This is part 5 of the series of our interview with Dan Clemens.
In this video, Coach Dan shares techniques in Teaching Motivation in Youth Sports.
Find out how Coach Dan Clemens motivates his team by reading on. We also would love to hear what you think; please do leave your comments below.
I think that spills over to their approach to the game as well. If it is a big game and I am walking around and I am tense with the line-up card and tell them to go warm up, then they are going to be tense about it.
If we have done our homework as coaches leading up to the big game, they know the fundamentals, they know what their job is, they know what they need to be doing, then I model the type of emotion I want them to have in that big game. I think that is really helpful.
I know that a number of times I have had to catch myself, because I get so wrapped up in the situation. It is maybe the fifth inning or the sixth inning all wrapped up and I look at them and say, “Why are you all so uptight?”
Then I look I am way uptight. I’ve got to back up, I’ve got to take a breath, and I’ve got to relax. I’ll either crack a joke or usually I’ve got jokesters on my team that will give me a hard time about it, “Coach, what are you nuts?” Or they will say something that is funny that will break then tension.
It is not some type of switch that you can flip the game and say, “Oh we have got to do something different here.” It is the same things that you have been doing all along and all season.
That is when it really pays big dividends in the big game, because they are not doing anything different. That is what they have been taught. It is how they approach the game.
We all have to blow off steam now and then. We are going to get wrapped up at some point in time. Being able to tease or joke in a good teammate type of way, supportive way, even though you are giving someone a hard time, everyone knows you are doing it in a supportive way. That is when it really works.
Last season I coached a freshmen team. We had a number of distinctive personalities on that team and some of them mirrored my approach when I was younger of playing that blame game.
What would happen is a kid would self-destruct in the middle of a game because he was so frustrated with his teammates. We were at practice one time and he made a really good throw as we were doing an infield drill and the other kid dropped the ball.
There were no base runners. It was no big deal. I wanted to make sure he knew how to execute the play.
This kid that had made the perfect throw got all upset like, “Oh my gosh!” He slammed his glove down and took his hat off. I was standing at home plate and I was like, “Alright, that’s it!” I called everybody into home plate.
I said, I will not use their real names, “Jimmy, did you make a good throw there? Did you do your job?”
He said, “Yes Coach!” So I said, “Well, okay, then why are you upset?” He was real quiet and I said, “You’re upset because Joey over here dropped the ball — aren’t you?” He said, “Yeah!” I said, “Well, do you think Joey was trying to drop the ball there?” He said, “Well, no.”
I said, “He is playing catcher and he does not have his catcher gear on and the ball was bouncing in the dirt, so it was practice”. He was not going to dive in front of the ball there. Cut him some slack.”
He was like, “Well, okay.” I said, “Let’s also look at your response to this situation.You got all upset and you bashed your glove against your leg and you ripped your hat off. ” I turned to Joey and said, “When you saw him do that, how did that make you feel?” He said, “Not very good.”
I said, “So do you feel like supporting Jimmy when he does that sort of thing to you?” He said, “No, not really.” I said, “Jimmy you make a really good play, but now you have alienated your teammate. Those are the things we cannot do if we are going to operate as a team.”
That was a turning point because it was a big confrontation. I pulled everybody off the field to have this, but I could see going forward it was not 100 percent better, but it was a lot better among many of the kids.
At that point, they realized they can make a mistake and if somebody gets upset, that is their problem not my problem.
If you missed the first Part of this series click here.
To go to the next part of this series, click here.
Dan Clemens is a 10-year youth coach spanning four sports, a baseball umpire and basketball referee. He also was a Division I scholarship athlete.
Coach Dan is the author of an amazing book A Perfect Season: A Coach’s Journey to Learning. Click here to buy Dan’s book!