If your players struggle mentally recovering from mistakes, then check out this championship level lesson.
Use this simple technique to help your players get past their mistakes and successfully move on.
Nobody wants to make a mistake, so how we respond to them matters more than the actual mistake itself. The rational part of our brain understands this, but our emotional brain takes the mistake and exaggerates it, blows it out of proportion, and puts it on an endless loop for our mind to play over and over again.
Now imagine making a huge mistake on national tv on the biggest stage your sport has to offer. That’s exactly what happened to Washington’s outstanding pitcher, Taran Alvelo, and her response is a lesson for all of us in championship failure recovery.
During the recent Women’s College World Series, University of Washington star pitcher Taran Alvelo did what would seem like the mistake of all mistakes – she fell on her face, while pitching, in front of 10,000 people and on national tv. Twice. Taran didn’t just make a bad pitch, or drop a ball in the outfield, or throw the ball away. No, she literally took her step to pitch and instead of delivering a 70 miles per hour riseball, she fell on her face.
Now as mistakes go, that’s a pretty HUGE one to make on a pretty huge stage, and yet Taran’s response was awesome. In both instances her very next pitch was a strike! Boom, from failure to recovery, from awful to awesome.
I watch players make mistakes all the time and I see these mistakes eat away at them, take control of their skill and quickly destroy every shred of confidence that player ever had. One bad pitch and the pitcher thinks she’s bad, or one bad at-bat and the hitter thinks she horrible.
I can’t tell you what Taran Alvelo actually thought after falling on her face, but the simple fact that her very next pitch was a laser-strike, tells me her face-plant had no lasting impact on her opinion of herself as a pitcher.
In fact, I think, as she was picking herself up from the ground, she said to herself – THAT’S WEIRD – and then moved on. Because to Taran, it was “weird”. She didn’t intend to fall on her face when she started that pitch, therefore doing so was unintended, unusual, or weird.
The next time you’re around a player who makes a mistake, have them simply say to themselves – That’s Weird – and then move on. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I’ve tried it out lately with all the different pitchers I work with, from college kids to 8 year olds and in every single case, the player actually smiles after saying it. It somehow frees them up from the burden of making a bad play and severs the emotional tie that mistakes seem to have over us.
I know Taran’s season didn’t end the way she planned it. I still see her during that final game in the Washington dugout, with tears streaming down her face. She fought hard and was a great pitcher for the University of Washington. And through her mistake, on softball’s biggest stage, I’ve found a way to help other players carry less emotional baggage following a bad play. So Taran, whether or not you ever read this article, I’d like to thank you for the courage you showed by picking yourself up off the infield dirt, telling yourself “that’s weird”, and then getting on with the business of being one of the best pitchers in the country! It was a pleasure to watch you pitch!
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