Does My Pitcher Have What it Takes?
Does my pitcher have what it takes? This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions I get. My answer is always the same...I have no way to know, but these are things she does well and this is what the next level looks like. I wish I had a magic ball that could give me the answers, but none of us know what the future holds for an athlete.
I tell the story often of a ten and under catcher I coached on a select team that would ask every game if she could come out of the game to eat her hamburger only to fast forward eight years and she was a D1 catcher on a top 50 program. I have numerous other stories of the best ten and twelve and under pitcher who decided she did not want to play anymore at fourteen. While eight and ten and under should be for learning the game, figuring out the position you excel at and having fun, twelve and up holds a different answer that might help you see if your pitcher has what it takes.
One of the best predictors of future success lies in an athletes commitment level. Leadership and Sports Psychologist Jeff Jansen calls it "The Commitment Continuum." It starts with Resistant: Not Bought In > Reluctant: Wait and See> Existent:Go Through the Motions> Compliant: Do What You're Told> Committed: Self-Motivated, Goes the Extra MIle> Compelled: No Matter What, Find a Way to Reach Goals.
If you find your pitcher in the committed or compelled area your answer is yes she has what it takes! She is self motivated, and focused on reaching whatever goal she has in front of her. You do not have to ask her to practice and her week is usually full with anything and everything she can do to get better with very little off days. Support her in the best way possible, keep her motivated, encouraged and get ready for a fun career ahead. If your pitcher falls in the other areas, your first focus is on moving her through the continuum. Focus on what motivates her, why she plays the game and what she is willing to sacrifice in order to reach those goals. If you find her not willing to move forward then you have your answer. While she might not be the next Jennie Finch, Cat Osterman or Monica Abbot she can still have a career in softball and have some great friends, memories, lifelong qualities to help her succeed at life.