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Shake it off and Stay Positive


Playing tournament softball for 12 years of my life taught me one of my most important life lessons; to shake it off and stay positive. Playing tournament ball throughout my youth allowed me to spend my weekends playing 4-8 softball games. Over the course of a weekend tournament we would win some games and lose some games; I would play well in some games, and not so great in others. But no matter what the outcome of a game or appearance at the plate was, I was forced to shake it off and be prepared for the next game, or outing on the mound. It’s frustrating to go out and swing and miss at the last 9 pitches you’ve been thrown, or hit 4 of the last 5 batters you’ve faced, but getting angry, throwing your helmet, or crying won’t make your day any better for yourself or your team. As hard as that is to hear, it’s true. Do you think your team gets pumped up when you slam your helmet to the ground before running out to play defense? No. You just bring the rest of the team down with you and put the focus on yourself instead of the game. It may take some frustration out for you, but don’t be selfish, this is a team sport, it’s all about your team, not you. You have to learn how to constructively handle your failures. Softball is a game of failure; if you go up to the plate 10 times, get 4 hits and strike out 6 times, you are a damn good hitter. You would be batting 400. Failing is a part of this game, so learn from your failures and make an adjustment. Don’t dwell on the past, you can’t change it anyway. Instead of throwing a fit, try sprinting back to the dugout and screaming your head off for your pitcher or next batter up to the plate. This takes the focus off yourself and puts it back on to your team.  Don’t be selfish, give it all up for your team, always.

Quote of the day:

“Success is the ability to endure one failure after another with out the loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

Do Sports Build Character?

Do Sports Build Character? According to a Research Digest article entitled, “Sports and Character Development”, simply put, no. However, CAN sports build character? Yes. And I completely agree. In the article they identified three prominent aspects of character as; Perspective-taking and empathy, moral reasoning, and motivational orientation. So, someone with good character knows how to see the world through anothers’ eyes, and can empathize with their situation. They know right from wrong, and act accordingly. Lastly, they are motivated intrinsically; they strive to truly master a skill, rather than just to simply beat an opponent.

We can’t just throw youth into sports programs and expect them to emerge with a good stable character that will enable them to “live in fidelity with their moral values”.  To me, this point is obvious. For instance, look at our professional athletes, how many times have we seen our sports idols golic2caught up in a steroid scandal? If their history with sports had created a sound character for them, they would believe cheating was wrong, and wouldn’t be tempted to win by an unfair advantage. On the contrary, sports seem to be a big contributor to the good character displayed by players like Buster Posey and Greg Maddox. So what’s the secret?

According to the article, coaches of sports programs have to consciously implement character building into their coaching philosophies and styles. They have to talk about, and discuss, the aspects of good character and how it relates to sports with their players. My favorite example of this strategy demonstrated how to bring awareness to the character trait of empathy. youth-sport-baseball-playersIt’s so common in sports to hear a coach say, “keep your head in the game” when an opponent gets injured. Empathy is almost shunned in the moment. But, after the game, coaches can ask their players to put themselves in the injured players shoes. Asking them, “How do you think suzy felt when she hurt her ankle sliding into home plate?”.  Coaches can open up the conversation, allowing them to realize that getting injured or losing, isn’t the easiest situation to be in.

As a coach, you have a huge impact over the “motivational climate” of your program. In the Sports Psychology world, it is common softball_pics_161knowledge that intrinsic motivation is more beneficial than extrinsic motivation in the long run. You want your players to strive to be the best they can be, not just better than their opponent. You want them to play the sport because it feels good on the inside, gives them a sense of compentency (internal rewards), not because they get to show off, or be considered a winner  (external rewards). Coaches can alter the “motivational climate” to breed intrinsic motivation. Make practices focus on giving your best effort, being better than you were the day before, and highlight the positive things.

Being a coach gives us such a unique avenue into shaping someones life, personality, and experiences. In learning and implementing strategies, like these named above, only increases my confidence of becoming the inspirational coach I want to be someday. One of the reasons I love Sports Psychology so much is that it seamlessly applies to my everyday life. I get to use these tools in my day to day life, nobody’s perfect, and I certainly am not. These are things I can talk about with my friends, or acquaintances, or even my kids one day. You don’t have to be a coach, or be in the sports atmosphere to apply these strategies. These are strategies I can use with my kids in the car some day. Just facilitate a conversation about one of their friends that got hurt, BAM, character building lesson right there in the car.

Just another tool to throw into my coaching, and everyday life, tool kit. Thanks for reading. 🙂

Quote of the day:

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Your character is what you really are and your reputation is merely what others think of you”- John Wooden.  

Read the full article, “Sports and Character Development” at

https://www.presidentschallenge.org/informed/digest/index.shtml

About

In the world of sports there are a million “right” ways to do something. There are countless coaching philosophies, game strategies, skill techniques, and sports psychology principles floating around out there. But these, on this blog, are mine. These are my interpretations, my experiences, my trials, my successes, my failures, my philosophies, and my learned knowledge as it applies to my life as a softball coach, athlete, and sport psychology grad student.

At the young age of eight, I received the opportunity to experience positive coaching at its finest. I was coached by a coach who understood the value of self confidence, and what it means to truly believe in a player, despite the odds. Without his guidance, and trust in my abilities, I wouldn’t be who I am, or have the dreams I have, today.

While living out my dream of playing collegiate softball, I came upon the realization that I wanted to influence someones life, as my coach, had influenced mine. This epiphany lead me to attain a BA in Kinesiology with a focus in coaching, and a minor in Exercise Science. Throughout my undergrad curriculum, I was required to take a Sports Psychology intro course; it was love at first lesson. I could suddenly apply what I was learning in the classroom immediately to my real life, practice. A few classes wasn’t enough. After taking a semester off to coach a varsity JC softball program, I realized I wanted more. I wanted an MA in Sports Psychology, and possibly a Doctorate someday.

So here I am, a student in grad school, chasing her dreams of becoming the kind of coach who discovered her own life’s passion.

Quote of the day:

“A good coach can make players see what they can be, not what they are” 

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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