When I was playing softball at Sam Houston State, my coaches once told me to take batting practice while fully facing the pitcher.
The idea was to teach me to wait on the ball, to let it travel farther before I swung.
So for one week, this is what I did.
I did this because I fully trusted my coaches. I knew that they had my best interests in mind. And when they asked me to try something, I never second-guessed them.
That’s because they were transparent with me. I always knew where I stood on my team. I knew the areas I needed to improve, because the coaches told me. And I was able to improve, because they gave me the tools to do so. This transparency is key for players.
Here are three ways in which your transparency will benefit your team.
1) Players Will Understand Your Expectations
If you are clear about your goals for the team, then your players will better understand how to reach them. It’s important to lay out your goals early in the season, and then show the players the steps you all need to take to achieve the goals. Let the players know what you expect from them, and let them know what the consequences will be if they fall short of those expectations. It’s important that you’re black and white in your guidelines. If a player or your team falls short of the set standards, she should understand exactly what that means.
2) Players Will Know Where They Stand
Be up front and honest with the players, no matter what. They should understand what areas they need to improve in and why their playing time is what it is. Sugar coating the message will only add confusion. At one point in my career I had a coach continuously say, “You’re the best outfielder we have.” But I didn’t start or play consistently. This message only confused me, because I believed I was good enough, yet I wasn’t being rewarded with playing time. This type of confusion can be detrimental to your team; if one player feels her hard work is not paying off, her work ethic could plummet. At the same time, your clear and honest feedback will help your players improve.
3) Communication Will Improve
If your players believe you are being honest and straightforward with them, they will feel more comfortable talking with you. This open communication builds trust, and the more a player trusts you, the more she will buy into your coaching — and the more she should (hopefully) improve. A player who trusts her coach and believes in what the coach wants to accomplish will ask the right questions and buy into the drills she is assigned.
Tori Benavidez is a former softball player at Sam Houston State who is now an associate softball coach for the Bearkats after obtaining her master's degree in sport management. She is a freelance writer for GameChanger via Red Line Editorial, Inc.