Contollables vs Uncontrollables Written By Renee Ferguson
My players will tell you I preach about a lot of things on the field but if they had to pick the one thing I preach about the most it would be controllables vs uncontrollables. You may be unsure right now what a controllable or uncontrollable is but it’s really pretty simple, controllables are the aspects of the game that you as the coach or the players can control, meanwhile uncontrollables are those things that you can’t change or control no matter how hard you try. Follow along; I’m sure you are more familiar with this than you think you are.
The number one uncontrollable on the field is the umpire, yet if you ask coaches, players or parents the number of umpires who “cost” a team a game is staggering. His strike zone was too tight or too big, he blew that call at third, let’s face it, umpires take a beating. But do you know why they take a beating? Because they are human, they make mistakes, they seriously do the best they can but sometimes they make mistakes. If there is one thing I preach most about to my team is that I never want to hear that the umpire cost us the game, number one the game should never be close enough to come down to one or two outs. If it is we haven’t effectively done everything we could do to win that game that day. Sure their strike zone got tighter in the middle of the game or they blew a call at 2nd base that cost you a run but can YOU fix either one of those scenarios? No, you can’t and no matter how much you complain you will never be closer to rectifying the situation than you were when the ball call was originally made.
The number one way to deal with an uncontrollable is by adjusting. We all know the strike zone runs pretty much between the letters and knees of the batter, right? Well what if you had an umpire who called a pitch thrown down the middle a ball and pitch thrown rolling on the ground a strike? Guess what? You better figure out how to hit the one in the dirt and lay off the one thrown down the middle of the plate. The team who makes the adjustment first will usually end up on the winning side of the score board. Even though there is a rule book, every umpire’s interpretation of the rules will be slightly different from the previous one and chances are your interpretation will be different than one or both of those aforementioned umpires. The sooner parents, players and coaches realize they are not in control of this aspect of the game the more success the team will have on the field.
So what are some things you can control in the field? You can control how you react after a bad call was made, or how you react after a teammate commits an error on a routine fly ball. One of the hardest team controllables seems to be the ability to stay focused when the opposing team is fired up in the dugout or talking about a player on your team. These are the times when controlling your reaction becomes the most important. To help drive this home, I will give you an example of what happened when we were playing for the regional championship last year that will hopefully stress the importance of focusing on the game or task at hand.
After a pretty rough start to our season last year, we made it to the championship game of the regional tournament and in order to win the regional tournament and go to nationals we had to double dip the team we were facing. To make matters worse the team we were facing had already beat us 3 times that season, they were pretty confident coming into the game to the point that their parents were already booking flights to nationals for the following week. Obviously my girls overheard this and started talking about it to one another because they were mad as hell. When I finally caught wind of the conversation I quickly rounded them up and told them I didn’t want to hear any more about it, we had 2 games to play and we needed to be focused on those games not what the other team was planning to do after they won. That was an uncontrollable. I stressed to my team that the more the other team was focused on the trip the less they were focused on us and that in and of itself was an advantage we needed to capitalize on. I wish I could say at that point things ran smoothly and we no longer focused on the uncontrollables of the game, but if I did I’d be lying. Throughout the game I had to continuously snatch my girls up when they were beginning to lose focus, sometimes it was a reaction they had to a player who yelled a comment to our fans other times it was squashing the talk about the other team in the dugout. All I know is it wasn’t easy to keep them on the right path that game but in the end this is how it played out; the coach of the other team became increasingly frustrated with the umpires and spent a lot of time arguing calls that he felt were blown, his players became focused on the rowdiness of our fans and became reactionary. Meanwhile, we were solely focused on the task at hand which was winning that 2nd game and going to nationals, a place when we started that season we never thought we would get to. In the end we beat them by one run and went to nationals. It was easily one of the best days I’ve ever experienced as a coach not only because we won but because I saw these girls give everything they had on the field that day and while not every call went our way that day we made the adjustments necessary to succeed. In the end what more could a coach ask of her players?
In your role as a coach, parent or player remember it is easy to make judgments or excuses as to why your team lost, but in doing so you are teaching your players that they are simply a victim of circumstance instead of teaching them that they are in control of their own destiny. And when you are in control of your own destiny you are going to encounter road blocks and challenges that call on you to constantly adapt and make changes without losing site of the bigger picture, this is how you become successful. Now, I’m in no way saying this mentality is fool proof and if you focus on all the right things all the time you will win every game because that is an impossible claim to make but what I can guarantee is that if you teach your players and yourself to always be ready to adapt and to remain focused in high stress times you will be teaching them the keys to success in life as well as on the field.
Renee Ferguson Renee has over 30 years of combined playing and coaching experience at the select and college levels. After a 3 year stint as Division I, Morgan State University’s pitching coach; Renee was appointed the Head Women’s softball Coaching position at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland. Where she lead the Pioneer Softball team to an 8th place finish, in the NJCAA DIII Nationals in Rochester MN after taking the helm only weeks before the 2013 season started. Renee’s goal is to instill the love and passion that she has for the game, into each and every one of her players and students. Keep up with Renee Ferguson by visiting her site at DirtInTheSkirtSports.com.Join Renee On: Facebook.
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