Don’t cover for your mistakes at the players’ expense

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck:

I’ve seen numerous coaches do this, apparently so afraid were they of looking bad in front of parents and fans. I’ve watched coaches at third base say nothing to a player as he decides to run home from third on an easy ground ball to the pitcher. But after the pitcher threw it to the plate and got him out, the coach, loudly enough for all to hear, said, “You didn’t have to run!” I wonder to myself, “Then why didn’t you tell him to stay at third?” Better yet, before the pitch, why didn’t you tell him, “If the ball is hit to the pitcher, stay here”? It wasn’t the young player’s fault he was thrown out, but he was made to take the blame and feel ashamed. When I make a mistake on the field I have no problem telling the player, in front of everyone, including the parents, “My fault!” When you do this, the player, who was afraid he was going to get yelled at, now has instant loyalty to you, and the parents realize that you put the interests of the players over your own image. Maybe more importantly, this teaches your players from an early age to accept responsibility for their mistakes rather than blame others. I never let my older players get on a teammate for making a mistake. It would be hard to demand this if every time I messed up I was blaming someone else. I can’t imagine too many players want to play for a coach who won’t admit mistakes, just like not many employees like working for a boss who is never wrong. Admitting you are wrong now and then actually makes you appear stronger, not weaker, because you’re not blatantly masking insecurities.

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