Well hello softballers!
Today... we're talking GAME TIME!
I'm gonna start off by saying everyone is going to have good games, and not so good games all season and that is A-OK sista, so stop beating yourself up, alright?
Second, this post is dedicated to some of the most common questions and concerns I get about pitching throughout each season that are totally easy to fix...if you understand what the problem is all about, of course. If you're NOT a pitcher, this is all great information to know about and understand to maybe help out your pitcher, or even help yourself in some situations... either way, KEEP READING!
Pitchers, are you ready to spiffy up and tune in that little extra oomph you've been missing lately?
Here we go, I have some questions for ya!
1. Are you struggling with keeping your speed/accuracy?
If you've ever trained with me before, you know my famous question...what is more important? Speed? or accuracy? ...the answer is...BOTH!
A lot of times what pitchers tend to do is focus too much on accuracy during a game, especially if they are consistantly getting down in counts (throwing 2-4 balls per hitter) and then tend to start slowing down their pitches just to get it over the plate. One important thing to remember is keeping your arm speed UP during a game. This is a very simple fix to maintain a consistent release point, and, of course, giving those pitches a little extra pop! If your arm speed differs from practice to game, your release point changes, which then results in inconsistency in the accuracy department. You see? This is why both speed and accuracy must work TOGETHER! If they don't, and the speed of which our body moves to pitch changes each time we throw, we then have to totally guess where our "sweet spot" is to let go of the ball...how stressful is THAT!
2. Are you struggling with a specific pitch...but only sometimes?
Last game did you struggle throwing your change up? Were you mad because the game before you threw it PERFECTLY and you even got 3 batters out with it? Yep. Been there. Super sucky! BUT. I have a solution.
Go throw in between innings. Grab anyone close to you in the batting line up, or whoever is on the bench for that part of the game. Figure out your release point, keep your arm speed and leg drive up, and use all the little nifty tips and tricks you've learned about that pitch. LOOK IN YOUR PITCHING JOURNAL! ;)
Lots of times all you need to change or think about is one small thing to improve the movement or accuracy of a different pitch. Take a breathe and think little, and don't give up on that pitch, you got this!
3. Do you find yourself focusing on negative aspects of the game?
Positive, positive, positive; vibes you need to keep and demonstrate on and off the field no matter what, my friend. Being a positive teammate and player on the field in general is vital and will absolutely carry your team to success.
You pitchers have a lot of eyes on you whether you like it or not...holding your head high, chatting it up with your teammates about what the play is, and keeping good body posture and body language will help you succeed and be an excellent role model to the rest of your team; in turn, you will all totally own the field together!
Constantly putting yourself down, and getting frustrated with the other team, the umps, or coaches just isn't gonna help you dominate, girl! At times it may be tough to keep an upbeat attitude, but not letting the negativity take control of the situation will really improve your game. Stay confident in yourself and your team, and focus on the positives. Attitudes are contagious whether they're positive or negative!
And that leads me to numero 4...
4. Are you struggling with confidence?
Let me be clear here. Confidence doesn't mean arrogant or boastful. It is having faith in yourself or others, like your team even when the going gets tough. Confidence, as a pitcher, can be very tough sometimes, but is quite necessary to be successful.
Confidence is something every single person on this earth needs to continuously work on and improve each day, and I think it's something wonderful in itself when people do. There are so many things society thinks we AREN'T, or what we SHOULD BE, and it's extremely easy to fall into telling ourselves that we are never going to be good enough. This then continues on the field. We tell ourselves there's no way we can throw a no-hitter, no way we can strike out the best hitter in our league, no way we can carry our team to the gold medal game of nationals.
I am here to tell you that you are definitely, without a question, good enough and capable of whatever you set your mind to. Keep telling yourself you're awesome, a successful pitcher, a confident softball player...whatever you need to say...say it IN THE MIRROR every single day until you believe it. Say it over and over again at school in your head. Say it 10 times when you go to bed. Tell your dog, your cat, bunny, snake, whatever kind of pet you have. Trust me. If you're someone who gets upset with yourself during or after a game, you need to do this. If your mom or dad tell you you did awesome after a game and you try to argue with them and convince them you actually sucked. You need this.
Not to say you won't ever have bad games ever again...because I'm here to report you will. But softball IS a game of failure. The best teams and players are the ones that know how to get past failure, still give it their all, and still believe in themselves. It all starts with confidence.
All in all, don't forget that you are SO unbelievably talented. You are dedicated enough to read this whole post, so good on you for that! ;) But you are also crazy talented at your sport. Keep focusing on the positives, and never stop learning!
I hope some of these points were useful or maybe something you just needed to hear again. Good luck this weekend wherever you're playing, and if you're not, then enjoy a (probably pretty rare) weekend off!