They Are Listening

We all have to be aware of one very simple fact: Whether you are a coach or parent or both, the kids are listening to what you are saying.

We need to be a lot more careful about what we’re saying. Now I don’t mean cussing or cursing but more about the way we talk to our players.

One thing that has become very clear to me over the years is that the way we talk to our kids/players will be seen in how they talk to each other or how they think about themselves. They are listening to not only what we say, but also how we say it. The words we choose are impactful, but so is the way that those words are delivered.

Every time I go to the ball park I hear some combination of these statements: “What the hell was that?!” or “Get your head out of your ass!” or “That was terrible!” or “That sucked!” or you can fill in the blank. Now, I know we are caught up in the heat of the moment when we make these types of statements, but the reality is that the players who hear them are often just as or more emotional than we are.

How do you think a kids feels when they already know they messed up to hear any of the above ballpark classics?

And the list of classics mentioned above doesn’t even include the other classics usually saved for the car ride home. Some of these classics include: “You’re wasting our time playing that way!” or “You’re wasting our money playing that way!” or “How can you embarrass me that way?” or “You can kiss college goodbye playing that way!” or you can fill in the blank. Again, I know these are emotional things we say out of frustration but again the damage is done.

Your player already knows they messed up. They probably feel a lot worse about it than you ever will. Piling on, after the fact, just keeps the negativity snowball rolling downhill. I know we often think we are toughening our kids up, but in reality we are tearing them down.

We need to change the interaction and their expectation.

No matter how badly you want to “coach them up” after a failure, try to remember that it really is a game and that the kids need our support when they make a mistake. The more we pile on, the less they learn and the more they push back. What happens when you get attacked? You either fight or flee.

We want to think that they will fight but we all know better.