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When 2 Hours Buys a Lifetime

Little League Double-Goal Coach Jeff Covel -- who makes a living with his hands, building houses in upstate New York -- doesn’t mind his nails being painted hot pink.

“Our girls were in a three-way tie for first with five games to go, two of which were against the other two top teams,” recalls Covel, who led his Oakfield-Alabama (N.Y.) Little League softball team to new levels of success after completing the Little league Double-Goal Coach online course.

“Armed with the Double-Goal philosophy and confidence in themselves and each other, we made a deal: if they won their last five games, my coach and I would allow the girls to paint our finger nails to match theirs,” Mr. Covel said. “They easily defeated the five remaining teams by focusing on improving, while the other teams crumbled, concentrating solely on the possibility of first place.”

Jeff Covel spoke with us this week about Little League, his team and the new online course. “I hope that just talking about Double-Goal Coaching may inspire other coaches to invest two hours of their time to give players tools and strategies that will last a life time.”

Coach Covel’s comments embody key tenets of Little League Double-Goal Coaching, such as keeping the sport fun and emphasizing effort and improvement (a “mastery” orientation) rather than winning (a “scoreboard” orientation). He applied similar principles and specific tools to his ever-improving boys’ team.

“We have lacked that little something to put us over the top in the big games,” he said. “We have many average players that we have taught to play above their skill level, but have never been able to raise their mental game to match their physical game until now! I have always known that the mental side of sports can play a bigger role than physical abilities, but could not get that across to the kids in a manner that they could really grasp until now.

“We have always done a good job in Honoring the Game, Filling Emotional Tanks, making the game fun, and teaching solid fundamentals. But it was the Mistake Ritual and Redefining Winner that has totally set my two teams free this year.”

All the concepts and tools Covel mentions are contained within the Little League Double-Goal Coach online course; deciding how and when to apply them remains part of the art of coaching. Covel emphasizes the results of instituting the Mistake Ritual, a physical action -- such as imitating a toilet flush to “flush” a mistake, or a “no sweat” wipe of the forehead -- that helps players move past their mistakes and prepare for the next play.

“When I introduced the idea of ‘flushing’ or ‘no sweat,’ you can't imagine the difference. Boys return to the dugout from a disappointing at-bat, and instead of the coaches going to them, three or four teammates make sure he is flushing that at-bat away. When something goes wrong in a tight game, instead of heads hanging, I see simple little smiles and the motion of ‘no sweat’ to each other. It is a beautiful thing to watch!

“To have kids at this age be that mentally tough and focusing on their own individual effort and improvement as well as watching out for each other is simply amazing. Changing their focus from the scoreboard to 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.”

The two hours Covel spent completing the online course will continue to help him and his players improve. As any coach knows, confidence that breeds success breeds more confidence that breeds greater success.

For his part, Covel said, “there is a lot of stuff in the course that I’ll be digesting over the winter.”

That leaves plenty of time for those nails to grow out before he returns to the field.

Learn more about the Little League Double-Goal Coach Course at: http://www.PositiveCoach.org/LittleLeague