How to Create a Strong Presence, Even if Your Team is the Bad News Bears Written By Keri Casas
Just because your team has a record of 0-14 doesn’t mean every other team has to think of you as the bad news bears. You may not be coaching the best team around, but you can help them create an intimidating presence in their practice, pre-game warm-ups, between games, and on the field. After following 5 key elements of maintaining a strong presence, you will notice the difference in your team’s appearance and how other teams react to these changes.
1.) Hustle. Every team that has caught my eye hustles on and off the field. It is extremely noticeable when athletes sprint to their positions and sprint off the field, every inning. This shows other teams that your team is serious, that they are here to play, and that they are disciplined athletes. Your team could be a 1st year 10u team that just learned how to catch the ball in the outfield the day before your tournament. Just because you and your team know that, doesn’t mean other teams need to know that. Giving a presence of hustle shows that your athletes are disciplined enough to know they need to run on and off the field, as well as sets a tone for their opponent.
2.) Aggression. Every inning, every out, should be played like it is the last out of the game, tied ball game, with runners in scoring position. Keeping the game competitive from start to finish is one of the most intimidating things a team could do all game. To exploit aggression, have a plan for your fielding warm ups. Typically, you see the pitcher warming up and the fielders receiving ground balls from the 1st baseman. What we also see are lazy grounders and throws back to the base. Make your warm ups look skilled and effortless; this is where the other team notices your aggression. When they can see how strong your fielders are in warm-ups, the intimidation factor sets in. Rather than having your fielders all throw back to 1st base, have them make plays. For example, once they all field and throw to 1st, have them turn a double play. Also allow for your 1st baseman to field a ball and throw to a base. Do note, it does need to be reinforced that every fielding warm up should be performed like they would in a game. Remember that female athletes need a lot of repetition in order to perform a task correctly; beginning your weekly practices in a similar fashion as your pre-game warm-ups will help reinforce success. Not only will this intimidate the other team, but it will promote efficiency in game-like situations as well as confidence in making the play.
3.) Appearance. As cliché has it sounds, appearance is everything. Appearance starts when the athletes walk into the stadium. Being so, make sure your team enters together. When the whole team is walking to the fields as a unit, rather than coming in one by one, it shows that they are a team instead of a bunch of individual players wearing the same uniform. When the team does walk into stadium, their hair should be game-ready, uniforms tucked in, and tennis shoes on. No athlete should walk into a stadium with a messy appearance, and that includes flip flops. When a team looks prepared and well-kempt, other teams will take notice and assume you mean business.
The first two key points, hustle and aggression, also fall into appearance; the more your team looks like they know what they are doing, the more other teams will think the same. As the saying goes, “fake it ‘til you make it.” Not only will your team look good, other teams will take notice to you and think you are good based on your appearance.
4.) Confidence. Confidence is essential in every good athlete, and every good team. The more confident you and your athletes appear, the more other teams will take you as a serious opponent. Exuding confidence not only intimidates other teams, but it is also extremely beneficial to your athletes. If you have athletes that struggle in games, it is noticeable that they lack confidence; they are nervous fielding and HOPE to hit rather than KNOW they will hit. This is another scenario where you want your athletes to “fake it ‘til you make it”.
Sometimes confidence building takes a long time and many female athletes struggle to believe in themselves. Telling your athletes, “pretend to be confident, even if you aren’t,” will help your athletes more than you think it could. Have your athletes think of themselves as the best hitter on the team, that they can hit the opponents’ best pitch with ease. The more you instill confidence in your athlete, the more they believe they can do it as well. Furthermore, your athletes will begin to produce the more they tell themselves they are confident.
5.) Relentlessness. Relentlessness ties in all 5 key points to creating a strong presence as a team. The more your team shows hustle, determination, aggression, and confidence, the better they will look as a unit. Even if your teams’ skills are not up to par with their age bracket, they can still look good trying. Make sure your athletes run on and off the field, warm-up as if it was a game situation, and play like it was your last out, every single out. Every athlete should swing hard, run hard, and make effort as if it would be the winning hit, pitch, or out. The more your team works hard and gives 110% each play, the more your opponents know you will not go down without a fight. When your team battles every pitch and every hit, it allows for other teams to respect their work ethic, determination, and stamina to never give up in a game.
Keri Casas is the Director of Operations and Lead Instructor for All American Softball, Inc in Sacramento, CA. A former Division 1 student-athlete and graduate of Syracuse University, Keri is a coordinator for All American’s College Prep Program, helping athletes achieves collegiate softball scholarships. Keri is also the lead contributor and editor of CoachingaFemaleAthlete.com and co-author of the E-Book, “Bats, Gloves, and Glitter: 7 Must-Know Facts About Female Athletes”.
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