We all get into coaching because we want to help kids play the game the right way. We hope that we can instill in them the skills and passion to thrive in the game. We also hope to build in them the life skills that will allow them to be great at whatever they choose to do throughout their lives. The influence that a coach has on the formative years of all the players we interact with is huge and thus we need to be sure we do a good job.
There are many mistakes that a coach can make and they range from getting a runner thrown out a home plate to teaching a player that cheating is OK as long as we win. The level of the mistakes we make can create either a short-term or long-term impression on the player involved. Since I think most of us got into coaching with good intentions, let’s make sure we avoid this list of mistakes.
- Valuing winning over relationships. Your players will soon forget whether they won or lost but they will long remember the relationship you built with them. You can’t come in with a long list of rules and discipline without taking the time to get to know the players and their situations. We have to be willing to meet them where they are rather than expecting them to all conform to us. It takes time but usually leads to more winning too!
- Modeling bad behavior. No where in the real world are we allowed to scream and yell at the people we work with. Many of us are used to this type of coaching because we were coached this way but the reality is that just because we are used to something doesn’t make it right. Yelling at an umpire, arguing with an opposing coach, talking badly about an opponent are all examples of modeling poor behavior. Try empathy and kindness and things will work out better.
- Pushing off responsibility. If you are blaming the players, parents, other coaches or umpires you are the real problem. You are the coach, take ownership of the team and start fixing whatever problems you perceive to be present. You have the power to solve the problems. Use it!
- Believing you must be perfect. It’s OK to make a mistake. It’s OK to be wrong. It’s OK to admit it. Mike Candrea stood in front of the NFCA Convention and admitted that what he had been teaching his hitters for years was wrong. That’s Olympic gold medalist and multi-time national champion Mike Candrea admitting he was wrong. You can too!
- You don’t create leaders. Empower your players! Too many of us want to lead with an iron fist that inhibits the ability of our players to lead. We need to help them lead, give them responsibilities and model good leadership for them. They are going to make mistakes, but so are we. Learning leadership will lead to more success.
If all coaches can start with this list, I think we are on the right track. There will be many challenges as we travel the road of coaching. Keep learning. Keep growing. Listen to the players on your team. Admit you don’t know it all and you will be headed for a great experience. More importantly, so will your players!