It’s true for coaching too. I understand that networking with others and learning about what works for others can help you improve your coaching. It’s true. Those things can help. BUT, one thing you should never, ever take out of your coaching is you.
You are your most important softball coaching asset. Period.
Even if you don’t know a lot about softball right now, never underestimate the personal advantages you do have.
You see, imitation coaches constantly look outside themselves for what they should do instead of fully tapping into what’s inside themselves and how they were built to coach.
What are you “pre-wired” to do well?
Operate most in your strengths. You can’t coach just like someone else and achieve the level of success they have. You’re not them. The best you can do if you try to be is a second rate version of them.
So while I do believe you can learn from others and from those who came before you, I challenge you to also make the most of who you are and what you bring to the table as a coach. Regardless of how much or how little you know about the game, you have your own personal strengths, talents, and life experiences that can serve you in your coaching. Don’t leave those things out or devalue their importance! Doing so will always hold you back from being the best coach you can be. Be you. Be real.
Don’t get caught in the quest of sameness, in the desire to be “just like” other coaches or other programs. They’re not you. You’re not them. If you strive to do things “just like” other teams, you may very well get results just like them. Which is great, unless you want to actually BEAT them!
Again, I understand learning from the best in the game and doing what they do. For more technical aspects, you can follow along more exactly. But there’s so much of coaching that’s not “technical.” Even when you watch the best in the game hit, a technical skill, you see that none of them swing exactly the same. They each have a little bit of “them” in their swing. They each have a little bit of their own style in the areas that aren’t “absolute” musts in hitting.
That’s how the best coaches in the game approach coaching. Yes, there are principles that work. Just as in hitting, in throwing, in fielding, there are mechanics that work. However each player is just a little different in how the execute those mechanics. The same is true for coaches! Learn the success principles others use, but bring your own style, your own strengths, your own talents, and your own personal experiences into your coaching.
Wayne Goldsmith from Sports Coaching Brain said it well in his recent Do It Your Own Way article…
I’ll give you another example. CrossFit.
The extreme crazy people exercise program my whole family and many, many, many people around the world do. I choose this example because CrossFit gets results. It’s creating skinnier, stronger people across the globe.
CrossFitters do certain exercises, certain workouts, and even use certain terms and phrases when talking about what they do. However, not everyone CrossFits the same.
Some thrive in the big, crowded gym (aka “box”) environment. Others prefer working out in a smaller box with less people around. Still others want one on one training rather than group training. Then others enjoy working out outdoors or at home instead of at a gym. Some love CrossFitting at o’ dark thirty in the morning while others much prefer afternoon or evening workouts. Some wear light, loose fitting clothes; others long sleeve fitted wear. Some love “CrossFit” style shoes. Others simply workout barefoot.
The point is each person CrossFits their own way. While the program, the moves, the exercises, the equipment may all be similar (or in many cases, exactly the same), they all CrossFit in the way that works best for them.
By the same token, you can use the same philosophy, the same concepts, the same success principles as others, but always remember to find what works for your team and remember to include your real self in your coaching. You matter. You are your most important coaching asset. Never underestimate what you bring to the table. Don’t settle for a lesser imitation of someone else. Be real. Be you.
Stacie Mahoe shares lessons learned from decades around the diamond. Enjoy her unique insights on softball and life from years as a player, coach, parent, and fan of the game.