Not Every Mistake Needs a Response

We all want the kids we coach to be the best they can be. We all want our kids to thrive and play great, every single day. We all have the best of intentions but whether it is a coach or a player, our good intention are not always leading to the outcome we really want.

We need to help our kids learn how to make decisions, in real time, in the flow of the game.

Too many of us think we are playing a video game and the players actions are the results of how me handle the controller. We want to believe that we want help our players play better by manipulating the “joystick” of their performance.

How does this manifest itself?

Constantly yelling instruction. Repeatedly offering corrections. Analyzing each aspect of the performance and trying to give instant feedback which will, of course, lead to a better performance, right?

Well not really!

I see it all the time. A player makes an error or swings and misses or messes up on the bases and their first and only instinct is to immediately look to their parents or coach for feedback. And, unfortunately, the parent or coach is right there to offer the feedback the player is now conditioned to expect. Just like Pavlov’s Dog, a bell rings and they react without any thought at all.

What I almost never see is a player making a mistake and then processing the mistake and options for correction. What I almost never see is a player making a mistake, taking a deep breath, and moving on.

So many kids are so conditioned to get the immediate feedback that they are totally removed from the process. They have become the image on the screen and the coach or parent is making the moves just like they would if they were playing a video game. And in the worst case scenario, they often have dueling coaches battling over who gets to give them the feedback first.

The solution is simple but difficult to implement. Coaching and parenting often requires the patience to allow the player to make a mistake and then sort if out on their own. This is where real learning takes place.

We talk about expensive experience and inexpensive experience. Inexpensive is what we are hoping to accomplish by giving the player all the answers. We know what they should do, we tell them what to do, they attempt to do it and when successful we feel like we coached them up! Expensive experience is when we make a mistake, deal with the consequences, come up with a a solution and try again.

If we want our players to be able to make quick decisions, in the flow of the game, we need to allow them to learn things the hard way so they really learn. If they know something they can use it again in the future. If they are trying to remember what someone told them, they will always appear hesitant.

We all know what we really want!