Fastpitch Softball! Reasons Why We Lost.
It’s Sunday, and for many of you that means you are trying to get through the day with what we refer to as the ‘softball hangover.’ Lost voices from cheering, sore legs from running, and exhaustion from what was hopefully a long and successful day at the park. Some of you may have come home with trophies, while others may have been eliminated early. Some more of you, may even be finishing tournaments today – still hoping to come home a winner.
In competitive sports, one thing is for sure. There is always a winner and a loser. Every game has a winner and a loser.
That being said, who ends up the winner and who ends up the loser – aren’t always true definitions of the word. For instance, our team came in 2nd last night in the championship game, which by winner and loser terms – meant they were the losers. But in the coaches and parents, and players eyes – they were still winners. They learned throughout the day, grew as a team, honed their skills, worked together, recovered from errors, hit the ball better in every next game than the one before, didn’t give up, or give in, held their heads high and had fun. At the end of the day – they all still wanted to play another tournament in the near future. They lost by one unearned run in the last inning, in a close game. End. Of. Story.
But what are the REASONS, the REAL REASONS why we lose! When you sit around softball fields long enough, you hear a lot of ‘reasons’ why teams lose. Such as….
“The umpire had a terrible strike zone.”
“That one bad call, cost us the game.”
“The other team must have had loaded bats.”
“There was interference that wasn’t called,”
“The girls were leaving early.”
“The umpires didn’t like our team, there was favoritism going on.”
“We ran out of time.”
“We lost the coin team if we were the home team, we would have won.”
“The parents on the other team were heckling our kids and making them nervous.”
“That other team is in our teams head because we have lost to them so many times before.”
“Our coach shouldn’t have sent that girl to get the last out.”
“Certain girls should NEVER have been playing certain positions, if my daughter (or so and so) were at 1st, we would have won.
“Our coach hasn’t had enough practices and our girls were unprepared”
The list goes on and on. People are generally HAPPY when they win – and begin looking for excuses for losing when they lose.
EXCUSES. Someone or something else outside of the team was the perpetuator of loss. Yes, sometimes a ‘perceived’ bad call on the part of a coach or an umpire can seem like the root of a loss. But mostly, they aren’t the SOLE reason. A game is longer and bigger than one call.
But mostly, the reasons why we lost – or you lose are pretty darn simple. If you only scored 2 runs, then chances are that your team wasn’t hitting the ball well. If a team scored three runs off you – and they were unearned – then your defense had errors. If you gave up 14 runs in one inning, again – there were defensive issues. If your players had trouble getting on base – then maybe the other team was JUST BETTER. (And that’s okay – you learn by playing teams better!)
If an umpire has a ‘bad strike zone’ – typically its bad for BOTH teams. And it’s up to your pitcher/catcher and coaches to adjust. Adjusting to umpires is PART of the game. This is just one reason we encourage pitchers and catchers to call time, and ask an umpire where an umpire is missing. (Being responsible!) Good pitchers and coaches can figure out an umpires strike zone within an inning or two if they are really paying attention.
The problem with making excuses for why we lose – besides the obvious, that a team was either out hit, or out played defensively – is that it NEVER EVER helps the girls. In fact, the post-game lingo should go something like this, short and simple!
“Tough break girls! That team was better than y’all were THIS GAME, but you kept on playing. Now, we know we need to work on our bats, or our defense. That was a good team you played and next time, with hard work – you will get them.
“What do you girls think we could have done better? “
Life – and fast-pitch – is about learning from our errors and mistakes. If we, as adults (parents, coaches and fans) just make excuses for why our team lost, we don’t really enable our girls to take responsibility for their losses. OR THEIR WINS! If it’s always someone else’s fault outside of the team’s performance that you lose, you remove any motivation for a team to work harder. And if you don’t allow a team to feel a loss – to own IT, how can they ever truly FEEL and OWN their wins?
So you lost! Get. Over. It. It’s already over. What you have left is next time, and the lessons to take with you. Will you allow your team, your children, yourself to learn these lessons? Or will you make excuses for them?
As adults in a position to empower our children, we need to allow them to feel and work through the emotions that come from both winning and losing. (And this goes for more than just softball games) We have to stop making excuses. We have to stop blaming other things, extenuating circumstances for the things that go wrong for our children. We have to move away from coddling and protecting, to empowering and enabling and allowing them to take responsibility for themselves, and their team. They are after all, the metaphorical horses we can lead to water, but cannot make drink.
But if we don’t lead them to the water at all – out of fear they will be disappointed, or to save them from pain, or to pass on blame or shame, or to erase any signs of ‘failure,’ or out of fear that their feelings will be hurt, or to make sure they don’t take on responsibility – they will spend their entire lives thirsty.