Levels of Softball Investment
Today we are going to talk about the levels of investment and how they affect interactions with players, parents, coaches and officials. How invested are you and how does that affect your relationships and actions in softball? Now let’s talk about that word investment. As a player, what does your involvement in softball mean to you? What are you wanting to achieve or “get” from the game. Friends, a scholarship, to be in shape, maybe you want to play at a very high level such as national, pro or internationally. This can determine how involved you are and can affect your expectations of your team mates. If you are wanting a scholarship, you are probably spending extra time on the field or with private instructors and maybe you even play on more than one team. If you are simply wanting to meet friends, you are going to practices and games regularly and enjoying your experience. This is your investment in the game and your team.
As a coach you need to determine if your softball investment in the game and your team is an investment in the outcome or the players. If your investment is in the outcome of the season, you might get frustrated with your players performance. Your drive might be to get more hits and to make sure your pitcher can shut down any team in order to get to and win the finals. You might shake your head every time there is an error or when a player strikes out. During a game, you might speak to your players in a way that you feel will get them to immediately perform better.
If you are a coach who is invested in the players… you can probably see where I am going with this 🙂 you are interested in the development of each player and the team as a whole. You might be more concerned with the process more than the end result. Of course as a coach invested in the players you want the team to do well at the end of the day. However the path you take to get there is sometimes a little different. There can also be less pressure put on yourself in the performance of the team if you are more invested in the athletes. You are not as worried about winning so if the team is having trouble you focus on helping them to improve their skills rather than focusing more on the play or the ball when they are at bat.
The whole season goes differently if you are coaching a development team and you are a coach who is focused on the players and how to improve their game. Coaching can be a much more enjoyable experience in that case because you are not as tied up or concerned about the win. If you are coaching a college or high school team however it can be different because your job depends on it. Then of course your investment is in the outcome because that’s why you are getting paid. If this is the case though, your recruiting is different as well. You are building a team to win so of course your focus is more on the outcome.
The imbalance comes when the team you are coaching doesn’t match your investment. If your investment is in winning and your team is a novice or developing team that’s still working on refining their fundamentals, you’re going to experience some frustration and maybe even banging your head on the wall trying to figure out what to do to make this team perform. If you find yourself doing that then it might be time to reassess your goals in coaching the team. If you can adjust your expectations and let go of the need to win, your experience and more importantly the experience of your team will increase and your team will develop their skills and abilities without being under pressure.
By knowing what your investment is and how it aligns with the team you are coaching, you can by design develop a program that will benefit your team while keeping the players and parents on track to achieve the desired outcome which is to either develop, win on the scoreboard or even both. I actually believe that even if your investment and goal with the team is to win, and if you focus on development (the process) then you will still achieve success by improving skills.
By having an understanding of how your level of investment effects your experience with softball, you can also help parents to understand theirs. You know the parents who are very invested in the outcome of their daughter’s participation with the team by the way they interact during games or training. The parents who are yelling at their daughter regularly during games and who are questioning your decisions as a coach or the playing time of their child are looking for something specific by registering their daughter on your team. By discussing this concept during your meeting with parents and even with your athletes, you can help to divert some of the tensions and help your players to understand some of the dynamics that occur as well.
Educate your players, your parents and your coaching staff about this word investment and you will likely find your next season to be even more enjoyable so you have a better chance of everyone being on the same path for the same reasons. Your job as a coach will become easier and your players know what to expect as their season unfolds. At the same time the parents of the players on your team will know what you are talking about when you ask them if they are upset because they want their daughter to be at shortstop or because they want them to be the best they can be.