By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck:
When a player makes a mistake, try to find something positive to say. Obviously it doesn’t take much effort to say, “Good try!” or “Hey! Almost had it!” or “You’ll get ‘em next time.” But comments like these take so much pressure off of your players. It is simple really. If every mistake leads to a negative reaction from the coach, your players are going to live in fear of the next opportunity. And if players are only focused on the fear of failure, do you think it is more likely or less likely they’ll make the play when they have to? I’d say it is much less likely. On the other hand, if each mistake a player makes is met with encouragement, they are much more apt to perform well the next time they get the chance. A relaxed and confident player will always outperform a scared, insecure player.
One weekend many years ago, I had both a nine year-old and eight year-old son playing in all-star tournaments simultaneously, and I couldn’t coach both teams. Since I’d already agreed to coach the nine year-old team by the time the other was picked, it meant that for the first time in his baseball career, the eight year-old was going to have someone other than me for his coach. Though my wife would be at all of his games, I was still nervous and concerned about my not being there. It turns out, in a critical juncture of the first game, he was on the mound and the batter hit a high pop fly right above him. My boy circled under it, but the ball bounced off his mitt for an error. I’m sure he was devastated. But I learned from my wife that his coach yelled from the dugout, “I liked how you called for that ball!” Do you think I had any more concerns about my son playing on a team for that man?