Softball Fun in The Process
Today I am going to discuss the idea of enjoying the game and how it can affect the skills of your athletes. What I mean is…. What does the relaxed, focused, driven mental outlook and enjoyment of the game do for the abilities on the field?
When someone is enjoying a task, they are less likely to feel anxiety about the end result of the activity. They are only focused on what they are doing instead. I saw a game for example at an NJCAA western final tournament. The team up to bat was 7 runs down at the bottom of the 7th inning. They were able to come back by staying positive and believing that they had the possibility to still win the game as long as they still had an out left to go. That team subsequently won the Western Championships and is off to the Nationals. That was a great demonstration of what is possible when the entire team is enjoying the process.
If you are an athlete, mentally believing in your abilities will allow your body to do the work. Abilities are not necessarily outcome oriented. They are actions as part of a process that leads to an outcome. This is important to remember because sometimes you don’t have control over what happens but you do have control over your process. For example, if you have a big game coming up and you are nervous, that can affect your performance because you might be waiting for something to happen such as an error rather than looking forward to executing and playing the game you love. Being afraid to lose is less productive than being determined to do well. By thinking about how much you enjoy this awesome game, and the environment you are in, you can enjoy playing the game and have success in the process.
If you watch a game at any level, watch how the players execute and react to plays. You will notice that the players who love what they are doing and are willing to take risks are the ones that put it all on the line or “leave it all on the field” as we say.
Also believe it or not, as a coach you need to have fun as well. The biggest reason for you to have fun besides making it more enjoyable is that your team will have more fun knowing that you are enjoying it as well. If that makes sense. It’s when we are feeling pressure to win that we put that pressure on our athletes. Take that pressure away by knowing that you have prepared your team the best you could for this moment and now it’s time to let the team take it away. The focus for the team should be on doing what they know how to do, the fundamentals as you have prepared them for. Your job now is to allow your team to play to the best of their ability. Because attempting to play to more than that will be more destructive than productive.