If the strongest, most talented players and teams always finished on top, softball would be a boring sport. To be sure, gifted players bring a tangible advantage to any team, but there is another side to the sport. The scrapper, the underdog, the Cinderella… champions are born in these ranks as often as in the ranks of superior athletes.
The reason less talented players and teams beat more talented ones is often because they have a mental edge. Whether these players are born with a will to win, or if they learned it from parents, coaches or other players, they often level the playing field simply by approaching the game the right way. The following blogs are some of the best sources on the web for developing the mental fortitude to overcome adversity and become a winner.
Where better to glean information on the mental approach to success than from a coach whose whole spiel is the mental side of the game. John Kelly has been coaching fastpitch softball at various levels since 1996, and has preached the importance of having a winning mentality for two decades. His site is a trove of confidence-building strategies, and he guides readers toward improving focus and attitude to achieve success.
Kelly has made a business out of his ideas on winning through improving mentally. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, but perusing his site leaves a reader with the sensation that the best information is contained in the courses he sells. Again, nothing wrong with making a buck — everyone has to make a living — and the available articles are dense and numerous. It is just worth knowing going into it that your interest will be piqued to know what’s hiding behind the curtain.
Fastpitch softball internet pioneer Gary Leland’s blog is loaded with information on the mental approach that leads to winning. There isn’t much in the way of fluff pieces here. Mental toughness and preparation are front and center. These articles focus on the mentality that leads to success rather than just winning tactics. Crucially, much attention is also paid to how focusing solely on winning is self-defeating.
The site is not intuitively navigable, but there are a couple ways to narrow a search for information. The search function narrows things down nicely, and a clickable list of categories rests hidden at the bottom of the page. New content is uploaded regularly, which runs the gamut of fastpitch topics, from drills and tips to the mentality and philosophy of success.
Longtime softball coach Becky Wittenberg’s blog is geared toward her fellow coaches. The blog is loaded with older content, and new articles are posted regularly. Players and parents can easily apply the information presented in the articles to backyard and offseason practice sessions.
While the blog is mainly focused on the physical side of the game, and is loaded with drills, the mental and philosophical side feature prominently in the content. To access this type of content, simply type mental into the search bar, and an abundance of articles will be at your fingertips. Players can gain insight on topics like the mental approach to hitting, while coaches can get ideas for practices and drills to hone their players’ mental toughness and acuity.
Softball is for Girls
This site is content-focused, and the articles are varied in the sense that they target players, coaches and parents separately. The density of material is such that you can get lost in the content. Hours after you begin your search for a given topic, you can easily be learning about things you had not intended to research. That may be problematic, in the sense that the site lacks a cohesive organization. Articles are tagged into basic groups, though, and the search bar function works well.
The mental side of the game is a definite focus of the content. Players can gain perspective from the experiences of others, whether in breaking out of slumps or improving focus. Parents and coaches will also find a wealth of information on improving their players’ focus and steeling their attitudes. The information can get technical, but there is often a takeaway beyond the mere physical side of softball.
As much as we all tend to see them as distinct facets of the game, the mental and physical parts of the game are intertwined. Ken Krause, the softball coach operator of the Fastpitch Lane blog, seems all too aware of that connection. Unlike other blogs, the articles on the Fastpitch Lane are organized into easily accessed categories, and are often cross-located.
The keys to winning in an age when players all train year-round are mostly mental, whether that be in mental toughness or focus, or simply getting players to get out of their own way. It can take years of experience in the game to develop an understanding of the link between mental preparation and success. The information on Krause’s site clues parents, coaches and players with less experience into a level of perspective that would otherwise require seasons of trial and error to accumulate.