Softball Coach Distractions

Power of Coaching Softball, softball coaching

Softball coach distractions can have the same negative effect on a softball game as athlete distractions.   It is not something that most coaches consider when preparing for competition or during the game.

Softball Coach Distractions

Critical distractions during training and important competitions

Many factors can represent a source of distraction and can affect your overall performance as a coach, both in training and in competition.

  • coaches preparedness
  • athletes preparedness

Scouting information

As coaches we spend almost as much time scouting our opponents as we do analyzing our own teams, and sometimes even more.  We have software programs on our phones and computers, radar guns, score books, our observation skills and even video for analysis in putting together files on our opponents.  If you (the coach) have not taken opportunities to gather this data, you may not feel ready and confident when the major competition arrives which can be a distraction for you and for your team that cannot prepare as effectively as they might have been able to.

Put the information together logically so that all members of the team can read it with ease and keep it up to date so that prior to games it can be reviewed.  By the end of the season you can have a binder or book on each team that can be used as a preparation tool technically and psychologically.  I have done that with teams and at the end of the season had coaches and officials be amazed at how we performed using the data compiled through the season.  It was awesome!

Preparing the athletes

If you have been preparing  from the beginning of the season, you have been preparing your athletes physically, mentally and technically.  This starts with your yearly training plan, where you schedule your training, competition and events from the first training session, to the last regular season game and tapering for the playoffs.

If your athletes have been given the tools with good direction, their progress has been facilitated in a way that they should be ready.  If you have done that still you feel they are not prepared, you need to consider that in your preparedness as a coach.  What do you do with that?  First you need to accept the situation and then work with it.  It will determine how you set your line-ups and could perhaps make your planning more difficult as you will need to not only prepare for success, but you will also need to maintain a positive atmosphere with the team.

Preparation Strategies

There are many different strategies you can develop and implement as a coach to deal with these factors and to maximize their impact, both before and during training and competition. Following are some of those strategies, as well as how and when you might manage the situation.

Athlete Motivation

If your athletes are motivated your job is so much easier than if they are not.  A motivated athlete might also be self directed and will work as hard as they can to improve their skills in all areas of the game.  This athlete is also generally more coachable and might have a good level of respect for

  • environment
  • equipment flaws
  • team standings
  • tardiness by athletes
  • athlete injuries
  • weather
  • facilities
  • officials
  • fatigue
  • spectators
  • access to athletes
  • athlete fatigue
  • parents
  • athlete preparedness
  • phone calls
  • opponents
  • observers
  • media
  • public
  • travel
  • promotional and social events
  • Importance of the event
  • stress

Before a training session

  • Weather
    • Dress appropriately before you leave and ensure that you have discussed with your athletes how to prepare for the weather such as sun screen if it is hot and to dress in layers if it is cold because during training they may get warm and need to cool off without getting cold.
  • Be prepared for practice
    • Record the practice plan on computer and print before you leave, make sure that you have a back up plan for your practice and extra drills in your book in case you are finished early.  Be prepared to drop a drill if you are running out of time and check all equipment and the facilities so there are no delays or unnecessary surprises.
  • Access to athletes
    • Setup email / phone team list at the first meeting.  Make sure you have access to them before practices so that if you are missing anyone you can check and they can contact you if they need to.  Be sure to follow privacy regulations in collecting team information.
  • Parents boundaries
    • There is nothing more distracting as a coach than a parent or someone who is upset coming at you just prior to the beginning of a game.  Set guidelines for supporters at your first meeting so that there are no interruptions that will distract you from your goals and task at hand during practices and training.

During a training session

  • Motivation
    • Monitor your athletes during training to plan your breaks.  Allow the team to re-focus when needed to make sure you get the most out of your drills.  Fatigue will slow things down and take away from the excitement of the drills.  Plan drills that are challenging yet not too difficult so that they do not get bored or discouraged.
  • Tardiness by athletes
    • Planning the schedule in advance gives the athletes time to arrange their schedules to fit the training sessions.  Establishing guidelines for tardiness at the beginning of the season will make it easy to respond to latecomers because they will know what to expect.  If you set up a procedure that is not distracting such as having late comers warm up on their own and wait until the drill is complete to join in then you can minimize that distraction.
  • Fatigue
    • A tired team or individual is not going to be able to attack the drills with enthusiasm at the beginning of the practice and by the end of the practice they will not even be interested.  By ensuring that athletes are getting adequate rest and recovery post/pre training, they will be eager to participate in challenging and fast paced practices.  Nutrition is also a huge part of recovery contributing greatly to the energy level of your players.
  • Facilities knowledge and awareness
    • Knowing your facility and doing a pre training check will prevent injuries and allow you to make adjustments if needed during your training session. Look for anything unusual and make a note of it while you are inspecting the grounds.
  • Being approached by parents or supporters
    • As with prior to training, it is best if parents and supporters refrain from approaching you to discuss anything.  Again this would be established at the first team meeting so hopefully  there is no need for reminders.
  • Cell phones
    • Another huge distraction which most times is very easy to deal with is cell phones.  It is best of course to not have them on the field.  Simple.

Before a major competition

  • Adequate preparedness
    • Being prepared for the big game is done before the competition arrives.  Detailed planning which begins with the end of previous season will give you the information required to build on the teams strengths and to build confidence that will make them successful.
  • Team standings
    • The standings can be a distraction if you are not aware of them through the season.  In some levels the regular season standings do not determine if you make the playoffs for the province or state but in some levels it does make a difference.  You need to know this and use it to prepare your team to know its place and to continue to focus on the process right through rather than the outcome.
  • Media familiarization
    • Will there be media at the event?  Will you or your players from your team potentially be interviewed by the media?  You need to prepare.  Practice or rehearse interviews using students from your school newspaper.  Use all of the equipment that you expect to see at the venue.  This will do wonders to alleviate distraction for the athletes and you.
  • Travel
    • Will you be travelling to the competition.  Prepare well in advance for this. What do you need to take with you.  What will the facility have and not have that you need to prepare your team.
      • Is there an equipment room for you to access?
      • Will you need to worry about accommodations?
      • What can you bring with you?
      • What do your athletes need to bring with them?
      • Do they have an Emergency Action Plan?
      • What about any medical conditions you might need to know about?
    • If you can, travel to the playoff facility with your team for a tournament or weekend to get familiarized with the environment before the competition
  • Promotional and social events
    • Will there be events put on for the athletes during the tournament.  When and where will they be?  How close to the competition times will they be?  Set your guidelines early so that they can enjoy the moment yet be prepared to compete.  Discuss them with the team so that everyone understands and feels good about them.
  • Importance of the event

During major competitions

  • Environment – Know what is in our control
  • athlete injuries – follow PET recommendations
  • weather – be prepared for anything
  • officials – know the rules
  • spectators – distraction control strategies
  • athlete fatigue
  • opponents – use your scouting reports
  • stress

By being prepared you can enjoy the competition or training session without distractions that you have control over.  Of course there is always potential for things to happen with the team or parents, officials and everyone else at the ball park or training facility.  The key is preparation.