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

Positive Coaching - July 2006


Volume I, No. 6

  Special Tournament Edition 

June/July 2006


In Positive Coaching Alliance Double-Goal Coaching Tip : Get Tournament Tough
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.

This month’s tip will help to prepare you and your players for tournaments. Let’s face it, tournament and all-star play mean tougher competition, heightened expectations and increased pressure on coaches, managers and players. Even if no one ever says a word about pressure, your athletes sense it.

The best way to alleviate that pressure is to switch from a “scoreboard” orientation to what sport psychologist call a “mastery” orientation, which focuses on improvement. A mastery orientation helps us (coaches, athletes and parents) redefine ‘winner’. Everyone who’s participated in Double-Goal Coach training will remember the acronym we like to use for this mastery approach to coaching: “The Tree of Mastery is an ELM, where E stands for Effort, L stands for Learning and M stands for bouncing back from Mistakes.”

As coaches and managers, we can alleviate pressure by telling our players that we measure performance on the basis of their Effort, the amount they Learn and their ability to bounce back from Mistakes. The more difficult aspect of growing your ELM tree of mastery is demonstrating your commitment to the philosophy, and truly walk the talk as a coach or manager. Here are some tips to help you in this endeavor:

Recognize Effort: A player who exhibits great effort but still falls short of the desired result should receive your conspicuous (verbal or non-verbal) praise for the effort. That informs the player in question – as well as teammates, parents and fans – that you value the effort more than the outcome. This message will keep players focused on giving 100 percent.

Recognize Learning: During games and throughout the season, players have ample opportunity to learn. Players may show they have learned skills (keeping the glove down on grounders) or attitude improvement (striking out swinging instead of looking), but either way—and again, regardless of results—your recognition will reinforce the lessons learned and make them more likely to stick.

Making Mistakes OK: Mistakes, and counting them (errors), are more ingrained in baseball and softball than any other major U.S. sport. Nowhere else are athletes as much on stage and in the mistake pressure cooker as in this game we love. Remember, a .300 batting average means seven “failures” out of 10 attempts. Ratcheting up the pressure makes mistakes more likely, ironically because a player focuses on avoiding mistakes rather than focusing on giving their best effort. Players who know mistakes are OK have little fear of making mistakes, so they become much less likely to commit errors.

An increasing number of Little League coaches are reaping results from redefining ‘winner’ according to this mastery orientation. “To have kids at this age be mentally tough and focusing on their own individual effort and improvement as well as watching out for each other is simply amazing,” said Jeff Covel, a head coach (Oakfield-Alabama Little League) who recently completed the online Little League Double-Goal Coach Course. http://www.positivecoach.org/LittleLeague

“Changing their focus from the scoreboard to their own internal scoreboard of how they are playing and the effort they are putting forth has raised their confidence to a level I thought would not be attainable at this age.”

With your players free from the fear of mistakes and knowing they will be rewarded for effort and learning, they will continue to develop as ballplayers and people. It is only a matter of time and circumstance before the scoreboard reflects your mastery orientation.

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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