A personal brand can be a valuable asset for any athlete.
No matter what your goals are, the way you carry and portray yourself on and off the field can have a huge impact on your athletic career.
At the collegiate level, even a poorly planned social media post, can be the difference between being recruited and not having a college career at all. While in professional softball leagues, the same problem could cost you a lucrative endorsement, or any other number of other opportunities.
On the flip side,a well-planned approach to personal branding can change the trajectory of your career.
The fact is, most off-field opportunities that come from softball relate as much to who you are as a person, as to how you play on the field.
Scholarships. Mentoring opportunities. Coaching gigs. Brand deals. To gain traction in any of these areas, you will need to have a clear idea of who you are as a person and an athlete. In other words, you should be aware of your personal brand. Once established, you can then demonstrate what you have to offer to individuals and businesses, both within and outside the softball community.
Even on a personal level, spending time thinking about your personal brand can be incredibly powerful—if done correctly.
When your personal brand is focused on your core values and what is important to you, it can help to develop the sense of meaning, purpose, and direction that are essential to achieving big goals, and finding fulfillment in sport and life.
In softball, one name rises above all others when it comes to personal branding: Jennie Finch. This articles touches on how Jennie has been able to leverage her personal brand for big gains. Sign up to access content like this and tons of other invaluable video and articles around sports, as well.
Even if her personal style doesn’t resonate with you,there’s no denying that Jennie Finch has mastered the art of personal branding.
Jennie’s skills were always going to give her a career in the sport she loved. She was a dominant pitcher in both college softball and the National Pro Fastpitch League (NPF). And still retains a top-10 spot in several all-time lists.
Finch was a key player on the United States national softball teams that won gold in the 2004 Olympics, then silver in 2008. She is regarded as one of the most influential people to ever play the game—being named “the most famous softball player in history” by Time magazine.
What is most inspiring about Jennie, however, is that she maintained a crystal clear vision of who she was and what she stood for throughout her playing career. She then used her platform to generate countless off-field opportunities that continue to this day.
Just a few of Jennie’s notable achievements include:
Clearly, Jennie Finch is well placed to impart wisdom about building a personal brand in softball. And that’s just what she did in an exclusive video interview with Versus.
We’ll cover the main points from the interview in a moment. But if you want to see Jennie speak on this subject in person, sign up for one of our plans.
Our free plan gives you access to one video session of your choice. While the standard and premium options include the full library of content from our star-studded roster.
Finch has created an entire pitching and mindset course with Versus, including training sessions on topics such as:
But that's not all.
With any Versus plan, you can utilize our advanced AI-powered technology to ask interactive questions from our team. Just imagine, getting advice from Jennie herself about mastering your curveball. Or asking for tips from one of the best hitters in professional softball, Amanda Lorenz.
Versus has everything you need to get better—all on an easy to use digital platform you can access anywhere.
Until then, let’s dive into Jennie’s advice on building a personal brand in softball.
According to Finch, the true power of a personal brand lies in authenticity.
In the video, she recounts how, “Growing up, there wasn’t much femininity in female athletics. It had a stereotype. And I was kind of different.”
Jennie explains that she initially felt uncomfortable with the seemingly opposing characteristics of her athletic physique (she was 6 ft 1 with “big arms”), and the fact that she liked to wear a bow in her hair and express her feminine characteristics.
She even claimed to have even had coaches tell her not to wear a bow—but that only made her more determined to show that she could be fierce and feminine at the same time.
“As I got older,” Finch states, “I started walking in who I am, and seeing that what the world viewed as weird or abnormal, was for me, a gift.” She recognized that “there was power inside of me, and I am built like this for a reason.” Jennie resolved, “I’m going to walk in those strengths—however that looks.”
The development of this kind of empowering narrative is at the heart of building a personal brand for any athlete.
Figuring out who you are as a person. What do you stand for? What are your unique talents and characteristics? And how are you going to use these to show up in the world? All underpin the true power of developing a personal brand.
If you make sure to focus on authenticity, a personal brand can benefit you immensely on a personal, athletic, and economic level.
Looking at how Jennie developed as a person and player—it’s clear that her fierce determination to stay true to her authentic self had a big impact on her success—both on and off the field.
Jennie is very active on social media.
She has huge Facebook (521K), Instagram (520K), and Twitter (166.8K) followings. And states, “It’s so exciting to see how with these platforms, athletes have a way to showcase who they are. Not just as an athlete, but as a person.”
However, Finch warns that players need to be very careful in how they use social media.
“As sad as it is,” she explains, “I know numerous athletes that lost their college scholarships because of one post.”
“Those college coaches are going to want to see who you are outside of the playing field,” states Jennie. “And your social media platforms are the first places they are going to go to.”
In the video, Jennie reminds us that there is a huge upside to utilizing social media, and suggests the following guidelines to stay safe and maximize its benefit:
You won’t notice much self-promotion in Jennie’s posts. She’s almost exclusively focused on using her experience and voice to support, inspire, and assist others. If you do this,you’ll canavoid posting anything inappropriate—and the self-promotion tends to take care of itself.
A core value is something a person holds to be of the utmost importance about themselves and how they operate in the world. Many psychologists believe clarifying personal values is a powerful way to improve mental wellbeing and increase the drive to achieve personal goals.
A value could be to do with a character trait, like honesty, integrity, or hard work. A role, such as a sibling, teammate, or mentor. Or a pursuit that is important to you, including education, fitness, or helping others.
Being clear on your core values is essential to building a personal brand for two reasons:
First, it gives you clarity around where to focus your efforts. For Finch, expressing her femininity and promoting women in sport were two of her core values from early on. This clearly played a role in her achievements as an ambassador for female athletes and the massive success she’s had with brand deals.
Second, knowing your values helps you decide what opportunities to pursue, and which you should decline. In the video, Jennie talks about some lucrative deals that she turned down, including an opportunity to be featured on the cover of a popular Men’s magazine.
Despite recognizing that the deal would have let her spread her message to a wider audience, Jennie couldn’t reconcile the fact that it wasn’t aligned with her core value of being a role model for young women. In the long run, accepting the deal could have potentially hurt her personal brand. And just as important—may have led to personal feelings of unease or regret about her choices.
Jennie Finch’s story is a timely reminder of the true potential a sporting career of any length offers.
Understandably, most athletes aim for a long competitive career. Particularly in the early years, it’s only natural (and sensible) to dedicate most of your energy to developing your skills and playing the game.
But remember, there are a lot of off-field opportunities that come with being an athlete. And the window to take advantage of these won’t stay open forever.
To put yourself in the best position to take full advantage of everything your softball career offers,start developing your personal brand as soon as possible. But make sure to follow Finch’s advice on doing it the right way.
Like Jennie, your priorities might change over time. But by getting clear about your personal values. Carrying yourself with authenticity and integrity. And being careful to use social media positively and responsibly. You will be giving yourself the best possible chance to maximize all the opportunities softball presents.
Remember, this article is just a sneak peek of what Versus has to offer.
To watch the full video on developing your personal brand for softball. Or to improve your game with any number of other sessions from our roster of elite athletes and world-class coaches. Simply select a plan, download the app, and start learning.
If you want to learn more about how to build a better personal brand and personal style like Jennie, and what it takes to have a winning mindset, head over to Versus and check out our Game Plans. Any of our packages will get you access to our lessons, plus tons of other training sessions, interactive content, and more.
Enter your email and get weekly updates to your inbox.