Softball Players Train With Yoga, Mental Exercises

The+team+poses+for+a+group+picture+while+spending+spring+break+in+Clemont%2C+Fl.%0A

The team poses for a group picture while spending spring break in Clemont, Fl.

Melanie Quintanilla, Multimedia Editor

   The softball team’s players are not only pushing themselves physically with two-and-a-half hour practices six days of the week; they are building their mental game, too.

   The team is working on performance enhancement through various techniques including relaxation and stress management. Some of the activities include practicing yoga, listening to training CDs, reading articles about mental and emotional approaches to the game, and reflecting on their mental approaches to defense and offense.

   “This mental training is helping us create a routine as well as rebound from failure,” said Head Coach Jennifer Probst,

   Each week, players must finish weekly assignments, which include setting attainable goals for themselves and the team, coming up with two word motivational phrases, finding personal relaxation strategies to use before each game, making lists of ways they can contribute to the team, and finding nine words, or attributes, that describe them and the team.

   Softball is more of a mental game than most people realize, said Graduate Assistant Lindsey Couturier. “We truly believe that by studying, practicing, and demonstrating mental toughness in all aspects of our game that our girls will not only perform better but have more fun while doing it. There is such a strong tradition of skills, team chemistry, and success here at Misericordia, but we strongly believe this is what is going to take our program to the next level of success.”

   Senior captains Kristi Seiler, medical imaging major, and Megan Hardy, speech pathology major, agree that the mental training has had positive outcomes not only on their attitudes but on their performance as well.

   “Over the years, I have found that I am my own worst enemy, and it all comes back to my mental game. Between always doubting myself and constantly trying to be perfect in a game built on failure, fixing my mental game was my biggest challenge over the years,” said Hardy.

   Coaches have been focusing on the quality of players’ bats rather than batting averages. Quality metrics include how hard one may hit the ball, the opportunities the bat creates, and how well the batter executes.

   “I feel this really takes pressure off players to get a hit. Too many times players hit a line drive right to a defense man, and we view it as a pointless at bat because they did not get on base. This, to me, is way more practical,” said Seiler.

   Probst is focusing on helping players to cope with failure, eliminating self-doubt and “building their resilience to adversity,” she said.

   “I’m hoping that when we are faced with fear or failure, we can fall back on the things we have learned through these sessions.  I also hope that it gives us an added edge in close games. Lastly, mental toughness is an attribute our student athletes can utilize in their life after Misericordia,” said Probst.

   The team believes that the mental activities improve their thinking.  “Our mindsets are being transformed from focusing on the negative to being optimistic about things.” Seiler said,

   At the end of each week the team reviews assignments.  “I felt reading the articles and doing the activities individually was one thing, but discussing the concepts and hearing other people’s points of view really put the whole thing into a good perspective for me. It gave me ideas I wouldn’t have thought of myself, and I’m sure that goes for others on the team as well. I also think sharing these ideas in preseason brought us together more as a team because we each started to learn more about each other,” said Hardy

   All of that mental toughness is making a difference: The team expects success.

   “I expect us to be competitive every day both in the classroom and on the field.  That drive is going to allow us to reach our goals both academically and athletically.  I also expect us to give 100% regardless of who we are playing as well as demonstrate good sportsmanship,” said Probst

   Couturier said the team will fight through obstacles.

   “This is a group of girls thatare so closely knit and have so much heart. They want to play the game and do their best no matter what the circumstances. With how practices have been going this preseason, I foresee our offense exploding at some point this season. We have a lineup of athletes who can all put the ball out of the park. Our bats have been on fire this offseason and we are so excited to see how that translates into the season.”

   Hardy said players must take care of their bodies and also “have fun and go out with a bang,” she said.

   “I believe fully in this team, and I know we have the talent to go far. I think it will all come down to whether or not we beat ourselves. This is where being mentally tough comes into play. When things get tough, we need to remain unconditionally confident and get through the tough times together. That is what will make us a great team.”