Don't be "afraid" to swing away!

As a baseball player growing up, many times I was paralyzed by fear of making a mistake. So paralyzed that many times I refused to even try because I thought I wasn't enough. I wouldn't deliver in that moment because the battle was already won. The pitcher threw too hard, he had too good a curve and it would make me look stupid if I swung at it. I wasn't afraid of being hit with the least not once I was 11 or so, but rather just the feel of failure. It wasn't until later in life that I truly realized what fear really was. Fear the only fear is lack of control. As a hitter, I wasn't really afraid of the pitcher so to speak, but I was afraid that I was not in control of this outcome. I hated that fear, I hated that helpless feeling, I hated not feeling in control and I was determined to beat it. I watched every hitting video I could find and I worked extremely hard at becoming a better hitter, better bunter, and improved my plate vision and approach. I asked my coaches questions about why we did everything they had me do, what was it for. I am sure I drove them crazy, but I needed to know. Then my pitching coach told me something that stuck with me more than anything. He said that on the mound, my confidence always soared because I was in control, I had a plan of pitch sequences to every hitter, I knew that I wanted them to watch pitches that were strikes and swing at pitches that were balls. He said your confidence comes from your preparation and plan. If I went to the plate with a plan of attack, it didn't matter if I executed it or not every time but that if I executed it 4 out of 10 that I would be very successful. I began to work inside out. I began to ask the question of how would I pitch myself to get myself out. Once I thought about it, I began to see the plan. My fear went away, my confidence grew and I no longer felt like I was not in control of the at bat. Hitting became much easier for me. As a grown up ( If you can call me that), I have tried to implement this same approach in life. Now as a softball coach I try my best to teach it to my girls. Never let your players lose to fear, teach them to set goals, make a plan and work the plan. I call it "trusting the process" If they are young, they may not thank you for it, their parents may not either, but it will help them more than throwing them 1000 batting practice balls, because there will always be pitchers who throw faster than you, with more movement and a funkier windup. Teach them the why, help them plan and they will grow at a much more rapid rate.

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