Mistakes were made when I was a player. And no I’m not just talking about the typical errors; the strikeouts, the embarrassing losses, or the super bad stats on paper on occasion.
I’m talking about the dreaded “A” word.
Mistakes were made with my attitude when I was a player.
I look back on those mistakes and even today, into my thirties, I regret them. I regret ever acting a certain way on and off the field, and sometimes have a hard time speaking to and admitting to those mistakes even today to my clients.
Now I’m a very competitive person by nature. From the moment I started playing there was this spark in me that lit every time I played. I think that spark was what helped me build a successful career, but more importantly it kept me coming back for more, year after year. I always wanted to be one of the best, and to be someone people talked about. That spark created nerves before games, during situations where I was under pressure, and it fueled me to pitch regardless of being sore, tired, hot, cold, what have you.
But that spark was often misconstrued into perceptions of me that were far from what I ever wanted parents, coaches, even teammates, to think about me. I internalized my competitive spirit, put false pressure on my shoulders to preform well above my capabilities. My expectation was to pitch great every game, strike out every girl, get a hit every at bat, make a good play every single opportunity. So when that didn’t happen, I became upset, blamed myself, and felt like I had let people, including my own self, down.
And today, I’m running across some really difficult players; overly competitive, perfectionist, thick skulled, bad attitudes, whatever you may want to label it as, and I’m sure that it’s some weird sort of way that fate is giving me a pay back, because I see myself, I was that girl.
But those are the girls that I absolutely want to work with. Those are the girls that I inherently need to work with, and personally, I love the challenge. I ask them how they currently react in certain situations, or they reveal to me what their reactions are when they inevitably fail, and I feel that it is so important to let them know they are not alone, that I can relate to them, and to tell them that the person they are describing, was me.
Because I often wonder if I just had someone who I related and connected to a little better, that helped guide me to view my emotions in a different light, or helped me by providing some tools to channel my spark. Maybe if I had just had a coach that didn’t deal with me and my poor attitude by asking others how he could get me to smile more on the mound (I kid you not), or by telling me that ‘it’s just a game, stop acting like that’, benching me, yelling at me, punishing me. Now I take full responsibility for the way I acted and know I wasn’t easy to deal with by any means, but if I just had had a me, a female player, a mentor to talk me through my thoughts as a rebellious growing teenage girl, maybe just maybe, I could have avoided some of these regrets I feel today.
So I feel like it’s part of my job as a coach to do everything in my power to help keep girls from making the same mistakes that I did, and to keep them from closing any opportunity doors that come their way simply due to a bad attitude.
Here’s the bottom line. You can always rewrite your script as a player. Hypothetically speaking, if you’re sitting across the table of a coach and he/she slides a script across that says you are a difficult person, a poor teammate, toxic, uncontrollable, thick skulled, a waste of time, anything that you don’t want or like how someone perceives you, do not accept it, rip it up. Rewrite your own script and slide it back across the table. No one is holding you to those perceptions, except for your own stubborn self.
Today is the day that you have to realize you have to work on the ways you want others and yourself to perceive you.
Refocus the Negative Energy
Instead of internalizing your errors and letting them fester in your head of how you could have done it differently, or better, turn to someone in the field and express your error. Take ownership. “Hey, my bad.”
That’s step one; admit to it. After that, come up with a plan of how you’re going to rectify it.
“My bad, I’m going to go get the next one.”
“My bad, let’s turn the double play and get her at two.”
“My bad, I’m going to be a little more aggressive at my next at bat.”
Expressing your errors helps you let go of them faster and helps you move forward.
As a parent, coach, teammate, your job is to support the players plan, not make them feel worse or embarrassed by their error.
“You’re right, you got the next one.”
“You’re darn right, you better swing the bat next time, or there won’t be a next time!”
Practice and Prepare so You’re More Likely to Succeed in Games
Nothing is worse that showing up to anything clearly unprepared. Games are no different. Lack of practice will come back ten fold and is often what can cause a player to have a bad attitude. You are getting lit up on the mound, you were consistently missing the zone by a mile, you struck out every at bat. Simply put, it’s obvious when you didn’t put in the work and effort needed to preform well. And if you’re a pitcher, your attitude is exemplified even more when you are supposed to be considered a leader and the entire team feeds off your demeanor.
Having a positive attitude when you preform terribly is a hard thing to do, make sure that your poor performance isn’t because you didn’t practice and prepare enough.
Pick Out One or Two Teammates You Trust to Help You
This is a tough one to expect out of younger players, but ask a teammate to help you through your tough times. Ask them to call time and come talk to you when your body language and attitude are clearly showing negativity. Ask that teammate to meet you at the end of the dugout after a strike out and talk to you about something completely unrelated to your failure.
The game should always be fun, but sometimes it’s important to have those more serious conversations when you need someone to help you get over a bad attitude patch. If you’re the teammate being asked for that help, take it seriously and truly be there for her when she needs you.
Express Your Motives to Teammates and Coaches
Make sure your team and coach know the true you. Tell them your difficulties of being too hard on yourself, reveal your fears of failing in front of them, and let them in on your thoughts when your team loses or when things aren’t going right.
Winning solves a lot of problems including bad attitudes, but when your team is losing it’s important to reconnect, and come up with a plan. You’ll be surprised to find out how closely your fears and anxieties closely parallel those of your fellow teammates, or in the least hear how your fellow teammates keep their attitude in check when they’re struggling.
Re-Write Your Script Now
I will always want girls to come into my facility and feel like she can be herself, let her guard down, and feel comfortable. I will never shame, or make a girl feel bad about having an attitude, but I will call her out for it. Because I guarantee if she is hanging her head, rolling her eyes, speaking disrespectfully under her breath, etc, she is turning around and doing it all on the field. So it’s important to call her on her negativity and figure out a new way to act and approach the situation. A good part of that, and where my job comes in, stems from building her confidence as a player, and believing in her abilities more so than she may even directly see and believe in herself.