When you think of the word success in the context of softball, the first thing that usually comes to mind is winning. The first question that most people will ask when you told them you were just playing or coaching a game is “Did you win?” But how do you really determine the measurement of success?
I believe there are numerous ways to measure success. Yes the outcome of a game is one way, however when we can include the achievements that make better players and a better person on the field, you have to think at the end of the day, they will experience success in as many ways as winning a game will. Here are some things to consider:
Improved Softball Skills
All players have a starting point at the beginning of the season in softball. You may be starting as a beginner way up to an advanced elite player. The thing to remember is that there are so many components of this game that there is always something that you can improve on. Either as a coach or a player.
As a Player
If you can break down your skills and look at what you can improve on or how you want to get better, it will allow you to focus on the process. There is no doubt that everyone improves on skills to some degree in a season. It may be the precision of the skills or the ability to execute with more confidence under various conditions. When your recall improvements, write them down in a journal so you can reflect on them and maybe even use them for planning your success for the following season. You may need to use your coach to assist you in this activity as they are constantly observing your skills, as I am sure you are aware.
Skills Improvement Check list for Players:
- technical skills
- tactical skills
- mental training skills
- getting along with team mates
- relations with officials
- relations with the coaches
- work ethic (focus during practices and games on working hard)
- self direction (ability to work hard without being told to)
As a Coach
As coaches, we need to always be reflecting back on a season and documenting the things that we want to improve on. It may be our relations with our players, it may be our abilities to manage a game or how to add variety to practices so that the players learn and have fun at the same time. This would be a good success. We often use the scoreboard because that is what clubs and spectators or parents use. We also need to ensure that we are focusing on our coaching and leadership abilities as much as our players abilities because we are the ones that can have the most productive influence on how they improve. As we know the number of areas that can be improved are many. I measured my success on my teams by the number of returning players. Yes I had successes on the scoreboard however my biggest goal was to develop players, and I was very successful at that.
Skills Improvement checklist for Coaches:
- organization skills
- technical knowledge
- tactical knowledge
- player relations
- mental training skills
- mental training skills knowledge
- relations with officials
- relations with parents
- physical skills knowledge
Ability to use sports skills off the field
There are so many skills from softball that can be taken off the field and into our daily lives. When we learn to interact with others during a game or practice it is much like interacting with friends or family when at school or home. When that game is an important one like in a tournament, we need the skills to be able to perform under stressful conditions. How many times have you encountered stress away from the field? Have you considered using relaxation or cue words for example to get through that situation? You would be amazed at the similarities.
The complexity of softball demands that you think of at least 3 things all at one time while doing one of them. There are also many rules that need to be learned. When you find yourself feeling like you can not learn something new at school or work, think about how many things you need to know about this game. I bet the number of things is not that different. There are 12 rules in softball but many, many more sub rules and situations to learn in addition to technical and tactical skills etc.. That is a lot of information. You have to admit you are pretty smart if you can play or coach this game.
Your Measurement of Success
The main thing to remember when evaluating your season’s success is that it is YOUR success. You need to ensure that you do not compare yourself to others when considering what you have been able to achieve from the season and EVERYONE does achieve something. If you are having difficulty finding something, talk to team mates or coaches or supporters. You will find that in many leagues even officials will notice improvements because they love this game as much as we do.
Write down your successes at the end of every season and write down areas where you would like to improve. This will give you something to focus on that is not outcome oriented for the next season and something to look at when the season ends. Review them throughout the season as well to see how you are doing with them. And give yourself credit… (a high five) you have learned and done much more than you likely think you have.