Coach Communication (Part 3)

By Craig Sigl

You can read Parts One and Two here.

7) Be on the lookout for and take leadership in resolving player conflicts. Getting in the middle of and/or acting as the referee for 2 or more players’ personality conflicts is probably the last thing a youth sports coach wants to do. I get that and I sympathize with you for when you are faced with it.

Competition for playing time, jealousies, bullying, insecurities, back-stabbing, gossiping, bringing conflicts from home to sport, etc. You name it, if you coach long enough, you WILL see all of this and more…and it’s not fun for a coach to deal with, but you have to.

You need to understand this: You are only hurting yourself if you brush it off, ignore it, or otherwise minimize it without dealing with it head on. Before I go on about this point, make another conscious decision that it is in YOUR best interests (as well as the kids, of course) to make this an important piece of your coaching protocol.

Decide that you are going to do whatever it takes to eliminate team internal strife because it makes your life worse and, of course, hurts the team’s performance and their ability to take in your brilliance!

For starters, the best medicine for this is prevention. A strong statement about what you will NOT tolerate on your team and the consequences to those that violate that will go a long way toward preventing it. You also need to periodically remind them and confront any inkling of an issue head on and swiftly when you FIRST hear rumblings of any conflicts.

Bottom line? Nip everything in the bud BEFORE it can fester and grow bigger.

Make sure that everyone knows that not everybody on a team needs to like each other personally in order to play well as a team. Adults know this, kids do not. Sports is the perfect place for them to learn this valuable life lesson. How many times in these kids’ future are they going to have to work with someone that they don’t personally like, on a project in the real world, right?

Let them know that they can put aside their differences when they show up to practice or game and just get to work when it’s time regardless of what they feel about the others, or even you! Believe me, this is a novel concept to kids and well worth you communicating it regularly.

8) Manage and keep the “superstar” mentality in check These days, with our technology and the opportunity for just about anyone to become famous through the internet, achieving self-importance seems to be a growing goal among this selfie generation.

While some of this has always been a part of sports, showboating, trash talking and unsportsmanlike behavior will hurt a team’s performance when taken too far, which many coaches have told me is worse than it’s ever been, making it another priority for coach communication.

When too many players are all trying to grab the spotlight and hog the glory at every chance, then other players shrink away from giving their best thinking something like: “whats the use, they never return the favor.”

In addition, these supporting players certainly aren’t interested in fueling the bravado and, at worst, sometimes it can turn into active conflicts (see #7 above).

Again, don’t put your head in the sand about this issue either. The danger is that this is sometimes very subtle, hard to detect, and the players themselves may not even admit to the problem. But do not fool yourself that it is not affecting your overall team’s performance, it is and you need to keep your radar on high sensitivity to identify it.

On the other side of the coin, sometimes, this subtle jealousy shows up directed at players who are simply very good and continually make great plays from their talent and skill even if they don’t flaunt it or seek the spotlight. This is very common in girls sports and can turn into “fear of success” for the talented player. This unconsciously causes the girl to throttle down performance for fear of being shunned or gossiped about.

You can manage this by balancing out your praise and giving plenty of it to the lessor players when they exhibit successful team behaviors such as great passes, assists, cheerleading from the bench, etc.

You minimize the issue by constantly emphasizing skill development and effort and not going overboard in celebrating and praising performance.

Coach, you get more of what you promote. If you promote (by praising) the big scores and the flashy moves, you will get more of that. If you promote skill execution, you will get more of that…simple logic.

For the out of control glory hogs, you just need to make a calculated decision that pulling them out of the game because of these team-destroying behaviors is worth it in the long run. Don’t be afraid to use that weapon even if the wrath of some parents may come down on you later.

Coach, one play, one game does not a season make. Think long term and keep your own ego in check and you will be more effective towards getting maximum performance out of your players which makes everyone happy….win or lose.

Craig Sigl’s work with youth athletes has been featured on NBC TV and ESPN. Get his free ebook: “The 10 Commandments For a Great Sports Parent” and also a free training and .mp3 guided visualization to help young athletes perform under pressure by visiting: http://MentalToughnessTrainer.com

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Baseball and Softball SAFEty

We all want the safest environment for children to play in our leagues. When kids play baseball and softball, some injuries are unavoidable. However, as league administrators, it is up to us to do everything we can to ensure that the number of avoidable injuries that occur is ZERO. Did you know that coaches and board members could be liable for preventable injuries?

I have been involved in youth baseball and softball for 35 years, beginning as a high school player when I was paid to coach a summer recreational league. Four of my own kids, thousands of games and countless practices later, I have pretty much seen it all on the diamond. And, unfortunately, I’ve witnessed my share of injuries and potential injuries. Now, I can’t walk by a youth league practice or game without noticing something that needs to be corrected for the sake of safety.

So I have produced what I hope I will look back on as one of the most important pieces of work in my career. I have started SAFE Baseball, and our flagship product is our Baseball/Softball Safety Course which is designed to allow youth leagues to educate their coaches, team parents, board members and other volunteers on how to foresee potentially dangerous situations and how to avoid putting players in harm’s way.

The course is fully interactive, containing quizzes, photos, and tons of videos showing actual footage of youth league practices and games which are lacking in adult supervision, adherence of rules and, in many cases, common sense. There are sections on first aid, treatment of injury, concussion awareness, but mostly the course is designed to get your volunteers to be hyper-aware of everything that could go wrong on the field so that they’ll see accidents coming in time to prevent them from happening. I believe every league should invest in this course and guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

What’s so special about this course? Unlike other courses which only discuss treatment of injuries, this course shows actual video footage of mistakes being made so that viewers fully understand how to prevent them in their own games and practices. Do you believe all of your coaches are fully versed in when players should be wearing helmets, when they should swing bats, come out of dugouts, where they should be in position on the field? You can’t be at every game and practice to ensure there are no gaps in supervision or judgment. This course aims to drive home the importance of safety in a no-nonsense, easy-to-understand format. Students can take the course on their desktop computers, tablets or phones, at their own pace with a total time investment of around an hour.

We’ve made the course extremely affordable so that there are no barriers to providing access to everyone in your organization. And, in the unlikely event you sign up and decide the information wasn’t all that helpful then we’ll just give you your money back. If only one avoidable injury is prevented in your league because of Baseball/Softball Safety, I’m sure anyone reading this will agree it was worth it.

Ready to get started or want to learn more? Go to SAFEBaseball.com to see a preview and to get your league signed-up. We can give you immediate access and get your volunteers thinking SAFETY the rest of the season. And, because the subscription is for a full year, you can use the course to train your fall ball coaches and even new coaches early in 2019.

Brian Gotta is a former youth baseball coach and volunteer Little League board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels and a baseball coaching book which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at brian@coachdeck.com

Custom baseball bags

Our partners at Upstart Sports (www.upstartsports.com) are now adding to their line of custom gear for baseball with a fantastic selection of baseball and softball bags. Choose from the duffle or backpack style and you’ll get bags with your team’s embroidered logo  and in your team’s colors. Nothing says team spirit like Upstart Sports’ custom team batting gloves and now baseball/softball bags.

SAFE Baseball – Softball

We are extremely excited to spread the word about SAFE Baseball – Softball, an online course taught by CoachDeck President, Brian Gotta. This course is a MUST for all youth baseball recreational and travel leagues. In the course you’ll learn the basics of first aid and concussion awareness and, more importantly, ways to foresee potentially dangerous situations and how to avoid them. We really believe this course will transform your league from one that may hope for safe practices and games to one that makes safety part of the culture. Check it out and register at http://www.safebaseball.com.

What a weekend!

For those of you dragging into work today bleary-eyed from hundreds of dunks, threes and brackets, we’re right there with you. A few days off and then it all starts again. We don’t know if this was the “most upsetting” first four days in NCAA Tournament history, but it sure felt like it. This is why we need to always have college basketball. No pro development league will provide a millionth of the drama and spectacle. Let’s hope this magic event never goes away.

How Youth Sports Parents Encourage Doping – Without Even Knowing It!

More good stuff from our friends at TrueSport:

You may be totally opposed to doping, but the actions and attitudes of a parent can sometimes have an unexpected effect on a young athlete’s belief system!

Read this article to learn how parents inadvertently push their kids toward taking performance enhancing drugs, without even knowing it!

Two days of sports heaven

Maybe you’re a college student and today’s classes are not all that important. Maybe you have vacation days saved at work or you’ve got a little bug that’s going to keep you out the rest of the week. Or, maybe you’re like us and have lots of work that has to get done but you’ll be sneaking peeks on your computer or mobile device throughout the day today and tomorrow. Whatever the case, the fun tips off at 12:15 EST and doesn’t end until about twelve hours later. And then, we do it all again tomorrow! Enjoy March Madness’ most thrill-filled two days. We are sponsoring a bill to make these days a national holiday. Are you with us?