Managing and coaching a postseason tournament team provides unique challenges and opportunities. Competitive levels are ratcheted up, which is a challenge and opportunity in and of itself! Then there is the challenges you and your players may face as you represent your community against others.
Finally, while it may be a pleasure to work only with one of your league’s tournament teams, you also have to adapt to the fact that most, or all, of them are accustomed to starring for their regular-season teams and playing marquee positions, such as pitcher or shortstop. Obviously, they can’t all play those positions. So how do you, as coach, keep all your players happy, productive and engaged so that they can compete well and learn the life lessons baseball and softball have to offer?
Try these tips for managing your tournament team as a Little League Double-Goal Coach®.
- Set expectations early. At the first team meeting, explicitly state your goals and strategies for the season, balancing the desire to win with other considerations, such as individual and overall player development, playing time at different positions, teaching life lessons and having fun. Make only the commitments you can live up to, because from that point on, you must enforce policies fairly and evenly, in ways that are transparent to players and their parents.
- Emphasize the importance of all players. Help your players understand the value of their roles. Pinch hitters and pinch runners can be gamebreakers. Back-up catcher is a key position when your team plays multiple games on hot summer days. Outfield is much more important than it is during regular season, because the greater number of better batters in tournament ball means more balls hit out of the infield. These reminders to players not only keep them engaged and productive, but also teach the important life lesson of recognizing one’s role on any “team,” including family, professional life and community organizations.
- Keep Emotional Tanks extra full. Be prepared to help your players through the greater frustration that comes with facing stronger-than-usual competition. Batters will strike out more against better pitching; fielders will make more errors trying to field harder-hit balls. Use PCA’s “Magic Ratio” of five specific, truthful praises to every specific, constructive criticism, and your players will keep cool heads through a long, hot summer of tournaments.
Additional free resources from PCA are available, at: www.PCADevZone.org. For more ideas on getting the most out of your players while teaching life lessons, take the full-length Little League Double-Goal Coach® Course, at: http://shopping.positivecoach.org/Little-League-DGC, or free Little League Double-Goal Coach® Quick Course, at: http://www.littleleague.org/pca.