So often, coaches say something but do something else. Or they make a plan with the team to make big improvements and then some of the ideas fall away due to time constraints or lack of resources. The way that this unfolds will demonstrate softball improvement through your commitment to the process as you present it. For this reason it is better to under-promise and over-deliver rather than over-promise and under-deliver as they say.
Ways to Demonstrate Softball Improvement
There are many ways for you as a coach to demonstrate your desire to improve as a coach and to improve your athlete’s abilities on and off the field.
Build Your Coaching Philosophy
One of the first things you want to do to demonstrate your values and how important they are to you, is to build your coaching philosophy. This might be done by considering the reasons you chose to begin coaching. What is it about being a coach that drew you to this awesome leadership path.
You might use the following characteristics in developing your coaching philosophy:
- your values
- your sport belief system
- your ethics
- your experience as a coach in other sports
- your experience as an athlete
- your reasons for coaching
One of the most frustrating things for athletes is a lack of consistency in the coaching and the softball program. When rules and regulations are established it is critical that they are adhered to and that you follow through on the established consequences when they are broken regardless of who has broken them. This might be a reason also to add qualifications to the rules depending on specific situations that can arise such as family, school and other sports. Sometimes the most frustrating thing to see as an athlete is when the coach tells their players that there will be specific rules and consequences for those rules and then later some need to follow them and some do not.
Another common inconsistency is in game play. When you have set plays during practices and then change them during games athletes are confused and sometimes frustrated as they can not figure out what you want. Sometimes coaches change plays and who makes the plays depending on if you are winning or losing. The team needs to know what the various changes could be and why.
Often our expectations are based on what we would like to see at the end of a competition. During practices we might say “it’s OK if we make a mistake” and then when you get to the game you might say “we need to win” Or you may do things to indicate that you want to win more than what you indicated during practices. This will affect the way that you interact with the athletes during competition and they will pick up on it. Your players need to know that your expectations are in line with their abilities and that you will not be disappointed if they do not exceed their abilities.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
How often have you found yourself getting angry because something did not work the way you thought it should. What is the small stuff in softball? Could it be a call by the official, a miss by a player or is it that someone said something to a player on your team that was inappropriate. What is going to have the biggest impact. It is easy to get upset if the game is close and an error is made or a bad call occurs. By putting the moment in perspective, it might be easier to not sweat the small stuff. Look for successes.
How easy is it for your athletes to get in touch with you? No, really, get in touch with you as in talk to you about things like playing time, skill development and their participation on the team. Accessibility is not just about a phone number or a meeting with the team. It is about real contact. When they do get in touch with you how easy is it for them to talk to you about things that maybe you do not agree with or their playing time or skill levels. It is important for your players to feel that they will not be turned away or disregarded in any discussion. This will enable them to also not sweat the small stuff and to take control of their own development.
I promise. If you are having fun, your athletes are having fun. You will find that your athletes will follow your lead on their conduct and what they do during practices and games. Our goal as coaches is to, or should be, to create an environment of excitement and love for the sport. It is very easy to see in any sport arena who is having fun and who is not enjoying their experience. This environment will also create a more productive environment of learning and a desire to improve. Without pressures of performance expectations that are too high.
Always Move Forward
An error is a mistake, or something that happened that you did not anticipate. Spend time talking with others about how great your athletes are and you will see it yourself. Often coaches spend their time talking about the shortcomings or how the athletes need to be more focused or spend more time on skill development rather than on how much work they have been doing to improve. The more we talk about the errors out athletes are making, the more they will happen. By spending time on how we are going to help our team to improve in their weaknesses the more we are going to be moving forward.
Coach from the heart
Most of us started coaching softball because we wanted to. Many have children in the game or were players before becoming a coach. There are some as well who are coaching because there was no one else to do it and the equipment was dropped at their door. No matter why we started, we have to keep in mind who we are given the charge of. Children, or minors who depend on us to keep them safe and ensure that they learn and have fun at this awesome game so that they are playing as adults in their rec league or slo pitch. If we can make their experience enjoyable and successful based on their goals, we have done our job as coaches.