By: Cindy Bristow
Provided by: Softball Excellence
Addressing your team after a loss is never easy.
So make sure you don't fall into the postgame talk traps that can start to make losing a habit.
The best advice I can give you for your postgame talks is simple - get in and get out! You're a softball coach, not a professional speaker. Your role is to help teach your players the skills needed to succeed and then to strategize during the game to beat your opponent - not to give a grand and glorious speech when it's all over and everyone's a genius!
After the game isn't the time to start re-hashing things play-by-play. The team either won or lost based on lots of factors so starting down a long and usually horrible list of every single terrible play will not improve your team's chances for their next game: in fact, quite the opposite. The only person that feels good after one of these blistering postgame rants is you! There isn't one player on your team who is improved from your words and isn't that your main role, to help improve your players?
Oh trust me, I know what I'm talking about since I was that coach! I've given some absolutely horrible postgame tirades that would make General Patton himself proud. Of course they did NOTHING to help my team. I used to take notes on the back of my lineup card about things I wanted to address following the game, and none of them were positive so I know the temptation to rant and rave.
But then I had a brain transformation. A combination of forces hit me that made me suddenly realize my players weren't trying to screw up - in fact quite the opposite. They were trying their hardest to play good, and this horrible game we all just played was the best they could do. So I finally realized that what my players really needed from me wasn't a negative play-by-play but instead, was some form of hope that they wouldn't perform this horribly the next time they showed up.
So my brain transformation was one of the parts that led to my postgame talk change, but there was another part as well, and that was hearing a clinic topic by my good friend Sharon Drysdale. Sharon, at the time was the Head Coach at Northwestern and still is one of the most forward thinking people I know. Well Sharon gets up there and tells everyone that she eliminated all postgame talks. That she couldn't find anything positive about them so she decided to just get rid of them. Now to me, that made a TON of sense, but it was also like saying that we could never bunt anymore - it was a very un-softball like at the same time!
Well thanks to Sharon I tried it with the professional team I was coaching at the time and it worked! It didn't just kind of work, it worked great! Now before we look at the Keys to Your Postgame Talks and how you should handle the end of the game if you decide not to eliminate your talks, let's discuss a few details about these talks.
Most of us are coaching girls or women, although there are a few of you out there who are fortunate enough to be coaching boy's fastpitch, but the majority of this reading audience is coaching women. So, let's look at a few keys about coaching females:
I mention these things because most of us use our postgame talk to break everyone of these little rules. If you already know how your audience will receive your information, and that it won't be helpful in the slightest (other than making you feel better), than why go ahead and do it?
Instead, let's look at some things you can do following a game to really help ensure that your players leave feeling ready to show up next time and play good. Remember to Get In and Get Out Fast:
If you can't bear to think of life without your wonderful postGame Talks then at least consider these suggestions before opening your mouth next time:
And finally, remember that no matter how important softball is to you it's still just softball. We aren't talking open heart surgery. As coaches we are the leaders and if you want your team to bounce back from a tough loss with confidence, energy and fire then YOU be the change you want to see. YOU have that same confidence and energy and fire!