I have played with, against and coached many players who have left lasting impressions on me. Some great players, some good players and some who were simply happy to just be a part of a team. The ones who made the lasting impressions were those who had a mental toughness about pursuing their goals. Not about winning but about competing. They let nothing stand in their way when trying reach their goals. Winning was their motivation but competing was their true goal. They wouldn't let anything or anyone tell them differently or get in the way of their goals.
All of these players that were truly impressive to watch, all shared one common trait: Belief. Belief in their teammates, the process and more importantly, themselves. This year has been particularly frustrating for me as a coach because several of the young athletes I have been working with are struggling with their own beliefs.
This year I have seen poor coaching, kids who didn't understand the coaching, parents who undermined the coaching and kids who didn't want to accept coaching. These are all frustrating things, but the most frustrating thing of all is seeing a player give up on themselves because they don't know how to believe.
A friend of mine confided in me that his daughter was going through a rough season of her own because she was struggling with her own beliefs in herself. They decided together that she would see a sports psychologist. He also told me that slowly but surely they are seeing improvements in her confidence. Someone else close to me, reminded me that this is not information they would want shared because it might be embarrassing. I suppose you could find someone who would say it's embarrassing if you look, but it won't be me.
The mind controls so much of what we are and so much of what we do, I think it should be trained and exercised just like any other muscle in the body. If you don't teach your body to hit, it won't hit well, if you don't teach your body to run, it won't run well. If you don't teach you brain to believe in you, you won't believe in you. Makes perfect sense to me!! There is an old saying that goes "failing to train is training to fail." This goes equally for mental training. If you don't train your self to
be mentally tough how can you expect to succeed when you need to be mentally tough. Like when a coach pulls you so another player can get swings. Or because you failed to perform or because its your time to sit?? As reasonable or dumb as these things can be, if you haven't trained to be mentally tough and I just clobbered you with something that should double your self doubt, how can you expect to succeed when you go back in the game? This is a vicious cycle that just increases and increases until you completely fail or worse, give up!!
I always tell my players you can only control two things. Your attitude and your effort. You must let go of those things you can't control and work on the most important two that you can. When a player understands this concept, their true potential and improvements start to come very quickly. Once a mentally tough person sets a goal, no one can stop them from reaching that goal.
Coach Quinn: Currently the hitting coach for a baseball program that is nationally ranked. He calls baseball and softball “Family Sports”. He has over 40 years playing and coaching experience. His wife was an all state and all met pitcher, and his oldest daughter was a high school fastpitch player. He has a stepson who played college baseball and making an appearance in the Collegiate World Series and has now gone on to be a college coach himself, and his youngest daughter is a short stop who wants to be a college fast pitch player playing in a nationally known program and is being recruited by several schools as a high school sophomore. Coach Quinn has been at his current school for 12 years where they have won two conference championships, and two state championships. As a player he was a catcher ,and third baseman. Coach Quinn and his wife are also in the Washington Metro Area Slowpitch Softball Hall of Fame as players. Coach Quinn has provided hitting instruction to the Firebirds organization over the 2018 season and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.