There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His Father gave him a

bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must

hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven

37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to

control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled

down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those

nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his

temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that

the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his

temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his

father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand

and led him to the fence, He said, "You have done well, my son, but look

at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say

things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a

knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say

I'm sorry, the wound is still there."

Peak Performance by Karlene Sugarman, M.A.

Characteristics of being "IN THE ZONE"

1. Relaxed: The days of getting psyched up to play are over. Research has shown over and over that the best performances occur when you are just slightly above your normal state of arousal, not at the extreme end of the spectrum as once thought. You are energized, yet relaxed it’s a subtle balance of quiet intensity. Your mind is calm and your body is ready to go. You feel relaxed, but you are able to move with great strength and ease.

2. Confident: Not letting a lapse in performance undermine your belief in your overall abilities is at the core of this characteristic. When you are playing well, you feel confident that no matter what you are up against, you are going to come out on top. You just exude with confidence and pride, and it is evident in your performance. There is no fear. Confidence on the inside is outwardly shown by way of your presence, your walk and your facial expressions. You should expect to be successful, not hope or wish to be successful. You must adopt a confident, winning attitude. It is trusting your instincts and intuition to do the right thing at the right time; and if you are prepared, you can be confident that this will happen. This complete faith allows you to just know that you are going to do everything necessary to be successful without the conscious use of reasoning or analyzing.

3. Completely focused: You are totally absorbed in the moment. You have no memory of the past and no qualms about the future; you are here now. The only thing you are concentrating on is the task at hand. You are oblivious to everything else going on around you, consumed by the moment. Like a child playing with his toys, you are so absorbed in the moment that nothing outside can effect you. You have no real sense of time, and before you know it, the game is over. The game seems to have flown by, and at the same time, everything you did seemed to happen in a slowed-down pace with great precision and concentration. Having the ability to stay in the moment is a gift that all of peak performers have.

4. Effortless: Things just sort of happen with little or no effort whatsoever. All your moves are smooth and for that time, your sports seems like the easiest thing in the world. You are in a state of mind and body where you can accomplish great things with little effort. Your mind and body are working with one another in perfect unison. The grace and ease that you display make everything you do seem like the simplest task in the world. You have a sense of finesse and grace, even when the task is very grueling and demanding. That sort of connectedness and moment of greatness is an awesome thing to both witness and take part in.

5. Automatic: There is no interference from your thoughts or emotions. Things are just happening, both without protest and without consent. You are on auto pilot - just reacting to whatever comes your way. Your body just seems to know what to do without any directive from you. There is no conscious thought involved; you’re going strictly on your instincts. If you think less, you will achieve more.

6. Fun: When you’re in the flow, the enjoyment is incomparable to anything else. You feel like when you were a kid enjoying your sport with pure and innocent delight. Anyone can see in your eyes the satisfaction and fulfillment the sport gives you. You feel like your sport is giving you back something that you can’t get from anyone or anything else. This is a key factor because if you don’t enjoy your sport, your future in it will be limited.

7. In Control: You feel that no matter what, you are in control. What you think and want to happen will. You have ultimate command over your emotions as well - you are controlling them, not the other way around. When you are in control, you are in charge. You govern your own destiny. When you feel this strong of a command over your game, great things are sure to happen. The authority is yours, and no one else’s.

Suceess in sports requires your mind and your body and as an athlete it is very important to have a clear mental picture of what it is you are striving for. By taking some time to think about peak performances you have had in the past, it can aid you in making sure they happen more often! As a Sport Psychology Consultant is important to also be aware of these characteristics so you can address each one to help the athletes strengthen each area so they can achieve peak performances on a more consistent basis

Five things coaches don't want to hear

By Stacie Mahoe,
All About Fastpitch

Do you want to be the type of player coaches want on their team? Coaches want more than just physical skill; they want personalities conducive to a team environment.
Below are five attitudes to avoid during your softball career. If you notice you're guilty of any of them, now is the time to make adjustments so you can make a more positive impact on your team and your coach.

"I can't"

The "I can't" attitude gets old very fast. If you insist that you "can't" do something, why should your coach keep you on the team? Keep in mind the body does what the mind tells it to. So if you say to yourself, "I can't do this," how is your body ever going to follow through on the things you want it to?

"I forgot"

I am baffled by how often players say, "I forgot my shoes" or "I forgot my socks." Be responsible. You know when practices and games are scheduled. It's not as if these events are sprung on you at the last minute. Be prepared.

Don't just rely on your parents to make sure you have everything you need. This is not their team, this is not their practice and this is not their softball season. It's yours. Even my 5 year old daughter ensures her softball gear is ready day in and day out. You can do it too.

Too much talk

When your coach is talking, your focus needs to be on your coach. It is very rude and disrespectful -- not only to your coach, but to your entire team -- if you talk while your coach is talking. You may be wondering why the coach repeats the same thing over and over, but if you're paying attention and the coach knows his/her message is getting through, then they may not need to go over things again and again.

Making excuses

Get the job done and don't let excuses get in the way. The other team is playing on the same field as you, with the same umpires and under the same weather conditions. Don't blame these things for your bad performance.

Instead of making excuses, focus all of your effort and energy on playing your best --despite the conditions. It's tough to get the job done anyway, so don't waste any of your energy or focus on grumbling, when you need all your energy to make the plays that need to be made.

"Why is she playing?"

You may not always agree with your coach's decisions, but questioning his or her choices in front of your teammates does NOT help the team. Asking why a certain player is playing does not show confidence in their ability and does not help team unity. It's important that everything you say and do helps every player on the team do their best.

Remember, softball is a team sport. With every action, you're either helping your team get closer to its goals or keeping it further away from its objective. If you have serious questions about your coach's decisions, you need to set up a time to talk to your coach individually.

Coaches like team players with positive attitudes. Do a self check and notice if you hear yourself saying any of the things mentioned above. If so, see how you can change and become a player coaches love to have on their team.