10 Ways to Ensure Your Best Softball Players Will QUIT

Team jumping. It’s common. And many people think it’s a problem. Truth is, for coaches and parents – when you field a team of 10-11 girls, you depend upon ALL of them to remain true to their commitment to the team. Sometimes however, things happen. The grass may look greener on the other side of the outfield fence, or parents/players may have discord or disagree with team dynamics or politics which drive them to look for another team. Other times it comes down to coaching, or perhaps a golden opportunity that can’t be resisted. Whatever it is, it happens. (Here’s an article on how to break up with integrity!)

Even so, there are some things that you can do to ENSURE that you will lose your best players.

If you want to un-attract players/parents to stay with your teams – then do the following things. If you want them to stay and longevity is your goal, then modify your strategies to oppose these ideas.

1.  Make a bad First impression. According to research people are most impressionable within the first 60 days of a new endeavor, whether it be a job or joining a softball team. If you are disorganized, don’t communicate well with parents and players, and don’t seem to have things together – despite a committal, players and parents may keep their radar open to other teams. Commitment letters, scheduled practices and tournaments with structure, codes of conduct and fee structures are important aspects of coaching and travel teams that need to be addressed early on in the relationship. They let others know what to expect, and show that you are invested in the success of the team.

2.  Talk poorly about current or past players or parents. We’ve said this 100 times over, the fastpitch community is very small. As a coach, or person in charge – you should always remain respectful in your conversations of people, especially the players – that have played for you in the past or who play for you now. If current players and parents approach ex players and ex parents with negativity, it can set a stage for upheaval and puts new folks on edge. As a coach, you take on a leadership role – and you need to make sure parents are also aware that you are trying to maintain a respectful team environment with INTEGRITY!

 It’s the old, When people SHOW you who they are, BELIEVE THEM!

3. Feed the negative rather than the positive!  Coaches should keep a list of names of every player and write down their assets to the team next to their name until it is committed to memory. This is a list that can and should be built upon!!! When it comes to coaching girls softball, focusing on what is going well – what the girls are doing right, is MONUMENTAL to retaining players. This is your RETENTION policy, and key to holding onto quality softball players.

4. Don’t communicate!  If you want to lose players and parents – then don’t communicate with them. Avoid them, don’t remind them of practices and schedules. Truth is that at some age, kids need to be able to remember times and dates and to-do’s on their own. But still – THESE ARE KIDS dependent upon parents to drive them from point A to point B! Communicate with the parents often. Hold parent meetings, involve everyone on the team in everything. If there is a problem brewing, or a parent or player getting upset NIP IT IN THE BUD, to ensure it doesn’t become a team cancer.

5.  Micromanage your players and parents. Bark orders. Tell them what to do! Coach with an ego in your pocket.  Here’s the thing, especially with girls. They NEED to know why. As a matter of respect the girls should listen to their coaches. And there will be times when you have them sacrifice bunt, or get them thrown out stealing, which is all okay in the larger scope of the game. But explain to them WHY later. Help them learn the game, understand strategies and KEEP them informed. This will ensure they listen when the times comes and helps them build trust in their coaches.

6.  Don’t have any fun. Sorry, but at the end of the day – trophy or no trophy – win or lose, the girls just wanna have fun. If you suck the fun out of everything, your players will leave. We promise!!  Remember that these girls started playing for the SHEER FUN OF THE GAME! That ‘fun’ has to remain in place.

7.  Tolerate mediocrity. A-players don’t have to or want to play with a bunch of C-players. Expect the BEST from each and every player on the team, make sure they know expectations during practice and tournaments, and set boundaries and limits and make sure that the kids are aware of what is expected of them! THIS IS CRITICAL! If parents and players feel they are on a team with a bunch of slackers, or a bunch of girls who don’t take things serious come game-time, the good ones will leave.

8.  Want your team to dissolve, then Treat everyone EQUALLYNow, wait, before you go crazy – hear us out.  Some players are worth more, because they produce more results. That may be a hard pill to swallow, but it is undeniably true.  The key is not to treat them equally; it is to treat them all fairly. This doesn’t mean setting one or two girls up on a super star pedestal by any means. Strive to be fair – but not necessary equal. Plus, girls who are under-performing, or who have the most to learn can and WILL learn more from their peers than most coaches realize.

9.  Don’t recognize outstanding performance! Remember Psychology 101: Behavior you want repeated should be rewarded immediately.  Stress the positive. After an ugly game, take a minute and come up with at least 3-4 positive things that you saw as a coach. Make sure you BUILD on the positive. It’s okay to point out mental errors, and team weaknesses – but the real building blocks are the outstanding things that you saw. Implement a reward system, have each girl on the team say something good about other players, or game performance. This keeps the mindset on the GOOD THINGS!

10.  Last but not least – see the team as an extension of yourself. The team is ABOUT THE GIRLS – not the coaches, not the parents, not YOU!  Allow the girls to own their team. If you behave as though the team is a direct indication of your self-worth – people will leave, because this creates more issues than most players and softball families can handle.

Its important to remember this! The best chance to build a successful team is to create and maintain an environment where the players and parents spring roots deep in the brick-dust!

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