I am writing my blog tonight not only to help you, my audience in dealing with the battle before us every day, but also to help me work through my own battle with negativity. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated. Many people who know me know that I am one of the most positive people around. But even I, Coach Mike, can be subject to a Negativity Attack from time to time.
Travel/Club coaches and High School coaches, while oft times seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum actually share the same battles albeit in slightly different terms. Usually the negative issues of injuries, grades, attitudes, fundraising, and “other” tend to pick away at you in small bites. But at those times when it seems that all of these gang up on a team, it can wear a coach down real quick. And don’t kid yourself; it surely has a negative affect on the players too.
Lets take a look at some negative examples and consider how we may turn them into a positive takeaway so that there is hope after a loss, especially when it’s an ugly loss. While you may say that I’m starting out from a negative position, let’s remember a total truism of sports: it’s much easier to deal with a certain amount of negativity when you are winning. But when you are losing games, especially games you feel you could have won, then it’s much more difficult to keep the other issues from gaining power.
Today was a good example. My high school team had its first league game against a close rival. It was a game we felt that we could win but we also knew we would have to play well to win the game. We had been struggling at the plate recently with even some of our biggest hitters failing to connect. So was our opponent. Let’s just say that our opponent solved their hitting problems. We actually managed to score some runs later in the game but we still fell way short of our goal.
So what do you do when your team gives up a slew of runs in the first inning of a game? And furthermore, what do you do when you are down by, say, 8 runs after a few innings?
This can be a real bummer of a situation. While the best teams are able to shake off such ugly starts, many teams struggle. Especially when you were upbeat and hoping for a strong performance, the wind goes out of the sails real quick in such a situation.
When I’m in this situation, I try to remind my team that this is only one game. Second, I want to have them mentally start the game over from that point and take something positive away from the game, win or lose. Today we were looking at being subject to the mercy rule (10 runs after 5 innings). However, we finally were able to hold our opponent scoreless for an inning and then we actually got our bats going and did a little scoring ourselves. We managed to go into the seventh inning and ended up losing 5-12. 5-12, as ugly as it may seem is a lot better than 0-10.
Next week, I’ll discuss the daily grind we have to battle as coaches in dealing with players’ grades and injuries.