I’ve stepped up into some new leadership territory this Spring.
I’m coaching the Padres.
Not the San Diego Padres.
The Padres that play in my town’s recreation league on Saturday mornings.
It’s kindergarten league.
My son is on the team.
We’ve got 11 players.
Coaching reminds me how much easier it is to talk or write about leadership than it is to lead.
For many of these kids, it’s their first time playing baseball.
The goal of the league is to have the kids link baseball to fun.
In a nutshell, that’s what it’s all about.
We play games “against” other teams, but don’t keep score.
There are no outs. Each side hits through the order once, than we switch.
There are no strikes. For the kids that have a hard time hitting the coaches’ pitching, we use the tee to hit from.
Baseball moves slow.
Kids’ attention spans are quick.
Therein lies the challenge of engaging the “workforce”.
The key seems to be to break the team down into subteams, and keep them busy.
We have 20 minutes of warmups/practice before the game begins.
I’ve recruited about 6 other parents to be help out. We break the kids into small groups of 2 or 3, and then practice throwing, catching, and running drills.
The ‘drills’ are games. For example, to teach baserunning, we’ve used “Red Light, Green Light”, only substituting nonverbal coaching signs for saying “red light/green light”.
Some of the kids respond more to being challenged. Others respond more to quiet nurturance.
Some respond well when we gather as the whole team. Others do well in a small group. There are those who focus best when I speak with them one on one.
Adjusting leadership style is key with all groups.
Another key is patience. After all the goal isn’t for me to play; it’s for them to play. Whether I can thrown or catch or hit better isn’t the point. It’s about helping them to be their best.
Patience isn’t always easy–not when you have kids in the outfield waiting for a ball to be hit their way, and are bored senseless. They’d rather draw pictures in the dirt than focus on the game.
What can you do to fully engage your team?
Who responds to what coaching style?
Do your “rules of play” work best for your team?
What’s the overall goal of your project? How can you inspire your team to give their best effort towards its achievement?
The field is all yours.