I do camps in my off-seasons. Each camp starts with the same structure, but shifts as I think of important information on the fly. I end up getting into these long tangents about life, experiences, and things I've learned that have helped me in my playing career and in my life. So many lessons learned on the field can be used in real life, so I am often using game-like situations. This past weekend, I left my campers with three thoughts to take with them into their daily lives.
1) If you put in the work, it will show. If you don't, it will also show.
There have been times when I've gotten into the box to hit and I don't feel good. I feel like I don't have as much control of the bat. My eyes feel foggy, my timing is off, and my mind is moving 1,000 mph. I think back to the practice earlier in the week. Wait... I didn't go. I didn't take those extra reps the day before the game.
How could I possibly feel confident? To me, my confidence is about my ability. But, more importantly my confidence is able to fall back on my training. My training is what allows me to be my best! If I didn't take the time to perfect my craft, I can't expect to automatically turn it on when its game time.
This is a lot like life. If I am trying to get better at an area in my life, I have to put in the work. If I want to lose weight, I need to eat healthier. If I haven't been, I can't step on the scale and expect to see a better number than the last time. If I want to be a nicer person, I have to practice compassion and exercise empathy. If I haven't been, I can't be upset when I overhear someone say that I am mean and they don't enjoy being around me. If I am trying to clear my head and have better focus, I need to be meditating a little each morning. If I haven't been, I can't expect to stay calm in the everyday hectic that life brings.
It is very straight forward. There are no excuses. Identify what you can be better at, and have a game plan. Yes, this includes practicing!
2) Be a good teammate.
I have played with many women throughout my softball career. I have played with RBI machines, strikeout queens, defensive wizards and some of the smartest coaches in the game. Yes, these physical attributes are wonderful and certainly will be remembered. But I always remember the person before the player. I remember how she treated me in the locker room, or if she made me better or remained in her own world. Her actions as a human come first in my mind.
Being a good teammate is like being a good friend off the field. Check your friendships... are you pouring into your tribe? Do they know how you feel about them? Have you told them you are proud of them lately? Lift them up as you climb towards your own new heights. This can go farther than the people you are closest to. Do something for someone that may not be able to pay you back. Smile. Lend a helping hand. Get outside of yourself for a second and make an impact in somebody else's life. Be remembered for your character, heart, and love. Not just for the skills you offered.
3) Don't make the game more than it is.
The game of softball is exactly what it claims to be- a GAME. A sport designed for fun competition. I started softball to get my physical exercise in, meet friends, learn more about myself and give my all. The values of softball shouldn't disappear when a college coach comes to watch a game or scholarship letters flood the mailbox. I quit softball for a year when I was 12, solely because I was burned out and wanted to experience the basic pleasures of an almost-teenage girl- sleepovers, movie nights, less stress, and more fun. Things that I needed in my life, but couldn't have because I was lost in the crazy world of travel ball. Things that I could've intertwined with softball without having to quit.
We don't have to miss the everyday enjoyment in life because we have commitments, or are so engulfed in our jobs, our goals, our dreams. I can still find time to get to the gym and clear my head, even if it means waking up earlier. I can get in my car and put on a feel good playlist while I go from place to place. I can pledge to read a chapter of my favorite book every night before bed. What I can also do is cancel that thing that really doesn't fill me up, and meet my girlfriends for a night of dancing and catching up. There ARE decisions that you can make, that will fill your life up with the things you've been "missing." Don't get too lost in it all that you lose your sense of self and the things or people you love.
These are just three of a billion thoughts that run through my head every day. I am not perfect, and I don't have it all figured out. We are all different humans with different schedules and different feelings. These three things have noticeably made a difference for me- on the field, and off. See if they can help you, too.