As much fun as winning can be, it’s not the most important thing when it comes to softball. Sure, every team sets goals at the beginning of the season, and most are aimed at winning a big tournament by the end. It’s great to set team goals because it holds teammates, coaches, and parents accountable throughout the season. There is no greater feeling than working towards a common goal, with an army surrounding you, who are competing for the same goal.
The feeling of being the last team standing at the end of a long hard fought tournament weekend is incredible. Winning a tournament is a huge accomplishment for teams and the feeling of victory after multiple hard fought battles can be addicting.
It can be easy to get caught up in winning. Winning may be stressed as the only important accomplishment to some, but also keep in mind there are far more important things. Fast forward ten years and many seasons, are your players going to remember the wins or are they going to remember what they have been taught, how they have grown, lessons they have learned, life skills they have developed, and the friendships they have made along the way?
It’s important that coaches at all levels of softball find a way to balance the will and drive to win and also find ways to get the most out of their players. Coaches who are able to push their players to their full potential will likely be the ones who come out on top as Champions.
The teams who are the most successful are the ones who develop a bond on and off the softball field. It’s important that coaches stress the importance of focus and hard work at practice because it will carry over to games. Having fun should always be part of the equation and the coaches who are able to get creative should be able to balance serious work and fun play. For example, at practice, always end with a fun game or friendly competition. This is where coaches will get the most out of their athletes while having fun at the same time.
It’s also beneficial for teams to bond off the softball playing field. Having team outings, BBQ’s, sleepovers, movie nights, etc. will help bring teammates together. These gatherings are also great for parents and coaches to get to know each other and create another important bond.
Softball should never be all about business. If you get to the point where you as a coach, parent, or player are taking everything too seriously, take a step back and catch yourself. It’s okay to be upset about a loss, but try to follow a 24-hour rule. You have 24 hours after a loss to be angry or upset, but once the 24 hours run out, you have to find a way to get over it. Teammates, parents and other family members will appreciate this rule too.
Losing sucks and no one wants to be on that end of the game, but it’s going to happen. Rarely do teams in softball finish with a perfect season. Any team can win on any given day, that’s what keeps the sport exciting. Keep in mind the importance of the individual growth of the players on your team from the start of the season to the finish. If your players leave as a better person than when they started, then you did your job as a coach.