“Hustle and Guts” Written By Stacie Mahoe
One summer, I watched a few tournaments that reminded of a few fundamental softball lessons. One lesson was about hustle, the other was about integrity and guts in coaching.
Here's what was going through my mind after that summer…
No matter how you hit the ball, strong or weak, fair or foul always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS hustle down the line.
Hustle is your second weapon in an at bat. First, you hit the ball, then you RUN like heck!
The defense needs to first defend your hit THEN beat out your hustle. Make them PAY if they make a mistake.
Too many players slow down before first base. Even if you know you're a “sure out” run it out. Some players slow down before the bag and only get out by a step or two. What if they actually sprinted? Maybe they beat out the throw? Maybe they rush the throw? Maybe they freak the first baseman out and she drops the ball. You never know what can happen, especially if you never try! Getting out by a step or two because you're not hustling is just not the way to play. How can you expect to win a game when you won't even work to win a base?
I've also seen batter runners dog it around the bases because they hit a high pop up they expect the defense to catch. Instead of sprinting and getting as many bases as possible, they're jogging. In one game, this happened. You know what happened? The defender dropped the ball. But she still got the out at 2nd base because the batter/runner was lolly gagging between bases!
You know what else happened in that game?
The next batter got a hit, but no one scored because no one was on base. That team lost that game by ONE run! Hustle is HUGE. Make it a habit.
Stop pouting and feeling sorry for yourself because you mishit the ball. This game isn't about you. It's about your team! Give everything you got. If you're giving up on hits, it's time to step up your game. Stop selling yourself, and your team, short.
The second lesson of the summer was about guts. More more coaches need the guts to reward players who play all out and sit those who don't. Coaches don't help anyone by awarding playing time to players who play and practice selfishly. Treating everyone exactly the same regardless of effort breeds mediocrity. Slackers learn they can slack and still play. Those who practice and play hard realize what they do doesn't really matter. Next thing you know, your whole team starts playing selfish “go-hard-only-when-I-feel-like-it” softball. This presents a far bigger problem than playing a few innings or games without your “stud” in the line up.
Telling your players you expect their best effort and backing that message up with your actions are two different things. Stop preaching one thing but rewarding another. Back up your words with actions. When you create an environment where your players know that nothing less than their best is acceptable or tolerated, your season become much less stressful. Here's to having the guts to honor the game.
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