Coaching Psychology
Setting the Team's Focus

Your coaching psychology will define how you interact with your players, the parent's of your players, your fellow/assistant coaches and all those who come in contact with your team, be they opponents, umpires, or whomever. It will, at the end of the day, define the very atmosphere surrounding your team.

UCLA Football Coach Red Sanders is quoted as saying:

Winning isn't everything.
It's the only thing!

Others will tell you that coaching youth sport should be about having fun. The definition of "fun", however, is very wide ranging. For some "fun" can be just being part of a team, while for others, "fun" is about winning. The question here is when looking at the two extremes of "fun", are they truly productive?

Have you truly performed your duty of a "coach" if you won today, but did not advance the skill level of your team? Have you truly performed your duty of a "coach" if your team had a lot of fun, but you did not advance the skill level of your team?

Celebrating the fastpitch softball league championship

For me, the mission of a coach,and therefore the coaching psychology, is as follows:

Establish a fun teaching environment
that results in winning (eventually).

The most important part of the coaching psychology is the "teaching environment". If you are not helping your players advance themselves both as players, but more importantly, as people, you are wasting everyone's time, including your own. You need to be able to teach them the rules of fastpitch softball, how to hit, field, throw, run bases, and the meaning behind the game; but more importantly, you need to teach them how to accept winning and losing, how to deal with disappointments, how to work harder when she think she's given her all. In essence, you need to help provide them with life lessons, both in what you teach, how you act, and what you do. This is an opportunity not to be missed.

Fun and winning is somewhat balanced with what age level you are playing, but one should never be done to the exclusion of the other. For the younger teams, your focus should be primarily on teaching them the game of fastpitch softball and making it extremely fun in the process. So fun is part of it, but to the extent that you are teaching the game and more importantly, the love for the game of fastpitch softball.

To the victors go the spoils: League Softball Championship Trophy

Winning has its place even in the youngest of recreation teams, should the league you are coaching keep track of records. There is nothing more "fun" for a child to say than to be able to show everyone that they were "champions". But you should only become a "champion" as a byproduct of that "fun teaching environment" that you established.

As the team gets older and perhaps your team moves into the more competitive travel ball arena, the pressure will mount to focus more on winning. Winning makes your players loyal to your team. Winning will bring better players who want to be a part of the team. But even at the most competitive level you should never lose the fun teaching environment that results in winning (eventually). Ultimately, if a player is not having fun playing a game that they love, they are likely to either leave your team or just stop playing.

So, step one:

Establish a fun teaching environment
that results in winning (eventually).

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