OLY, Janie Reed, shares what it takes to harness, embrace and embody the post-season mindset.
If you're anything like me, you've been watching as much post-season softball as possible these past few weeks. There is something truly special about it, isn't there? Athletes are still striving to do their personal best, but there is a shift in mentality that is almost tangible.
Throughout the long college softball season it is easy to become distracted with various things like batting average, homerun counts, single season records, career records, and other accolades. Of course the general focus of the entire season stays team oriented, but it's important (and OK!) to have personal goals too! The post-sesaon shift in mentality I'm talking about is something I have had the privilege of experiencing four out of four times in my collegiate career. I was one of those players that always had certain personal goals on my radar, for better or worse, but when post-season came, it simply did not matter. And it was the best.
The only thing that matters after the regular season is over is the moment you're in. Who cares if you haven't gotten a hit this game? Who cares if you haven't gotten a hit in the last three games? All that matters is winning.
So how can we take that post-season mentality into our everyday mentality? Well, the answer is complex, but I think the reality is we have to remind ourselves that it really doesn't matter what we did, it matters what we are going to do. To be able to differentiate between using our experiences to gain knowledge and learn, instead of using them as prescriptions for what will happen in the future.
Basically, what it comes down to is execution. The post-season mentality is all about execution. One of my teammates from college, Janelle Lindvall, who was a stellar catcher at Oregon used to say to our pitchers, "Know what you want to throw and throw it!" This quote has always stuck with me because of the truth that it carries. In order to be successful, we have to first know what we want to do, and then we have to do it! We have to know how to do it also, but that comes way before the game. This is why people always talk about preparation leading to confidence.
When we do the work to prepare, we know what we want to execute, and then we execute without fear. This is the sweet spot of pure competition.
We may execute perfectly or we may not execute the way we wanted, but we're in the zone. We're focused, we're competitive, we're in the moment, and we're not stopping until we taste victory.
This is the post-season mentality that we should all strive to carry with us day in and day out. As you continue to watch these phenomenal athletes compete throughout Super Regionals and the World Series, look for the competitive grit that marks a player. It's fun to watch because they look like they're having fun embracing the competition and that is what it's all about.
- Janie Reed