One Coach, Two Coach, Three Coach Four
In recent weeks, we have had several fan questions in regard to coaching. Many players, especially as they get into middle and high schools have one, two or even three different coaches. They play for a travel team for most of the year and then are merged together on a school, or even an elite team – where they have yet another coach.
For some girls, this transition is smooth and they find themselves playing in the same position on one team as they do on another. But for others, the opposite is true. You might play 3rd base for your travel team and have a high school coach put you in centerfield. Or, you might be a starting pitcher on your travel/rec team and find yourself not even in the running for mound time on your middle school team. Some players have even written in to say that they don’t really like to pitch – but have been asked to do so by a school ball coach because no one else on the team could do it. The scenarios that can occur from one team to the next are endless.
And, even more confusing is that along with different positions, comes different coaching methods and styles, as well as advice and tips and strategies and even techniques from one coach that are completely opposite from another coach.
So what is a fastpitch player to do? What is a parent to do when they see their child sidelined, or thrown into a position that their daughter is not accustomed to. How should you react when you have been taught to do something one way and suddenly have another coach telling you to do it another way?
Our answer. You should be willing and able to remain flexible, both in talent and in mind. Fastpitch is a team sport – and you have to be able go with the flow, and be utilized wherever and however YOU ARE NEEDED.
Every team has a different dynamic and make-up, and every team has a different need. For instance if you are the starting pitcher on your travel team, then great. But there may be other girls on your school or elite team that are better or more experienced than you. This doesn’t automatically mean that you aren’t a great pitcher. You may start every game on one team and ride more pine on another because there are players with more seniority. Even if you simply make a team switch – you may find yourself having to earn your way back up to the top.
Truth is, that as a player – you aren’t automatically entitled to anything. You have to be willing to work hard, and to continue to work hard – rather than rest on your laurels.
And your ability to do so (or not), stems mostly from you attitude.
This is especially important for parents to recognize. Instead of feeling the pangs of discontent so immediately, encourage your daughter to prove herself, work harder, and remain flexible both in talent in ability. Just because she has never played centerfield – certainly doesn’t mean that she can’t. Blubbering, complaining, or inputting negativity into the situation as the parent WILL NOT help your kid in the long run. Not in softball, nor in life.
The same is true when you come across different coaching methods. Every coach is different. One thing they have in common however, is that they truly want the BEST from their players. We’d go out on a limb here to say that there are likely no coaches who INTENTIONALLY harm a player’s ability to perform.
See new coaches and instruction and methods and techniques as something you can add to your softball tool box, and avoid being so quick to jump to the conclusion that one coach is better than another. In fact, having different viewpoints and the OPPORTUNITY to learn from many people rather than just one, IS AN ASSET! Sure, it can be frustrating to have one coach tell you that you are doing something wrong while another encourages you to do it this way. But remain patient, and at least be willing to try new things.
When you remain a STUDENT of the game – you will always be learning and bettering yourself.
When we visited the #TEAMUSA softball camp this summer in Chattanooga, one of the most important things we learned is how flexible the players had to remain. In fact, none of them played the position on Team USA that they did in travel or school ball. And they became well-rounded athletes rather than one trick ponies. If Lauren Gibson decided to quit the first time her college coach didn’t let her pitch (yes, she was a pitcher) she wouldn’t be where she is today.
Mostly, be respectful and mindful of those trying to HELP you. You don’t know everything. Parents don’t know everything. Coaches don’t know everything. There is ALWAYS something new to learn that will not just make you a better athlete but a BETTER person as well.