Just Shut Up and Hit the Ball Already!
“They” say (they being the softball Gods), softball is a game of failure. After all, if you succeed at the plate 4 out of 10 times, then you are doing pretty good.
And most things in life require more consistency than that to equate to success.
Hitting is often the struggle.
No team ever beats another team with zero runs, and no matter how good the defense plays, or how good the pitching is – the offense has to do its job to make things happen.
And lots of players spend a lot of time doing drills, and going to lessons just to learn to hit the ball well. Heck, there are some kids out there who can’t catch or throw but can hit the ball hard and far enough that they find themselves in the lineup every game.
And even so – sometimes they just don’t. They don’t hit. They suck at hitting. And you want to run away every time they come up to the plate, but instead you sit (or stand) there and say things like ball first, see the ball hit the ball, keep your hands back, nothing above the hands (although they never listen to that one lol), follow through, use your hips, snap your wrists, blah blah blah blah…..
And when they don’t hit, kids tend to get down on themselves and then it snowballs into what some call a slump, and suddenly the ‘not hitting’ becomes the only thing the kid can think about.
And then it becomes the only the thing the hitting coaches and parents and ‘experts’ from all sides can think about. Then come the opinions.
Thousands of opinions and little tidbits of advice to tweak this and that, and move the foot just a little to the left, or pop the bat head up a little, or loosen the grip on the bat.
The elbow up, and elbow down people share their expertise and end up arguing because both sides believe that their way is the only way.
And parents spend dinner time trying to figure out why their kid can’t hit, and then start worrying that maybe they need glasses or have a brain tumor, and everyone is videotaping poor Betty at the plate and trying to show her what she is doing wrong.
Then poor Betty cannot even sleep at night, because she’s been moved down the lineup, and just the sheer thought of picking up the bat fills with her fear, and her confidence goes down the drain.
And despite all the well-meaning, and ABUNDANT advice from everyone about how to fix her hitting, she becomes so overwhelmed that it just gets worse and worse, and she even begins to close her eyes at the plate and JUST pray that the bat and ball make some sort of contact or even better that if she leans in just a little she will get plunked and make her way on base.
You get the point.
So here is the thing. The best advice that you can give a girl in a slump (aside from none at all) is this….
JUST SHUT UP AND HIT THE DAMN BALL ALREADY!
Go Out There and Don’t SUCK!
The worst thing that anybody can do is offer too much advice, and give a girl too many things to think about. If she was successful before, then she will be successful again. And girls are one of the most prone creatures to overthinking EVERYTHING…(have you seen how long it takes them to pick out a pair of shoes to match an outfit?)
Everything aside from JUST SHUT UP and HIT THE BALL, is too much. And it emphasizes the exact opposite of what they need to be thinking about. What they need to think about is HITTING the ball, but what they tend to start thinking about is NOT HITTING the BALL. And if all the “you are what you think” philosophies are even a little bit right, then the reason they might not be hitting is simply that they are thinking about NOT hitting!
Tell them to go up to the plate and HIT THE BALL, sing the Happy Birthday song to themselves (or out loud, whichever they choose) over and over again to keep their over-analytical brains from thinking about anything negative. (This tactic really does work)
But basically…keep it simple. Keep it real. Just tell them to SHUT up and hit! And trust us…it works, despite our desperate desire to FIX everything for our kids…sometimes you just have to keep it real!