Life Coaching by Example
So often, coaches and parents have a “Do as I say, not as I do,” attitude. These conflicting life-coaching messages do more harm than good to youth ballplayers. Many life-coaching messages permeate to kids through adult behavior, whether the life coaching messages are intentional, or not. Positive life coaching messages help players deal with immediate baseball failures, but even more so, help them deal with future life-situations. Negative messages deter kids from dealing positively with life situations. There is no better way to help kids than by showing them how to behave, and not just telling them what to do.
Most adults are well intentioned, but they do not know the positive behavior that keeps kids interested in sports as long as possible. When adults deal with failure, losing, and disappointment in positive ways, helps kids understand how to deal with those long after their playing days.
I am in no way an expert on “people behavior.” However, having coached youth for 24 years, I have noticed the adult behavior that seems to further kids’ careers and the adult attitudes that have a negative effect. Following are life-coaching adult behavior tips that provide the preferred “Do as I do” behavior:
Pre-Game Life Coaching Behavior
1. Not offer rewards for statistics and performance goals. Parents should de-emphasize statistics – statistical goals limit or set kids up for letdowns, more often than not. The best and only passed-on goals should be general and involve effort level – “Prepare and strive to improve, win or lose,” is the best adult message to youth.
2. Quit expecting the world – most baseball players are average players. It takes years of advanced fundamental practice, with continual improvement and adjustments, for players to be beyond average and that dedication will be up to the player, not the parent.
3. Remind hard working players that practice usually pays off eventually. Remind not-so-hard working players that good results only come with hard work, but the decision to work hard is theirs.
4. Believe in them and remind them that they are so much more than what they do on a playing field.
In Game Adult Behavior
- “Let the kids play the game” while keeping an even demeanor and refraining from showing frustration over player’s performance, period.
Post-Game Life Coaching Behavior
- Give time – allow kids time after games to sulk a bit. Feeling some disappointment is natural and a sign that they care. Having fun in sport does not mean players cannot feel bad, when things do not go their way. Adults should only worry when those disappointed feeling do not go away in a reasonable time or if the child’s personality changes because of their play. Saying things like “it’s only a game” does not help.
- Listen when they are ready to talk, without grilling them over what they did not do in the game.
- Let kids be kids and make sure they have rest days and social time with friends, at and away from the sport.
- Keep an optimistic frame of mind after tough games. Parents, who stay positive, create positive thinking kids.
Finally, showing compassion with an understanding look, smile, and pat on the back is a life -coaching message kids never forget.