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4 Keys for Turning Awful into Awesome

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Failing isn’t what separates the good from the great players, all players at all levels fail. It’s how you respond to that failure that makes all the difference in the world. Learn 4 ways to help turn Awful into Awesome!

Players on every level fail – but what separates the great players from the not-so-great ones is how they respond to that failure. Learn what 4 things you can start doing to turn your Awful into Awesome!

Have you ever watched an outstanding college softball player – in person or on TV? If so, then you’ve seen them no doubt blow a play, or give up a homerun, or strike out in a key situation. All great softball players make mistakes just like you and I do, but what makes them outstanding is what they do AFTER their mistake! They usually make a very good play immediately following a bad one. Where you and I just get mad and no doubt start a string of bad plays…sound familiar? So how does this happen and how can we learn to turn our awful into awesome?

What all outstanding athletes do, instead of trying to eliminate the bad plays, they simply focus on following up bad plays with good ones!

Sounds simple – but how do they do it? And more importantly, how can YOU learn to do it? Let’s look at 4 keys that will help you turn those awful throws or swings or pitches or decisions into Awesome ones:

  1. Change Mad to Motivated: It’s common that when players fail, or even struggle, that they get mad.  But great players get motivation from failure while the rest of us just get Mad at it. What’s the difference between Mad & Motivated:
    1. Mad:  is set in the past. Since its time frame is in the past (that last play or pitch or throw that made you mad) you stay in the past about whatever is making you mad and you don’t move on. Mad is emotional and involves feelings like: frustration, anger, can’t think, emotional, explosive, impatient, and tense.
    2. Motivated: is set in the now! I am motivated to change what just happened. Motivated involves feelings like: energized, focused, clear headed, intense, and determined. Getting mad keeps you frustrated and in the past and tense and angry, while being motivated gets you focused.
  2. Get Smaller: When we’re frustrated we tend to think and talk in big concepts. For instance, when you’re struggling, have you ever asked yourself, “what’s wrong with me?” Only to answer “everything”. Well “everything” is a little big. I’m sure that ice cream isn’t what’s wrong and yet ice cream is something. I know that sounds ridiculous but ice cream is part of everything and yet that’s not even close to the problem. So your way of thinking is WAY too big to even begin to solve your problem. To help you get smaller in your thinking, start by asking yourself a few guiding questions. So let’s say you’re a right-handed pitcher and you just threw your fastball into the press box directly over the catcher’s head. So naturally you think you’re an awful pitcher. But stop, and ask yourself some questions to get your thinking smaller, and closer to the solution:
    1. What did you see? The ball go crazy
    2. Where did it go? Into the press box
    3. Where was your hand facing when you let go to make the ball go there? Way up here
    4. Where does it need to be pointing for the ball to go to the glove? Down here
    5. OK, does that seem too hard to change? No
    6. Good, because you threw it really fast! I did?
    7. Keep your hand speed fast just let go a little sooner! OK – great
  3. When you think like this you’ll be amazed at how good the next play will be. It might seem like a lot of questions but all I did there was simply help you get smaller, or more specific, by asking questions – questions you can ask yourself!
  1. Find the How: Once you’ve helped your thinking Get Smaller then the “How do I Fix It?” question starts to answer itself. It’s one thing to stay motivated to solve your problem but it’s another to actually know the solution! That’s the real magic – finding the solution as quickly as possible. And remember that we usually only have about 20 seconds in between pitches so we don’t have any time to waste being emotional about our problem. Quickly figure out what you did to cause the problem and what changes you’re going to need to make to solve it – then go!
  2. Start it with Your Brain: Hey, the brain is a body part too, so don’t leave it out of your fundamentals! Too often players think about moving certain body parts to successfully do a skill and they leave out their brain as one of those parts. Teach yourself to start every skill with your brain and then let your body follow your thoughts. This simply means to first use your brain to review 1 to 2 keys for doing the skill right, then imagine yourself doing it right – and you’ll be amazed at how often you do it right if you follow this routine. I tell players I work with all the time, if you have a crap brain before your play you get a crap play.

For more ways to help increase your confidence, to handle pressure and to stay focused, and for some wonderful team building exercises, check out our book, A Coach’s Guide to Creating Team Chemistry: Tips on Coaching Female Athletes.

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