In order to get the most out of your athletes, you must care about who they are as people first. It’s a very simple rule, but it’s easy to get caught up in competition and forget it. I had the same coach from the age of 10 to the age of 18. I owe most of my success, and skill level to him. However, the thing I remember the most, is that he cared. He supported me and believed me, not only as an athlete, but also as a person. I wanted to work hard for my coach because I knew how much he believed in me. I didn’t want to let him down.
Creating a caring relationship also makes criticism easier to handle. I knew that when he was criticizing my game, he still enjoyed me as a person. This is a hard concept for younger players to grasp. Most youth players take criticism personally and think their coach doesn’t like them if they correct them often. This personal relationship helps them to distinguish the difference between criticism and dislike.
Although I’m terrible with names and faces, I make a prominent effort to remember my players as quickly as I can. I also like my players to fill out an “About Me” form. It’s a basic questionnaire with details on their favorite things, goals in life, past softball experiences, and unique things about them. Not only does this help my players to feel more comfortable around me, but it also helps me put names to faces.
The better they feel, the better they will play. You as a coach play a huge role as to how they feel as people. It gives athletes great confidence and self-esteem when they are certain their coach appreciates them as a human being. They’ll come to you for more than just softball, down the road they will probably seek advice on life choices from you. I know my coach is someone I still turn to, and I haven’t played for him in almost 6 years. Strive to make a difference in not only their softball skills, but in their life skills.
Quote of the day:
“They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”