When I was young the Cincinnati Reds were a powerhouse and one of their best players was Pete Rose, who was affectionately called “Charlie Hustle”. Now, Rose has had a checkered history since those days, but no one can question whether he played the game all out. To the point that he destroyed Ray Fosse to score the winning run in the All-Star game — the All Star game!
In 2018, Manny Machado made headlines when he said he wasn’t really the “Johnny Hustle” type of player. His effort was called into question when he didn’t run hard on what ended up being a play where a little hustle might have made a big difference.
There was a lot of hand wringing at the time but you have to ask how important is hustle anymore when Machado’s lack of hustle didn’t impact his ability to get a $300 million contract.
And if you watch enough ball you see the same lack of hustle in both baseball and softball.
Too cool to hustle? Too many games to hustle all the time? Too tired to hustle? Why hustle, I would be out anyway? All good questions, and not meant to be rhetorical!
I see these questions answered in a troubling way all too often at the softball field.
Hustle is a skill that can be taught. It is a skill that needs to be reinforced by coaches, parents and teammates. Hustle is a skill that will get noticed by college coaches looking for players to recruit! And, hustle is a skill that is disappearing from our game so we need to fix that, now!
What does hustle look like?
I had the pleasure of coaching a young player named EC Taylor for a year who signed to play softball at the University of Florida this past fall. She hustled on the field, she hustled off the field, she hustled out every ground ball, she hustled out every fly ball, she hustled after every ball that got hit when she was on defense and her family hustled her all over the country to allow her to play this great game.
There is no doubt that EC is a very talented player. But make no mistake about it. Her hustle set her apart from a lot of other talented players. Go watch a Florida game over the next four years and you can have the opportunity to see it yourself!
So you think hustle isn’t cool?
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.