Sunday, August 14, 2011

Losing - A Coach's Art Of Survival Booklet

By Jim Bain

"You can't win them all," or "You'll get 'em next time," or a hundred other phrases meant to make a loser feel better, are for all practical purposes, similar to throwing gasoline on a fire. One must learn not all words, just like not all liquids, are appropriate for all situations, and after experiencing a crushing defeat, silence is usually the most appreciated sound.

Losing is a fact of life, no different than walking, talking and breathing, it's just that we are acutely aware of when we lose, as it's not an automatic response. It's just like getting the air knocked out of you by a fall, suddenly you're acutely aware you are not breathing.

We seem to forget that out of a 162 game schedule, a MLB Championship team usually wins no more than ten to fifteen games more than it loses, and it's a huge deal if a team wins 100 games, which means they lost 62 times.

It's how we handle defeat which determines how we proceed forward, positively or negatively. I'm not going to begin spinning out positive motivation tips or hip hip hurray slogans, as I am not convinced of their actual benefit in the long run, and besides, every defeat must be handled differently, because every defeat is different and as a Coach, you must learn how to handle all situations.

Which do you consider the worse? Losing a ball game by an 8-0 score, totally dominated from start to finish, or trailing 8-0 and clawing your way back to tie the score, only to lose 9-8 in extra innings. Hard decision and because they both ended in defeat, they both suck, but they must be handled in two distinctly different methods.

Let's review the 8-0 loss. In my opinion, the "On any given day" scenario would be the best way for you, as a coach, to address the team, but keep in mind there is no cookie cutter speech which addresses everything which may be going through the players' minds.

If this was a team you have played before, the emotions will be different than against a new and unknown opponent, but there are also sub-plots within the main plot. Has your team traditionally dominated this team, only to have the tables turned, which can be quite humiliating regardless it's self induced. Has this team always dominated your team and this is just another exercise in futility for your players which was not totally unexpected?

It's important a coach analyze the situation and address it with his players. No, this is not a life or death situation and in the overall scheme of life, is quite insignificant. But at this particular moment, this could be a very momentous experience for one or all of your players, which should be defused.

When people snicker at me for taking defeat so seriously, I recall the Rick Ankiel, tragedy, or could have been tragedy. Here was a major league pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals, with dominating speed and control, who threw several wide pitches in an important ball game and after that ONE ball game, he could never pitch again.

I never talk about ranting or raving at a team because they lost a ball game, as that is completely asinine and you shouldn't be coaching if that's your style. I'm talking about the debriefing, shall we say, after a loss, particularly a tough loss.

The situation of coming back from sure defeat and the possibility of winning the game, only to fall short in extra innings, holds a whole lot of different issues than the 8-0 thumping. This was an emotional roller coaster for the players which ended in a crash.

I suggest nothing but praise for players despite their possible feelings of falling short. The issue of never quitting should be praised while the defeat is minimized, for instance the never quitting will result in many victories down the road vs. this one loss.

Do I stress after game talks being essential no matter the situation? YES! Yes, I do and I stress players more than team, because they will eventually go to different teams, must be taught how to honorably lose just as well as honorably win. This is a lesson they will take with them throughout their entire life.

Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on running baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:

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