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Time to make your resolutions 

01/16/2017, 6:00am PST
By Tom Mauldin

Happy New Year ... seems like 2017 got here in a hurry. Did you have time to prepare your New Year Resolutions?

If you are an athlete, especially an athlete who dreams of playing collegiately, setting goals is nothing new to you. Goals – and or resolutions – can be very helpful. They can keep you on track.

In Theory, resolutions are a fantastic idea. The first of the year is a great time to set some goals for yourself. But make goals that are realistic or they’ll fall by the wayside in a hurry.

A study from the University of Pennsylvania found only 77 percent of people who make resolutions are still sticking to them just one week into the new year.

And only 8 percent of people stick to their resolutions for a calendar year. That’s less than one in every dozen people.

Fastpitch Northwest, the NCAA and a variety of national recruiting organizations have a few suggestions to help you reach your goals and fulfill those resolutions:

1. Develop a new skill: What aspect of your softball game could you improve on by becoming a more versatile player? Here’s two for hitters – Double the hitting reps you take in practice and take one-third of your swings from your opposite side. And resolve to the be the best bunter on your team.

2. Choose one measurable statistic to improve: Focus on one statistic, you have a better chance of making an impactful change versus focusing on too many things at once and only improving by an insignificant amount. Here’s one to develop arm strength – long toss at every workout, preferably at least 3-4 days each week.

3. Attend at least one camp for instructional lesson, etc.: Take a lesson from college coaches or private professional coaches. Find the best format for you to learn and improve, sign up and then attend that camp/combine/etc. Here’s a good one for all softball players – sign up for a Fastpitch Northwest Prospect Evaluation Camp to see where your skill level is and to learn what improvements are needed in your game in order to reach the next level.

4. Increase your GPA by a minimum of .25 points: Make this a semester-by-semester goal, or try to accomplish this at least by the end of the current school year. College coaches don’t like taking risks on athletes with academic shortcomings. Work on your grades – there are far more academic scholarships available than athletic scholarships.

5. Learn the NCAA and NAIA recruiting rules: It is important to understand the contact rules and periods to understand how and when college coaches can communicate with you. It will also help you to learn about signing days, the National Letter of Intents, campus visits and how coaches evaluate prospects. 

6. Develop better sportsmanship skills: College coaches are watching the way you conduct yourself before, during and after games. It is important to show good sportsmanship to your teammates, opposing team and umpires. Good sportsmanship will also help you become a better leader. Too many people underestimate sportsmanship.

7. You need a professional online presence: While it is important to show maturity on your social media pages, you also want to offer ways for college coaches to find you. Create an online presence by developing an athletic profile. Here’s a big hint – develop a Player Profile with Fastpitch Northwest. It reaches coaches from coast to coast and border to border.

8. Volunteer in your local community: Volunteer work not only looks good on your resume – or college application – but it helps to build character. College coaches like to see prospects who are well-rounded athletes and students with good personalities and social skills. The key here is building YOUR character. This is huge!

Now that the experts have offered a few tips on setting goals, here are few pitfalls to be aware of.

1. Not setting realistic goals: One of the most common mistakes that derail an athlete’s routine is not having a defined and realistic goal. Be sure your goals are short term, measurable and have a deadline so that you stay motivated and can see success. Remember, success does not come overnight so set small goals to achieve personal victories on the way to a bigger goal.

2. Not developing a structured workout plan: If you don’t have a set workout routine to follow, or a coach to guide you, it’s going to be up to your imagination to guide you through the workout. Develop a plan and stick to it. 

3. Ignoring your diet:  What you put into your body will determine what you get out. The cornerstone to any training regimen is your daily food intake – both what you eat and how much. The best diet is a simple diet – lean meats, fruits and veggies. Eat until satisfied but not full. Drink water instead of sugar filled sodas or coffee drinks. Always eat breakfast. Avoid junk food. If you have to ask yourself, "is this food healthy?" it’s probably not.

4. Not having the right teammate or team: Surround yourself with other like-minded individuals who have similar goals to yours. Lastly, find a knowledgeable coach, workout partner or resource that can help guide you through the process. Being a part of team adds a level of accountability that you cannot find on your own. More importantly, you need to surround yourself with individuals who care about your success. If you go at it alone or with the wrong team, chances are a lot higher that you will fall short of your resolutions.

5.Not managing your time: We get busy. Unfortunately, when the "to-do" list is seemingly endless, the easiest thing to knock down a priority level is your workout routine. This cannot happen if you’re serious about reaching your goals. If you aren’t focused on managing your schedule in a way that accommodates your workout plan to meet your fitness goals, you will fail.

6. Not measuring – or tracking – your progress: It is impossible to know if you are on track with your goals if you are not tracking your progress. Not only will seeing progress help keep you motivated, but it will also tell you if you need to modify your plan if something is not working. Design your routine with tests and record the results of these tests (such as home to first, consecutive line drives). Repeat these tests every month and track your progress. Although results may come slow at first, keep at it. Slow progress is still progress.

Most importantly, remember to keep setting goals. It doesn’t need to be the new year to make resolutions – set a reminder at the end of each month to check your progress. Once you achieve one goal, consider what else you want to do and how you can push yourself to the next level. Make sure you’re enjoying what you’re doing—as the experts will remind you ... it’s about the journey more than anything else.

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