The Softball Academy

By Mitch Alexander

EyeBlack Stickers Eye black stickers online store

EyeBlackStickers.com Online Store dedicated to eye black products.

The softball academy

Welcome to 2013 – winter workouts are well underway for most youth travel teams. The indoor facilities are jam-packed with coaches and parents running every kind of throwing, fielding, and hitting drill imaginable. Lots of coaches are working on agility and strength building as well. Most of us have heard the statement that softball is 80% mental and 20% physical, and the physical aspect is what most coaches focus on for their winter workout clinics. These physical workouts address the 20% of the equation and maybe a little of the mental part, but largely the 80% is overlooked! This is especially important for youth players, who come from varied levels of training and experience. So how can you effectively address the 80%?

One method that has been very effective for us is to hold Softball Academy sessions (hence the name of this column). You can hold them on the field with a 2×3 whiteboard. Even better during the winter, is to hold Softball Academy at the manager’s or coach’s house. Gather the players in a room or finished basement and get a large whiteboard and dry erase markers. This is very effective for youth softball players, especially for the 14u and under teams. Have a different family provide snacks and hot cocoa each week.

Here are a few of the topics we have had success with. Have a session discussing live versus dead balls. You would be surprised how many players, not to mention coaches have very little understanding of when the ball is live. Not sure yourself? Grab a rule book from the organization you regularly play under and highlight all of the rules that dictate live/dead ball play and then put a post-it note on the edge of the page so you can easily find each rule. Another possibility – and the players ALWAYS love this- invite a local high school or better yet, college softball player to come down and teach this academy session. Ask the players to think about when the ball is live and dead and raise their hands with ideas so you can compile a list on the whiteboard. Usually, the obvious ones are listed on the top and the less obvious ones are on the bottom.

This gets the players to think about the topic and their experiences. Almost always, one player asks a question about a play from a recent game they didn’t understand and why the ball was either live or called dead.

Once you have established the players understand when the ball is live, have another session about stealing and especially delayed stealing. Draw a diamond on the board and illustrate various scenarios and ask the players what they would do in each case. Go around the room and ask specific players, how they would handle each play. You can run the scenario “live”, by drawing where the runners are, where the fielders are, and where the ball is. An especially effective use of this tool is to ask players who you know have had difficulty with certain scenarios to run the play and tell you where they are. You can have them speak their answers, or you can give them a marker and have them draw what they would do or where they would go as you draw what the fielders and the ball are doing. For example, if you have a player that has difficulty taking off for second on a passed ball, run that scenario with her. Have her describe in detail what she’s looking for and what she’s doing. Another great use of the whiteboard is to teach and reinforce positional play.

The player who usually plays first base probably does not understand the nuances of how to play second or short stop. We’ve all seen this- a player can’t make a game or tournament and you need to shift things around, and the player who is great at one position doesn’t know what to do to backup another position. Use the whiteboard. Draw a diamond on the board and give each player a token of some kind that says what position they are playing. The tokens can be softballs with the positions written on them, or baseball caps with the positions clipped on to them, or even just coffee can lids. It doesn’t really matter what you use. Start a game, and your fielders need to say what they are doing. Before you declare that the pitch is thrown, have them call where the play is. Infielders call together, and outfielders call where to go if the ball is in the air or on the ground. Correct as necessary until they get it right. Next, point to each player and ask what they are doing or where they are going. Work on bunt positioning, how to handle overthrows to the pitcher, outfield backing up the infield, cutoff positioning, etc. When the fictitious other team hits deep to the outfield, have the players change where to make the play and throw the ball. Write balls and strikes and outs on the board. Switch up positions after the inning is over. You can just rotate the tokens left or right. After you do this a few times, the players will really start to understand how to play each position. They also have the benefit of hearing the starters for each position say what they are doing.

Make sure your softball academy sessions are fun for the players so they want to come back next time. An optional way to end the session is to replay old varsity or professional softball games you may have games you may have on your DVR. The WCWS games are great to watch and comment about, but the high school games offer more mistakes for you to use as teaching tools. Don’t keep pausing and rewinding as the players quickly lose interest. Keep the volume on the TV low so you can be heard without yelling. These softball academy sessions will really pay off by reducing mental mistakes and making sure your players understand the rules of the game! One final tip, take pictures of the lists you compile on the whiteboard and email them out to the team for reinforcement.

cMitch Alexander Mitch Alexander is the CIO for a major electronics company. He coaches both Little League and Travel softball teams. Currently Mitch is completing his PhD. He is a certified SUNY, ASA, and Double Goal Coach. His wife, Marie was one of the first female student athletes in the country to play Little League softball after Title IX was passed and played in the first Little League Softball World Series. Over the years, both have managed teams together and helped spark a love for softball in their student athletes. In his spare time, Mitch designs websites for fastpitch teams and businesses.

 

Fastpitch Softball Books

Fastpitch TV Social Media:
www.fastpitch.tv/Facebook
www.fastpitch.tv/Instagram
www.fastpitch.tv/Twitter
www.fastpitch.tv/GooglePlus

20-40-60 Drill

By Bobby Simpson

Fastpitch Softball Books

20-40-60 Drill

Objective: To get players to improve their skill for making various throws quickly and accurately, as well as making correct decision as to which throw is best for a specific situation.

Points Of Emphasis: Use least amount of time necessary to move a ball to a location accurately. Learn to throw from various body positions and arm slots, adjusting and compensating as needed. Step only when necessary. Learn to throw with body control instead of balance. Realize that throwing hard may take too much time, especially at short distances. Be prepared for bad throws, especially when thrower is in awkward position or hurried. Make a good catch when someone makes a bad throw. Catch every catchable ball.

Equipment Needed: Balls; throw down bases, cones, or objects to designate a location; stopwatch.

Preparation: Set up throw down bases or cones to establish mini-infields at 20 feet and 40 feet, on the main field, which has bases at 60 feet. Divide players into groups of four. If necessary, place five in some groups and let one alternate each time. Groups will compete in throwing and catching contest. Start by placing a player from Group 1 at home plate, 1B, 2B, and 3B on the 20-foot diamond.

Basic Drill: The catcher starts with the ball and throws it around the 20-foot diamond a designated number of times (suggest 3-5 to start), either HP-3B-2B-1B-HP or HP-1B-2B-3B-HP. After 3-5 times, the players must repeat the process the same number of times at 40 feet and at 60 feet. Entire circuit ends with force play at home plate. The group is timed and must complete the circuit without the ball hitting the ground. If ball hits the ground (may be very common, based on skills), the group loses its turn and the next group begins. The winner is the group that can get ball around entire circuit in least time without ball ever hitting the dirt.

Options:(1) Use a fifth player in each group as a pitcher. In original circuit, each time the ball arrives at home plate, the catcher must throw it to pitcher and have it retumed so that that specific circuit is completed. (2) Add more distances, such as 80, 100, and 120, or use 30-foot differences and play 30-60-90. (3) Alter rules to allow ball to hit dirt if receiver catches it. This may slightly decrease emphasis on accurate throwing, but can increase emphasis on catching catchable balls. Consider having advanced players actually being required to throw balls that hop to place extra emphasis on fielding aspect of the drill. You may want fewer rounds conducted, depending on what you observe. (4) Alternate starting point for drill and/or rotate players after each trial, so the drill does not always start at the same place and players in a group do not always start at the same base. (5) Alternate direction of throws after each time around (e.g. HP-3B-2B-1B-HP-1B-2B-3B-HP could count as one circuit or two). (6) Change path of throws so it is not always base-to-base (e.g. HP-2B-3B-1B-HP or other such patterns)

Bobby Simpson is the Founder/President of Getting Better Every Day, Inc., dba/Higher Ground; International softball clinician, with experience in Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, England, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Scotland, Sweden, and U.S. Virgin Islands; Head Coach of British Women’s Fastpitch National Team (2001-2004), Gold Medal winner of 2004 Olympic Test Event in Greece,· Former assistant coach for Dutch and Greek National Teams; Former pro (KG. Royals Baseball Academy) and college (Florida State) baseball coach; Author of Improved Hitting For Girls Softball, plus author, instructor, or producer of more than 100 magazine articles (SOFTBALL Magazine Staff Contributing Editor, coaching manuals, and instructional DVD’s; former director of softball showcases at numerous colleges and tournament sites. Visit Bobby Simpson’s web site at HigherGroundSoftball.com.

Softball Junk

Sponsored by SoftballJunk.com

5 Reasons You Don’t Want to Skip Preseason Conditioning

By Stacie Mahoe

Reasons to not skip preseason conditioning

With the excitement of a new season approaching, it can be very tempting for coaches to forego pre-conditioning and jump straight into the fun stuff, fastpitch softball skills, team strategy, and lineup building. After all, how important is softball conditioning anyway? Conditioning doesn’t win games. Won’t practicing softball skills and teaching the game provide bigger benefits? Will giving up valuable practice time for conditioning really benefit your team when there is so much “softball” to teach?

While it may seem like a good idea to bypass the boring, un-glamourous, often mundane conditioning phase, there are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t. Here are 5 of the biggest reasons why you don’t want to skip pre-season conditioning:

CONDITIONING ENHANCES PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE

Obviously, one of the main benefits of softball conditioning is increased strength, power, speed, and endurance. Improving these basic areas of athletic fitness allow players to hit the ball farther, throw harder, make more plays, beat out more hits, and flat out perform at a higher level. Any time you improve a player’s overall athleticism and fitness level you help maximize performance.

CONDITIONING ENHANCES TRAINING

What happens to softball technique and fundamental mechanics when players get tired? Typically form and technique get worse as fatigue sets in. You can practice all the softball skill work you want, but if your players don’t have the conditioning and stamina to properly execute those skills all game long, all weekend long, all season long, what’s the point? Additionally, a well conditioning athlete can perform a higher number of quality reps over the course of a practice than a lesser conditioned athlete. If your players simply go from being able to take 5 out of 10 reps with solid technique before getting tired, to taking 7 or 8 out of 10 well in that same time frame, how much of a difference would that make in just one practice? What about over a week, a month, or an entire season? Every quality rep counts and over the course of a whole season, those reps add up! The more quality reps your team can take during training, the more prepared they will be to perform on game day when it matters most.

CONDITIONING ENHANCES DECISION MAKING

Have you ever tried solving a complex puzzle or problem while dead tired? How well does that work? It’s frustrating and you probably don’t get very far before you feel like giving up. If you do stick it out, you probably take longer to figure it out than usual and you probably make number of mistakes along the way. I think you’d agree that your brain functions much better when it’s fresh and when fatigue isn’t a factor. This applies to your team’s decision making on the field too. How well do you think your players make decisions when they’re tired and fatigued? Not as well, or not as quickly, as players who aren’t tired I can tell you that!

Want to test this out? Have your players do some base running or any other physically challenging drill. Then ask them to read a simple article or some cool motivational quotes while they relax and recover.

You’ll see how tough something as simple as reading becomes. Reading is something your players do on a daily basis, often without even thinking about it (unless it’s school related of course). Yet, during a relaxing recovery time after a drill, it becomes quite difficult. Imagine how difficult making critical decisions and executing softball skills under game pressure becomes when players are tired. Improving their conditioning and softball stamina helps keep their minds fresh and helps their decision making stay sharper for longer. Don’t let your team be the one that starts making mental and physical errors first simply because they get tired first!

CONDITIONING ENHANCES TEAM BUILDING

One thing about enduring tough preseason conditioning with teammates is that, no matter how much one player may not get along with another, you almost can’t help but respect someone who came out, day after day, through the conditioning period and shed a bunch of sweat (and maybe even some blood and tears too) right along side you. When you see someone bust their butt, just as much as you, in order to help achieve team goals, it becomes much easier to work with them regardless of personal feelings. Even if players don’t always get along, through conditioning, they may find something to respect about their fellow teammates. Sometimes it’ s simply the knowledge that they all care enough about the team’s common goals to put in the work needed for everyone to be successful that helps pull things together for you. Either way, a tighter team that’s willing to work with one another is a definite benefit.

CONDITIONING ENHANCES MENTAL TOUGHNESS

Conditioning allows you to challenge players, not only physically, but mentally as well. You get to see which players handle challenge well and which ones fold. You get to see which players get going when the going gets tough and which ones give up. You get to see how players react when they’re pushed to their limit. Do they lift their team up? Or do they bring others down?

Even better? You can begin working on weaknesses in this critically important area during pre-season conditioning! Why wait until the season starts before you work on staying positive when things get hard?

Why wait until an important game to work on digging deep, laying it all out on the field, and never giving up?

Conditioning done right gives you a chance to work on these extremely important skills before the season begins, before your team ever has to face it in a game situation.

Again, what good is extra softball skill work if your players don’t handle challenge well? If your team’s attitude and morale take a dive once things get a little tough in a game or during the course of a season? Conditioning, on top of the previously mentioned benefits, provides an easy way to assess and work on essential mental game skills.

If you can’t tell by now, I absolutely love the pre-season conditioning portion of the year. I truly believe it’s where champions are made! I know it’s not always the most fun. I know it might feel like you’re not getting enough “softball” practice in. I just hope you see why I believe it can greatly benefit any player or team. Conditioning may not win games, but lack of it will lose games. Think about it. 🙂

Stacie MahoeStacie started playing fastpitch softball at the age of 9 and Founded All About Fastpitch in 2004. Stacie also served as the Chief Marketing Officer at Softball Performance. She currently blogs about Fastpitch softball at StacieMahoe.com. Her perspectives on the game as a former player, current coach, and current softball parent provide unique insights on various softball issues. Visit her website at StacieMahoe.com

Video On Demand

Three Elements That Make Your Pitch Speed Sensational

Julianne Soviero

Fastpitch Softball TV Store

How To Make Your Pitch Speed Sensatinal

Everyone wants to be able to throw the ball harder, but this is no simple task. Improving your pitch speed involves challenging yourself both physically and mentally. As a pitching instructor for twenty years, I have found that there are three main elements that bring pitch speed to the next level, and it’s probably not what you’d expect:

1.Mechanics: Unequivocally THE MOST IMPORTANT part of maximizing your pitch speed is creating flawless mechanics. I have had some of my athletes add five mph in a week simply by cleaning up their angles and creating better alignment. If your car was out of alignment or in need of repair, you probably wouldn’t try to drive it a hundred miles an hour. Yet so many pitchers are trying to throw really hard with misaligned circles, bad footwork, incorrect snap, or other glaring issues. For some free information on some things you can do to improve your mechanics, go to www.flawlessfastpitch.com and sign up to receive some drills you can do at home. There you can also read the five biggest myths about softball pitching. These can help you to get your mechanics in order. With optimal mechanics, you are creating the shortest distance between two points (remember physics?). If your step is offline or your legs are collapsed, you will lose speed. If your circle is ten degrees off, you will lose speed. If your leg drive is inefficient or lacks explosiveness, you will lose speed. If you don’t have a good snap, you will lose speed. Don’t make the mistake of ASSUMING that you have a perfect motion or that your current pitching coach knows everything. Do your homework and really max out your efficiency. I always make sure that my athletes have perfect mechanics before we do any speed work.

2. Tempo: Once your motion is pretty perfect, you should work on your tempo or rhythm. Most of us have a natural tempo that we are comfortable with, but truly throwing as hard as you are capable of requires pushing your comfort zone. As Jillian Michaels says, “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” You should always prioritize mechanics first, but after that, you should try to focus exclusively on speed for a while. I like to do this by using drills like rapid fire (where we see how many pitches can be thrown in 30 seconds and then try to beat that number). I also like to work on tempo in small groups by having my athletes compete against each other. This is a very good way of finding out who thrives under pressure. Knowing that you have to do better than someone else forces you to really step up your pace. I typically integrate this with HIIT (high intensity interval training) so that my pitchers understand what it feels like to really push as hard as they can.

3. Visualization: If you are rolling your eyes right now, stop it. As a certified hypnotist, I have had terrific success hypnotizing athletes to be faster and to throw more accurately. You can’t argue with the results. Since these athletes believe that they can do it, they are able to do it. This is why visualization is so effective. The mind has a hard time distinguishing between what you visualize in very realistic detail and what has actually occurred in reality. If you are the pitcher who is constantly saying, “I will never get faster,” then you won’t. If you take a moment and imagine what it feels like, sounds like, and looks like to throw five miles an hour faster, your mind will start to execute what you visualize. It doesn’t necessarily happen immediately. It is a process. You have to keep working at building this perfect image of yourself throwing the heck out of the ball. Nearly all Olympic athletes use some form of visualization for a reason: it is incredibly effective.

You are not throwing as hard as you can until you achieve optimal efficiency, optimal tempo, and an optimal mental state. These should all occur at the same level of intensity that you will use when throwing in a game. If there is a disconnect between your practice sessions and your game performances, then creating a competitive environment during practice is essential. In my new online pitching program, my athletes will compete against each other for a whole month. This is so important. There is no sense practicing your heart out if you can’t deliver the same performance in games. Get comfortable competing at maximum level so that you can easily translate that performance into game success. Integrate these skills and share your success stories!

Julianne Soviero: Julianne Soviero has been a pitching instructor for over twenty years. She has produced countless award-winning athletes and dozens of scholarship athletes. She is also a certified personal trainer, hypnotist, and the author of Unleash Your True Athletic Potential. Her upcoming book, Empowered Recruiting, focuses on the recruiting and selection process for student-athletes. She has appeared in media across the country, including Fox and Sirius. She is available for private consultations, workshops, and speaking engagements. Visit her website www.flawlessfastpitch.com or go check out her Facebook page: Flawless Fastpitch and Twitter: Julianne Soviero

 

Strike Zone Mat hitting and pitching training aid

Slapping Part II

By Dalton Ruer

Do you want to hear my answer, their answers or the right answer? Oh sorry if you are just joining us for the first time this month we are in the middle of a 3 part series on slapping. The question of course is “How should a slapper hold the bat?” I’ll skip the silly answers from me and them and jump right to the right answer … slappers should hold the bat where it allows them to have the most control.

The reason so many coaches yell “choke up a little bit” when players have two strikes on them is that the closer your hands are to the head of the bat the more control you have. That principle applies to slappers as well. My recommendation for players learning to slap is to have their hands choked up as high as they need to. As the player gets more advanced they can slide those hands back down to a normal grip.

Hopefully after a month of working on the footwork we discussed last month that part of the skill is already muscle memory. If you didn’t read last months article be sure to go back and do that, everything else is going to be based on good foot work. This month we are actually going to put the bat on the ball. Well almost, we are going to catch the ball with the bat and set it down, where we want, as softly as we can. Our goal is to have “fast feet and soft hands.” I stole that phrase from a dear friend of mine named Shawna Norris who said it often to help players visualize the separate and distinct actions that they needed to in order to perform a “drag bunt.” Basically the same kind of bunt that a normal batter would attempt, you are just doing it while moving about 100 miles per hour.

Stand in position with the bat ready to go. Slide your right foot back, as you’ve been practicing. As you take that step with your left leg, that will get you into your track star starting position.Slide your left hand up to the barrel of the bat. Hopefully that right shoulder is automatically staying in by now over your left foot. Now bring your left foot back into position, and as you do, put the bat back on your shoulder. Just as we practiced that footwork by itself last month, you should practice those steps now, learning how to slide that hand up and down the bat in rhythm with your footwork.

“Ok enough of this constant footwork … wanna start slapping.” I hear ya. I hear ya. Well then go grab your bat, your batting tee and some rolled up socks. Set your batting tee up as though it will be a very low, very outside pitch. And start practicing. Your goal isn’t to drive the socks across the room, it is to touch them just hard enough to make them fall off the batting tee. In other words “soft hands.”

Once you’ve practice indoors you are ready for the field. At the field be sure that you set that tee up way low and way outside. That’s the worst pitch for slappers so you might as well practice it as you get started. It will force that right shoulder to stay in, and will keep you from pulling away from the ball and trying to run up the first base line. At the field it is important that you have complete control of where the ball goes. Your first target is going to be right up the third base line. You want to take advantage of a third basemen who may be playing to far back, and your goal is to keep it close enough to the line that she has to turn her back to first base to field it, or she has to take extra steps trying to round the ball. A controlled, soft drag bunt up the third base line is a great way to start having success as a slapper. One secret that I have all my players try is to keep their eyes on the ball until it is actually on the ground. Your feet keep moving but you keep those eyes on the ball.

As you get more and more comfortable, start moving the batting tee to different locations and different heights. Each new position will force you to adjust your hands and the angle of the bat. At this point you are still always trying to softly move the ball off the tee in a direction that rolls right near the third base line. After you feel that you have done that enough to do it with your eyes closed, then you are ready to move on to the next step. Drag bunting the ball right up the middle into an area that will force the third basemen, Pitcher and first basemen to communicate in order to figure out who is supposed to take it. As always you are trying to do this softly. If you poke the ball back to the pitcher then it will be obvious that the ball is hers. If you don’t have control and it goes clearly to one side or the other the 38 or the 1B will know it’s their’s.

Our final step, and the bunt that works 99 times out of 100 (when it’s executed correctly) is the drag bunt up the first base line. Notice I put the phrase “when it’s executed correctly” in brackets. The hardest part of doing this bunt has to do with the angle your bat comes to the ball. If your hands just naturally come all the way around from your shoulder to the ball to try and get it up the first base line then the bat will have a lot of speed on it. Yikes!!! We want “soft hands” and “fast feet” not “fast hands.” A fast bat means a sharply hit ball that is going right at the first basemen. Easy out. A trick that has worked out well for my students for years is to bring the bat off your shoulder into the position that you want to make contact with the ball. That’s not very natural and takes a lot of practice. In fact it’s not even very easy to explain in an article. Fortunately Graham is going to demonstrate exactly what I mean in the video so be sure to pay attention to the demonstration and practice it a lot. Help yourself succeed by setting the batting tee up inside initially as you are starting this.

If you have someone who can soft toss to you then that is a great next step. But your best friend is going to be that batting tee as you start mastering the art of “fast feet and soft hands.”

Dalton Ruer

Dalton Ruer

Dalton Ruer: Coach Ruer has been using softball to encourage and motivate athletes for 15 years. Throughout the year he is a private softball instructor to many college bound athletes in Georgia. He facilitates team based clinics and instructs at many elite and college recruiting softball camps. His specialties are helping players verbalize their dreams and establish a plan to achieve them and helping players overcome the fears that are holding them back from being exceptional athletes. He has produced 6 instructional DVD’s covering all aspects of how to win the short game and how to dive for the ball. Keep up with Coach Dalton by visiting his blog and resource site at CrossTrainingSoftball.com. Join Dalton On: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube

 

Video On Demand

Courage

By Aaron Weintraub

Courage

Courage is the strength of will to do what is difficult. Life (and softball) is so much better when you are good at it, and a huge part of being good at it is being courageous. Great athletes do this despite the risk of falling, getting hurt, making mistakes, looking bad, and feeling bad. They are dedicated to the truth and they work on weaknesses, often scheduling pain now to enhance pleasure later. Great athletes are open, comfortable in the knowledge that they are not invincible. Everyone has both good and bad habits; courageous athletes work hard to turn their weaknesses into strengths.

The word courage comes from the Latin root “COR,” which means heart. It is a common theme in softball that “you have to have heart.” Some people equate heart with fearlessness, but this is not accurate. Wrestling icon Cory Lester said, “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is being afraid but being able to control that fear so you are able to perform at your highest ability. That’s what makes a champion.” It’s being scared, but not acting scared!

Courage can be divided into two categories: physical and moral. Having one does guarantee having the other. For example, NHL teams are made up of athletes with high physical courage.

All the players have the toughness to play through pain or risk injury. We know this because we can count the average number of teeth per player. However, that same team will have a normal distribution of moral courage. A couple individuals will be high, a couple low, and most somewhere in between.

Moral courage also requires a risk of significant pain, but it is emotional rather than physical. It is the ability to do what is right even if that goes against social norms or peer pressure, or risks embarrassment, discouragement, or adversity. Here are examples of moral courage

Saying no to pressures to do things that are counter to your own values (alcohol/drugs/cheating!etc.).

Striving for perfection, knowing that you will fall short.

Facing the unknown and giving your best effort even though you have no idea if that will be enough to win or make others happy. What you do know is that your best is all you can do and you have faith that your best is always good enough, not necessarily to win, but to produce success.

Victims of crime who testify against their attackers.

The anorexic or addict who seeks help and wins the fight.

The athlete who recognizes how her personality keeps her from leading or performing effectively, so she changes what comes natural and creates a new habit.

Courage is seeking the truth at any cost and having the motivation to use what you find, for knowledge without action is useless. When courage and motivation are combined, mountains will be overcome one step at a time, then look like molehills in the distance behind you. Without courage, even a molehill is insurmountable. With courage, an ingrown toenail becomes irrelevant during competition. Without courage, the injured athlete loses focus, intensity, and balance. With courage, adversity is good and mistakes are viewed as critical components for growth and happiness. Without courage, adversity is bad and mistakes represent the end of the road. With courage, we can identify and change bad habits, making excellence itself second nature. Without it, we can make excuses. Without courage, the fear of failure debilitates, but with it, that same fear gives us juice to help us reach new heights of personal and human achievement. Courage reveals fear and pressure for what they really are: the shadows of great opportunity.

All of this is why Winston Churchill said, “Without courage, all other virtues lose their meaning.” If motivation and courage are sufficient, you will find a way! You will ‘win’ the mental side of the game and perform up to your potential when you have the courage to say (and act out), “I will give my best effort one step at a time and accept whatever happens!”.

aaron Weintraub Aaron Weintraub holds a B.A. from Emory University (1993) and a M.Ed. from the University of Virginia (2000). He served as an assistant baseball coach for 13 years before starting www.CoachTraub.com, a consulting business whose mission is to over-deliver value on goods and services designed to help you win the mental side of the game. He works with teams and individuals, adding clarity to help them get what they want for their sport. CoachTraub.com also runs camps and clinics and has an online store.Weintraub is the author of Coaches Guide to Winning the Mental Game (Coaches Choice, 2009) and An Elite Athlete’s Manual for Training Mental Skills (self-published, 2011). He lives in The Colony, TX with his wife, Nicole, and their four children.

Fastpitch Magazine Ad

Fastpitch TV Social Media:
www.fastpitch.tv/Facebook
www.fastpitch.tv/Instagram
www.fastpitch.tv/Twitter
www.fastpitch.tv/GooglePlus