Get to Know Opposing Coaches before the Game
By David Jacobson, Positive Coaching Alliance
A great way to ensure a positive environment for Little Leaguers is to get to know opposing coaches. It's easy to get caught up in pre-game preparation and to not make time to introduce yourself to opposing coaches, but this is a great opportunity lost. Shaking hands and talking to your opponent sets a strong, positive tone for players and their parents to follow.
Also among the reasons Little League Double-Goal Coaches® establish this working relationship with their opposing coaches:
In a house league, you have an even better opportunity to get onto the same page as opposing coaches. Perhaps you have attended the same Positive Coaching Alliance workshops or cross paths in your children’s schools and therefore share common values and concerns.
- To remind each other that you are both there for the players and that they come first. You might even mention that you are a Double-Goal Coach: "I'm looking forward to a great game with your team. Like you, I want to win, but I ascribe to the Positive Coaching Alliance's Double-Goal Coach model. We are going to do our best to play in a way that respects you and your team. Honoring the game is important to us."
- To know coaches’ names, so you can get their attention when necessary. It's much easier to talk with your opponent when things go wrong if you've had friendly contact beforehand.
- To humanize yourselves to each other (rather than the all-too-common demonization of opponents). If you have never met the opposing coach, likely in a travel team situation, go out of your way to introduce yourself, as soon as he or she seems to have a spare moment, away from players and parents. Make it a friendly introduction…not a chance to gain competitive advantage. You might even offer a nugget of information about your own team. “We’re 3-1 this season, and every game has been close, so I’m trying to get our players to feel less pressure and enjoy the game no matter what the score.”
Those may be grounds for a deeper discussion of coaching philosophy, which creates an even stronger foundation for the positive culture in your league. At root, most people become coaches because they want to contribute to the health, well-being and growth of youth. Respectful, friendly pre-game conversations among coaches help ensure they adhere to those values.
For more ideas on getting the most out of your players while teaching life lessons, take the Little League Double-Goal Coach Course at www.positivecoach.org/LittleLeague.