Effort Over Outcome...They Listened!

The summer of 2009 was a magical season for a 12u fastpitch team I coached. My team accomplished a level of success that our organization had never known before, finishing 1st or 2nd place in seven of ten tournaments we played, plus a 3rd place finish in the State Tournament and 7th place in ASA Nationals. These results are easy to be impressed with and in a culture where performance and results are "king" we had an epic season.

The real secret behind my team's success was planted much earlier in the story...on the very first day of practice. I decided to implement a new coaching philosophy that I had been working on for a few years. I knew I had an excellent core of players that, like so many other teams from our organization in previous seasons, had never achieved their true softball potential. I truly believed we had the makings of a very special team on that first day we assembled.

So what was so different about my new coaching philosophy? Historically I, and most coaches I am afraid, was focused on results. Game scores and a "W" or "L" were all that really mattered to me. It was as if my team's results defined me as a coach and a person. After many years of this type of thinking I came to the realization that the pressure and expectations of results only thinking was actually hurting my team and all the players on it.

Instead I began to implement a new coaching philosophy that focused solely on my team's effort and not the outcome or results. It was unfamiliar territory for both my players and myself, but it felt right. I told my team that we would not focus on the score of the game nor the results of the game (including focusing on any errors or poor at bats), but rather would focus only on two things: 100% effort and 100% mental focus; both of which my players had 100% control over.

I believed that if my players concentrated on those two things the results we all so desperately desired, and too often fell short of in past seasons, would magically happen...and boy did they! We had numerous come from behind wins, continually got off to early leads and had a lot of fun playing together. Even the parents and coaches got along like one big happy family!

My team was not saddled with burdensome expectations and results driven thinking and they played that way. We quickly moved to 11-1, then 21-3 early in the season. My team played relaxed with poise, confidence and joy. The new coaching formula clearly was working. The girls were becoming consistent peak performers because they were focusing on the task at hand, each inning and each batter. The mold was cast and the rest of our season was a very cool experience for everyone.

The secret was simple, although it took years of doing it the wrong way before I figured out the right way! My athletes played as champions, with passion and joy. More importantly we created great memories that will last a lifetime!

Learn more about how mental skills mastery will have the recruiters knocking down your door at Winner's Edge Softball.

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