Dena Tyson is a former All-American at the University of Washington and today is a successful Corona Angels head coach at the 18U and 16U levels who has helped dozens of players develop and advance to the collegiate level to play softball.
Dena is the daughter of legendary Corona Angels head coach Marty Tyson and competed at the University of Washington from 2002 to 2007.
She was part of Husky teams that made the Women’s College World Series three times (2003, ’04 and ’07) and as a senior for Washington in 2007 was a 1st Team All-American and was a selection to the World Series All-Tournament Team.
In today’s blog, Dena discusses how players and parents can recognize—and prepare for—situations that will determine average, good or great play on the field.
Dena has released an e-book titled Focus Up! which chronicles her career in softball, her ups-and-downs and what ultimately helped her become an All-American player, coach and mother!
Also, be sure to check out her previous blogs too including Being a Team Player, How to Deal With Failure, How to Deal With Riding the Bench, How to Pick the Right College, How to Balance Life as a Student Athlete, What Are The Qualities of an All-American?, To My Unverballed Seniors, It’s Not Just About You, Habits, Decisions, Decisions, Decisions! and Player & Parent Energy.
The weekend before the break, one of my teams went 0-2 and the other team went 2-0.
However, it felt as a coach I went 0-4.
Let me explain: I talked to my teams about understanding the difference between average, good or great. We discussed why some teams may be at (PGF) Platinum Nationals and why another team may be at Premier Nationals.
There are plays, moments or decisions that will explain what category you fall in.
For instance, great pitchers won’t hang that change up for a home run; great pitchers will attack the zone when the bottom of the lineup is up. Great pitchers will have good misses, not give up an 0-2 hit.
Now obviously I know nobody is perfect but striving for perfection should be everyone’s goal!
More examples that standout: great teams make the routine plays 100 percent of the time and great teams close an inning out with two outs. Great teams also have productive at-bats (advancing runners and great plate awareness).
As a coach I sit and make these lists in my head and tell them when they start doing these things, we will be great.
But I decided the weekend of those final games to point out the moments, plays or decisions that made them average so, to my coaches, players or parents reading this, let’s make this our assignment after every weekend you play:
Ask yourselves: what plays, moments or decisions this weekend could you have been great, but you decided to be average? Make sure to have your list to cross-reference!
I want to share an example of my pitcher’s answers:
I was not a premier player specifically in the first and second inning.
In the first inning I was struggling to pick up my spin and location since I had a lack of velocity. I was not able to shut batters down when I had 2 strikes and that made me an average player. And by doing so, I kept allowing base runners and eventually a run.
In the third inning, I made a defensive error that extended the inning and cost a few runs. I am usually able to field my position well and I now know I can’t afford to make those errors and mistakes because it will cost me and the team.
In order to be a premier player, I need to come out stronger in the first inning and set the tone. I need to pay attention to what is not working and what I need to do to make that adjustment.
To be a great player, I also need to be smart whenever I field the ball. I should always know the runners, batters, situation, and how my decision will affect us in the long run.
This self-reflection is so key! Sometimes when we yell, the message gets lost in translation.
Make them explain it and take ownership and keep asking them: Why be “Good” when “Great” is an option?
--- Dena Tyson