The Coach

Helping Parents Coach, Coaches Coach and Players Play

confused 1It’s the crazy time of year in the world of travel softball.  As a coach I receive numerous emails, texts and phone calls daily concerning tryouts for the coming year.  Every year that begins earlier and earlier.  “How many spots do you have open?”  “Are you looking for a shortstop?”  “What’s your tourney schedule looking like?”  “My daughter is an all-conference superstar in high school; just wanted to let you know that before tryouts.”  “Can my daughter get a private tryout?”  

That last question is probably the most popular.  I get it.  Most travel clubs conduct their tryouts during the same dates and often times, so it’s difficult or impossible to make them all.  I had a relatively easy time as a parent with my youngest daughter with tryouts.  But for my middle daughter, it was more stressful.  We want what’s best for our baby girls, so I remind myself each year of the anxiety parents and players are experiencing.

Read more: Crazy Time of Year:  Travel Softball Tryouts

When asked about the success of his coaching career, John Wooden replied, “I won’t know for 20 years whether I did a good job or not.” He defined success not in the moment, the last win or another championship, but in the lives his former players would go on to lead. Should they be good fathers, brothers, sons, husbands, role models, coaches, businessmen, members of their community, etc., only then he would know he had been a successful coach.

I’m not a basketball guy, but really enjoyed his book, Wooden: A Lifetime of Reflections On and Off the Court. It’s a great source of inspiration and insight for coaches of any sport and level of experience. I read it somewhere in the middle of my (on and off) coaching career. While there are numerous quotes from the book, it is that one above that has impacted me the most. The goal of this post is to help coaches be the best that they can be.

Coaching at Indy Tourney - photo by Andy Vandenberg

Read more: Why Are You Coaching?

Have you ever seen a player make an error, mental mistake or strike out?  Well of course you have.  And how often have you seen player’s entire body language change after doing so?  You know….they hang their head and look as if they’re about to cry.  I’m sure you’ve seen that too.  They’re having a Pity Party.

I first heard this expression from one of my daughter’s travel coaches (John W.) and it has stuck with me since.  As a parent I was fortunate not to suffer through any of my daughters behaving this way.  But as a coach I’ve seen it repeatedly over the years.  The million dollar question is how do you stop players from having one?

Read more: The Pity Party

Negative news sells.  Hence the expression, “If it bleeds, it leads.”  Stories of outrageous behavior grab and hold our attention.  We’ve been classically conditioned all of our lives to react this way.  Visit any of the major news websites at any point in time and read the top 5 headlines.  99% of it is nothing but the bad and the ugly.  Well, this article is about the good.

2015 stix moms

Read more: Our Team’s Parents Are Awesome!

Coach GregI have really been looking forward to writing this post.  Maybe my last article, Surviving One of those Softball Seasons, tipped you off?  While I won't go into the details of my survival as a coach of the 2015 varsity softball season, I just want to see if each of you might make similar decisions that we made as coaches.  How?  First, I'll provide you with the team's stats from the first half of the season and ask you to make a lineup.  Then, I'll show you some lineups we actually used through that point of the season.  Second, I'll give you the final stats for the team and again ask you to make another lineup.  Then, I'll show you a couple more lineups we actually used.

I won't use any of the players names.  They'll be listed as Player A, Player B, Player C, etc. along with their stats.  I'll provide you with a few extra details such as positioning, injuries, potential substitution issues and other things you must be aware of when making lineups.  So....Are you ready to give it a shot? 

The picture on right is me during a game talking with the head coach, which was likely a conversation that went like this: "Ok.  Player X is 0-2...swung at 2 balls in the dirt & 1 over her head, then took called 3rd strike right down the's the 6th inning...let's give player Z a shot to pinch hit." These are situations I've literally seen members of the peanut gallery flip out over after seeing what substitution we made.

Read more: You Make the Lineup!  My Challenge to You!