Every player wants to be respected as an athlete. Coaches are the ones who have the power to set a precedent by exemplifying respect to their players. Many times, players will then follow suit. Soon, the athletes will start to treat the coach with this same respect and it will funnel down to showing respect to their teammates. That is a boomerang effect that is worth striving for.
For TeamSnap users Mike Williams and Steve Hengy of the Livonia Panthers U14 baseball team, this effect starts with the coaches who pay attention to each player’s success on and off the field.
“Our goal is to get them into high school baseball and to develop them as athletes and as people,” said Mike, the team manager. “To see each one correct things from kindergarten to now middle school is fortifying from a coach’s standpoint. For example, it is pretty cool to see a kid last year who had a problem throwing the ball to now using his whole body and following through. He now throws a near perfect pitch.”
Mike and Head Coach Steve have been coaching the same core group of boys in Livonia, MI for seven years.
“We care. We want these kids to succeed, and we show it,” said Mike.
This summer, he got a big box of wiffle bats and balls and brought them to practice. He told his kids to get off their rears every day and use their wiffle bats to hit the ball around in their own backyard, encouraging them to remain active and improve their game.
These coaches earn the respect of their players and even parents in the ways they interact with the team during games.
“When we yell at the kids in the field to tell them to move, we funnel it through one person instead of multiple people yelling, “Back up, Billy! Move to the left! What are you doing? Move to the right!” Parents appreciate that because we don’t have 5 people yelling at 1 kid, and the athletes appreciate the respect they receive, too.”
To the athlete, playing for a team is a lot more rewarding when he or she truly respects his or her coaching staff and teammates because respect fosters commitment. It is also more difficult to let down someone he or she truly respects, and it’s harder to listen to someone they don’t. Sometimes, coaches need to earn the right to positively criticize their players. This means earning the respect from their athletes so they can actually accept the constructive feedback coaches have for them.
The Panthers also demonstrate the power of acknowledging their players. This may be another reason why the core group of athletes and families have remained with the Livonia Panthers team for the last seven years.
“After every inning, we talk to them quickly right in front of the dugout and tell them what they have to do, what the pitcher is doing, and end it with the ‘1-2-3 Panthers’ to pump them up,” he said.
With just a few examples, it’s apparent what makes the Livonia Panthers a coaching style worth emulating:
“We care. And we care about each and every one. That sets us apart,” said Mike.
Interview with Coach Mike Williams, Livonia Panthers
Coaching Tip: “Teach kids to play smart. Know when to hold the ball on defense. Aggressive base running is the key to winning games.”
Management Tip: “Take into consideration school open houses or other events that affect all your players when crafting the team calendar.”
Biggest Management Challenge: “Collecting money. TeamSnap’s Payment Tracking and notes section has helped with that.”
Favorite TeamSnap Feature: “The Scheduling Feature.”
Best TeamSnap Story: Last month there was a 100 degree day outside so Mike cancelled evening practice on the calendar and notified the team that morning all through the TeamSnap app. “I would rather click a cancel button and hit save than to stand out in the heat and tell people what happened, or worse, call and notify 15 parents!”
Why TeamSnap? The Panthers debuted as a U13 travel team this spring with more responsibilities. This is where the manager role came in for Mike. “Steve handles teaching, coaching, and line-ups. I handle the business side with one goal in mind: providing players, parents & coaches with a great experience. TeamSnap is key in making this team work great.”
Jenny Hadden is the Marketing Maven at TeamSnap. She is a former Division 1 gymnast and four-time Academic All-American at Stanford University where she received her BA in Communication and MA in Online Media Studies.