Last week I started a new set of blog posts called 10 questions. On this new blog I am sending 10 questions to great softball players, and coaches. Then I am posting the questions with their answers.
This week two time Olympian Michele Smith answers our 10 questions. Written By Gary Leland
Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?
A. I started playing softball when I was 6 years old, but was a shortstop and outfielder. I didn't start to pitch until 15 and my first season pitching was my sophomore year in High School, just prior to my 16th birthday. With a late start, I worked hard to make up for some lost time. 🙂
Q. Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?
A. My parents for sure. They were very supportive -still are, of my career and passions. I believe they did all they could to help me reach my full potential.
Q. How do you get ready for a game?
A. I am very routine oriented, so I did things the same no matter if practice, a game -a championship…I believe you need to need to feel comfortable to really be able to reach that zone that athletes talk about. If you are too much in the present and aware of how uncomfortable you are, you never get to that level of unconscience competence that the best athletes in the world play at.
Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?
A. I am passionate about training so I cycle, and I do tri's. I don't like to swim, but have to in order to compete in tri's…running has become something that I have started to enjoy again. For complete relaxation I enjoy boating and fishing.
Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?
A. Playing professional ball in Japan for 16 years really helped my game and made me a better player on and off the field. Also, playing for Team USA. When you are surrounded by so many great athletes, it takes to you to the next level. You are challenged every single day you step on the field.
Q. Do you have any routines are superstitions that you implement regularly?
A. I always jumped over the foul lines on the field. I started doing this as a reminder or physical que to tell myself it was time to go to work. I was jumping into my ‘arena' and it was where I was to focus and compete at a level of intensity every time the ball was given to me.
Q. What is your favorite softball memory?
A. Winning two Olympic Gold Medals were for sure the high light of my career…but of course wearing that USA uniform was an honor no matter what the event. Winning 8 Japan League Championships and 8 MVP's also ranks up there pretty high as well! :.
Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?
A. Mental training is the difference between good and great. You will never find an elite athlete that is unaware of their mental abilities…that is not saying all elite athletes are mentally strong…but aware of how much it adds or how much it detracts from their outcomes. I would advise to be aware of when you are playing well, how do you feel, how are you thinking, what are you thinking about, what are you eating, what is going on in your life…try to replicate these things over and over….also, when things aren't going well, have a baseline to try to get back to in order to get your game and mind back on track.
Q. If you could do anything else in the world as a profession, what would it be and why?
A. A Doctor. I was going to go to Medical School but never got off the softball field! 🙂
Q. What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?
A. Overcoming the accident I had after my freshman year in college….which once I overcame those setbacks…it ended up making me a better player…and person.
Visit Michele's website at MicheleSmith.com/
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