Tips for a Top-Notch Tournament Team Experience
By David Jacobson, Positive Coaching Alliance
Tournament team selection and competition is a highlight of the Little League season for many players. But not everyone makes the team, and even those who do make the team face some new circumstances and pressures. Here are three specific considerations coaches can make ahead of time to help players through the challenges they may meet around tournament team selection and play.
1. How players respond to the selection process usually reflects the overall culture of your Little League. The most important thing coaches and league leaders can do is to build a culture where coaches support players and players support each other. A key idea here is the "Emotional Tank," which all players need to have filled in order to perform at their best. When coaches make sure that all their players get their E-Tanks filled on a regular basis, disappointment is easier to take. You also are more likely to see players feeling good about a teammate getting selected for an honor they might have also wanted.
2. Still, some players will feel disappointment. Coaches and parents can help them deal with that emotion through statements such as, "I can imagine you are disappointed that you didn't get picked, but one of the things I like about you is that you are the kind of person who doesn't dwell on disappointment. You've been working hard this season to improve as a player and that means a lot."
3. Players who are selected may be nervous at moving to a bigger stage. They have established themselves on their team but now they will have to do the same on a team of “All-Stars.” It is always helpful to focus on effort and learning rather than performance. For example, "All the players on our tournament team were the stars of their regular-season teams. But not everyone will get to play the infield or pitch...”
Remember, PCA’s “Magic Ratio” of five specific, truthful praises to every specific, constructive criticism, can help prevent and solve many challenges you and your players face in an environment of heightened competition.
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.