Coachable Moments: The Lessons Learned are Always More Important than the Final Score
By Jamie Joy, Manager of Operations
It is getting to the time of year when the season is winding down and players’ thoughts turn to vacations, picnics and all-stars.
This month, I am going to go in a different direction and focus on being a Tournament Manager and Coach as opposed to presenting a drill.
So much is placed on winning and being the best, that when coachable moments happen often the result is a missed opportunity. Such moments pop up at different times … close games, blow outs and when your mind tells you to do something else.
I hear it all the time that this is for the kids, and it really is, but when a decision you make affects a child that decision to you is momentary, but for that player it can last a lifetime. So be mindful of what you do and how you do it.
A few years ago, I was coaching in a Big League state tournament, and a player approached me with thoughts of quitting because he felt he wasn’t playing enough. I explained his chance would come to be patient and he would get his opportunity. Our district has a history of success, so I told the player if all goes well we will make it to the Eastern Regional, and possibly the World series, where you will experience a lot more than if you were sitting at home.
I explained that he was no longer the big fish in a little pond rather a big fish in a big pond with many big fish and as long as he had a good attitude and played they way he was capable of playing his time would come. He went on to be our staring right fielder for a team that went to the Big League World Series in Easley, S.C. More important that what happen with the rest of that season is the fact that we stay in contact, and he often thanks me for keeping him motivated to play.
Another coachable moment comes from my personal experience took place in a regional tournament. We were in the loser’s bracket and were trailing, 5-2 in the bottom of the 7th inning. The inning played out in my mind and pinch-hitting for the pitcher was going to be my course of action.
After our team huddle, I told the pitcher and pinch-hitter the plan for the inning. My pitcher was noticeably upset and wanted the opportunity to hit, although I had my mind made up to use the pinch hitter.
Right before I headed to the third base coach’s box, the pinch hitter stopped me and told me that since the pitcher hasn’t hit much during all-stars he was giving up his at-bat so he could have the opportunity to hit. I was so moved by this that to this day I can’t believe the selflessness this 16 year old showed.
That was a lesson in humility. I was so focused on winning that I had created a situation where a player was going to play through an entire regional tournament without getting an at-bat. I approached the pitcher and told him that he was hitting and the pinch hitter wanted him to have this opportunity. The pitcher delivered a single that plated a run and scored later in the inning, we wound up winning, 7-5, and to this day, I have a different outlook on how I coach and am forever grateful for the lesson I learned from a 16 year old.
What I want everyone who reads this to walk away with is, in the end, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but it is the journey you take with your team. As the years pass the wins and losses don’t mean as much as the friendships forged, times you had and the lives that you have touched. Don’t be the Manager remembered as the person that didn’t play me, but rather as the person that guided me on the adventure of a lifetime.