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by Mark Ritchhart
This is a blog post stemming from one of our coaching philosophy videos inside the Intermediate to Expert Softball Coaching Membership Site.
In the video, Coach Ritchhart discusses the importance of saying the right thing at the right time. In this weeks post he explains one major example from his own experience as to how the right thing at the wrong time can cause some major challenges....
Several years ago my daughter, Leah, was the starting pitcher for her varsity team. In the middle of our season, during a small break, she went out of town with a teammate and her parents to visit family friends for a couple days. When she came back home she was telling me about the trip.
It sounded like a great get-a-way, until my ears perked up when she started telling me that she learned some different pitching techniques from the dad of the family they were visiting.
Just to put it in perspective, her varsity team was the one I was coaching and we were having the best season in school history and preparing for the largest high school tournament in the SE United States.
Trying to hold myself together, I asked her to explain in detail what she had learned. As she spoke my jaw dropped open…his changes were significant; however, I was somewhat relieved to know they were also accurate.
In the first half of the season, she was walking a couple batters per game and striking out around five on average.
Up until then, she was gaining confidence as the young starting pitcher and her teammates were also increasing their faith in her abilities to take them farther than the school team had ever gone before.
Following the mini-vacation, our next team outing was the large high school tournament.
She walked nine and I had to remove her from the game. It was a double elimination and the 2nd game wasn’t any better than the first. We left dejected, but with time in the season remaining.
The very next day, Leah and I went back to work. I assured her that that her new collected information was good stuff, but we could put it into practice after the season before she began travel ball.
Over the next couple of weeks we worked on getting her old form back. When I was growing up, one thing that I needed as a student, and still apply now as a teacher and coach, is to keep things simple.
In this case for Leah, this approach worked extremely well. With a couple of adjustments and giving her a key phrase to keep repeating to herself, she was back to her old form.
In fact, our team won the state tournament for the first time in school history with her on the mound that season!
It's important to view set-backs as a temporary challenge rather than the overall outcome. While it can be frustrating when you are in the middle of a challenge, pushing through them will often result in your players and team performing at a higher level than before.
But as you can see from this short example, the right information given at the wrong time can lead to unnecessary challenges. While the information might be "correct," it's important to ask yourself the question "is this the right time to share this information?"
If the answer is "no," then put it in your “back pocket” to be delivered at the best possible time. This might apply to introducing a new technique, correcting a player, and many other coaching interactions.
As coaches, we are constantly giving information to our players. Being aware of the context and timing of our communications could be the difference-maker in our season!
Stay tuned...in Part 2 of this post I will explain what some of the specific problems we discovered in Leah's motion that year...and a couple simple tips we used to fix them!
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by Mark Ritchhart
by Tim Covey
by Tim Covey