Building Character, Courage and Loyalty Through America's Pastime

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Little League Double-Goal® Coaches have two goals, winning, and more importantly, teaching life lessons through baseball and softball. Double-Goal® Coaching is a model that was termed by Positive Coaching Alliance, which partners with Little League for the Little League Double-Goal® Coaching program.

This program helps coaches teach players learn how to win, on and off the field. It also means that regardless of their skill level, players can take from baseball and softball invaluable lessons in teamwork, discipline, compassion and handling adversity and apply those lessons in school, jobs and their family lives.

There are three main principles of Little League Double-Goal Coaching: 1) Redefine Winner 2) Filling Emotional Tanks and 3) Honor the Game

Principle #1 - Redefine Winner

The American culture is a Win-at-all-cost culture, and we have to work to shift our focus away from the scoreboard. What’s more important is a “Mastery” definition, where we care most about our players’ giving their maximum effort, continuing to learn and improve, and dealing well with mistakes when they happen. Again, we introduce specific tools (such as "flushing" mistakes, in which a coach makes the motion of flushing the toilet after a player makes a mistake, which symbolizes that the mistake is done and everybody’s moving on).

Following is a script you can use to redefine “winner” for your players. You probably will want to alter this script, depending on the players’ ages and level of competition, as well as your own personal style. However, the core message here can empower players of all ages.

“Baseball is a great game and a great way to learn important lessons that can help us later in life. I know that I learned a lot from playing competitive sports when I was your age. I want to tell you about a goal I have for the team and for each of you individually this season. It's called "Act like a winner to be a winner."

There are two kinds of winners. One kind of winner is the team that scores the most runs. We want to be that kind of winner, and we will work as hard as we can to win as many games as we can.

The other kind of winner is just as important. That is a winner in life, not just baseball. That kind of winner works to master whatever he is trying to do. In baseball, we want to master skills, such as hitting, fielding and pitching, and as we learn those things, we also will learn how to master anything else we want to be good at.

To help remember the important parts of how we master baseball or anything else, think of a tree, and let’s call it the ELM Tree of Mastery, because the things we need to think about start with the first letters E, L and M: Effort, Learning and Mistakes.

E is for Effort. We give our best effort every time we’re on the field. I am more concerned that we try our hardest than I am with the kind of winning where we score the most runs.

We could win against a weak team without giving it our best effort, and that win doesn't mean much. On the other hand, we could play a strong team, and even if we lose on the scoreboard, if we try our very hardest, I will be proud and you should be proud, too. So the first part of the ELM tree is E for Effort.

L is for Learning. We will learn and improve at every practice and every game. That is more important than whether or not we score more runs than the other team. Again, we could beat a weak team, but without learning and improving, the win doesn’t mean much. And even if we lose to stronger team, we can still be happy with our learning and improvement. So the second part of the ELM tree is L for Learning.

M is for Mistakes. Mistakes are part of how we learn. You can't learn and improve if you are afraid to make mistakes. On our team, mistakes are OK, as long as we learn from them and don’t let them discourage us. So, the third part of the ELM tree is M for Mistakes are OK. If you can remember these three things, you’ll be a winner in baseball and in life.  

Principle #2 - Filling Emotional Tanks

This theme talks about how players who have FULL emotional tanks will have more fun and perform better. The thought-provoking piece of this theme is that, according to research studies, coaches should achieve a 5:1 ratio of positives to negatives with their players to keep their tanks full! Coaches can use both verbal and non-verbal cues to attain this ratio in a meaningful way. We stress that coaches are still teaching when they are giving positive feedback, and we illustrate how they can effectively correct mistakes within the context of this 5:1 ratio.

Following is a script you can use to explain Filling Emotional Tanks to your players. You probably will want to alter this script, depending on the players’ ages and level of competition, as well as your own personal style. However, the core message here can empower players of all ages.

To play our best all of the time, we have to keep our "Emotional Tanks" full. An Emotional Tank is like a car’s gas tank. When it’s full, we run well, but when it is empty, we don’t. It’s important to keep each other's tanks full, because that keeps us optimistic and trying hard even if things aren’t going so well for our team.

To have a really great season, I need your help. Think about when you strike out. If your teammates make fun of you, they are draining your emotional tank. But if your teammates support you, saying something like, “Don’t worry, you’ll get a hit next time,” then your tank will stay full.

Here are some ways to fill emotional tanks:

  • Tell your teammate when you see him do something well, or when you see him giving his best effort, even if he does not make the play.
  • Tell him when you see him improving. This will make him want to keep trying hard to improve even more.
  • Listen to your teammates if they have ideas they want to share.
  • I promise to do all of these things. Even when I have to correct you, to help you learn and improve, I will try to do it in a way that keeps your emotional tank full. One way you can help me is called the Buddy System. Sometimes, I’ll ask you to pair up with a buddy and look for things that your teammate is doing well.
  • You have to be truthful, or else it won't mean anything, and tell your buddy exactly what he did right. If he hits a line drive, say, “That was a great level swing.”
  • So, right now, pair up with someone else, and he will be your buddy for today's practice. Later in the practice, I am going to have each one of you report back to the team on what your buddy said to you to fill your tank.
  • This season is going to be great if we support each other and keep our emotional tanks full. With full emotional tanks, we will be off to the races, and there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

Principle #3 : Honor the Game

Honoring the Game goes to the ROOTS of the matter, where we all have to RESPECT the Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates and one’s Self. Coaches receive specific tools to help them introduce the concept of ROOTS to their players and parents.

Following is a script you can use to explain Honoring the Game to your players. You probably will want to alter this script, depending on the players’ ages and level of competition, as well as your own personal style. However, the core message here can empower players of all ages.

I love baseball, and I hope you do too. Baseball has a long history and is our national pastime. It is an honor to be involved in baseball, so I want to talk to you about Honoring the Game. To remember the major points of Honoring the Game, we get to the ROOTS of the matter: Each letter in ROOTS stands for an important part of baseball that we must respect.

R is for Rules. The rules of baseball keep the game fair. Respect for the rules is important, even when it's possible to break them without getting caught. I want you to play by the rules.

O is for Opponents. Without opponents, we could have no game. A good opponent makes us perform our best. I want you to try your hardest to win, but you must always respect your opponents.

O if for Officials. It is important to respect officials. This can be difficult, so we need to keep it as a focus when we play. Umpires have a hard job and without them the game would be unsafe and unfair. Sometimes you may disagree with the umpires, but you still must show them respect.

T is for Teammates. A big part of baseball is the team. Being with your teammates should be fun. Later in life you will often be part of a team, so it is important to learn to work together. I hope you feel a commitment to your teammates and that you will encourage and support each other on and off the field.

S is for Self. Some people only Honor the Game when their opponents do, but we will Honor the Game no matter what the other team does, because we set our own personal standards. And we live up to them no matter what.

So, again, when we say that Honoring the Game goes to the ROOTS of the matter, ROOTS means respect for Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates, and Self.