TEAMS PLAY LIKE THEY PRACTICE.
Let’s practice how we want to play.
Coaches have an impact in so many different ways. We can help people develop into better players on the field, and conversely, we can help turn players into better people off of it. We can create an environment that guys want to be a part of that will leave a lasting impression on them far beyond their playing careers. When wanting the best for your players, you simply have to ask yourself one thing: what kind of team do you aspire to be?
Without question, teams take on the personality of their coach, so just by virtue of our role we are able to make our mark on a group very easily. But that mark is not only made in games... it’s tattooed in practice. In a way, the game is the players’ reward for the countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears put into practice. But practice... practice is the coach’s time. Not only is practice the time for you to improve your players’ skills, it is also the time when you can build the collective culture that you want every single player to embrace.
Do you want a team that displays character? Then you have to show integrity.
Do you want a team that competes for every single inning, every single out? Then you have to create competition within the team.
Do you want a team that exudes confidence? Then you have to put them in a position to succeed.
Do you want a team that has composure? Then you have to stay calm under pressure.
Do you want a team that works hard? Then you have to work harder than them!
Do you want a team that is on time? Then you have to be early.
Do you want a team that does the little things? Then you have to show an attention to detail.
Do you want a team that genuinely cares? Then you have to genuinely care.
The idea of a team standard can be a valuable part to your culture that reinforces everything you want your team to be. Rather than setting a bunch of rules for your players to be in fear of breaking, full of the things they can’t do, give them a list of things you want them TO do. A standard to live UP to. Instead of the rule, “don’t be late,” establish the standard of being early. Instead of putting the fear of God in them if they don’t hustle, preach the standard of respecting the game. Instead of threatening a kid if he mopes or throws equipment after a bad at bat, stress the standard of being a good teammate. Players want to be challenged. They want something to play for... they want something to live up to. A team standard does that. And when they don’t live up to that standard, then it’s a coach’s job to address the situation, no matter how tough it may be, no matter how good the player. If you discipline the star of your club for not living up to the team’s expectations, then everyone else takes notice, and will quickly fall in line. That’s how championship cultures are built. That’s how positive environments are made.
Coaching is far more than talking the talk. We truly have to walk the walk. Be what you want your team to be. Your team will be what you are... not what you SAY you are.