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A Message to Coaches - Don't Lose Sight of What We're Here For

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If coaching simply required deciding who plays what position and what pitches and plays to call, it would be the best job in the world. In real life, that often isn't the case. As coaches, we have a lot of things to keep balanced, from dealing with players and parents with bad attitudes to doing what is best for the team and making the right decisions. Through it all, we have to remember what we are here for.

Coaches are expected to be on their A-game at all times. We are role models and need to act as mentors to the kids we coach. The lessons our teams learn from us can and often will be lessons they carry with them for the rest of their lives. Are they going to learn that it's OK to blow up and scream and yell every time something doesn't go your way? Or are they going to learn good sportsmanship and how to handle adversity with poise?

It's important to take a step back and look at what you're really trying to accomplish. What you're trying to accomplish may vary dependent upon  the level of softball you're coaching but, in the end, the team you coach should be having fun and learning how to play softball. A lot of coaches, especially tournament coaches, take fun out of the equation. They push so hard that they turn the girls off and then wonder why their team doesn't live up to its potential.

Constantly screaming and yelling does nothing but make players and parents resent you. We've all yell stuff out to the team during a game from time to time. This isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the coaches who scream and yell constantly. I've seen tournament coaches who yell at their teams after they win because they made mistakes during the game. These same teams are often left wondering why they have a tough time keeping talented kids in the organization.

I recently saw something that really bothered me. I was watching a younger tournament team prepare for a game and was standing close enough to hear the coaches talking. The team was standing next to the coaches as they talked about how good the team they were about to play was. The coaches went on to complain about how bad their team was and how they were going to get killed. They weren't talking directly to the girls but the girls were close enough to hear what was said. You could see the team deflate right there on the spot. I don't think the coaches did this maliciously, but the damage was done. What sort of message are does it send to a team when even the coaches don't have confidence in them?

I'm convinced that teaching a team to be winners is 75% mental. If you convince your team they can win, they will often go out there and play like winners. If they are convinced they are going to lose, errors are meaningless to them and they will play like losers. No matter what we think in private, the other coaches and I always build our team up before a game and give them the best chance we can at winning.

It's simple...If you want to win, treat your team like a winning team. The wins will come. If you want your team to lose, treat them like a losing team. Just don't be surprised when they live up to your expectations. And remember...win or lose, we're here to make this a positive experience for every girl on the team.

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