Whether it's a nice play on defense, a big hit or game well pitched parents and players are hopeful the coach who came to watch the game saw it. The coach could be the high school, travel or college coach. It is most likely that the coach did see those moments of the game, which are obviously important.
However, there are numerous little things that the coach certainly saw as well. And it cannot be over-emphasized that those little things are what separate two players of equal physical abilities! It gives one player the edge over the other. It can be the difference between making a team, earning a starting position or receiving a college scholarship offer.
The parents, yes the parents, are also something the coach sees.
Here are only a few of those little things:
- How does she get along with and support her teammates?
- Did she hustle down to first base when she hit a ground ball right back to the pitcher?
- Did she put her head down and walk back to the dugout after striking out?
- How did she respond to making a mistake?
- Was she mentally focused on the game?
- Did she study the new pitcher who just entered the game?
- Does she look like she loves the game and is having fun?
Looking Good Failing
Another important part to understand is that the coach wants to see all of these little things over time. Most any player can look good when they're having a big game, but not so easy when the opposite is true. I heard something as a parent years ago and now see it as a coach: A coach can watch a player strike out and be thrilled. Say what? If the player made good decisions with plate discipline and/or took mechanically sound swings, the coach sees potential, not failure. After all, failure is a big part of the game, which is exactly why they want to see how players respond after doing so.
As the late great John Wooden put it, "Don't get too high when you win, nor too low when you lose." His philosophy also included that, "A player can only aspire to be the best that they can be and should never try to be better than anybody else, for that may not be possible." He believed that winning was more than if the team won the game. It was whether the team (and players) played to the best of their abilities and gave 100%, as a team can win without playing their best. This all relates to the player's attitude, effort and focus, which are the three things they can control. That's what a coach is always looking for.
The Unspoken Factor: Parents
There is another undeniable factor that comes into play as well. The parents, yes the parents, are also something the coach sees. I have written extensively about, How to be the Best Parent, which can be found in multiple articles including the Levels of the Game series of The Big Blog section.
Your daughter may be having a pretty good game, but you are pacing frantically and shouting out instructions to her every 5 minutes. This would not leave a good impression with anybody including the team's parents, let alone a coach. A coach wants a group of girls who work together as a team, hustles and is coachable. He is absolutely not interested in having to manage parents. This is of course the exception as most parents are even keeled and provide positive support for their daughter and her team.
Some coaches will have zero contact and/or will not entertain any discussion of the game or the players with parents. Others including myself encourage interaction between parents and themselves, so long as boundaries are set and time is limited as to not take away from the team being coached. I believe adults ought to be able to share intelligent conversations with one another about the game and players.
A Matter of Preference
Much depends also upon the individual coach. They all have their pet peeves and look for certain characteristics more than others. Regardless, the bottom line is that while they love to see great physical play and the demonstration of skills, they also want to see all of the little things that defines the type of player they can and want to coach.