There may be nothing more difficult as a coach than being patient. Players, people, umpires, lack of progress, losing, and a host of other factors conspire to create an impatient coach. Here are some areas in which patience is vital for coaches.
1. Patience with players. This is particularly vital with young children, but is helpful with players of any age. The sooner a coach decides to be patient with his players, the sooner his experience as a coach improves. For players of lesser skill and interest, be patient with them simply as people. Do all you can to make them smile, to avoid yelling at them, to help them have fun while they are on your team. Let’s be honest, we have no idea what these kids deal with at home…the baseball field may be the only safe place for them, so keep it that way. With players of greater skill and interest, be patient and remember they are still kids. Refuse to do too much too soon and ruin the fun of the game, even when you see their great potential.
2. Patience with yourself. What about when you can’t figure out what to tell a player to fix the problems in his swing? That’s frustrating, to say the least. What about when your team isn’t getting better? Who’s to blame? What about when your competitive urges well up inside you and you just want to win? It’s during those times when you need to be patient with yourself. Maybe you can’t figure that player’s swing out now, but a little study and thought will help. Maybe your team never gets any better, but you’ve done your best. Maybe you don’t win, but the kids are treated well. Be patient with yourself.
3. Patience with the game. Avoid what is simply expedient and helps you win games NOW. Teaching kids to take an extra base just because the opposing team’s defense can do nothing about it does not always teach them how to run bases. Be sure to teach the game the right way, the way that will help them succeed down the road, not just right now.
4. Patience with people who don’t get it. Everyone thinks they know baseball. Very few do. Your youth league, or even high school program, is filled with people who know less than they think they do. How will you handle that? You can ignore them, yell at them, tell them to stay away. Or, you can engage them patiently, teaching what you can, and simply treating them with dignity, even if they drive you crazy. We want the same for ourselves in the areas in which we don’t get it.
Coach, be patient. It just might extend your career and your influence.