“I’m proud of you,” a statement that isn’t used enough. I find myself being too much of a perfectionist on certain things and in doing so sometimes I miss the small battles that are being won around me each day.
As a coach, we preach to kids “never be satisfied,” meaning that we should always strive for better results or continuing improvement. Most elite athletes can be characterized into two different categories: complacent and unworthy.
Complacent athletes have been told all of their life how good they are and the extra work needed isn’t necessary because they will always be the cream of the crop. The results will be shown just because of their God given talent.
Unworthy athletes are those that feel as if whatever accomplishments they have conquered are not good enough. These are the people that even if they are hitting .575, they will be the last one at practice taking extra reps to bump the average just a few more points. These are the athletes that coaches love to coach, because they are never satisfied. However, these type of people will be the hardest on themselves and ultimately this can affect their production on and off the field.
So, in short we have to find a balance somewhere in the middle of having these unrealistic expectations and complacency.
Parents and coaches are pivotal in the growth and mindset of their children or their players. Growing up some kids face harsh criticism from both and this adversely effects the attitude towards the sport. Some kids will hear a parent in the stands or the car ride home will be filled with things that could have been done differently. In some cases the coach gives only criticism and very seldom gives any praise. This creates a fear of disappointment and the athlete’s performance most of the time will decline as a result.
Sadly, through all the experiences of coaching I have been that guy that was more critical than uplifting. Several years into my career a group of parents changed my way of thinking. They cheered loudly for everyone on the team, a negative comment didn’t come from their mouth about their kids or any other kid, the score could have been 25-0 and they still were encouraging our kids to do their best. We also had a group that didn’t have the same attitude and mostly negative comments were made from their area in the stands. So, I thanked this positive group and in sarcasm towards the negative group started making positive comments about every aspect of the game. This could have been a routine play or a strikeout that was a really good swing, but the kid just missed the ball. Something changed during that year the attitude of team changed and the results on the field were amazing for this group. We went on to be very successful. I can’t link it directly to the change of my attitude, but it couldn’t have hurt.
No matter how many reps that have been taken, athletes are going to make mistakes. I’ve never met one athlete that tried to strike out intentionally or missed a ground ball just to miss it.
My point to all this is to say, telling a kid how proud of them you are will go a long way. As long as they are putting in the work and are giving the best effort they possibly can some form of praise should be given.
To my team, I am proud of the effort you have given to this point to become better softball players and better young woman. I am proud of the resiliency that you have shown in practice and in the games when things are not easy. I am proud to be your coach, because of the way you play the game with no restrain. I am proud of the way you encourage each other and put others needs ahead of your own. I am proud of the excitement that you have created in this community because of the way you play the game. I am proud to wear the W across my chest because of what you are doing to carry on traditions set forth by groups behind you and for others to follow in the future. I am proud to be a “Wicksburg Panther.”