Undefeated. The Art of Winning

Recently, there has been a certain 10-Under Girls Fastpitch team that has taken a lot of slack by other teams, parents etc. for achieving the coveted prize of winning.  This season, this team of very dedicated, passionate little girls has sweat it out on the diamond, practiced for several hours per week – and have been so far undefeated in their season.  And not just undefeated, but unmatched.

These girls and the parents have been accused of cheating.  One opposing coach who recently played against these girls actually thought that the birth certificates were forged, and that quite possibly, and I quote “this was a high-school team.”

A few of the parents from other teams have called out these girls so to speak on Facebook when they posted about their wins, saying that while winning was great – they needed to learn how to be a loser as well.

I get that.  I get that people don’t like to see one team considerably better than another.  I also realize that many parents of girls who play on other teams feel that somehow, in some way, these  girls or their coaches must be cheating.  I also understand that when this team shows up for a game and run rules most of the other teams in their age group, that it can be frustrating to watch.

Nobody likes a team that wins all the time.  People root for the underdog.  Unless of course, these people are on the team that wins.

What many people don’t see is how freaking hard these girls have worked.  They don’t see how many drills they have done, or how many practices they have had in order to fine tune their ability to pick off lead runners and make plays at home.  People also don’t realize that these girls coach doesn’t believe they are too young to truly understand the game, to figure out how it works.  Truth is, that the coach of this particular team puts a lot of time into the fundamentals of fastpitch.  He challenges each and every one of the girls on his team to think before every pitch.  Whether a girl plays right center or short stop, he has taught them to be clear BEFORE the pitch, what they will be doing with the ball.  And the best part is that he empowers them to do more than make the simple throws to 1st and enables these girls to think.  Think.  Fastpitch softball is about thinking.

This coach also loves to see the girls play aggressively.  Even if they make a mistake, by being a little too aggressive or chunking a ball on a bad throw trying to throw someone out stealing, he appreciates their thinking, and their understanding of the game.  He praises them for knowing enough to make these plays in the first place.  And after a while, these ‘thinking’ plays end up working out more times than not.

And the best part, is that the head coach of this undefeated team doesn’t underestimate the abilities of his players.  He is teaching them the game in its entirety, not just giving them bits and pieces that he thinks are age appropriate lessons.  He hand them the entire thinking game of softball over to them so they can figure out.  And….he is constantly positive and perhaps the teams biggest fan.

An undefeated team is not something that is assembled by simply putting the best players together.  An undefeated team is not automatically swinging loaded bats, forging birth certificates, or otherwise cheating.

And undefeated team is thinking.

Don’t hate the winners.  Instead, choose to learn from them. And don’t always be so quick to believe that the real lessons in life are learnt through losing.  Sure, that’s part of it….but when it comes to the game of softball – the truth is nearly every single one of us would rather be on the thinking, undefeated team than on the losing team.

So I say this.  Don’t hate.  Learn from the undefeated team and try to appreciate the excellence as something more than luck or the twisted practice of underhandedly raising the odds.  If you are a coach playing this undefeated team, then see what the coaches are doing.  Listen to the positivity that they instill in their players.  Watch the eyes, and faces of these girls as they wait for a pitch to be released.  Pay attention to the fact that every single girl on the team is moving their feet constantly, wanting the ball to come to them.  Watch the girls thinking…..And try to figure out ways to get your own girls to think.

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