Keep reading to better understand the importance of maintaining your coachability while still trusting your inner voice. How to stay open-minded, while having the confidence to ultimately, pave your own path.

Growing up I was always the athlete that did every single thing that my coaches told me to do. I thought that being a good listener meant that I directly applied everything that was being instructed to me. If a coach recommended this drill, I did that drill 10x over. If a coach told me to make this specific adjustment, I would make it in a heartbeat. When coaches asked me questions, I was always looking to give the right answer instead of the honest answer. 

While I do believe there is a level of being coachable that is a foundation to our game and improvement in it, I have also found the more I listened to outside sources, the more I didn’t listen to my inner voice, and I started to lack confidence as a player. The more you play softball, the more coaches you have, the more outside noise you can get in your head, and sooner or later you start to become a people pleaser rather than a competitor. 

Shortly after I was named to Team USA in 2014, I had a ton of coaches giving me input on my swing from both college and international levels. After a long talk with one of these coaches, I finally figured out what my mindset needed to be, and it’s advice I will stick by for the rest of my career. This coach said to me “Apply it all and test it all in practice. Explore what works and feels comfortable to you, but when you step in that box in a game, your only focus should be competing your tail off. It’s you vs the pitcher. That’s it. You focus on winning and at the end of the day no coach is ever going to argue the results.”

This piece of advice opened an entirely new world for me. I realized that my lack of confidence and competitiveness was holding me back. My practice, work ethic, and preparation gave me the confidence to just go out in the games and trust myself enough to win an at-bat against any pitcher in the world. I finally felt freedom when I stepped into the box because I was only focused on one thing: winning. This approach is what led me to have the All-American seasons at Alabama and ultimately the best tournament of my career at the Olympics this past summer. 

Absolutely, be coachable, apply all of these things from all of these different coaches, but at the end of the day, you are the only one that steps up to the plate.

Believe in YOU. Compete. Win. 
- Haylie McCleney 

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