“Your coach doesn’t really determine your playing time. Your own choices do. Your attitude, your effort, your work ethic and more.”
I stumbled upon this while mindlessly scrolling on Instagram, like we all do late at night when we should be doing other things. I scanned over it quickly and the word “effort” caught my eye, so I scrolled back up and reread it.
And it bothers me.
And for the girl who starts and plays ever game, this post won’t bother her.
And for the girl who sits the bench, knows she has a poor attitude and doesn’t work that hard, it won’t bother her either.
You know who it will bother?
The girl who busts it every day. Who stays late at practice. Who hits on the tee late at night in the basement. Who goes to a private instructor once a week. Who cheers her teammates on. Who, despite doing everything right, still sits the bench. It will bother her.
Because there are WAY too many instances where this quote just isn’t true.
Don’t get me wrong, I get the point. Basically, this is trying to say: those with poor effort, a bad attitude, and no work ethic, will have limited playing time.
Duh. Boring. We know.
Goal Setting – Controllables vs Uncontrollables
We started a class this fall on the mental game and in week two we spoke about goal setting. Some girls want to start on varsity this year, another wants to pitch a perfect game, and one wants a full scholarship to the University of Alabama.
What’s something all of these have in common? They are all at the mercy of someone else. The varsity coach will determine who makes varsity. Your defense behind you, the umpires, and each batter a pitcher faces will determine whether a perfect game is thrown. And sometimes The University of Alabama softball team has a full scholarship for only one player in the entire country in your recruiting year.
Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t crush these girls’ dreams. We simply told them this: IF these were your dreams and goals, let’s make sure we do EVERYTHING in our power to control the controllables.
What is Controllable?
We helped each girl come up with their own list of steps to reaching their goal.
One girl’s goal was to make Varsity this spring:
- I will hit on my own for 25 minutes, 2x per week (10 slow & controlled swing, 10 jump back drill, 10 skip-up drills, etc).
- I will ensure that my school work is done first, so that I have the ability to play softball this week.
- As a pitcher, I will develop my change-up this fall, so that I am prepared to face varsity hitters. I will work with a pitching coach once per week and on my own as well.
- I will work on playing third and outfield with my travel team, so I can play multiple positions.
- I will shut my phone off until at least 7:30pm, so I can get my school work and extra softball work in before I turn to social media and group chats with my friends
- I will work on handling my emotions and being a great teammate during fall ball.
And Now for the Hard Part, The Bitter Truth
Even if you did every single thing on this list, the game does not owe you a dang thing.
As a player, of course I wanted to be on that field. I wanted to get the game-winning hit, or make the diving play. I wanted to be at the bottom of that dog pile, instead of running to jump on the top of it. I prepared for it. I worked outside of practice, took care of my body, taught the game to others around me, and screamed as loud as I could for my teammates when they did something well. I did everything right. But someone was still better than me. Someone who didn’t have to work that hard. And that’s ok.
Now, five years later, I’m a coach. And my heart strings tug a little every time I see that girl working a little extra, diving all over the field, giving me her best. And someone else is still better.
Because this games owes us nothing, but pouring everything you have into it sure does put you a hell of a lot closer to your dreams. Leave it out there. No regrets.
I’m not telling you this to put you down, I’m telling you this because maybe the actual goal (i.e. playing time, wins, hits, etc) is not the point of working hard, but instead it’s about the person you become along the way in pursuit of your goals. We chase the instant gratification, but what if the delayed gratification is even better? So if for some reason you’re sitting there thinking your “time” never came, just hold on. It may look a little different than you originally had imagined.
Don’t believe me? Read my best friend Jordan Patterson’s article “The Game Knows” and thank me later.
As always, telling it like it is,