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Softball Performance Tips – 5 Motivational Quotes

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Guest post by Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

While servant leadership is generally thought of as a business concept, there is no question it also can/should apply to coaching fastpitch softball. If you’re not familiar with it, servant leadership is the idea that these leaders achieve results for their organizations by putting the needs of the people they’re in charge of ahead of themselves. You can learn more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servant_leadership

Most softball organizations have a mission statement that reflects this type of attitude. But not all of those actually live it. How many times have you seen or heard about coaches of 10U or 12U teams keeping players on the bench for all but a few innings in a tournament because they’re trying to win? How many times have you seen coaches play favorites with certain girls, even the ones who are not the best players on the team, because they just like them better? Or the girl is BFFs with the coach’s daughter?

There are all kinds of scenarios where the idea of taking care of the players — all the players — becomes secondary to the coach running up a great record, or making sure his daughter is on the All-Star team, or that her favorite player is named all-conference. And that’s just wrong.

As a coach you have a number of jobs outside the obvious ones of hitting ground balls, making up lineup cards and choosing tournaments. One of the biggest is to give your players — all your players — the opportunity to succeed and feel good about themselves.

That doesn’t mean the girls get to play wherever they want. But it does mean if someone’s not cut out to be a shortstop that you make sure they understand why, and feel good about the contribution they are making to the team.

Another way to be a servant leader is to remain open to change throughout the season. A kid who was a slow starter early in the season may come on strong midway through. But if you’ve already written her off and decided she’s not worth the effort, both she and the team lose out — her by not getting the opportunity to play, the team by not taking advantage of her abilities.

Coaches of younger teams especially need to be aware of how they’re leading their teams. Their players don’t have much experience with life yet, so they don’t understand things the way an adult might. And their priorities are different. While they want to win, even more important than that is wanting to play. All the trophies in the world won’t be worth anything in their minds if they had to sit on the bench every Sunday while they were being won.

That really doesn’t change at the older ages either, especially in summer ball. Older kids give up jobs, friends and activities to be a part of a team. As a coach, you have the opportunity to help them feel it’s worthwhile.

If a particular player needs work to get more playing time, tell her you want her to work on this or that, and then offer to help her with it. After all, players don’t magically get better by themselves; someone has to show them how. A servant leader will.

What it comes down to is having the best interests of the players at heart, even if they might conflict with your own desires. What you want shouldn’t be as important as what your players want out of the experience. Because the game is for them.

Take a few moments this week to evaluate yourself as a leader. Are you setting goals you want to achieve? Or are you focused on what the players who are counting on you want? How are you demonstrating that you care about their priorities?

If you do all of that, the victories will come. Because players always play harder when they believe the coach has their back and wants the best for them.

Anyway, that’s the way I see it.

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Comments on Softball Performance Tips – 5 Motivational Quotes »

March 12, 2018

Unknown @ 8:10 pm

Great advice!

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