This past week, I’ve come across some awesome posts, and discussions on social media, and with friends. I’m seeing some very young players turn to coaching, volunteering their time, and seeing this makes me smile bigger than you could possibly imagine. Just the desire to give one’s time is great enough, but I think there’s another benefit.
As a player, seeing the game from a different angle, the coaching angle specifically, a player should learn to play better afterwards also. I do have a general idea about this, as some of you may know, I’m still a competitive player (I’ll leave the word athlete out of this for now haha). I truly believe that my coaching, makes me a better player on the field. It’s no secret that coaching is the more cerebral of the two roles, but it doesn’t have to be.
I’m here writing today to encourage all players out there to give your time coaching. I’m certainly not asking you to be a head coach on a club team, or school team, no. Try a clinic, a weekend, volunteer to help your club at your position specifically maybe. Give your knowledge to the younger players at your position. I’m sure your coaches have told you, the players can teach you also. When you start sharing your ideas, you’ll also start picking up things about your own game. You’ll begin to teach skills, and your mindset, and I guarantee your thoughts on your game will change. You’ll begin to analyze your skills, mindset, and performance through a completely different lens.
Coaching, as a current player is not something that happens for too too long, especially in softball, so please, take advantage. It’s a special kind of role. On my current staff at the University of Toronto, we are so lucky, our entire staff is still active on the playing side. From our angle, being an active player certainly helps us stay in touch with what’s trending, but from the opposite side, bringing that athlete’s perspective to a staff can truly help you connect with the players. As a coach, I’m constantly trying to get my athletes into coaching. For me, this can create a better player, but it also gives that player such a different, amazing look at not only softball, but people, how they learn, think, and apply that to real world situations. As an active player, you can understand a player’s concerns, they are your own. You can understand what they’re going through, especially in a struggle, since you are actually still having them.
The other aspect of things, is that you’ll find coaching extremely rewarding. This is a bonus, but you will find that the two roles will encourage the other for growth, and development. Coaching will help your playing, it’ll make you think, process, and react differently. At the very least, it’ll give you a bigger appreciation for your own coaches (selfishly, I love that haha). So today, I challenge all the players I know out there to give this a try. It doesn’t have to be super organized, it can be one on one, a lesson, helping a friend. It can be on a team in your neighbourhood, or something even bigger. I challenge you to get out there and expand your mind, get a new experience, and help someone else in this great game. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much it’ll help your own game, and give you a chance to improve, in a way you may never have thought about before.