Principle #1: Redefining “Winner”
The American culture is a Win-at-all-cost culture, and we have to work to shift our focus away from the scoreboard. What’s more important is a “Mastery” definition, where we care most about our players’ giving their maximum effort, continuing to learn and improve, and dealing well with mistakes when they happen. Again, we introduce specific tools (such as "flushing" mistakes, in which a coach makes the motion of flushing the toilet after a player makes a mistake, which symbolizes that the mistake is done and everybody’s moving on).
Following is a script you can use to redefine “winner” for your players. You probably will want to alter this script, depending on the players’ ages and level of competition, as well as your own personal style. However, the core message here can empower players of all ages.
“Baseball is a great game and a great way to learn important lessons that can help us later in life. I know that I learned a lot from playing competitive sports when I was your age. I want to tell you about a goal I have for the team and for each of you individually this season. It's called "Act like a winner to be a winner."
There are two kinds of winners. One kind of winner is the team that scores the most runs. We want to be that kind of winner, and we will work as hard as we can to win as many games as we can.
The other kind of winner is just as important. That is a winner in life, not just baseball. That kind of winner works to master whatever he is trying to do. In baseball, we want to master skills, such as hitting, fielding and pitching, and as we learn those things, we also will learn how to master anything else we want to be good at.
To help remember the important parts of how we master baseball or anything else, think of a tree, and let’s call it the ELM Tree of Mastery, because the things we need to think about start with the first letters E, L and M: Effort, Learning and Mistakes.
E is for Effort. We give our best effort every time we’re on the field. I am more concerned that we try our hardest than I am with the kind of winning where we score the most runs.
We could win against a weak team without giving it our best effort, and that win doesn't mean much. On the other hand, we could play a strong team, and even if we lose on the scoreboard, if we try our very hardest, I will be proud and you should be proud, too. So the first part of the ELM tree is E for Effort.
L is for Learning. We will learn and improve at every practice and every game. That is more important than whether or not we score more runs than the other team. Again, we could beat a weak team, but without learning and improving, the win doesn’t mean much. And even if we lose to stronger team, we can still be happy with our learning and improvement. So the second part of the ELM tree is L for Learning.
M is for Mistakes. Mistakes are part of how we learn. You can't learn and improve if you are afraid to make mistakes. On our team, mistakes are OK, as long as we learn from them and don’t let them discourage us. So, the third part of the ELM tree is M for Mistakes are OK. If you can remember these three things, you’ll be a winner in baseball and in life.
This information is brought to you by Positive Coaching Alliance. To learn more, please visit www.positivecoach.org