The spring is a really cool time of year.
From athletes rehabbing from injury and reaching new milestones, to watching kids who started on the bench solidify a spot in the starting lineup – there’s nothing that beats the feeling of watching one of your players succeed. You can see the confidence in their body language. Whenever they send texts after games, you can feel the excitement in their words. It’s even better to know you were a part of their success.
I just think we have to remember we can only account for a part of their success – not the entirety of it.
When I first started coaching, I found it funny how I got more nervous in the dugout than when I was actually on the field. That transition from performer to spectator can actually be pretty uneasy. For the first time in your career, you no longer have a direct influence on the outcome of the game. You’re at the mercy of the performance of your players. It’s a loss of control. All you can hope for is you prepared them the best you could to act on their own.
When I think about my role as a coach, I always come back to this. We can’t do it for the player – and we really shouldn’t in the first place. Moments of growth and confidence aren’t built from holding hands. They’re built when you take that leap of faith and step into the arena by yourself. Our players don’t learn when it’s comfortable. They learn when they’re most vulnerable. We need to prepare them so they can take this leap of faith when it’s time, even when it doesn’t feel like it’s time. Hell, it never feels like it’s time.
I think it’s natural to take more credit than what’s actually earned. Especially as a teacher, coach, and mentor. We’re there to help prepare them to step into the arena, but we’re not actually in the arena with them. They are in there on their own. Their success is because they took a courageous leap of faith and acted on their own. Taking credit for their actions is misguided. We don’t “make” players. The only people that “made” them were their parents. We cannot forget this. It’s a feeling like no other to help our players ascend to levels they never could have achieved on their own. We just have to remember we didn’t do it for them. We only helped them.
Due to negativity bias, it’s very easy to take losses personal. When our players fail, it feels like we’ve failed them. Many times, we often take it harder than the players themselves. If our job is to help kids, it’s not easy to be in situations in which we feel like we haven’t helped. These moments can be catalysts for change, but they can also be contributors to burn out if we’re not careful. I think our antidote is refusing to take more credit than what’s necessary on the front end.
Something I find myself referring to constantly with our kids is being prepared to ride the ebbs and the flows of a baseball season. There’s going to be good times. There’s sure as hell going to be bad times. Our confidence can’t follow this trajectory if we want it to be sustainable. It needs to remain steady. We have to stay centered. As a coach, I think it is a premium we model this for our kids. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in our successes and bogged down by our failures. It’s much more difficult to be a consistent presence that refuses to get deterred by emotions. Our kids need to see us like this.
The people who have the difficult job this spring aren’t the ones in the dugout calling the shots. They’re the ones making it happen on the field. Our role as coaches is important, but it must never be over stated. We play a small role in the success of our athletes. Often times, the biggest impact we will make won’t be on their swing or delivery. It will be because we were consistent, available, and reliable. Our players need people they can talk to, trust, and share their excitement with. None of these things require any talent at all. They just require us to be present.
If you prepared your athletes over these past several months, their performance should speak for itself. Be there with them, but just remember you’ll never be able to do it for them. We didn’t create their success. We only played a small part in it.
Let’s keep it that way.