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How One High School Coach Motivates His Team After Coming Up Short

Getting to the cusp of your goal and failing to complete it can be agonizing. That’s why Bobby Hughes made his team literally wear their failure on their sleeves all pre-season.

The point was not to dwell on the past but instead to use last season’s ending as inspiration.

The Marianna (Florida) High School baseball team advanced to the regional finals but lost to the Jacksonville Bolles 9-3. Being only one win away from advancing to the state’s Final Four was frustrating for the Bulldogs.

Now in his third season at the helm, Hughes set out to create some incentive for Marianna to push through the preseason and came up with an idea.

“I got them shirts for motivation. I put down the score of the regional finals game on it and they wore it every day to workouts,” Hughes said. “It was to motivate them a little bit to work.”

Mission accomplished, as the players certainly took the initiative to hone their skills on their own time.

“They work individually on what they’re struggling on. They stay in the cages and put in the time. You see them out there on their own with somebody working and that sort of thing,” Hughes said. “You don’t see many kids do that anymore. All most do is what we do at practice and then go home.”

As for team workouts, Hughes explained the regimen and goals from the offseason.

“We do core lifts. Bench press, squat, power clean, front squat. We do different reps every week to build strength,” Hughes said. “Also, we work on flexibility with lifts and a lot of lunges. A lot of preventive things we do to keep them from getting injured. The season is long. We’re just trying to gain strength with our body through lifting. We need to get strong so our bodies can last the whole season.”

The players have grown exponentially in Hughes’ system from year one to year three, making the coaching staff’s job a lot easier.

“They already know what I expect and they’re already doing things before I have to tell them. That took up a lot of time before. Now they understand that I expect everything they do should be to the best of their abilities,” Hughes said. “I’m just now trying to get them more mentally tougher. They know how to play the game now. The baseball IQ has gotten so much better. It’s so much easier coaching them now. We’re just tweaking things here and there now.”

The Marianna players are fueled by winning it all. That’s why they grind so hard everyday. .

“Our main goal is to win the state championship. Everything we do, lifting, running, that’s our goal. That’s what they want,” Hughes said. “We were close to getting there last year. That’s their main objective. We want to win our district championship first, but that’s the main goal.”

Hughes won’t stop demanding excellence from his team. Setting the bar at the absolute highest level is the only way to reap the desired results.

“I want perfection in everything they do or at least their very best effort out there. I want consistency,” Hughes said. “When they give that we’ve got a chance to win a state championship.”

We want to hear from you! What motivating factor has helped spark a fire in your team early in the season?

From GameChanger and Rolando Rosa

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