Lots of parents and coaches have been asking questions recently. You can tell softball season is here!
It’s always fun to hear from others in the softball community. I don’t know why, but only recently have I realized that it may be helpful for you if I share these inquiries and responses with you. After all, when one person has a question, they’re usually not the only ones in the universe with that same question! So you’ll be seeing more of these Q&As so you can benefit from them too 🙂
This particular inquiry was about pitching…
Stacie any suggestions on what to do when a pitcher on a team doesn’t feel supported by her team mates? How do you get her confidence up to perform no matter what?
Ahhhh, I’ve certainly been there before. I’ve seen pitchers endure that same situation. My own daughter has been in that situation. It’s certainly not an easy place to be. BUT this particular challenge provides such an amazing opportunity for growth and development of an essential life skill!
I actually wrote about this a little about this exact kind of situation in the blog post, The Power of Your Presence as a Pitcher. Amanda Scarborough inspired that post. In it you’ll find words of wisdom from here, plus a few thoughts added by me as well.
In addition, here were some other thoughts that come to mind when I read the question above. The main thing is this…
AND…How you feel is up to you.
How you feel is not up to your teammates or what they do. It’s up to you. If you’re struggling because you don’t feel supported by your teammates, you’re focusing on the wrong thing. Shift your focus back on to what you can control: your attitude, your effort, your pitching, how you carry yourself, what you say, what you think, how you respond, etc, etc, etc.
Pitching is SO much more than pitching the ball. Throwing the ball is just a tiny part of what gives a pitcher power to impact the game!
Never let allow how YOU feel to be determined by someone else or by outside circumstances. YOU control how and what you feel. Let the rest go. If you can’t shake the frustration or anger quickly, work on channeling it and directing it so it doesn’t work against you. Find a way to display it so you it gives you an advantage vs letting your opponent know you’re losing your edge. I know it’s not always easy, but such an important skill in both softball and life.
And, yes, it’s so hard to do at 13 years of age.
At any age actually. But what better place to practice this essential success skill than on the diamond, doing something you love?
It really comes down to how much you really want to do what you do. How much you want to get up and go after your dreams. How much hard you’re willing to work and push to get what you want.
As a parent, you can’t force this desire or drive upon your child. You can discuss it. You can discuss different ways to handle the frustration and/or better mask it so it’s not so obvious on the outside during the game. But, ultimately, SHE has to be the one who wants to do well regardless of what happens around her. She has to decide that she WILL do whatever it takes, not that she wants to, not that she’ll try, but that she will…no matter what, give her best attitude and effort on the field no matter what is going on around her.
At the same time, she must also be willing to forgive herself if she does her best, but still doesn’t get it quite perfectly right away. That’s okay too. Understanding how you can get better and working toward that is a BIG deal! We are all a work in progress, always learning and growing and developing. It’s okay if you’re not where you want to be right now, or tomorrow, or the next day, or the next week, or month, or even year!
PROGRESS, no matter how small or how slow, is valuable and must be recognized so one can keep . stepping . forward. Over time, baby steps pay off. Just don’t stop moving, even when it feels like you’re going backwards, trust that you are making progress. Failures and set backs are not the opposite of success, just part of it.
Oh, and sometimes, your daughter comes to you with how they feel about a situation just because they need a place to vent. They don’t need you to fix it. They don’t need you to lecture them on what they should or should not do. Sometimes, they just need a place to say, “This is a frustrating and annoying situation.” And sometimes it is. And sometimes they’re right. And they can’t/shouldn’t necessarily vent within the team setting. And all they need you do to is LISTEN and acknowledge that it is, and that their feelings are valid, then let them decide or discuss with you what they’re going to do about it or how they’re going to respond to it. Offer your input if they ask for it. Otherwise, it’s often unnecessary and sometimes downright unhelpful (even if you’re trying to help).
Remember that it’s a good thing for them to want to come to you and share something that bothers them. The older they get, the more you need to remember that you don’t always have to do anything more than listen, acknowledge their feelings, and provide a safe place for your daughter to let it all out so they can let it go and move on. When you regularly turn these situations into lecturing opportunities about their attitude and how they *shouldn’t* be grumbling or worried about it or focused on it, they may stop coming to you with what’s on their mind. In case you weren’t sure, you don’t want that to happen 😉
It’s perfectly normal, and very human, to feel frustrated, angry, annoyed, or upset. Those kinds of feelings will pop up at some point or another, especially if you care deeply about what you do. How you respond to them, however, is what can take you down or set you apart.
Each time you feel like pouting or letting your shoulders slump, make the better choice in THAT moment. Either don’t let yourself do it, OR choose something else to do instead…
- look determined instead of frustrated
- look out into the distance past the outfield fence instead of at the ground
- keep your chin up instead of letting it drop
- say nothing instead of saying something negative
- etc, etc, etc.
Then eventually, you may actually feel determined instead of just trying to look it, or say something positive instead of just staying quiet. The idea is to slowly make better and better choices each time the opportunity arises. Whenever you know you’re not making the best choice, give yourself another option and choose the better one (because there is always another option and you always have a choice).
You won’t always get it right, but if you keep working on it over and over and over again, one day you’ll find you’ve developed a new, more positive habit that you no longer have to think about. It will simply become your second nature response to less than ideal pitching situations.
Remember, you cannot control others around you. Do what you can to lift others up, but in the end, you can only truly control yourself, your attitude, your effort, and your responses to the different circumstances in which you find yourself. If you truly want to see change in those around you, start with yourself.
Stacie Mahoe shares lessons learned from decades around the diamond. Enjoy her unique insights on softball and life from years as a player, coach, parent, and fan of the game.