In softball, catcher is one of the hardest positions to play at a high level. In many ways they’re the QB of the defense – calling the pitches, the plays, reading the base runners for steals, commanding the defense. They process, communicate and act on a lot of information in literal split seconds. Not easy.
The biggest jump for any freshman catcher was always the speed of the game. Everything moves significantly faster in the college game. When they first practiced complicated game scenarios, they’d usually make a mistake or two and start holding on to the ball rather than throwing it to any base. A deer in the headlights moment – totally frozen. I always loved this teachable moment because it was a chance to lock in an aggressive mindset. The heart of the message was this: if you hold the ball you don’t get better. If you throw it and you’re wrong, we learn and grow. Action provides more feedback than inaction. Err on the side of acting, always. Throw the damn ball.
And the real key, as a coach and a leader? How you respond the next time they make an aggressive mistake. Yell at them and they go into mistake prevention mode – death sentence for high performance. Put your arm around them and coach ’em up and you’ve got a stud in the making.
So, leader, it starts with you. Are you holding the damn ball? Or making decisions and learning? And how about those you lead? What’s your response when they make an aggressive mistake? We all get the team we deserve. If you want a team playing on their toes, playing big and free, it starts with you.
Throw the damn ball.