Winning At All Costs
At some stage I am sure all of you have played in, coached, or witnessed a ballgame where one team clearly had the talent and experience to totally and unequivocally overpower a less experienced and less talented opponent. What can be most frustrating and downright maddening is watching the more talented team refusing to take their foot off the pedal, despite the fact that the match won before it really even started.
I believe young ballplayers need to learn how to win just as much as they need to learn how to lose. This article is directed at the coaches and players who ignore the unwritten rules of the game simply to gain a greater advantage over an obviously outmatched and overwhelmed opponent.
If you have learned anything from our Diamond Blogs, is that at Diamond Dreams we believe the number one rule when competing on a ball field is to respect the game and your opponent. While challenging at times, it is important that you always play hard, play with passion, and play with humility.
Young players tend to idolize not only older and more experienced ballplayers, but also their more skilled opponents. So, while you make think little of your opponent, keep in mind that your opponent may think a lot of you.
In junior ball, most of what happens on the field is guided by the coach. Good teams generally consist of talented players, but often it is the case that the coach knows far less about the game than they believe. Success can go to a coach’s head and leave them blind to the reality that they are first and foremost educators imparted with the responsibility to teach and promote the rules of the game. There are coaches who believe that it is acceptable to target the weaknesses of an opponent who is clearly outmatched. Typically these weaknesses consist of poor team pitching or lack of ability and understanding behind the plate. Is there a need to expose a weakness that is absolutely evident? So don’t steal second base on every occasion just because you can. No team is great because they can pick apart a weaker team; a great team is built when they can pick apart a team of equal talent.
How do you make winning beneficial when winning is virtually a forgone conclusion?
There are many ways to keep the game interesting and beneficial for your players. Have a game plan put in place before the game starts.
Game Plan Examples
- Each player must hit the ball on the ground to the opposite field and avoid popping the ball up on the infield.
- Don’t allow your infielders to backhand a ground ball instead, use your feet to get around the ball.
- Move your infielder defense around, and while you may expose some gaps, it will allow your team to experience different situations that will help when the game really counts.
- Have your pitchers throw 80% change-ups so that they can learn how to locate and command that pitch. No pitcher’s arm has been injured by throwing a change-up.
- Have your faster hitters work on their base hit bunts, even when the opposition expects it. Successful bunts are all about placement and speed. So work on it!
- Don’t steal the base, but work on reading the ball headed down in to the dirt and get a good “dirt ball read”.
- These are just some of the many ways you, as a coach, can make the game within the game interesting while improving your team and hopefully teaching them a little humility in the process.