Winter is a perfect time to turn up the heat!
December 1, 2010 - Sara Hayes, Owner Power Line Consulting
Vince Lombardi said, “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” Now that the busy summer and fall showcase seasons have passed, many turn their focus away from softball. The upcoming holiday and break from school is right around the corner, semester finals are creeping up, and although high school ball is in between, summer softball seems to be a long time away. Yet still there are some determined athletes and coaches who seize the opportunity that exists. Those athletes and coaches truly looking to advance, those driven to raise the level of their game, use these “breaks” as opportunities for adjustment and training.
When I was in high school playing travel ball, we competed during the summer and on a few weekends during the fall. We had time to compete in other sports, to rehab and heal our stressed bodies, and to regroup and hone our skills. Today, athletes are focused on developing one sport and the travel ball schedule is year round. In many ways, the overscheduled seasons limit the development potential of our athletes unless they seek out timely opportunities.
Practice makes perfect. Taking the time to patiently perfect skills is being overlooked by the need to “get seen”. But honestly the real key to exposure is positive performance and that only comes through perfecting skill.
With the oversaturation of recruiting, college coaches can be selective in making their decisions. They are looking for those athletes who have taken the extra steps to ensure productivity as college student-athletes. Grades, overall health and fitness, maturity and communication, and skill performance all come together in a coach’s decision. For this reason, it is imperative that athletes and coaches use opportunities throughout the year to turn up the heat!
This December through February period is one of those to take advantage of and here are some recommended steps to take in maximizing it:
- Realistically evaluate your skills and ability
In looking at the last 6 months, what are some aspects of your game that you need to sharpen? How complete of an athlete are you and how competitive do you honestly assess your marketing level to be? Through our Power Line recruit advising program, we assess athletes’ ability in the same way that the college coaches are evaluating you – offensive consistency, power potential, speed, quickness, position specific defense ability, arm strength, game sense, leadership, fitness, academic stability, maturity, and communication. It is important for you to be able to judge which tools you are bringing to the table and which still need to be sharpened.
With over 1400 college options and thousands of high school athletes vying for roughly 3200 roster spots, you want to do the very best you can to have every opportunity to find the right spot for yourself.
- Honestly weigh your goals
If you are seriously considering trying to play in college, how competitive do you feel you are against those other athletes trying to do the same thing? How hard have you been working to achieve that goal, and what are you willing to adjust now in order to make that happen?
When I played at the University of Notre Dame, my friends and I used to sit around before or after practice to hit in the cages. Those years we were top 20 in Division 1 and consistently faced strong programs like DePaul, Michigan, and Missouri. We wanted to be able to have the confidence to perform at the highest level. Our coaches had given us all the tools to do so, but it was ultimately up to us to get it done!
Have you made the decision to independently drive to be great? If not yet, now is the time to start doing so!
- Set short term goals for February
You have three months of dedicated time to get yourself in the best possible physical shape you can be in. Lay out a detailed map of sport performance training, nutrition, and skill development. Schedule practices and workouts, get in a routine, and hold yourself accountable.
I would be happy to meet with you to assist you in developing this plan. We have a number of athletes who train in small groups with their teammates. We set up a schedule for now through high school to dedicate themselves to fine tuning. It is exciting to see their apparent commitment and drive! You should follow suit if you have not yet done so. And don’t hesitate to let me know if you need help.
- Write down long term goals for June and plan a schedule for achieving them
Expand on the training, nutrition, and skill development short term goals in preparing for next summer. Use the opportunities available through high school – live pitching, game situations – to continue to hone the skills you address this winter.
Your goal should be that you are peaking during the primary showcase tournaments. You will want to be on fire, to have everything clicking! Optimal fitness and sharpened skills, combined with effective situational training during the high school season will give you the chance to have your best foot forward. As you progress through the high school season, you will want to evaluate and learn as situations arise. Just as you develop physical skills through repetition on the tee, use the live game situations to address mental processes, learn to make adjustments, or to produce more effectively.
While doing this, continuing the repetition of lessons is just as important. Remember when you learned to hit a new pitch. You didn’t totally disregard the majority of what you were doing before. You simply added a new focus. In-season practice is the same in that you expand to include situational analysis while maintaining the consistent focus you have built before that point.
- Light the fire in your belly!
In anything that we do in life, we have the opportunity to commit to achieve greatness. “Success is a peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” -John Wooden
I tell the athletes who I am advising through the college recruiting process that if they want to take ownership and make the decision, then they have to do the grunt work (as opposed to their parents doing the work for them). Similarly, if you expect to feel good and perform well on the field, then you must take care of business in preparation.
Set yourself ahead of the pack, rather than with the pack. I had two athletes this summer prepare to enter as freshman at San Diego State University and Stanford University. Both had strength and conditioning programs that they were given to complete over the summer and were to be tested on their efforts during the start of practice. Our goal was not just to pass the tests, but to ensure that there was no doubt. All of our stress was placed on the need to prepare, so that they were recognized as leaders right off the bat. Our plan proved perfect!
I challenge you to adopt a similar approach. What is it that motivates you and lights your fire? Draw on this as you turn the heat up.
Whether you are 10 years old preparing for the beginning of the rec season and All-stars or a 16 year old junior heading into a major recruiting summer, it is important to learn to understand and practice seasonal development. It keeps us progressing, interested in learning new skills, and gives us the opportunity to truly develop outstanding and complete athletes!
If there is anything we can do for you here at Power Line – as you turn the heat up – please do not hesitate to let us know!
College Recruit Advising – Skill Development – Sport Performance Training – Leadership and Mentoring
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