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Team Development

What’s More Important, Winning or Development?

March 16, 2016

In the thousands of live group workshops Positive Coaching Alliance conducts each year for youth and high school sports coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes, a question we often ask is, “What is your fear-of-losing profile?” That is, on a scale of one to 10, where 10 is “very afraid of losing,” what is your number?

Of course, nobody likes to lose. But depending on your mentality and what your community values, some of us can accept losses on the scoreboard more easily than others especially when the Little Leaguers® in their charge are developing as players and as people.

A Double-Goal Coach® strives to win and achieve another, more-important goal of teaching life lessons through sports. Throughout the season, all coaches are faced with decisions that may lead to a win, but could also lead to a Little Leaguer’s long-term, overall development as a person. Don’t let your own fear-of-losing profile keep you from making player development your first and utmost goal.

Here are three on-field decisions that can lead to more victories than just the ones in the win column.

Pitcher Development

Most teams and leagues have a few children they rely on to be their best pitchers. If you and your community, which is made up of players, opposing coaches, league administrators, and parents, choose to do so, you can, for example, develop four or five pitchers to be viable competitors for next season, rather than relying on one or two to deliver wins. Taking the time to develop more pitchers will not only give more children the opportunity, but can lead to more pitching options throughout the season.

Switch Up the Batting Order

You can also choose to give every player a chance to bat lead-off or clean-up at least once, potentially providing your less-talented players a greater sense of importance to the team. Depending on how the rest of their development unfolds for those players, you may even be providing some of them with a once-in-a-lifetime thrill.

Plus, if a player succeeds at lead-off or clean-up, just imagine how that confidence boost impacts the player’s trajectory in baseball or softball and in life. Success breeds success, and confidence is the key to it all. And there is a tremendous reward for coach and player alike when defying your fear-of-losing profile pays off.

Try New Positions

Other ways to achieve this include refusing to “hide” a player in right-field, instead providing a chance at second base, where arm strength is not an issue and the only truly difficult play might come off the bat of a left-handed power hitter. Other benefits of that move include sending a message to other less-skilled players that they too have a chance to advance their roles on the team. You also send the message to your stronger players that they face some competition as regulars at any position.

Plus, you’ll be amazed at how supportive players are when they see their teammates get the chance to shine. That builds a team cohesiveness that often is reflected on the scoreboard.

The more players you develop in this way, the more likely they are to have fun and improve. Again, that contributes to wins and most importantly keeps players coming back to Little League® for all the important life lessons and opportunities to develop as people.

For more ideas on getting the most out of your players while teaching life lessons, Positive Coaching Alliance invites you to take the full-length Little League Double-Goal Coach® Course or free Little League Double-Goal Coach® Quick Course.
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