The Untold Story of the 12U Coach Written By Chez Sievers
Early on in my coaching career, I was coaching 12U & 14U girls. Malleable and fragile, these girls looked up to my coaching staff made up of all former college softball players. I was intense to say the least. Some would say I was a bit militant. Part of that comes from how I was coached. My father was my coach for most of my life. Perfection, performance and execution we’re drilled into me. At times, I felt like nothing was ever good enough. On the grass area for pre-game, we would go through our offensive warm-up and the man would be on me by my first swing giving me the infamous Kung-Fu brow. “Stop trying to pull the ball!” he exclaimed. In my mind, I yelled back at him, “I’m not trying too. It’s called a warmup!” That never happened of course.
After college, I went into coaching and I followed a similar coaching strategy. We had detailed practices, beach workouts, and one on one sessions with the players. If a kid did something wrong, I would make them run, do pushups, or a squat circuit as punishment. I thought I was doing a good job at practice, but we were still losing games. I felt defeated. What I was doing wasn’t working? Was I setting unrealistic expectations on these girls? Was I pushing them too hard? I prayed that the players would come back the next week. I coached these teams for two years and decided to give it up.
I learned to forgive myself because I wasn’t perfect. The recurring message that kept coming up was perfection is not realistic. I heard a quote that said something like, “Asking for Perfection is like telling your mind to go Mars.” You know it exists but it’s nearly impossible to get there.
What I learned from that experience was so essential to my development as a coach. We like to tell ourselves that we’re supposed to have all the answers and that’s just not fair.
As a result of coaching the 12U & 14U girls, a number of them went on to play Division I, Division II, and Division III. Some of parents still keep in touch with me and say that they’re experience playing on my team was essential in their development. This puts a big smile on my face because at the time I was coaching that travel team and thought I was a huge failure. Now, I look back at that experience and I can laugh. Laugh at how those mistakes made me better
Chez Sievers Chez is the Director of Softball at D-BAT Austin and a Blogger/Podcaster for smart-softball.com. A former University of Texas shortstop/second baseman participated in 3 Women's College World Series. Sievers went on to coach at Cal State Fullerton, University of Texas, the Austrian National Team, and UC Riverside.
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