Softball is filled with critics – people in the stands, or the dugouts, and often in our own heads.
Learn how to handle that negative talk so it doesn’t hurt your play!
“Don’t pop up”, “Keep your back shoulder up”, “Just Throw Strikes”, “Quit Throwing it Away!” – if you’ve been playing softball very long then you’ve probably heard these statements before. And while they might all be true, they are also negative. Whether it’s thoughts in our own head, voices in the stands & dugout or discussions in the car on the ride home, criticism has one thing in common – it’s negative!
When we fill our own heads with negative thoughts our body goes in search of negative results. Here’s how our brain works – all actions start with instructions from the brain. Instructions are basically thoughts. So, if all your brain hears is don’t do this, and quit doing that and what’s wrong with you type of thoughts, then it sets out to do those exact things. Things, which by the way, are exactly what you’re trying not to do.
Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Fortunately, there’s a much better way to think and that involves jumping over the criticism, and here’s what I mean. Whenever anyone (you or someone in the dugout or stands) criticizes something you’re doing the only thing they can tell you is what you’re doing wrong. And usually that’s the easy part. You just pitched a ball, and they tell you “just throw strikes”. You just threw it over your teammate’s head and they tell you to “quit throwing it away”. Again, pretty obvious!
What criticism thoughts don’t tell you (either your own thoughts or someone’s comments to you) is how to do it right. I always say that the person that’s criticizing is just being obvious. If I just threw it over your head, I know I need to “bring it down”, I just don’t have a clue how to do that. So that’s where YOU come in. Whenever you hear criticism, either from your own head or from the stands or dugout, you need to immediately jump right over it and come up with a solution! Jump-over thinking is the quickest way to solve a problem and get yourself back into the game.
If you just criticize yourself with either your own thoughts or those of the people around you, then all you’ll do is get frustrated and emotional – and neither one of those feelings will help you solve whatever it is you’re mad at. Instead, practice jumping-over the criticism and getting right to the solution – the part that tells you how to fix whatever’s making you mad. Once you start focusing on the solution instead of criticizing the problem you’ll start to calm down, which will help you find the right solution and play better.
We all make mistakes and we all have negative thoughts flying through our heads. Let’s just work on limiting our own negative thoughts, not dumping any into the heads of our teammates, and practice jump-over thinking so we can get right to the solution!
For more help with this topic, check out the following:
- Book: A Coach’s Guide to Creating Team Chemistry (NOTE: Even though the title says it’s for Coaches, it’s a great book for players too!)