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 > Little League Online > Learn More > Newsletters > Coach's Box Newsletter > 2006 > Coach's Box - May 2006 > Positive Coaching - May 2006

Positive Coaching - May 2006

 

Volume I, No. 5

   May 2006

 
   
      
  

In Positive Coaching Alliance Double-Goal Coaching Tip :

How to Coach in Blow Out Games
by Jim Thompson
Positive Coaching Alliance

Welcome to Positive Coaching Alliance’s Double-Goal CoachTM Tips. This regular feature in Little League publications draws from training presented in partnership with Little League Baseball and Softball by Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), a Stanford University-based non-profit dedicated to ensuring a positive, character-building experience for all youth athletes.

Little League coaches inevitably are involved in blowout games. They are a big frustration for players, coaches, managers and parents. The losing team likely will not enjoy the game, and even the winning team loses the mental and physical challenges of a closely contested game. Generally, blowouts lack the environmental energy that makes our game so fun and exciting.   

Coaches and parents who routinely endure blowouts lose a feeling of loyalty to the organization; the embarrassment and humiliation of frequent blowouts can even chase children (not to mention coaches) from the sport, altogether. One of the most important responsibilities of Little League leaders is to minimize the chances for blowouts. Ideally, every team has a realistic chance to win every game and every team must try its hardest to avoid losing. 

Contributing factors include clear and specific descriptions of league ability and experience levels, as well as a fair and organized player draft system. Despite best efforts to create well-balanced teams and schedules, blowouts are going to happen. This month’s Little League Double-Goal Coach tools are designed for you, whether your team is trailing or leading in a blowout game.  

Trailing

Accept reality –  As a Little League Double-Goal Coach, you must embody confidence and optimism for your players to emulate, exuding belief that your team can come back no matter how big the deficit. However, at a certain point, it helps to acknowledge to yourself that your team is going to lose. Accepting this opens you to creative opportunities to address the situation, some of which, ironically, could lead to your team getting back in the game. 

Re-adjust goals - Most often, the problem when losing in a blowout is that your team can't score. Find ways to set achievable goals for your team that don't necessarily involve ‘outcome goals’ such as scoring. Sometimes that means a goal as simple as getting a base hit or even making contact.

Redefine "Winner" - Tell your players that, no matter what the scoreboard says, they can be winners. Establish standards for your players where they know, first and foremost, they're being judged on their effort, improvement, and on how they respond to mistakes they make. Your ball players can succeed in these areas regardless of the score. 

Throughout the game, communicate specific examples of the kind of effort you want your athletes to exhibit, cite tangible measures of improvement, and point to positive responses to mistakes. During blowouts, players may feel alone and exposed, so include yourself in the team's plight by holding yourself to the same standards of mastery. Model the character traits you want to see in your players; if you keep coaching, they'll keep playing.

Set "Character Goals" - There are only two ways to respond to getting blown out – quitting or persisting. Present these options to your players and ask what kind of people they want to be. Tell them how much you admire people like them, who keep trying even when things aren't going well. Remind your players that even if was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, to Red Sox did come back from that three-games-to-none deficit in the 2004 ALCS.

Scramble player positions - Blowouts present a great opportunity to put players at positions they don't regularly play. This is a great way to teach players an appreciation for other positions and it also gives you a chance to learn more about your players' skills.

Post-game conduct - After a blowout, post-game handshakes can be awkward for both teams. Encourage your players to be proud of their effort. They should feel good about themselves and should stand tall and make eye contact when congratulating their opponents. Prepare your players for post-game conduct by having them rehearse this process at practice. 

Leading

Accept reality - We've all seen amazing comebacks. Fear that a team will miraculously close the gap drives many coaches to "keep the pressure on" well beyond what’s necessary to ensure victory.

A frantic comeback by an opponent presents a tremendous challenge for your players. How will they respond? Be sensitive to the effect the score is having on your opponents, your players, and on the quality of the game. Avoid humiliating your opponents either by "pouring it on" or by mocking them through overdone restraint.

Make adjustments at the fulcrum of action – Depending on whether you are dominating from the mound or the batter’s box, focus your adjustments there. Remove your pitcher earlier than you might if he or she is dominating play. Likewise, remove hitters or challenge them to hit from behind in the count or to the opposite field. These are courageous acts that will gain respect from opposing coach and players.

Post-game conduct - Stress to your players the importance of respecting opponents by acknowledging their efforts. They should treat the opponent with dignity by acknowledging their effort. Model this for your players as you greet the opposing coach and players. Once again, they'll handle this situation more comfortably if they've prepared for it during practice. Also, remember not to ignore the efforts that your team displayed. They should be complimented on their accomplishments, as well.  

To bolster your Coaching expertise or toolkit, be sure to take advantage of the recently-launched Little League Double-Goal Coach Course, today! Click here: http://www.positivecoach.org/LittleLeague

 
 
 
 
 
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