What an awesome focus for our athletes as they head into a busy schedule of summer tournaments and league games!
One of our most obvious goals at 360U Softball is to improve our athlete's physical abilities on the diamond. We spend hours breaking down film, sharpening up mechanics, adjusting swings, blocking and framing, hitting location on pitches, etc. etc. We know that in order to achieve a high level success, you need to have sound (notice, we didn't say "perfect") mechanics.
That being said, we know that this type of training is just simply not enough. We could never expect to hit, field, catch or pitch with an athlete for 30 or 60 minutes and send them on their way to their next game because as their instructor, we would be failing them. We always knew the value in mental training, hence our business name 360U Softball - implying comprehensive, 360 degree development. However, after over 2 years in business with thousands of hours spent instructing, we have a much deeper appreciation for just how much time and energy mental training deserves.
When we spoke with our girls about MENTAL TOUGHNESS this week, we were reminded of just how many challenges and adverse situations these girls face in most, if not all, of their practices, game and tournaments! In this sport, it is very unlikely that you will play an entire game without being faced with some sort of adversity. Our athletes gave example of situations they've found themselves in this summer that they said were difficult to deal with -- everything from being in 2 strike counts, to feeling pressure from coaches/parents, to being up to bat with runners in scoring position near the end of a game. THIS is real. They are no longer in a controlled environment like they are with us, or at practice. Our job is to prepare them and EMPOWER them to respond well in these types of situations. We would love to be there with them during every game to guide them through these "pinches" they face, but in reality, our ultimate goal is to give THEM the tools to be mentally tough, resilient and confident enough to handle them on their own!
Every athlete who left our facility this week came up with their own, unique MENTALLY TOUGH phrase/approach to take with them and use the next time they come up against any type of adversity, small or large. Once they begin practicing how to respond correctly to adverse situations, they will start doing it without even thinking and it will become their natural response. What sets apart the very best softball athletes from very good softball athletes is their ability to stay mentally tough through the unavoidable adversity that the sport itself presents.
If we as their instructors, parents, and coaches can help them start to celebrate their positive response to failure, they will know how to recover quicker, stronger and more confident the next time they come up against that same challenge.
Maria Van Abel & Laura Beyer
When we started 360U Softball in 2016, our goal was to help softball players get better. We found a lot of athletes needing instruction, and wanted to help them bridge the gap between where they were, and where they wanted to be as softball players. VERY quickly, we found that the grand opportunity in front of us was not just to teach mechanics to these young women, but FAR more importantly, to help them understand how truly amazing each and every one of them are and to find their best self.