Through out my career as an athlete, I’ve always disliked the practice of keeping athletes in the dugout between double-header games. A lot of coaches at the collegiate level demand that their athletes stay in the dugout between double-header games; this takes away the opportunity for them to socialize with family members and friends who have come out to support them. The reason behind this practice is to keep the athletes focused between games. This never resonated well with me. It is impossible for any human being to stay focused for two entire games including the lapse in competition between games. It is said that the human mind can only truly focus for around 10 seconds at a time. If this is true, we are constantly going in and out of focus throughout the game. If we are able to do this through out the game, surely we can break focus to eat a snack, visit with our fans, and then regain focus when it’s time to warm up again. That brings up another great point, warm ups. I’ve never watched a team go straight into the second game after a break without warming up. There is always at least 10-15 minutes of warm up before that second game. This is the perfect time to get mentally prepared for game 2.
“Between the White Lines”, a documentary that follows the UCLA team in their 2008 season, head coach Sue Enquist sheds some light on this topic. She says, “It’s not about winning its about the process.” In the clip of the movie she talks about enjoying the process of getting where you are going. A big part of this was including the families in the journey of UCLA. Without the support of the families, the players wouldn’t be where they are today. It was so important to Coach Enquist that the parents and siblings felt like a part of the UCLA team.
Sometimes fans drive hours to see athletes play, and they can’t always stay for both games. I think it is crucial to allow athletes to quickly visit these people between games. I can only see benefits with this practice. The fans feel as if they are apart of the experience and the team. The athletes feel rewarded by having fans who are there to support them. It allows the players to get perspective, this is just a game, they can relax for a moment and enjoy themselves. For those players who aren’t starters, or didn’t play, this is a moment for them to feel appreciated even though they weren’t necessarily apart of the game.
Athletes should be able to return to their optimal arousal level after taking a break. If your athletes can’t, they need to learn proper arousal and relaxation techniques. Let them visit with their family and friends between games, and teach them to mentally prepare themselves during warm ups.
Quote of the day:
“It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about enjoying the process.” -Sue Enquist UCLA Softball