Lost a few games? Lost ALL of your games? Wish you had a couple of ‘gun’ players on your team? Even just one player who could lead the rest? Hearing rumblings from parents about your inadequacies? Treating your own child tougher or softer than the other players to the point you don’t even know how to treat your own child? Blaming this and that for your losses?
You train, inspire, guide, and still, everything you think they nailed at training all comes undone and goes out the window when they are on the field.
It’s tough being a coach—really tough.
You want to win; we all want to win. We say we believe in players’ development over everything else, but development at what cost? It’s hard proclaiming development when things seem out of control and the big fat ‘L’ looms over a humble ‘W’.
I know you understand this: whether you are winning or losing, there will always be someone who is not happy.
Most of us want others to be happy with our performance and the way we are treating everyone. It’s alright to want to be liked. It’s human; it’s natural. Don’t believe those who boldly proclaim that they don’t care what people think of them…they do!
In the end, coach, you make the difference!
It’s easy to be frustrated; it’s easy to lose patience. It’s easy to throw your hands in the air; it’s easy to want to someone else to take over. It’s easy to lose vision for individuals; it’s easy to only concentrate on a few. It’s easy to show up disorganized and wing the training session. It’s easy to play the kids in the same positions. It’s easy giving up in your heart. It’s easy to say, ‘forget the parents’.
It’s also easy to be oblivious to what’s written on the wall when you have a win or two under your belt. But to your credit, you know it’s not about the wins and losses. It’s easy to forget the vision and passion you had for yourself and the team before the season started.
That same vision and passion you had for yourself is the first reason you are the difference.
You took on this awesome responsibility. You knew there would be curveballs, fastballs, knuckle sandwiches...I mean knuckle balls...and sliders thrown at you. You decided to step up for the first, second or the hundredth time.
It’s commendable you stepped up to coach. You probably didn’t have to fight for the position because there may not have been any other takers. It’s even more commendable if you don’t have a child on the team you are coaching. Whatever the circumstances, you decided to give of yourself and put yourself out there, to inspire and help others. No one can take that away from you.
And now everyone is looking to you. You are the coach, the leader, THE ONE who will make a difference!
Remind yourself of why you took on this role in the first place. You’re doing it; you may as well smile and say to yourself, ‘I love it’. You may as well look at the challenges you have faced and ask yourself: what have I learned? Firstly, about yourself; secondly, about how you could have handled a situation better; and thirdly, what are you going to do about it in the future.
No matter what happens during your game, you can tap into your past experiences and what you've learned in past training/seasons. It starts with you being in control of yourself and having a plan written out for the team--don’t do it while you’re on the diamond.
There are coaches who say very little or nothing from the dugout. There are coaches who say too much and take most calls against their team personally. Be neither--be the difference. Talk up your players. Find something to encourage them about. They need you. Some of you are thinking, but that’s not me. It has to be you because the kids, whatever their age, need you.
They need your inspiring voice. They need your instruction. They need you when an error is made--not to make the obvious frustrated gasp and criticism, but for you to help switch the player’s mindset back to positivity.
They need you because you make the difference, coach!
When you’ve looked at yourself first, and then looked at your team on the field, make that call to someone and get help where you need it; whether it be someone looking after the players in the dugout, how to organize the team on the field, or to specific skills needed where you lack the ability to instruct. It’s humbling asking for help; it’s easy not to. But we’ve already talked about not taking the easy route.
Coach, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it one more time. You Make The Difference!
Read more in Part 2 of this series: Coaching Yourself First
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