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Coaching Objectives: The Easiest Way to Make Your Team Better

There is something you can do as a coach that is almost completely in your control and has nothing to do with teaching skills or managing tough game situations. Yet, it can easily strengthen your team, especially if you’re involved with a school program. This post is aimed mainly at coaches of school teams, but rec/travel coaches play an important role as well.

Why Managing Public Relations is So Important for Coaches

In the county where I grew up, played softball, and eventually coached, there were two different types of high school softball coaches: those who showed up on the first day of school team tryouts and went home at the end of the school year, and those who also ran their community’s rec programs, coached a local travel team, or both. The school teams whose coaches were also heavily involved in their local communities were ALL stronger than the other teams.

I know it’s not always possible for a school coach to run a community program, or for community travel or rec coaches to be considered for school coaching positions. When this is the case, both parties should put forth a strong effort to coordinate and work together. When a high school coach/coaching staff takes charge of the whole community, or is at least a presence in the community through cooperation and involvement with other local coaches, there are a lot of advantages to be gained:

  • The coach is able to meet his/her future players from a very young age and have a hand in their development. Knowing who the local high school varsity coach is also helps give young softball players the feeling of an attainable goal.
  • Instruction for youth players can be more organized, polished, and consistent when the same group of people oversees all levels of play.
  • Coaches get more practice. The coaches I knew who were involved in their communities beyond their school responsibilities almost always had an edge with in-game strategic decisions during school competition.
  • The same group of players tends to stay together for a long time. As a high school coach, when you inherit a new team every year that has already been a cohesive team for several years, and is familiar with you and your coaching style, you can spend less time going over major things for the first time and more time fine-tuning game play and helping the players achieve individual goals.
  • The players are more likely to give back to their community. In the towns where the high school coaches also ran or coached in a local program, many former high school players also coached in that program. Aside from the community service aspect, if you do coach a community team as a high school coach, encouraging your graduated players to do so as well is a great way to ensure that the instruction across community teams is consistent. It also raises the level of instruction because you’re replacing possible inexperienced volunteers with real softball players.

There are probably some parents of serious travel softball players who are rolling their eyes a bit at this, thinking it’s the tournament team and not the school system that matters in developing a successful softball player. However, as I’ve been saying, there is so much more to developing a young athlete than just ensuring that she becomes really good at her sport. This is about encouraging adults and children alike to build a community, to smooth out some of the politics that tend to plague local sports and remember that it’s about helping kids grow. Plus, there is a special sense of pride and fun that comes from playing for your school, even if your school team is dysfunctional and your tournament team is great. Making that experience better may have little influence on the development of a serious player’s skills, but it will ALWAYS result in a more positive emotional experience and fond memories. That is just as—if not more—important.

And even though I’m stressing emotional growth and community building with all of this, a very pleasant side effect is almost always that all teams involved quite literally get better at softball.

Be sure to check out all of my coaching posts:

Fostering a Healthy Environment

A Guide to Concussion Safety

Team Goal Setting

How to Get Better at Coaching Softball, Literally

About the author

Carly

Carly is a windmill pitching specialist and co-founder of Fastpitch Power. She has coached teams at every level from 10U to NCAA. She also designed and built fastpitchpower.com. Please feel free to leave questions and site feedback in the comments or via our contact page!

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