Joe Santilli 2015-11-16 04:05:26
Baseball teams at all levels must prepare to face the ups and downs of the season. Baseball teaches us how to deal with failure on an individual level and that process builds character. An individual player will go through a hitting slump, and eventually work through it with drive and perseverance. When a team goes through a slump, it is a much more complex situation for a manager to handle. There are some proven steps to take that can help a manager lead his team out of the slump. It starts with a planned strategy involving the entire coaching staff. The first step to “Right the Ship” is for the “Skipper” to hold a meeting and make sure the whole coaching staff is on board. Here should be the main points of your meeting: Break the Cycle When a team is playing poorly for an extended period of time, the players and coaches have a tendency to get into a pattern of negative behaviors. Accepting losing and poor performance, internal arguing, pointing the finger at others, and low energy are all common behaviors. When teams find themselves in this environment, it is important for the coaching staff to break the cycle. This starts with optimism and a positive approach. Show up early for games and practices, carry a positive demeanor, and actively help the players to build faith in themselves. Go out of your way to display unity as a coaching staff. Coaches also need to understand they cannot control the behavior of the players. They can control themselves, and they need to focus on doing their job as coaches. Focus on the present and not the past. It is essential to control your frustration as a coach. Continue to challenge the players, but not out of frustration. Find Success with Your Team When teams are in a cycle of poor performance, certain goals like winning a game can feel unachievable. Once the team feels that winning is out of their reach, players can start getting offtrack with their approach. Common behaviors include clowning around, lack of focus, and low selfesteem. This is a great time for the coaching staff to start focusing on small everyday tasks. This will give you the opportunity to acknowledge success of small details. Maybe a player has an 11-pitch at-bat, or accomplishes something as simple as hitting a cut-off-throw. Be sure to give players positive feedback on these small tasks so they can start building confidence in what they are doing. Continue to teach the players and point out the details they are not doing well, but be sure to acknowledge success of correcting those faults. The coaching staff must be role models for preparation, resiliency, mental toughness, and focus. As a coaching staff, do not measure your success by wins and losses. Measure your success by your ability to teach (individual player development and improvement) and your ability to handle adversity on a day-to-day basis. Simple Changes in Routine When a team is slumping, it is inevitable that two things start to happen. First, the players start to have less fun and view practices and games as work. Second, the players often start to go through the motions and do not pay attention to detail. The coaching staff can help to combat this by changing up the routine. Turn the pre-game batting practice in to a competitive hit round or be creative to get the team smiling and enjoying themselves. Shift around some of the coach’s game roles to break up the monotony. Keep the routines focused on details, but make enough changes to give the team some new experiences. Another way to get the players to focus on the details of the game is to tighten up a little more on the less significant details. For example, demand the players shine their shoes before games, or enforce rules on dugout organization. This technique can get the players thinking about smaller details and uniting with each other.
Published by Baseball Magazine. View All Articles.
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