Since I coach baseball, football, and basketball, youth sports has been a year-round thing for the past few years. Right now I am on a break and with time to reflect, I’d like to share what I’ve learned from coaching that could help you, too.
Think Long-Term. Last football season we were undefeated and many games we could have potentially won 40-0. Instead, as a coach I emptied the bench, called conservative plays, and even had the kids take a knee at the opposition’s goal line instead of scoring. Teaching good sportsmanship was part of it. The other part was we will likely face these same coaches again next year and there is no need to make an enemy by running up the score. Don’t step on others to get ahead and don’t burn any bridges in business, either.
Know What You Don’t Know. This year we won the championship because I was smart enough to let my coaches coach. I teamed up with a former minor league manager and although I ran the team, I listened and learned as he instructed the players. Instead of being intimidated by the experience and expertise of another coach, I embraced it. To the coach’s credit, he was respectful of me as the manager and would make in-game suggestions (which I listened to) that made me look like a genius. Find someone better than you at what you do and be willing to look and feel inferior in order to learn and grow.
Focus on the Positive. I find it’s better to point out when a player does something right and give them a compliment as something to strive for instead of always telling them what they did wrong. “I like the way you fouled off those tough pitches, kid.” (Even if the player eventually struck out.) And, “You’re a good two-strike hitter. I know that next time you’ll get a hit.” I also like to say to a player what I want instead of what I don’t want. For example, I will say, “Throw strikes,” instead of, “Don’t walk this bottom-of-the-order hitter.”