Coach Ballgame: Drive for Excellence while Having Fun
A Guest Post from Coach Ballgame himself
"There's a direct correlation between HAVING FUN and PLAYING BETTER."The Savannah Bananas
It's a tie ball game. Bottom of the 9th. 2 Outs. Tying run on 2nd. YOUR child is up to bat.
How's your heart rate? What's your anxiety level on a scale of 1 to 10?
Well multiply that number by 12, and that is what your child is feeling...BEFORE YOU EVEN SAY A WORD FROM THE BLEACHERS OR THE DUGOUT.
They already know it's a big moment. They see the scoreboard. They hear the crowd. They feel everything.
My name is James Lowe, and before I was Coach Ballgame, I was a baseball player that everyone simply called "Jimmy." I vividly remember standing in the on-deck circle as a senior in High School, eagerly awaiting this bottom of the 9th BIG MOMENT. I was feeling EVERYTHING.
I was batting cleanup. Our 3-hole batter was my best friend. He was the best player in our county and one of the best in the entire state. ALL the big colleges were after him.
He would tackle the BIG MOMENT first. Then me. As the pitcher was finishing his warmups, my pal came up to me and quietly asked, "Hey Jimmy...how are you so clutch? I've never been clutch." That was kind of shocking. The best player I've ever seen play baseball was feeling insecure in this incredibly HIGH-LEVERAGE moment.
As an 18-year-old kid, I had no idea how to answer that question.
Why did I feel calm?
Why did he feel so much pressure?
Now here I sit...a 40-year-old father of two. NOW, I can answer that question. In that moment as we stood in the on-deck circle, with the weight of a state championship on both our shoulders...MY DAD was sitting in a lawn chair behind the left field fence, SMILING. QUIETLY.
HIS DAD...was next to our dugout, fingers clinging to the fence, reminding his son how IMPORTANT this moment was.
Two loving dads, both with wonderful intentions, giving off completely different vibes.
My friend was insecure at that moment because he was afraid of the consequences failure would bring. There was no joy. Only fear.
I was excited for that big moment because my dad always treated the 0/5 and the 5/5 equally.
There was no consequence attached to failure. Home Run or Strikeout, there was a smile and some unconditional love coming my way on the car ride home. I was completely willing to fall flat on my face in the biggest of moments. And that gave me FREEDOM.
I played better when I was having fun. ATHLETES PLAY BETTER WHEN THEY ARE HAVING FUN.
But the secret is twofold.
- Remind them how FUN the game is during the high-leverage moment.
- Challenge their character and their strive for excellence in PRACTICE.
Here's another secret. Praise LOUDLY. Constructively criticize QUIETLY.
That's how you build trust with your players. When the trust has been built, they'll run through a wall for you.
If you as a parent or coach place a priority on CHARACTER, then they will show up early for extra batting practice. They'll stay late for ground ball and fly ball work. They will volunteer to STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE.
If you as a parent or coach place a priority on HAVING FUN, then they will perform better...especially in the big moment.
The process is the WIN.
- Coach Ballgame
"Results will cripple you."Hunter Pence
About Coach Ballgame
James “Coach Ballgame” Lowe was a 4-year starter at Brown University, where he was a captain and All-Ivy League Outfielder.
He’s spent the last 20 years coaching youth baseball all over the country.
He was recently named Ambassador of PLAY BALL with MLB, helping coach camps and grow the game of baseball. He has also partnered with the Chicago Cubs and FOX SPORTS as an ambassador.
His mission is simple. Build character and get kids to fall in love with baseball. He has a unique ability to engage kids of all ages through the use of music, poetry, and enthusiasm.