You hear life coaches talk about it all the time. “Get out of your comfort zone, the good stuff makes you nervous” etc and it is true. But in baseball/softball there is an addition dimension to this expression. Don’t be afraid to succeed!
See, the harder you work at this game, the harder it becomes. “It’s not football” said Jessica Mendoza during the regionals in the College World Series last weekend. She said this in reference to a player who was in a bit of a slump and had been pressing. Only pressing in softball just makes it harder! Her point was, if it was football you could just play harder, exert more energy and run over your opponent, but trying that in softball simply makes it harder.
At the younger ages I see kids so afraid to fail that they don’t give themselves a chance to succeed. You see it all the time, Johnny is so afraid of striking out that he doesn’t even swing hoping for a walk and then he ends up striking out anyway. Jenny is so afraid of not making contact that instead of taking a rip and driving the ball she just makes a weak effort that doesn’t even get past the pitcher, 1-3, easy out.
So how do we as coaches encourage them to overcome this fear? Well, the answer is simple actually. Make it OK to fail! If the kid isn’t afraid to fail, they will inevitably succeed! It is almost magic. As they learn to succeed, suddenly they swing with power, make plays with confidence, and begin to win on a regular basis. All because you made it ok to fail in the first place.