There is a saying that is repeated regularly on college teams, as well as when I played myself, “have a GOOD bad day”. Which basically translate to, be good even when you’re not 100%. For instance, you know your throws to second aren’t exactly on target, your not getting your body in front of the ball as well as you normally do on balls in the dirt, you’re really struggling on field bunts.
All catchers, and athletes for that matter, play through these types of struggles with their game. Now, all GREAT catchers play through those struggles and make it seem to everyone watching that they are at their best, hence “have a GOOD bad day”.
When you know there is one part of your game that is not at its best, put your focus on the things that you are great at and over emphasize those aspects. This game is hard enough as it is. We make it 10 times harder when we are creating negativity within ourselves and our teammates.
I talk so much about catchers and their need to be leaders on the field, but how? How can we as catchers start to exude that characteristic of leadership?
Well, for one, we can start with positivity.
As I have stated before, your other 8 teammates on the field are constantly looking at you every single pitch. They hear you every single pitch.
All great catchers exhibit a sense of positivity to their team. They are constantly talking to their team about outs, plays to look for, motivational phrases to help them when they commit an error, and getting excited after every out. Have you ever seen a catcher point to their pitcher after a strikeout? More than likely, she is yelling to her “great job, kid!” Or “Atta, baby!” Whether its her first strikeout or her 15th, she is motivating and pumping her pitcher up. This kind of positivity is super crucial to a pitcher’s success.
I once read a quote from a head coach at the University of South Carolina stating: “when you hit a 3 run HR, you get a lot more high fives than when you strike out 3 times. Remember, your teammates needs you the most when they least deserve it.” Captains and leaders shine and are recognized in moments like these.
When your teammate has three strikeouts on the day, what are you going to do? Are you going to ignore her, or are you going to go give her high five and tell her you believe in her?
By recognizing when your teammates need you the most, the more they look to you for positivity and guidance and motivation. Just a high five on their worst day, can turn their day around and give them a sense of purpose and remind them that they are important to their teams’ success.
About the Author: Claudia Cooper,played at North Carolina State from 2006–10. She had the second highest OBP for the Wolfpack during her Junior season and rounded out that year with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. After graduation, she spent the 2010–11 season as a student assistant at her alma mater. Since leaving NC State, Coop has been a staff instructor at Elite Training Academy, coaching individuals, small groups and teams. Book her here.