It's Monday morning, Halloween, and I am as per usual a little slow after coaching three games yesterday accompanied by the two hours in the car to and from the games and 85 degree heat.
I enjoy my Mondays after games because it allows me to reflect on what I saw and heard the day(s) before. I am still a student of the game and enjoy watching the games as much as I do coaching them.
Yesterday I helped coach my travel organization's 12u team. I had been told by their head coach that they were an inconsistent bunch (like most 12 year old teams) that had beaten themselves repeatedly. To everyone's amazement the team I saw play was outstanding! They played stellar defense, hit the ball well, played with confidence and really seemed to be having fun. If not for a pitching meltdown in the last inning of our second game we'd have come away with three convincing victories for the day.
In my book, How She Thinks is How She Plays, I write about how critical a player's attitude is her performance. If a player or team (or coach or parents) carries a "can do" attitude onto the field amazing things can happen. Conversely if a player or team is stuck on a "can't do" attitude the results will be predictably poor. Positive energy is contagious and it absolutely can shift momentum in a game or on a team from game to game as I saw yesterday.
The greatest reward for any coach is getting his or her players to play to their potential and have great fun doing it. How is this accomplished? Young athletes inherently enjoy playing the game and having fun. After all, they are kids! However, adults can bring this natural enthusiasm and joy down with:
1. Engaging in unrealistic expectations
2. Excessive negative comments or body language
3. Expecting the same level of play going forward (no optimism for better)
4. Exhibiting frustration
5. Playing the game to win only
6. Being results focused versus effort focused
7. Micro-managing or judging every at bat or play
Now the head coach of the team I coached with yesterday does a great job with her girls and, no doubt, her patience has been tested with this team. However, perhaps the dynamic changed a bit with the old coach joining her and pumping a little different energy into the mix. Always glad to lend a little Winner's Edge karma to the cause!
As I say all too often if the adults can frame the game as a perpetual learning opportunity the inevitable adversities the game of fastpitch softball throws at your athlete will be much easier to overcome. Remember...kids are naturally joyous. If parents and coaches can harness that natural enthusiasm and keep that attitude in "can do" mode there is no limit to how good your athlete and her team can be!
If you are truly serious about your athlete becoming the very best she can be do yourself a favor and read my book. For less than the cost of a 30 minute hitting lesson you can give her the tools to become the consistent peak performer top coaches want on their team. Plus I have some really funny stories in there too!
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