“The Top 10 Things She Must Do to Stand Out on the Field” Written By John Michael Kelly
As championship season is upon us the summer push to win and be noticed is like no other time of year. Whether you daughter and/or team is playing in a regional or national tournament, or one of the major summer showcases here are some proven tips for things your athlete MUST do to stand out from the crowd and be a difference maker, a game changer…someone every coach wants on his or her team.
Remember, if your athlete is looking to get recruited keep in mind that for a college coach this is their career, their job. Ask yourself the question, “Would I invest $100,000 to $250,000 in my daughter to play softball in my program…knowing that my job is on the line?”
Follow these 10 tips and your daughter will shine and stand out every time:
1. Hustle – This should be a “no-brainer.” Run from pre-game to the dugout; run on and off the field each inning; run back to the dugout after an out; and for gosh sakes RUN out every ball hit. Dive for balls….ALWAYS. If your athlete is on deck she should run to pick up the bat for the batter after a foul ball. Remember, hustle is a CHOICE and coaches are ALWAYS watching.
2. Attitude – This takes form as body language, using your voice on the field, cheering in the dugout. Your athlete, again, must be aware that her every move is being watched and any demonstration of frustration, anger or sadness is seen as a huge weakness and liability in the eyes of a coach. This falls under the heading of mental toughness…get some!
3. Intelligence – I call it “Softball IQ” and every coach likes to see a prospect show her knowledge for the game. Why? Because it will make the coach's job easier; less remedial teaching allows for more advanced teaching. Have your athlete pay attention playing the game, observing the game or watching on television. How much can she learn about the game? Again, it's always her CHOICE.
4. Superior Concentration/Focus – Softball is a game that requires immense focus and mental concentration for short bursts of time; usually less than 5 seconds. However, if your athlete cannot summon that focus the game will inevitably punish her with mistakes or due to poor decision making. In big games or bigger stages she must keep her focus in the present moment.
5. Bounce Back from Adversity – Softball is a game of failure and, more accurately, a game of overcoming failure. For your athlete to stand out she MUST be able to have a short memory and put past mistakes behind her as QUICKLY as possible. Carrying an error in the field over to her next at bat, or a poor at bat out into the field on in the circle is a recipe for disaster. Have her see a mistake as an opportunity to learn and move one step closer to game mastery instead of the end of the world!
6. Play Fearless! – Every coach wants that player who flies around the field, afraid of nothing…always giving 110% effort, trusting her decision making and her talent. Playing fearless means NO HESITATION. Coaches would prefer an athlete make a mistake as the result of playing aggressive as opposed to playing passive, unsure, afraid of making mistakes.
7. Do the Little Things Well – See #3 again. Have your athlete take pride in her game and take good leads, backup plays properly, look for the extra base, get the signs right. It is ultimately the little intangible parts of the game that only a trained coach's eye will notice that will determine how much your athlete stands out from the crowd. Do all of the little things well and good things will happen!
8. Execute – No matter how good your athlete is at performing the other 9 tips in this email she MUST be able to execute when her number is called. However, keep in mind that coaches watching prospects don't expect a pitcher to strike everyone out or every hitter to go 5-5. Execution has as much to do with showing the athleticism, precision, knowledge and effort in the execution of the various game tasks/skills than simply the result itself. So get the bunt down, hit behind the runner, hit the cutoff, and throw strike one.
9. Make Adjustments – As the game of softball is dynamic, meaning full of variables always changing, any athlete that wants to stand out must learn to make numerous adjustments during the game to give herself the best odds for success. These adjustment “opportunities” are everywhere: batting, fielding, base-running, pitching. Here is the key…if your athlete DOES NOT make adjustments she will never be able to play her best. So have her look for adjustments based on the ump's strike zone, the pitcher calling, the defensive positioning, etc. All game adjustments are easier if she follows my advice in #3 and #4.
10. Love the Game – In the end your athlete will stand out simply because everyone watching her can clearly see how much she loves playing the game. Her joy, enthusiasm, and genuine desire show up in every move she makes on the diamond. Coaches love these types of players because they are easy to coach and nearly always are willing to do whatever it takes to get better and help their team to succeed. As an athlete love, appreciate and respect “the game” and you will absolutely stand out!
Well, that's it. Ignore these 10 tips and your athlete will have a very difficult time standing out. Follow them and coaches will be lining up to recruit her to their team/program!
Thanks for reading! –John Michael Kelly