We at SIFG, believe that softball is perhaps the perfect combination of a team and an individual sport. As an individual, you make plays on defense and are completely left to your own abilities when at the plate. But as a team, combining the skills of each individual, is how you actually make things happen. One person, may personally contribute, but is NOT solely responsible for a win or loss. Even if a batter hits an over the fence, game ending home run that scores 3 – those 3 other players have to get on base first to be able to score.
What does it mean to be a softball teammate? Often times in softball, players are trying to reach personal goals in order to achieve team goals. Are those personal goals more important than the goals of the team? And what responsibilities do you, as a player – have when it comes to being a teammate.
The reality is that in fast pitch softball, you are no better or worse than you teammates. All for one and one for all. Without your team, you wouldn’t be able to accomplish your personal and team goals. And every teammate has something that is 100% unique, that THEY and THEY alone add to the team dynamic. Ask yourself, what is that YOU bring to your team?
T: The ‘t’ in teammate stands for trust. You have to trust not just yourself, but the other members of your team, and your coaches. Keep in mind, that everyone is working together for the same common goal and trust that every person who is part of the team is invested in the common interests of the team.
E: “E” stands for excellence. A good teammate strives for excellence at all times. Your excellence comes not just in your performance on the field, but in your character and attitude as well. Striving for personal excellence, and enabling others to experience excellence by helping them achieve goals, teaching, mentoring and remaining positive AT ALL TIMES (Even when things are going wrong) makes you a team-mate!
A: “A”ttitude is everything. Your attitude affects your team. Are you a positive influence or a negative one? Do you enter the dugout crying after a strikeout, or distance yourself during a loss? Do you sit and pout on the bleachers? If so, your attitude becomes contagious to your teammates. On the other hand, if you keep yourself in the sunlight, remain positive, keep your head up, and your emotions in check – always realizing that your behavior affects the entire team – you become an integral part of the team.
M: “Mental” toughness. It is difficult for those who are mentally weak to be a good teammates. When your mind is strong, and strong willed – you are able to see the larger picture at all times. Mental toughness is what gets you from a losers bracket to the winners bracket. (Sure, hot bats don’t hurt) but it is the willingness to remain mentally strong and dedicated that enables you to act as teammate. When YOU are mentally tough, you pass on that strength to your teammates. When you are mentally strong, you become a mentor to your teammates and can fall into a leadership position on your team that helps keep the others on your team mentally strong as well. It is just as important to work on your mental strength as it to work on your muscular strength. Seriously, 85% of ALL softball games are MENTAL challenges.
M: “M”ake practice a priority. Making practice is your responsibility as a teammate. The team NEEDS you at practice, and they NEED you to give 110% at practice. Your game day performance will be a direct display of your team’s practice ethic. Everyone on the team needs to show up for practice. Certainly, things will come up – you have other things to do at times, but making practice consistently shows dedication and commitment to your team. And teams that practice TOGETHER play well together.
A: “A”ccepting responsibility for YOURSELF. Every teammate has to be able to accept responsibility for both the wins and the losses on the field. When something is going wrong within the team dynamic, you have to accept your part of the blame, rather than blaming others. Its easy to find what you consider a ‘weak link’ on your team and begin pointing fingers. But how pray tell does this help your team? Remember you are only as good as a team as your teammates are. The thing is by paying attention to the weakness, and not accepting any personal responsibility you leave yourself powerless to make any changes. Rather than finger point or blame, ask yourself what you can do better. Every player has to ask themselves what they can do better next time – and when each player accepts responsibility for both their OWN strengths and their OWN weaknesses – then and only then can the team experience positive change. We suggest you start always with YOU – the one person that you have the power to change.
T: “T”reat others (and yourself) with RESPECT at all times. Whether this is to your parents behind the fence, your coaches, your fellow teammates, your opposition, the umpires, the other coaches on the field – showing respect for others SHOWS RESPECT FOR THE GAME! When you are wearing that jersey you represent something much bigger than JUST YOU, and the disrespect of just ONE player, hurts the entire team.
E: “E”ncourage. Encourage other members of your team at all times. Frustrated that your short stop bobbled three balls in a row? Irritated that your pitcher walked bases loaded? disappointed that one girl on your team has been an out every at bat. ENCOURAGE HER. See a player having a tough time? Encourage her. See a teammate struggling, use words that encourage her. As a fellow teammate, your words of encouragement speak volumes, even above and beyond those of a coach or a parent. Choose your words carefully, and remember that the way you make others feel about themselves is the legacy you leave behind. Find words of encouragement. A simple, “Hey, you will get it next time,” followed by a pat on the back, goes much further come game day than words or actions of frustration.
S: “S”hort MEMORY! What already happened is OVER….it cannot be changed or undone. We, at SIFG believe in the ten second rule. You have 10 seconds to think, worry, fret, or feel angry about any one thing. Once its OVER, its OVER. This isn’t biology class where you are expected to remember 100’s of definitions and be able to recite the bones of the human body with precision Thank goodness, right?) Have a short memory so that you will always be moving forward. The past is over. What matters is NOW and what’s next.
At the end of the day, you may not be best friends with every member of your team. And that’s okay. But its still important that you remember there truly is no “I” in team – and that softball is about sisterhood and sharing a common goal, by sharing a common passion.