal or “intrinsic” motivation; meaning she is “self-motivated.” Her goals are clearly defined and she is fired up every day to achieve those goals. Whether it is to make her varsity team as a freshman, play for a better travel team, make the All Star team or get an athletic scholarship to play ball in college. When these motivators are clear and present your athlete should maintain her fire in the belly; although there will be times when you will have to remind her! Keeping visual reminder of her goals is a great tool to help her as well, like pictures of college softball players, or of her dream university!
3. External Motivations – If the internal fire isn’t burning as brightly as you would like try external or “extrinsic” motivators. This is the classic “carrot and the stick” method. Create tangible incentives or disincentives for her; meaning create a reward for playing or working harder or a penalty for not. I’ve heard of parents offering iPhones, or cash for achieving athletic goals (or something as simple as ice cream after the game for swinging the bat for the younger kids!). A penalty might be no sleepover, taking away phone privileges (ouch!), cutting out private lessons, etc.
The best motivators ultimately are perceived as either bringing pleasure or pain. As humans we naturally seek to avoid pain at all cost. So I’m either motivated to “do” something because it brings me something I really want or it brings too much pain by not doing it (physically or emotionally). Or I’m motivated to “not” do something because I perceive it will cost me in time, pain, embarrassment, etc; or it will bring me pleasure (more time with friends, sleeping in, etc). It’s simply a risk versus reward assessment.
4. Explain “The Why” Behind It – Part of the conversation you need to have with your athlete to keep her motivation going and, more importantly, make it as personal to her as possible is to talk about “the why” behind it all. Meaning why does she play the game; why are her goals important to her; why everything she does (or needs to do) will prepare her to achieve her goals; why would it matter to her two years from now (pick your time frame) if she doesn’t achieve her goals? The more you can get her to buy into the “why” the more invested and engaged she will become. This is her life, so the deeper she understands the implications of her actions towards the ultimate achievement or failure in reaching her goals the more she will embrace “the journey” it takes to get there.
5. The Takeaway – As parents our job is always to “frame” the situation and explain how her decisions will impact her future. Often I hear of an athlete being burned out after a long, hot summer season and wanting to quit the game. I always counsel the parent to sit down with the child, determine what she likes or loves about playing the game (leave the negative stuff out of the conversation) and whether she is truly prepared to walk away for that. Often what comes up is how much she will miss playing with her friends, the thrill of competition, the feeling of a big hit, big strikeout (as a pitcher), or big win (Personally I miss the smell of freshly cut grass). If you can get your athlete to see what she might be missing by leaving the game it will likely motivate her to work harder.
The other ultimate takeaway and external motivator is no college. With the cost of college spiraling up by 10% each year securing an athletic scholarship may legitimately be the only way your athlete is going to college. Don’t be afraid to use that card (not at 12, but certainly by 15). A little dose of truth and reality can do wonders to ignite motivation!
6. Detachment – Ultimately, as I had to do with my daughter, you must let your athlete do what she wants to do; you must let go and detach yourself from the way “you” think it should go. Now this is not to say you don’t spell out her options and help her to make a rational, well thought out decision. But, by all means, include her in the conversation. After all, it’s her life!
I have found, though, if you employ “big picture” thinking, keep things positive and connect the dots for her she will be motivated to work harder. Often, emotionally, a younger female athlete doesn’t believe enough in herself and, thus, does not think she is capable of reaching her goals so what’s the point of trying. Continue encouraging her, without criticism.
Remember, we ask a lot of our young athletes these days, especially for a teen. Part of her maturation is being able to make her own decisions, so let her. In my daughter’s case she finally found the courage to tell me she no longer wanted to play the game when she was 15. She wanted to focus on her academics. It was hard for me, but I supported her. The end game for her was getting into a great private east coast university with ample academic aid. She did, and it’s all good!
Thanks for reading! –John Michael Kelly, Softball Smarts
I’d love to hear from you! Email me at: SportsConfidenceCoach@gmail.com with any questions or comments on your athlete’s or team’s mental game challenges.
I know people are always trying to look up school websites, so I thought I would start creating a list for you. I am sure I missed one or two, so if you think of any I missed let me know,
Fall ball important for teams’ success Written By Bill Plummer
Fall ball can be important to how a softball team does once the season starts in earnest. Fall ball is the time when freshmen get a chance to show what they can do while other players may be shifted around by the coaches to replace graduated seniors. How these players adapt and or improve will have an effect on what kind of season the team will have. Of course you never know when an unexpected injury will happen and throw a monkey wrench into the coaches’ plans for the upcoming season. That is the unexpected part of softball or, for that matter, any sport. Injuries aren’t planned obviously. They just happen and at the wrong time.
When that happens coaches will have to shift players around and some might have to play a position they are not as familiar with but maybe played this position in high school or travel ball. But players must step up and continue to the overall good of the team to ensure another successful season.
How was last season? Was it the best so far of your college career? Or was it your last year considering you were a senior and wanted to end your career on a winning note? You never know from year to year what is going to happen in college softball, but that is part of what makes it such an enjoyable and entertaining sport.
This year’s Women’s College World Series drew more than 68,000 people to ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. If an additional session could have been played, the attendance record probably would have been broken. With the additional improvements planned in the near future at the facility, the attendance record figures to be broken before too long.
While only eight teams earning berths in OKC, teams start the season hoping to qualify for post-season play and eventually earn a berth in OKC by advancing through the Regionals and Super Regionals. It can be a daunting task and teams have to peak at the right time to advance. Some teams lose in the Super Regionals and have to wait for next year. Losing in the Super Regionals only adds to their frustration.
Two perennial powers, UCLA and Arizona, had hoped to advance to OKC but were surprised in the Super Regionals as the overall competitive balance of college softball gets better and better each year. It isn’t wise to look past or take any team too lightly, especially if it has qualified for post-season play. Years ago you could look past a team and advance but not anymore. Teams are improving their overall level of competition and colleges are putting more and more money into renovating their present facilities or building new ones to improve their programs and attract some of the nation’s top softball players.
Florida will be the odds-on favorite to repeat in OKC in 2015 when the event marks its silver anniversary in that city, but who knows what other teams have prepared themselves for a run at the title. That is, if they advance through the regionals and Super regionals. Of course what a team does in the fall will play a role in how a successful a team will be once the bell rings to start the 2015 season.
The WCWS has been held at the ASA Complex since 1990 and will continue to be held at the complex after an agreement was signed May 1 of this year leasing the complex to the ASA for an additional term of 35 years with one renewal option term of 35 years. Coupled .with the improvements that will be made in the next two to four years, it ensures all those involved that OKC will remain as the Mecca of College Softball for years to come and fans and players will get to experience of the Women’s College World Series. An event that continues to get better and better as the teams and players get better, too. That is The View From Here.
How To Coach A Pitcher Written By Keri Casas
Many coaches run into the issue of how to coach a pitcher, especially when they have never been a pitcher before. Even if a coach has prior experience as a baseball pitcher, it simply isn’t the same; mentally or physically.
Coaching a female athlete, for one, can prove to be a difficult task in itself; coaching a pitcher is a whole other story. Not only are you dealing with the emotions of a female athlete, you are dealing with one that has the pressure of the game on their shoulders. The pitcher controls a large portion of the outcome and it is well known that they have to be mentally prepared, ready, and tough to see success within the game. Wins and losses are heavily weighed on the pitching performance and can affect the mental and physical stability of the pitcher. As a coach, it is your job to help them maintain confidence and aggressiveness in practices and games without putting excessive pressure on them, without being overly critical, and by showing that you support them.
Many pitchers already understand the pressure of the game and their role as a prominent player. Pitching is 80% mental, 20% physical and a coach can easily play into those percentages. If a coach is constantly nagging their pitchers, telling them that they need to throw this and that without error or else they will be pulled, that pitcher will fail. Regardless of how mentally tough that pitcher may be, the lack of confidence and negative consequence from a coach will only lead to negative results. Your lack of confidence in her pitching will only deteriorate her confidence in herself.
It is expected that a coach supports their pitchers simply because they picked them up on their team for a reason. If they didn’t have faith and confidence in their pitchers ability, they should not have brought them on the team. Yes, it can be extremely frustrating to watch a pitcher struggle in a game, or not throw to her ability, but getting mad and showing disappointment in that athlete will not help the situation. Again, with pitching being 80% mental, there is probably something going on with her that is deeper than her physical ability. As a coach, and an adult, remember that you are there to support and show them that you will stand behind them as athletes in both their good and bad outings.
So aside from “having your athletes back,” get to know your pitcher. If you don’t know anything about your pitcher, you will struggle to understand her while she is in a game. Female athletes can be hard to read, so the more you can get to know her, the better you can connect regarding pitch calling, her endurance, and her mental stability on the mound.
If your pitcher goes to a pitching coach, attend a lesson. See how she interacts with her instructor and key in on the things she is focusing on developing. A huge point for male coaches to understand is that you are not a pitcher. You have never played fastpitch softball, you have never been a fastpitch pitcher, and you will never be a fastpitch pitcher. Despite thinking that you could coach a pitcher mechanically, understand that you are wrong. J Even though you may think you see certain things that your pitcher could work on, discuss it with their pitching coach first. They may already be working on that exact thing, or they could be working on something entirely different. It is important to maintain that connection with their pitching coach as they have more one on one time, they confide in them, and are in their profession for a reason. Once you make this connection, it will better your relationship with your pitcher and you will be able to reiterate what their pitching coach tells them during practices and games.
As a coach, it is your role to be a supportive figure for all your female athletes. Pitchers in particular need to know that you trust them, you have confidence in them, and that you believe in their ability. The more you show them this support, the more confidence they will have in their own game, in turn, bettering their performance every outing.
Pitching is 80% mental, 20% physical; a coach needs to play positively into these percentages
A female pitchers wants to feel needed and important on a team, more so from their coach than her teammates
Be supportive of your pitcher; the more confidence and faith you have in them, the more they will perform
USA Loss May Have Helped Softball Bid For Return To Olympics Written By Bill Plummer
Although the USA lost to Japan in the gold medal game of the 14th ISF World Championship, August 25th, it may have helped softball’s chances of getting back into the Olympics. Toyko will host the 2020 Olympics with softball and baseball favorites of the Japanese fans.
The USA lost twice to Japan, 4-1 in the gold medal game and 6-1 in the round robin. In the two games, the USA tallied 13 hits but couldn’t put anything together, and especially in the gold medal team when each team had eight hits. It was Japan’s second World title after winning in 2012, while the USA last won this event in 2010 after dominating earlier World championships. winning nine all told.
This was the first time this event was held in Europe (Netherlands) and had a field of 16 teams representing five world regions. The USA had defeated Australia in the game for third place to advance to the Page Playoff finale.
The World Baseball Softball Confederation is hoping to get both sports back on the Olympic program and Japan winning certainly helped softball’s efforts.
“We are developing the sports of softball and baseball in many areas such as the Muslim world, in Africa, and in Europe where interest, awareness, and club numbers and players are continuing to grow on this historic, sports loving continent, the cradle of modern sport,”said World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) President, Riccardo Fraccari.
Japan, the 2008 Olympic softball champions, finished softball’s pinnacle global event with a perfect tournament record of 10-0, fueling further national speculation, interest and excitement in Japan about the possible inclusion of softball and baseball, the two most popular sports in the 2020 Olympic host nation, at the Tokyo Games.
With the Olympic sports selection process up for discussion at the IOC Session in Monaco in December, leadership of the WBSC, the recently merged international baseball and softball confederation, remains committed to working with the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organisers to earn the honour of having the sports included at the Olympic Games.
“Japan, like many other countries around the world, is a baseball and softball nation, and we are doing all we can to maximize the added-value that our bat-and-ball sports would deliver to the Olympic Games,” President Fraccari said.
“We believe that the deep national history, pride and passion for baseball and softball in Japan, at all levels of Japanese society, would enable these sports to bring great value and enhance the Olympic experience at the Tokyo Games and for the 2020 Olympic host nation of Japan.”
“The ten-day spectacle of women’s sport highlighted softball’s growing global popularity as one of the world’s premier sports for women,” said Dale McMann, WBSC Executive Vice President.
“This was a premium event, with teams from three different continents in the top three,” said Low Beng Choo, WBSC Secretary General.
“The medal distribution from the Americas to Asia and Oceania highlights the global spread and excellence of the sport and the athletes, and increases opportunities and awareness of women’s sport,” Low said.