The best asset for an athlete isn't talent. It's not strength. It's something you can't physically measure. It's the desire to learn and the ability to have an open mind. This not only attributes to life, but in sports there are often many ways to be successful at something.
Different coaches teach things differently. This doesn't mean one is right or wrong, it's just different. Different isn't always bad. Sometimes different can be good, but you have to have the mindset that you are willing to try different.
If an athlete is signed up for a lesson or a clinic, common sense tells us you are there to learn. If you are there to learn, an open mind is essential. Before any clinic or lesson, I try to preach this concept. Some thing or things I say or do might click for you. It may even be the same concept your pitching coach is trying to hammer home, but the wording makes it make sense. No matter what position you are, sometimes a different idea can make all the difference in the world.
As a pitcher, I grew up going to lessons, first with Tim Timmons and then with Bobby Smith, but my dad and I didn't stop trying to learn. I would go to different clinics, from ones in Texas to one in Florida. A few times we even took a few lessons with a different pitching coach, just to get a new perspective. I have always been a student of pitching. I wanted to perfect something that is practically impossible to perfect, so I listened, and I soaked it all in. If this concept was driven home with kids these days, I think more would not only have a greater knowledge and awareness of what they are doing, but they could thoroughly enjoy the process that comes with growing as an athlete and being successful.
When running camps and clinics, a common phrase is “well my pitching coach says this…” or “I don't do it that way.” This closed mindedness only keeps an athlete from advancing. If you're at a clinic, someone is just trying to get you to try something for a few hours, or maybe 2 days. Trying something new for this amount of time won't ruin your previous work. You have to try to see if it will work.
Since both Amanda Scarborough and I are both in Texas, I often have a lot of her kids from lessons at my clinics. After almost every clinic, I get a text from her telling me one of her kids came back to lessons explaining what they learned. Sometimes it may be something new; sometimes it's simply different wording of something she was already teaching. The point is, they come into the situation to learn and apply, not just to be there. They are open minded. They want to learn, and most of the time, I don't even know they are her kids because they don't mention it!
Parents, I would stress trying to open your athlete' s mind up, especially prior to a camp or clinic. Athletes, I would challenge you to try and learn as much as you can about your position, your swing, or your pitch: whatever it is! Learn what works for you and what doesn't. Try anything once, so you know how it feels. Be comfortable being uncomfortable for a little while. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day, so no new technique will be successful in 1 try.
Be a sponge! Be committed to learning! You can't ever stop learning, but you have to have an open mind.
| Cat Osterman’s accomplished career as a softball pitcher precedes her, starting with a record-breaking 4 years at the University of Texas and continuing with her impressive Olympic achievements and professional softball endeavors. In fact, she was the first pitcher to register over 2,000 NCAA strikeouts.
After taking home the gold at the 2004 Olympic games and enjoying years of success playing with the USA Softball Women's National team, Cat began her professional career in 2007 with National Pro Fastpitch. She is an inspiration to countless young softball players all over the world. Visit her website at www.CatOsterman.com
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