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A Well Deserved Thank You

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It has been over six years since I’ve stepped on the field in a Haze jersey with you as my head coach. I can still remember exactly what it 229001_1041540272659_4243_nfelt like to have a coach who fully believed in me. I wanted to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for making me not only the player I am today, but the person I am today. Every day I find myself relying on something you instilled in me. You taught me to love this game at the age of eight, and continued to fuel my fire until you created a forever burning lpassion in me, which I am now turning into my career. The tough love you showered me with, at times being my biggest fan and at others my toughest critic, is the perfect essence of a true coach. You have not only taught me how to play, react, fail, and succeed in the game of softball, but in the game of life itself. I only aspire to do for my players what you have done for me. Thank you for the passion, the skills, the talent, the attitude, the character, and the love. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you.

Thank you, so much.

Quote of the day:

“Thank you for believing in my yesterdays, todays, and mostly my tomorrows”

Enlighten Your Athletes With “Why”

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When I first entered the coaching world six years back, I was welcomed with a rude awakening. I was struggling to answer my athletes questions pertaining to why we did things the way we did. For instance, “Why do we go head first into second base on a steal with no runners on, opposed to going in feet first?”. After playing softball at an elite level since the age of 8, it was a shock, and honestly a little disheartening to realize I didn’t know the answer.

Throughout my youth career as a softball player I was lucky enough to always play for coaches who had an immense knowledge base of the game. I was coached at the elite level, with the correct techniques, and strategies, from the get go. I had coaches who knew to call pitches off the plate on a batter with two strikes. I had coaches who knew to push batters back in the box when we were trying to stealimages-47 second. I had coaches who knew to have their player tag-up at second on fly ball to right field.They always knew the correct pitches to call, defensive positioning to set up, and offensive strategies to employ. I was extremely fortunate to develop my skills under coaches who truly knew the game. I was an athlete who learned how to execute with precision.

Being taught correctly from the very beginning allowed the skills and strategies of the game to become ingrained in me, like they were second nature. I never had to conciously think about what was going on around me; my skills and play executions were more like reactions. Unfortunately, this caused me to miss out on a crucial skill, reading the game in front of me. I developed my talent under coaches who were so knowledgeable, that I didn’t get to learn the cognitive side of the game. My coaches were always calling the plays, and giving direction, so I missed the vital skill of reading the game and making decisions on my own.

Coaching has taught me to take my reactions and turn them into words. It has taught me to analyze my ingrained skills and convert them into a tangible lesson for my athletes. The biggest challenge for me has been coaching first base; I know to run when the catcher images-50bobbles a ball, but saying “run” and physically taking off, are two completely different things. It took me a while to hone in on the skill of delivering oral directions on the bases. It was no easy feat, and six years later I’m still learning, analyzing, and converting, but I’m making progress, and that’s what counts!

Coaches, give your athletes the chance to develop the cognitive aspect of this game. It is critical to include the “why” when teaching skills, and developing game strategies. Explain to athletes that pushing batters back in the box makes the throw to second base longer for the catcher. Explain that the throw from right field to third is longer than any other position on the field, which is why we tag up at second base on a fly ball hit to right field. These may seem like minute points to those who have been around the game for some time. However, these little bits of images-48information can make all the difference to your athletes. It can aid in that “click” that we all strive to witness as coaches.Give them the opportunity to employ and execute game situations on their own. Allow them to coach their own teams at practice so they can recognize when it’s smart to bunt, steal, and execute hit and runs. Let the catchers begin to call pitches, let the pitchers begin to call pitches. Remember that trial and error is a fantastic tool to utilize when developing the cognitive aspect of the game. Explaining the mental side of the game, and then allowing them to practice on their own will greatly impact your players ability, and will develop them into well rounded athletes.

Quote of the day:

“Coach is just another word for teacher.”

Should I Thank Dr Seuss?

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As a 24 year old graduate student hoping to attain her doctorate in the future, I would label myself as a pretty driven person. Throughout life’s dips and spills I’m one to keep my head up and continue to look to the future. I’m aware of this quality that I posses, but lately I’ve been curious as to where I acquired it from. Naturally, I give the credit to my parents first, and then I assume organized sport played a role due to my extensive history. However, a gift I was given on my 21st birthday makes me consider another contributor. On my 21st birthday my parents gave me the children’s book, “Oh The Places You’ll Go” by Dr Seuss. 200px-Oh,_the_Places_You'll_Go

Have you read this inspiring story lately? It’s incredible.

It’s a book of rhymes which instills a message that is valuable at all ages. You are in charge of your life and the direction you choose. You’ll have tough times, and things wont always go your way, but you will eventually succeed. You’ll keep pushing forward and “KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS”.

What a powerful message! It’s a vital belief when conquering the ebbs and flows of life. How lucky I am to have learned it during the years I was shaping my perspective on life. Children’s books are of the upmost importance when teaching kids life skills; a fact I wasn’t aware of until a life-long friend told me this:

IMG_5832“Picture books are the most important books anyone ever reads–or doesn’t read: Interaction with books at the beginning of life has SUCH an impact, and it’s absurd the tiny degree to which that responsibility is taken seriously. It’s a huge responsibility! The author and illustrator become the kid’s conduit to a new way of seeing the world for five minutes, and if they’re not careful, this can have a huge (and potentially negative) impact. I think people see the tiny page count and the dearth of words and think “easy!” But it’s not, and it shouldn’t be. Picture books need to be given the weight and consideration of the true art form that they are.”

I never considered that a children’s book would resonate with me so deeply at the age of 24. It’s amazing how relevant the message is to my life now, even though it was written for a child. With quite a few books under my belt, “Oh the Places You’ll Go” is still one of the best books I’ve ever read. So thanks Dr Seuss, and of course mom and dad, for the courage, drive, and perseverance to chase my passions.

Quote of the day:
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”- Dr Seuss

A Learning Experience

The thing I love most about the sports arena, is the opportunity to continue learning. The information in sports is constantly changing, re-arranging, and updating itself. There are vast new strategies, techniques, and philosophies arising out of the woodwork everyday.  Something I’ve done to capture the learning experiences and important instances throughout my career is to write down moments that resonated with me along the way.

During my collegiate career as an athlete, I wrote this entry:

Yesterday we had a rough practice, especially at the end. We couldn’t catch the ball or  throw it to our spots. Coach shut down practice because we couldn’t pull it together and sentsoftball-error everyone home. In our huddle at the end of practice coach said that something needed to come from within, that we shouldn’t be ok with how we were playing. Then went on about how we need to stop saying, “it’s alright, get the next one”; we needed to expect more out of our teammates.  After practice we all carried on as normal laughing and singing and went on our way.

I was laughing and singing, but on the inside, I was pissed. I should have been the one to keep the team motivated to keep trying and work harder. That should have been me; I failed in my duty to make the team as good as they could be. I also felt like I got called out directly because coach had specifically  referenced my “it’s alright, get the next one” comment. But to me I always expect my fellow teammates to be giving 100% because I always aim to. So if my teammates are giving a hundred percent and just can’t get it right, to me, you should shake off the previous play, and focus on making the next one better; in other words, “it’s alright, get the next one.”

The next morning at workouts, coach pulled us together before we started anything.  Coach talked about how we acted after practice ended badly yesterday. How we carried on with our normal laughing and singing as we packed up our stuff; obviously frustrated that we didn’t outwardly convey how bad practice went. Coach also threw in how our ranking had fell from the previous season. Coach talked about how four years ago our program was a losing program and everyone on the team was ok with it. She compared us to them. This is how that made me feel:

Gall Huddle

(Frustrated.  As a player I always have a smile on my face I never let anything get to me, that’s how I am. That’s how I always am. How often do you see me drop my head, how many home runs ruin my attitude and eventually my game? None, never. I don’t act on the outside, I react on the inside. Give me a second chance and you’ll see the initiative I have to motivate myself to be better. Am I supposed to break away from who I am, and throw my glove to prove that I’m upset? Do you really need to see me upset to know that I am? Have I not shown you that I love this game, and only want to do what will make me and my teammates better?  Can’t you trust that I want to do better. You preach trust. I trust you, respect me, and trust me back.)

In wanting us to show that we care, it seemed as if our coach was asking us to hang our heads. To me, it was like she was breeding bad attitudes. In a game, if I make an error and hang my head it is not going to do any good for myself or my team. So why would I hang my head after a bad practice? It’s like that quote, “it’s not about how many mistakes you make, but how you react to each mistake.” Of course I am going to come out the next practice and give everything I have. I had planned to step up my vocal game, and be more motivating to my teammates, hoping to inspire them to play at their best potential during practice. But, we were reprimanded before we got to show how we had re-focused and were dedicated to making our team better. Also, by just ending practice the day before, coach gave up on us, the exact opposite reaction coach desired from us as players. Be a model, not a critic. Throwing in the ranking stats to the pre-practice speech was supposed to provoke us to work harder; to prove to ourselves we belonged here, and to prove those other teams wrong. However, when faced with a challenge in practice, our coach gave up and ended practice. My travel ball coach would’ve said something along the lines of, “Do you guys want to be here or do you want to go home? Because you’re playing like shit.” He would have given us the chance to make the decision to not accept the way we were playing. The way he does it achieves the goal of making it come from within, because we made the choice to stay, yet it also is slightly harsh and gets the point across in a quick and straight to the point matter. Our collegiate coach wanted someone to step up; maybe I should have said, “no coach I don’t think we should end practice I think we should stay here and work through it” Although, I also didn’t want to disrespect my coaches decision to end practice. But I should of.  I should’ve asked if my team wanted to stay and work on it, that’s where I failed.


Looking back I have mixed emotions reading this. In my own personal philosophy I will never end practice early, mostly because I know how frustrating that is as a player. However, I do understand how easy it is to misinterpret a persons actions after an unsuccessful outing. As a coach I have to retrain my brain, and keep myself from judging my players after a bad performance or loss. I have to remember that letting it go is a positive quality, even though it can come across as if they don’t care.

If I had been coaching my own collegiate team when this situation arose, I think I would have brought the team together and focused on something else. I would have implemented a team bonding activity, or discussed strategy, or even played a fun game. I would do something to break the tension, let every ones mind relax. After achieving that break, I would have gone right back into the drill we were struggling with, hoping to end practice on a positive note.

Sport is so important to collegiate athletes, it’s a big chunk of their life, and it’s continually on their mind. The way a practice ends is important, their perception of the practice and the feelings and thoughts that accompany it are stuck with them until the next time they meet. Leaving on a sour note takes a toll on athletes. It is a goal of mine to have my players always leaving practice feeling confident and positive. I hope they leave excited to come back.

Quote of the day: 

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” – John C Maxwell

Baring it all

My world from my perspective.

One Game, One Love.

Coaching perspectives and life lessons of a Sports Psychology M.A.

Live Love Sport

Improving your mental game

Secret Life of a Startup

Some things you can't complain about at work

M I Initiatives

Belief in Human Potential

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