Nobody likes to lose.
But depending on your mentality and what your community values, some can accept losses on the scoreboard more easily than others. Still others are just much more focused on ensuring that their Little Leaguers® are developing as players and as people. The Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) often asks, “What is your fear-of-losing profile? On a scale of one to 10, where 10 is ‘very afraid of losing,’ what is your number?”
A Little League® Double-Goal Coach is someone who strives to win while achieving another, more-important goal of teaching life lessons through sports. So how can you ease your fear of losing and help develop the on-field and off-field skills of the Little Leaguers you’re coaching.
Bring Them In
The most common and cliché technique for coaches who have a high fear of losing is to “hide” a player in right-field. Instead, especially at the Coach Pitch, Machine Pitch, Minor, and Major Division levels, consider giving that player a chance at second base, where arm strength is not an issue and the only truly difficult play might come off the bat of a left-handed power hitter.
Let All Players Pitch In
Similarly, if you and your community (primarily players on your team, but also parents, opposing coaches and league administrators) choose to do so, you can develop four or five pitchers as viable competitors for next season, rather than relying on one or two for producing wins this season. Not only will this give you more options on the mound, but it will also help keep pitchers rested and arms healthy.
Change Up the Order
In the batting order, you can give each player a chance to bat lead-off or clean-up at least once, potentially providing your less-talented players a greater sense of importance to the team and maybe even be providing them with a once-in-a-lifetime thrill!
Additional benefits of player position moves like these include sending a message to other less-skilled players that they too have a chance to advance their roles on the team. You also send the message to your stronger players that they face some competition as regulars at any position. Plus, you’ll be amazed at how supportive the stronger players are when they see a less-skilled player get a chance to shine. That builds a team cohesiveness that often is reflected on the scoreboard.
The more players you develop in this way, the more likely they are to have fun and improve, and hopefully improve your fear of losing profile. Again, that contributes to wins and most importantly keeps players coming back to Little League for all the important life lessons and opportunities to develop as people.
By David Jacobson, Positive Coaching Alliance