5 Ways Champions Keep Their Heads in the Game

The biggest difference between champion softball players and everyone else who plays softball is that champions control their minds – they don’t let their minds control them.

Discover how you can have a champion’s mindset.

Have you ever made a bad play and felt really bad about it? Of course you have, everyone has. Now, have you made that really bad play in a stadium filled with thousands of people and millions more watching it at home on TV? Probably not, and yet that’s what happened this past weekend during the NCAA Softball Super Regionals, and what will happen during the Women’s College World Series. The very best college softball players in the country and yet they’re making mistakes – how can that be?

First it’s important to know a few things about mistakes so that we can all learn to dominate them, instead of letting the mistakes dominate us:

  1. Mistakes Happen to Everyone – You can watch any sport whether it’s softball, football, soccer or the Olympics and the very best players in the world still make mistakes. Take college softball on TV – how many times did you see a pitcher walk a batter, a batter strike out, a fielder miss a grounder or somebody throw it away? Even at the very highest level mistakes happen. Mistakes happen to Champions so of course they’re going to happen to the rest of us. Making a mistake won’t kill you, it’s what you do after the mistake that makes all the difference. So the next time you bobble that groundball, or walk that batter, or strikeout in a big situation, remember those same things happen to champions – now you’ve got to respond like a champion!
  2. Champions Dominate Their Mistakes – This is where champions separate themselves from the rest of us…champions dominate their mistakes instead of letting their mistakes dominate them! When that college softball shortstop bobbles an easy groundball on national TV, she doesn’t hang her head and get mad and really blow the next play. No way! She quickly gets over it, hopes the very next ball is hit to her and when it is (because you know how balls always find you as soon as you make a mistake) she keeps her concentration and makes a great play to help her team! Champions have the ability to keep their mind focused on the present – what’s going on right now – instead of thinking about how bad they were in the past. That’s called focus; being able to immediately shake off that bad play and concentrate right now on the play that’s coming up. Dominate your mistakes instead of letting them dominate you!
  3. Rebounds Aren’t Just for Basketball – I’m not talking about grabbing a ball off the backboard, I’m talking about rebounding from a mistake. Turning a bad play into a good one. In order for a champion to dominate their mistake, or turn a bad play into a good one, they’ve got to mentally rebound. You won’t see a champion kicking the dirt and hanging her head, throwing her arms up in the air and whining long after a bad play has happened. They might do all of that in a split second as soon as the play is over – but then they QUICKLY get themselves under control, and rebound their mind into what they need to do now in order to make a successful play. Staying in the past by complaining or pouting is what keeps you making mistakes, but rebounding right away and focusing back on the play you need to make is what champions do!
  4. Never Let ‘Em See You Sweat – Watch the top pitchers in college softball – which is pretty easy since they have the camera’s on them all the time – and you can’t really tell if they just pitched a ball or a strike. Their faces don’t really change. They don’t get super mad when they throw a ball or walk somebody and they don’t get super happy when they strike someone out (unless, of course they just won the whole thing!). My point is that this kind of even emotional look is important to a champion’s success. All the softball players you watch on TV are just like you – they get nervous, they want to win, they don’t want to blow it, they want to make their coaches and parents and teammates proud of them. They just know that they can’t show all of these emotions or else they won’t play good enough to win. Champions know how to be crazy inside but look cool and calm on the outside. Never let anybody see you sweat!
  5. It Isn’t Over Till It’s Over – While this might sound obvious, and is actually a quote from an old Yankee’s catcher, Yogi Berra, it’s true – the game is never over until all the outs have been made. You might think, “Cindy, what are you talking about? Everybody knows this so why even bring it up?” How many times have you made a mistake and gotten so mad that you pretty much gave up? Maybe you felt like your mistake cost the game, or there’s no way your team will ever come back now and win? I see this a lot on ballfields, and yet, as long as there are still outs left in the game – you can still win! Champions always fight until all the outs have been made. During the Softball Regionals there were tons of amazing comebacks. Teams won games on their last swing because champions NEVER quit fighting until it’s over – until all the outs have been made and as long as you have a pitch or a swing or an out left, you’ve still got a chance! So the next time you make a mistake, quit pouting, start fighting to turn that mistake around and make a championship-like comeback!

Remember that all Champions started off just like the rest of us. They might look like super-heroes with capes but they’re really just normal softball players that work extra hard, have extra-good focus and give an extra-effort until all the outs have been made!

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