Lessons From Little League
A Coaches Perspective On The Gift Of Chaos
Catch the goddamn ball!
That was the thought going on in my head and I’m sure, even though I never said it outloud, that it came through my body language on the field. It was (and still is) difficult to contain my frustration as a ball heads directly into the mitt of a player and promptly falls to the ground as if repelled by some mysterious force inside the glove.
If you coach young kids at baseball, you know this feeling.
I’m fortunate enough to have taken a path in life that allows me to coach young kids. It hasn’t always been this way. I’ve orbited and dipped a toe in the past but it really is only in the last 4 years that I’ve committed to the coaching path and specifically the youth coaching path. This is my life’s work, a story for another time.
What I’m writing about today are the misconceptions and confusions that I’ve experienced in myself while coaching kids and the deep and primal joy I’ve experienced through my own failures around my miscondeptions and confusions.
First of all if you want to coach kids it would be helpful to put down all that you think you know about coaching kids. I chose baseball but it doesn’t matter what sport you choose, you should probably put down everything you know about that sport as well.
I will only be speaking about youth coaching at this point, although I’m curious as to what adult coaches think.
Great coaching is all about chaos.
It’s not about order. It’s not about winning. It’s about chaos and more specifically it’s about how you relate with your own internal chaos. There is so much breadth and depth to this that I might write more later on it but for now I want to share how to take the first step to becoming a good (and maybe a great) youth sports coach.
Put down all your expectations for the season.
Be clear about these.
Create a plan to achieve them.
Implement and begin working the plan.
Wait for the chaos (failure)
Recognize the chaos (failure)
Choose to self-evaluate (ask for help from trusted sources) the chaos (failure)
Do not go into your next practice without resolution around the chaos (failure) unless you haven’t had enough chaos (failure) yet to self-evaluate.
Recognize coaching is more deeply important to you than you thought before.
Cry and be grateful.
Reframe your expectations to go from externally focused, winning, catching the ball, playing “properly” to connecting to each of your players and meeting them where they are at.
Assume your true role as a coach of your team.
Begin to grow individually and as a team.
Win, no matter what, but also in reality.
Have more fun, inspire more kids, feel a sense of joy that shows in your words and actions on and off the field.
Push teammates and players to become better in a powerful and loving way.
Experience the chaos that comes with growth.
You’re on your way.