If you as the coach can participate in softball success with your the athletes in developing the path to success for your team, an environment of of inclusion and a connection to the process will develop. A culture which nurtures common goals will go much further than simply giving directions and saying go.
Participate in the Success
Spending some time with your team in planning the season will create an environment of empowerment and self direction. A team who feels like they are a part of the process will be more committed to that process than a team who simply follows directions from beginning to end.
How often have you allowed your team to participate in designing a practice plan. You could even allow them to design drills as well to get them to design an entire practice plan in groups. Prior to a practice for example, have the team submit drills that they think will help the team to improve. Have them try to design it from scratch just using their knowledge and experience from the game. You will likely be surprised at what you will receive.
Stand by your Principles
We as coaches all come from somewhere. We have been developing and nurturing our values from our beginning of time. It is critical that you develop your philosophy as a coach and convey what is important to you in how the team operates. Often coaches will forego their principles and values to either get a win or get ahead in the game. By standing by our principles we are also acting as a role model to our players who are watching every move we make regardless if it is a good or a bad move.
If your values and principles go against what would be a positive environment in the game then you may want to consider modifications when with the team. I have met coaches who are progressive and athlete centered in games but when they get into competition it’s a different story. Be aware of how you are in different environments.
I have seen many coaches who are more invested in the game and the performance of their team than the athletes they coach. Sport is an emotional activity. We have all had games where they were close and frustration erupts inside us while watching a player lift up on a ball that goes through the wickets in an important game. The way we react to those events is going to determine what the team does when it happens.
If you can align your investment with the investment of your players, you will not only be less frustrated but you will also have a better relationship with your team. A team who can see that their coach cares about how they develop towards their goals individually and as a team will be more responsive and want to work for the team. There is a saying that they do not care until they know you care. This is also referred to as being athlete centered.
long vs short term results
Sometimes it is hard to wait until later for something we want to happen right away. The reason that we set goals for our team is so that we have something to strive towards and setting short term goals will help us to achieve success on those goals. By keeping focused on the short term goals, and by allowing our team to participate in the monitoring and modifying, we can ensure compliance by choice rather than having players simply do as we say.