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Raising Your Voice Is Only Effective Sometimes

Both Bruce Lenington and Don Peters are accomplished softball coaches who have not only worked with countless female athletes on the softball diamond, but also with male athletes in basketball and football. So when it comes to the nuances of coaching boys vs. girls, both have plenty of experience.

And when it comes to raising your voice, both coaches agree: it's not always as effective in motivating girls.

“I think they are extremely motivated as it is,” said Lenington, the owner of the Michigan-based Michigan Lookouts travel organization, a high school softball coach and assistant coach at Lawrence Tech University. “I think if you just tap into a motivator that clicks with each kid, it goes a lot further than verbal rah-rah that a lot of coaches use.”

That doesn't mean raising your voice never works, though.

“I’ve always told (the players) that the same demands should be on them because they are expected to give their best,” said Peters, a high school and travel coach in Michigan for over 30 years. If he didn’t raise his voice occasionally to express higher expectations, he added, then I wouldn’t be respecting them as a female athlete.

In this era, when parents and kids tend to be more sensitive to criticism, Peters said he tries to emphasize that when he raises his voice, it’s out of respect for the athlete and not to humiliate them.

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He cited University of Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins as one example of a coach who still has the respect and love of her players even though she from time to time gets on their cases.

“Society has made it to where if you have expectations of (the players) and voice them, it’s bad,” Peters said. “I find it as being respectful. … If you are raising your voice and expecting something from them, that is actually caring about them as an athlete or a person.

My coach always said that if I am not paying attention to you, that is when you need to start worrying.”

That said, both Lenington and Peters said that in order to push each athlete in the most effective way, you really have to get to know them and their personality.

“It’s all based on relationships,” Lenington said. “That kind of motivation has to have a trust that goes both ways, especially with a male coach to be honest with you.”

From GameChanger and Keith Dunlap. Photo courtesy of UCSD Tritons Softball.

Softball, Softball Player Development