Coaching baseball (and coaching in general) is a very results-oriented job. Coaches are evaluated to some extent on very objective results… winning and losing.
With that in mind, excuses and “reasons” for not being successful fall mostly on deaf ears and are basically non-productive. It’s important that the coach prepares his or her team to be mentally and physically tough to overcome what a weaker athlete or team may try to use as an excuse for failure. Instead, these challenges can be used for motivation toward success. The strong athletes and teams overcome the obstacles and turn them into fuel to compete harder!
On a particularly tough weather day and with a man or two down to injuries, my very competitive baseball SID at Clemson, Brian Hennessy, came into the dugout and picked up the lineup card. We did our little superstitious ritual handshake that continually changed depending on the success of the team.
He looked me in the eye and said, “it doesn’t matter!!”
I knew exactly what he was saying because I was thinking the same thing. Just get the job done…
“It doesn’t matter” about the weather, the injuries, the umpires, where we were playing, who we are playing, what adversity happens in the game, “it just doesn’t matter!!”
It’s a great mind set for an athlete and team to have!
If you get caught up in the reasons you can’t do something, you’ll never achieve greatness. Always turn adversity or challenge into motivation. “It doesn’t matter” does not refer to indifference of the result, but indifference to the obstacles trying to affect the result. It really doesn’t matter, if an umpire misses a call, the strike zone is inconsistent, if the weather is bad, the field conditions are not the best, or you are a man or two down.
In reflecting back on my 38 years of coaching, all of these things pop up every year. If they become obstacles and excuses, you and your team are destined for frustration.
We used to travel to a Northern school in our conference to play every other year. They have a tough coach and tough kids. My goal every time we went there was to make sure my team was tougher. The weather was invariably bad, very windy, wet, and usually freezing temperatures on a less than standard playing surface. My goal was to turn all this into a positive, fun, and motivational opportunity!
As we drove to the field to practice on Thursday before our 3-game series started the next day, I got up in the bus and addressed these issues as “it doesn’t matter,” and told them all that if I saw any one of them cowering in the corner of the dugout looking “C.O.L.D.” or saying the word “C.O.L.D.” (I didn’t even say the word), I’d send them on the next flight home! They all laughed but they got the message!
We played great that weekend in real tough conditions and had fun with it, using the “it doesn’t matter” approach. Their coach told me that many of the other southern teams in the conference that traveled up there always looked like they didn’t want to be there and looked cold and all bundled up on the bench. The results were not always good for those visiting teams.
So in essence, it’s a positive, “nothing can bother us”, mentally tough approach that takes over the negative, excuse mindset. It’s all in the mind! Coaching is as much about psychology as it is about the X’s and O’s.
In the end, you can only achieve what you believe!
And the power of positive thinking should never be underestimated!!
“It doesn’t matter!!!”