When you learn about raising children, you hear about consistency. When you learn about working with animals and training animals, you hear about consistency. This key of consistency also applies to coaching softball as well.
It's only fair to your players, not to mention vital for you, that you be consistent in your actions, words, rules, and discipline as a coach. Ground rules should always be laid out at the beginning of the season. These ground rules should also include potential disciplinary actions for when those rules are broken. Be sure that you do NOT set a consequence that you will not enforce. This carries the same effect as "empty threats" in parenting. When you fall into the trap of using "empty threats" the following things happen:
1. Your players know that you won't follow through and will push the envelope as far as possible
2. You are undermining your own credibility and believability because you haven't kept your word
3. Chances are, you'll respect or make it harder to gain the respect of your players.
Whenever you give your word as a coach, be it in speech or in writing, ALWAYS do your best to stick with it. If for whatever reason, you can't follow through, let your players know before hand and figure out what you need to do to make things right. If you don't make it a point to keep your word, players will begin taking what you say "with a grain of salt" because they won't know when you actually mean what you say and when you're just talking the talk without walking the walk. This is not a good situation for you to be in as a coach. If you're players don't believe you, how can you lead them?
Avoid making up rules and consequences as you go along. Clear guidelines and boundaries from the start make life much simpler for players, parents, and coaches. Be up front about what your expectations, your rules, your guidelines, and your consequences and follow through. Choosing to follow through only *sometimes* is only asking for trouble as a coach. Make sure your rules, guidelines, and consequences are reasonable enough for everyone, including you and your staff, to follow and abide by throughout the season. Be consistent. Consistency will save you and your team a lot of heartache and frustration.
by Stacie Mahoe
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