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The Buck Stops Here

Posted on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 1:20 pm

I’ve banged on this drum before but it’s time to bang it again.
What do some high school coaches think they are gaining by constantly berating their players?
I guess some of them think they have to win in order to get higher-paying coaching jobs in college or the pros. But even then, it seems they can forget who they’re teaching on the way up the ladder.
I saw it again a few weeks ago when the Louisiana baseball team destroyed the Clark County Indians, 27-0.
With that kind of score, any coach could get upset, but I saw one of the Clark County coaches spew nothing but venom to his players in the first few innings prior to the onslaught.
Nobody could do anything right according to him, on or off the field.
I saw him harshly criticize players for making errors and walking batters.
When one of the Indians actually did make a mental error by missing a sign, he blasted him in front of the whole team, instead of taking him aside to ask why he wasn’t concentrating and calmly reminding him to keep his head in the game.
But I’m not surprised nobody listened to him intently because he even yelled at them about throwing the ball around the horn at the beginning of the third inning.
Sure, warm-up regimens can get a team ready to play and focused. But what do you accomplish by screaming at a third baseman that he should be two steps closer to the bag while taking tossed grounders from the first baseman?
His reward was a team so tense they couldn’t play. They were more worried about getting in trouble with their coach than they were about just relaxing and playing the game.
I’ve seen this time and time again, sometimes perpetrated by Pike County coaches. Their rewards were similar for the same behavior — lopsided losses — which is the way it should be if you believe karma extends to sports.
Dwelling on positive notes during a game or practice builds confidence in young people. Constantly seizing on the negative has the opposite effect and leads to dwindling rosters.
It gets around a small school pretty quick which coaches are jerks and which ones you play hard for because they treat you decently.
When you ask a young person to participate in multiple practices and games on behalf of their school, you had best think about keeping it fun.
I’ve also seen positive coaches take mildly talented teams and make them competitive or at least .500 teams.
I saw a guy who had lost his leg in the Korean War take a team of 14 kids in the California desert to a 5-5 football season one time on nothing short of positive reinforcement and a bruising fullback-middle linebacker.
The bruiser kid kept the team in ballgames but they couldn’t win with just one player on the field. They won because they were in the right position to make a play most of the time. If they made a mistake, they knew they wouldn’t hear their name being screamed in vain across the stadium for all to hear.
This coach loved his kids and the feeling was mutual. They ran through walls for him and found out that hard work and teamwork does pay off, even if you don’t win the conference championship.
Those kids and others like them in similar circumstances will have fond memories of their high school sports careers the rest of their lives.
The kids who got constantly screamed at will remember their coaches as being the jerks who took all the fun out of merely playing a game.
This same stuff applies in the business world.
Bosses who constantly draw on the negative and find fault with employees wonder why morale and production is down.
Good bosses who listen and nurture their employees most often see results in better sales and they keep their productive employees longer.
The teams and businesses that don’t prosper are often on the losing side because negative is easier to dole out than positive.
To make people successful, you have to bring them along and accept the small mistakes they will make as employees or players. You have to think about what you are doing and turn those mistakes into learning opportunities.
Simply yelling or berating a player or employee in hopes they will improve is the easy way out and doesn’t involved much cerebral exercise at all.