Jul
17

Resting Time is Valued Time

Resting Time is Valued Time

“Sometimes making progress means taking rest days.”

Many of us athletes, coaches, and parents push our athletes and ourselves to the limit. We keep playing, practicing, and training every single day. We take private lessons, gym sessions, and nutrition to the next level so that we take our performance in our softball positions to the next level as well. We strive for our idea of “perfection”, get disappointed when it is not met and jump for joy when we do.

But we also get sore, tired, and run down. We lose focus, passion for the game, and sight of our goals. We start going through the motions instead of taking on challenges. We start to stay in the same place because our bodies and minds are beat up; we keep going and going, even though we are not improving.

It is okay to work hard every day, but we have to make sure that we are working our minds and bodies in a positive and progressive way so that every once in a while, we REST!

Resting time is valued time. It allows us to restart, refocus, rebuild, and reassess. If we don’t rest, we will not move forward, but completely plateau, sometimes even moving backwards. Playing tired whether it is mentally or physically is not helping your performance, but stopping improvement. Take advantage of REST! We need it! Whether it is for a day or for a week, you have to give yourself a break. So many of us worry that resting and taking a break is going to hurt us and slow us down, but it is actually helping us. We have to learn to listen to our body and to our hearts so that we know when it is time to rest. If we can do that, then we can reach our goals, expectations, and our idea of success without a clouded mind, tired body, and lack of focus.

Rest, rest, rest! Let your body and your mind have a break so that you can focus, find that love for the game again, work hard, rebuild yourself, and start moving in a positive and improving way.

If you push yourself and never allow your body and mind a break, you will be making everything a lot harder on yourself, negativity will arise, and lack of control will reside.

Find your intuition and listen! Allow yourself to rest so that you can move forward and become your very best!

Written by Nikoli Sharp

Jul
05

The Value of Fitnesss and Health

The Value of Fitness and Health

Everyone tends to jump onto the latest fitness fads or they try to do what their favorite athletes, celebrities, trainers, magazine, or website says which doesn’t always hold validity and isn’t necessarily the best choice for every single person. We are all different! As parents and coaches of young athletes in the sports industry, it is important for us to guide our athletes in a positive direction when it comes to health and fitness. Young women, especially as they become teenagers, become more aware of their fitness and health as they are challenged at practices, games, showcases, and constantly competing for it. In order for them to focus on their fitness and health as a tool for heightening their strength, agility, endurance, and athleticism to help them advance to the next level, is extremely important. The words, image, and values that we speak and teach need to be of good nature that values the work and progress that goes into living a healthy lifestyle that will help provide guidance and value to our young athletes who will be able to apply those values into helping themselves on the field and in life.

We are all guilty of having flaws, judgement, and negativity consume us. Comparison slips into our mind when we flip through a magazine, scroll through our news feed, watch a show or movie. Social media tends to tell us what is right and wrong. It becomes the main source that feeds our thoughts into the wishing, hoping, and destructive behavior in order to reach society’s standards. Our idea of acceptance becomes altered, materialistic, and a heavy burden that lay on our shoulders and in our minds. We strive for acceptance from our surrounding peers which reflects if we can accept ourselves.

I never want our young athletes to feel like they are not good enough, to lack confidence in themselves by societal terms, and to lose who they truly are through the eyes of another. Our young athletes still have minds that are being molded into being the wonderful person they are meant to be. They are learning their own values, beliefs, and finding their own voice. We have to teach them the value of individuality-being their own person and loving who they are from the inside out.

Our fitness and health is not a fad, it is a lifestyle. It is the choice to become healthy because YOU want to. It should reflect YOUR goals. It should be based on YOUR abilities, likes, and dislikes. It takes time. Struggling is inevitable. Effort is crucial. Success is reachable!

We are habitual creatures. We fall into habits. We become accustomed to our favorite foods and stick to what we know. We are afraid of embarrassment, judgement, and the unknown. We think we have to cut out all the “bad” that society categorizes. It is up to us to teach our kids that we should be creating ourselves through our own values and beliefs. Becoming the healthy, diligent, and determined person who strives for bettering themselves every single day to become the best version of themselves whether it is on the field and/or in their life. We are not just a coach for softball, we are coach that helps them in their own life whether it is in the present moment or in their future.

We need to make sure they are doing what they need to do to reach their goals in order for them to find self-love, confidence, or whatever it may be! The only thing that matters is how they see themselves. It is up to us to help guide them into that positive direction!

Teaching and coaching our young athletes small, realistic goals that all serve as stepping stones to reach their ultimate goal is going to help them in a multitude of ways. It is not going to be easy all the time, but it is going to be worth it. It takes time, strength, courage, commitment, loyalty, support, understanding, and knowledge.

Knowledge and understanding about health and fitness is crucial. Do research. Learn about the foods you love, haven’t tried, the importance of and the benefits they each possess. Learn how the body works when it is fueled by whole foods, challenged with fitness training, weight training, speed and agility, conditioning, yoga, etc. Try, and try again. Each athlete will find what their health does for them. They will find what works best for them and what doesn’t. The more they learn about fitness, health, and their own body, the more they will be able to create their own goals that reflect on what they love to do for their health and fitness, the more they will enjoy it, and the more likely they will stick to it and keep striving to be the best version of themselves.

Written by Nikoli Sharp

Jun
27

Complain As Much As You Want…

Complain As Much As You Want…

“Be stronger than your strongest excuse.”

Excuses, drama, lack of respect, crossing boundaries, responsibility, and honesty are just a few of the core areas we lack in sports due to many situations and differences in personalities, beliefs, and values. We have parents and players who complain, whine, yell, create drama, and have a demeaning language against coaches and other players when their child isn’t perceived as the “star” like they see. I am not saying all coaches are out in the clear, but I and the coaches I work with and that are a part of our organization do not allow favoring, and we do not crumble under the negative and demeaning behavior and words from parent and player complaints. We stand our ground on what we believe is valuable within the team which is respect, diligence, commitment, and communication. These focal points come with a lot of details and other factors, and I whole heartedly believe that parents and players on our teams who do not respect these points, are not going to reach the next level successfully, and they will deal with the same problems on any team they are on.

As coaches, we will have faults. We will have errors in judgement. We will follow our gut. We will speak our mind. We will make great calls. We will make a plan and see it through. We will make a plan and have to change it when something goes awry. We will make judgements. We will base decisions on attitudes, diligence, and experience. We will base decisions on practice, performance, and commitment. We will laugh, yell, smile, roll our eyes, get angry, get happy, feel disappointed, become frustrated, and become excited. We are human, just like you. We are not perfect, just like you. We are not always right, just like you. We are not always wrong, just like you. But what we do have is a heart for the game. A love for teaching and helping your athletes improve. A passion for guiding your athletes to the next level of play. A diligent attitude to do our BEST in enhancing your athlete’s skill sets. A committed and positive demeanor in getting your athletes to the next level, helping them create new goals, and helping them reach their highest potential along the way. We do not speak words of doubt or negativity, but words that come from the heart that are surrounded by respect and honesty.

Boundaries:

“Boundaries are your responsibility. You decide what is and isn’t allowed.”

Boundaries are defied all the time, but if we want to come to a positive conclusion, we need to communicate at the right time. At the Gold level, parents cannot walk into the dugout, talk to their kids, and yell and complain to the coaches. Your athlete is old enough to communicate with their coaches. Due to being at the Gold age, we start inflicting rules that will also be followed and instructed at the college level, so if your athlete needs food, water, Gatorade, or anything you think they need, give it to a coach, and we will give it to them. If you have complaints, your athlete is to speak to the coaches about their issues, opinions, and beliefs. But as we know, this will not always be followed, so if you need to complain or address issues, it is a 24 hour cool down rule. Ignoring this rule is not revealing a respectable demeanor to the athletes, other parents, or team. It is causing tension, negative energy, and blurring the team’s focus, values, expectations, and rules.

There will be words, opinions, and plans that we say and do that you may not like or want to hear, but if it is something you don’t agree with, ask us at the right time, not before, during, or after a game, but at the appropriate time, instead of letting emotions dictate words and cause a negative outcome. Yelling and bashing the coaches and other players is not respectful, it is not helping your situation, and it is not getting your point across. It is wrong and it is unprofessional. It is showing your athletes a behavior that is unacceptable, disrespectful, and hindering.

Diligence:

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”

No matter who you are, you are given what you work for and earn. There will be athletes that are more agile, stronger, faster, have better mechanics, a better attitude, and possess the willingness to play anywhere and learn a new position to get onto the field. So earning a spot will not be easy. Just because an athlete works hard doesn’t mean their opponent isn’t. Many factors play into the coaches decision on the best team and lineup they put into every single game, but complaining and whining about playing time is not going to get you to the next level. Diligence, dedication, determination, communication, and being a great teammate will. If you are willing to work diligently and earn your spot, you will be learning the importance of dedication to the sport. If you are willing to be a great team player and work hard for your TEAM, willing to play a different position, willing to learn a new position, then you will be learning the importance of TEAM, and diminishing selfishness. If you communicate with your coaches and ask questions, you will be learning the importance of accountability while growing in maturity. You have to understand that a coach, especially a college coach wants an ATHLETE; A versatile, agile, determined, positive, communicative, diligent athlete who is willing to put the work in, understand with an honest heart and eyes why they are not starting, and to say “YES coach, I will learn third base for the team”, or “YES coach, I will work harder”, or “YES coach, I understand the plan for the game.” If you want to be the starting pitcher, catcher, third baseman, center fielder, or whichever position you want, you EARN it. You train, you practice, and you work for it.

Attitude:

“There are three things you are always in total control over: Your attitude, your choices, and your effort.”

If you want to be an athlete at the next level, crying will not get you there. You have to be tough, determined, and have a mindset that will not say WHY ME, but TRY ME! If you fail, make a mistake, get injured, hit by a ball, or have a bad game, being dramatic, overbearing, complaining, whining to your parents, and being negative about the situation is not helping you, it is hurting you and your team. It is showing coaches and teammates that you are not willing to work yourself out of the problem, pick yourself up and dust off, be a supportive teammate, and become resilient; you are not a team player who is ready for the next level. You are a softball player who is selfish and lazy. An athlete who wants to improve, earn a spot, and reach their highest potential do not let obstacles stand in their way, and they do not let the behavior, attitudes, or words affect their own attitude, performance, and work ethic. An athlete who has a positive attitude, takes on the challenges, and works constantly to get better, will reach their highest potential.

Honest Eyes, Ears, and Words:

“The truth isn’t always comforting, but it is real.”

Understanding where your athlete’s skill level is compared to their teammates and competition is sometimes very disappointing and hard to look at. Rose colored glasses, sugar coating, and lying is formed and used on your athlete isn’t going to make them better. Telling your kid she is the best is not hyping them up but hurting them; she has to fight and work to be the best she can be, not just complain when she isn’t getting the playing time she wants, but doesn’t deserve. As coaches within our organization, we value honesty. We will tell you the truth, answer your questions, and give you feedback that is honest. It may not always be what you want to hear, but it will most likely be what you need to hear. The truth hurts sometimes, and can be heart breaking, but the truth is not being said to be hurtful, it is said to be helpful.

Responsibility:

“Being responsible means you do the things you are expected to do, and accept the consequences of your actions.”

It is your responsibility to go to every single practice. It is your responsibility to work 110% at practice and in games. It is your responsibility to understand that if you have an injury and if you miss practice, then you are not going to be given a starting spot right away once you are better. It is your responsibility to understand that just practicing with the team is not going to get you a starting position. It takes an athlete practicing on their own time, an athlete going to private lessons, and it takes fitness training, proper nutrition, and mental preparation. If you want a starting position and you want to get to the next level, it takes a lot more than a couple practices a week. College and professional athletes did not sit around and complain to get what they wanted. They practiced every single day, they trained on their own, they created a healthy and wholesome diet, they prepared their mindset for struggles, obstacles, losing, and winning, and they never gave up or expected anything to be given to them. They took control of their future by working in the present and never stopping whether it got hard or easy. Take responsibility for your actions, your behavior, your demeanor, your work ethic, your health, and your mindset.

Written by Nikoli Sharp

Jun
21

Reset the Mindset

Reset the Mindset

“Over thinking, the art of creating problems that weren’t even there.”

Our biggest competitor is not the team on the other side of the field, but our own mind; our thoughts, emotions, and attitude.

When our athletes make a mistake, many of them are so incredibly competitive that they get overly emotional. This lack of control or their lack of understanding those emotions and how to use them in a more beneficial way for themselves and their team, causes everyone involved to lose focus. They lose their laser focus on what they should be doing every pitch, every situation, or where they will be throwing the ball if they become the play maker. When our athletes lose focus, they lose respect, and if they lose respect for themselves, their teammates, their coaches, and for the game, it becomes a recurring problem every time they are faced with a mistake or struggle, unless we teach them how to use their emotions, how to use their mistakes, and how to RESET their MINDSET.

Resetting the mindset isn’t easy, and it is a constant work in progress. As a coach, athlete, teammate, and parent, it is important to learn how to reset and keep working through every situation we are reckoned with. There may be bobbled ground balls, dropped fly balls, a missed sign, a bad call, an error in judgement, a strikeout in the batter’s box, and so forth, but if we can teach our athletes the value in resetting the mindset, they will be able to move forward in a positive, mature, and stronger mental state within the sport and in life on its own.

Resetting the mindset is simply said, but not easily done. Not understanding how to learn from the situation and move forward with a clean slate, not only allows negative emotions, and demeaning thoughts to take over our performance is disappointing.  It is challenging to say the least, but when we are able to explain the value and importance of resetting their mindset whenever they make an error, they will be able to not only understand how much it will help them improve, progress, reach goals, and keep striving towards their highest potential, they will be able to apply this valuable tactic in life when obstacles are placed in front of them in a multitude of situations and experiences. Curveballs may be a pitch, but life sure knows how to throw them!

As a coach myself, I am not just striving and working diligently to help my athletes thrive in the sport they love, but striving to help them thrive as a person and in life! Softball may be categorized as a sport, but it is much more than that. It is a place you learn how to create friendships, where you learn teamwork, discipline, respect, and honor. It is where you learn how to thrive under pressure, pick yourself and friends up from hard situations, and to face challenges and overcome hardships. It is a place they learn how to get back up after they are knocked down. It is a place they learn how to compete, work diligently, and to find motivation. It is a place that teaches them the importance of health, nutrition, strength and endurance training. It is a sport that teaches them that no matter who they have to face, what they have to go through, and how hard things can get, they are capable of getting past the hardships and they are never alone when doing so; they don’t just have their family at home, they have their softball family that will always be there for them, through the good times and the bad times, they will always have a cheering section that is fighting for their best!

So even though softball and life will be throwing us curve balls, learning how to reset the mindset will make an incredible difference that will keep our athletes, coaches, parents, and team striving for the best in anything and everything they do with a positive demeanor, a courageous heart, and a strong mind.

Remember, your mind is your biggest competitor, but also your strongest encourager.

Written by Nikoli Sharp

Jun
13

Communication as a Coach

Communication as a Coach

“Overthinking. The art of creating problems that aren’t even there.”

Our words affect our athletes’ mindset, performance, and communicative comfort. Our words can either make or break a situation, create barriers or paths, trigger emotional states and create a lack in confidence, or change behavior patterns. As a coach, we should be their energizer, encourager, teacher, listener, guide, counselor, and instructor. Yes, we will get frustrated with them when they are not playing up to their potential, not meeting expectations, and getting into a rut, but we have to understand that is part of the game, and it is going to happen. Instead of scaring them and yelling at them consistently, we need to communicate; explain, teach, and create an understanding. If we are constantly yelling and using demeaning words, we are not taking advantage of that teachable moment; our athletes are going to freeze, play scared, and hinder their progress in the sport. I’m not saying as a coach we will never yell, and I am not saying  every single athlete will freeze and crumble emotionally with yelling, some feed off of that, but our choice in words are incredibly important. They send a message, and that message should be a moment that helps them, not discourages them.

 Mindset:

Demeaning words create a variety of thoughts, emotions, and behavior including but not limited to:

Overthinking

Being scared of failing

Afraid of disappointing coach and/or parents

Occupied mind on the field and in the batter’s box

Constantly needing acceptance

Worried/focused on pleasing others

Not being in the present moment

Losing awareness of each situation in the game

Bad attitudes

Quitting

Performance:

Encouraging words have a way of lighting a confident flame within the hearts of our athletes. When an athlete is given words that are motivating, they start to not only gain confidence in themselves, but they also bring a confident energy to the team. Each individual athlete has an influence on their teammates, and it is up to us to make sure that influence is positive, uplifting, and motivating, because when one athlete has a bad attitude and behavior, it starts to bring each athlete down and the entire team down, causing problems on the field and in their mind. They will overthink, lose focus, and stop performing at their best. The lack of focus and the important resetting of the mind that clears the mistakes or struggle that occurred and moves them onward in the game is incredibly important, because if we allow them to dwell, pout, and have bad attitudes, their performance and their teams performance will sink under their true level of play.

Communication:

Whether it is before, during, or after a game, the words we use set the tone and energy as the season moves forward. As coaches we will get mad and frustrated and speak to our athletes with strict, stern, and bold words as we explain our opinions of their game performance, and it becomes necessary in certain situations, but if we are constantly demeaning our athletes, picking them apart, and placing blame on individual athletes, we are not doing our job as a coach to TEACH . We are bringing them down, causing fear, disappointment, creating barriers, and losing confidence from the athletes whether it is in themselves, in the team, or in their coaches. We will point out what we saw, what we think, and what we expect, but it is important to have empathy, to instruct, guide, and HELP our athletes learn the game, learn who they are as individual athletes, who they want to be, who they are as a team, and what they want to be as a whole. Whether it was great game or a bad game, there is something to be learned and something to be taught, and if we don’t take advantage of those teaching opportunities, we are letting our athletes down and we are letting the team down. Communication is key in creating stepping stones for our athletes and team, and if we don’t use it correctly based on our athletes personalities, team demeanor, and expectations, we are losing respect, progress, and opportunities in helping these young athletes excel in reaching their highest potential as an individual and as a team.

“Your mind is a powerful thing. When you fill it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change.”

Written by Nikoli Sharp

Jun
06

Negativity in the Sport

Negativity in the Sport

“A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can’t go anywhere until you change it.”

Negativity is inevitable in sports. We have it among players, parents, coaches, opponents, umpires, tournament directors, and so forth. We can only do what is best for our athletes; teach them to stay positive and work hard, to fight for the best outcome, to never allow someone else to control their game, and to never give up! There will be people who they know and who they don’t know who will doubt them, try to hold them down, ignore them, and not put 110% into doing their job or helping them. We need to help them runderstand and remember to not mind those against them, because they are just mud on their cleats.

We have coaches who instead of talking mistakes out, explaining situations, and teaching them what they can take away from each game, yell at their players, take them out of the game right away, and never talk through the mistakes or situations that occurred; leaving the team at the same level, instead of giving them instruction and knowledge that they can use to apply to their next performance while becoming better and more knowledgeable within the sport or area they struggled in.

There’s players who are negative when they or another person makes a mistake. They allow umpire calls, teammate performances, coaching decisions, and their parents to affect their attitude in a negative way when the choices made are out of their control and not in their favor. Instead of resetting their mindset during the inning for the next play or in their at-bat, asking questions, or being encouraging to their teammates and using what is happening as fuel to learn and help their teammates and their selves, they take negativity from the situation and bring themselves and the team down, causing a lack of learning, understanding, or seeing anything positive from the situation.

We feed onto the energy around us, especially when a game is crucial and competitive. When umpires are making bad calls behind the plate or on the field, whether we are a parent, coach, player, or fan in the stands, words and reactions affect the emotions of the players, parents, coaches, umpires, and the overall energy of the game. It doesn’t help us. It causes negative thoughts, words, actions, and behavior within the competitive environment.

As a lover of the game, we have to make sure we look for the positive in all the situations. We may get two bad calls in a row, but our players still have to work hard! We shouldn’t let them get down, upset, and negative. We have to keep the energy up, keep their heads held high, and to keep them competing! We shouldn’t allow ourselves or others dictate how we feel, but to use the situations to learn, teach, and apply. It will help everyone in the situation become stronger, smarter, braver, determined, and motivated to keep striving to be the best player, coach, parent, and team they can be.

So get rid of the negativity, and start looking for the good in the situation, because if we don’t, we are letting our athletes and everyone involved down.

“Every day may not be good, but there is good in every day.”

Written by Nikoli Sharp

May
30

Striving for Perfection

Striving for Perfection

“You will never influence the world by trying to fit in.”

Does your athlete strive for perfection?

Are they afraid of being anything but perfect?

Do they fear making mistakes?

Do they worry about disappointment?

Chasing perfection is a tough run. I think it is our job to help our athletes see their own type of “perfect”. While many of us have compared, listened, and judged ourselves based on what society or the environment we have grown up in believes what the idea of perfection is, we start chasing the person we are not, and chasing the person that we want to be based on what others think or believe to be “perfect” or “acceptable”.

Whether it is in life or in a sport, chasing majority’s idea of perfection is setting us up for failure. It is holding us back, messing with our emotions, turning us into someone else, and causing us to lose who we truly are.

As a coach, I never want my athletes to think they need to be “perfect” based on everyone else’s standards. I want them to create their own “perfect”. I believe we are all imperfectly perfect. We have flaws, we’ve made and will make mistakes, we have disappointed ourselves and others, we have reached goals and have had setbacks, but all of those factors in our lives have created each of us as individuals. We become stronger, braver, smarter, passionate, and empathetic. We become aware of who we are and what we are each capable of, and we realize that accepting who we are instead of chasing who everyone “wants” us to be, will lead us into becoming the best version of ourselves.

If our athletes don’t understand that, then they will be disappointing themselves, slowing their progress, and stopping them from having the love for the game and having fun with the sport. Being afraid of disappointment or trying to chase perfection doesn’t allow them to perform to their highest potential, so it is up to us as parents and coaches to help guide them, to help them see their path, and to create tools they can use to get to their own success and to their true self.

Creating goals and an overall plan to our success should be personalized to each individual. We are all different. Different personalities, learning skills, academic levels, athletic strengths and weaknesses, want and needs. If we are able to look at ourselves with honest eyes and an honest heart, we can create a plan in reaching the best version of ourselves that is tailored to us. These individual plans will help each of our athletes take a path that is made for them. Take the steps that are needed to be taken whether they are big or small. Given time whether it is more or less that is needed. And help them reach their own success and their own “perfect”.

Chasing perfection is a disappointing run when the destination is towards someone else’s “perfect”. Help yourself and your athlete create their own! We all want our kids and athletes to reach their highest potential, believe in themselves, and to become the best version of themselves they can be.

“Courage is being yourself every day in a world that always tells you to be someone else.”

Written by Nikoli Sharp

May
23

Great Coaches Keep Learning and Growing

Great Coaches Keep Learning and Growing

“It’s not about the shoes. It’s about what you do in them.”-Michael Jordan

As coaches, we have a different team dynamic, level, and approach each season. Therefore, we are constantly learning and growing! As a coach, many get stuck in the same routine, standards, beliefs, and strategies. But to be a great coach, we have to recognize the need for change and growth! We have to see what types of athletes we have each year, what strengths and weaknesses our athletes and team have as a whole, the types of learners we have, who our athletes are as individuals, what the goals are among the team, and what our rules and expectations are.

Each season and each team is a learning experience for all involved! We are constantly learning and getting creative with drills, practice plans, game plans, and team chemistry events. We should never settle for mediocracy, but to constantly strive for the highest potential not only for the team and athletes, but for us as coaches.

We tend to let pride get in the way at times. Whether you are a coach of 25 years or 5 years, you should never let your pride or comfort get in the way of your success. Change is a great part of life that keeps us on our toes, challenges us, teaches us, and helps us become better than we were to start with.

As a coach, I like to watch, listen, and read what other coaches have to say. There’s always a different perspective, tips, quotes, creative factors, and motivating terms that I learn from and am able to use and apply in my own instruction and approach. It encourages me to always strive to be a better version of myself, not only for me, but for my athletes, team, family, and friend.

Use all of the resources we are all so lucky to have! Ask questions, do research, and get creative! We are all capable of being a great coach, we just have to be willing to work for it.

With the constant learning and growing, perspectives and knowledge I see, hear, and read the more I look forward to each season! It’s a chance to help our young athletes learn and grow as individuals and as a team while learning how to see themselves through a positive perspective, become aware of their abilities and skill level, and gain knowledge about the game.

As coaches we are influencers, and with that title comes a lot of expectation, diligence, and passion. It is up to us to become a positive influence for our athletes. To be honest, caring, hardworking, respectful, and knowledgeable human beings they can look up to, learn from, and be inspired by.

We must put in 110% FOR them if we expect 110% FROM them.

A great coach is constantly learning and growing. Take advantage of all you can learn from each practice, lesson, game, book, coach, and each experience you get during the season, because that is your chance to not only be a better coach and person, but a chance to help your athletes be a better player, person, and teammate.

Written by Nikoli Sharp

May
16

Leaders with Influence

Leaders with influence

“Behind every fearless player is a fearless coach who refused to let them be anything but the best they can be.”

As a coach, we are leaders with influence. We are guides, mentors, inspiration leaders, motivators, energizers, supporters, trusting figures, teachers, and cheerleaders. We are role models that they look up to and learn from, and we are factors in their lives whether it is for one season or for multiple, we have a place in their life, and it should not be taken lightly or wasted.

I truly believe that our athletes are a gift. We are given the opportunity to teach and instruct these young athletes who have incredible talent, personalities, attitudes, work ethic, and skill sets that will not only help them become a great softball player, but a great human being. They will not just reach their highest potential on the field, but in life. It is up to us to help them see themselves with a positive mindset, and through a clear lens that helps them and guides them into seeing who they are and who they are capable of being.

It is not easy being a coach. Because we are so much more than that as I have stated above. No athlete is the same, and it is up to us to learn, understand, and create our own ways of coaching and teaching for each of them. No matter what type of athletes you have, the variety of athleticism, demeanor, and work ethic will have to be structured in creating a strong, fun, knowledgeable atmosphere where they can learn and grow. Although we may become frustrated, angry, upset, and/or disappointed, we have to remember that our reaction, our attitude, and our words affect our athletes’ attitude, perspective, energy, and emotions. We contribute to their feelings and emotions, we contribute to their perspectives and attitudes, and we contribute to their reactions and performance.

We are not just coaches who tell them what they need to do. We are leaders who are here to influence each of them in a positive, motivating, and knowledgeable atmosphere that helps them through their struggles-not coaches who put them down and expect them to use that negative energy to make them stronger. Teaching them and guiding them will be more beneficial than yelling at them. Yes, we will raise our voices because of the expectations we have for them, but we will also need to make sure we are teaching them along the way.

Our athletes have so much potential in life itself, and just being a small part of their journey is special, and I, as well as many coaches are incredibly thankful to help, support, and guide these young athletes in a positive direction that will not only influence their lives on the field, but wherever their lives may take them in the future.

Coaches:

-Give when they don’t have to

-Care for others

-Grow continuously

-Live authentically

-Empower others

-Manage hardship

-Serve with humility

“A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”

Written by Nikoli Sharp

May
09

Building A Team Through Leadership

Building A Team Through Leadership

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”

Building a  team is not easy or simple and it is not done in “this way” or “that way”; there is no right or wrong, but there are a lot of factors, work, opportunity, knowledge, experience, and heart that goes into it every single day.

Coaching

“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, and has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you can be.”

If you look up coach in the dictionary, you will come across the definition that reads:

  1. An athletic instructor or trainer; educator
  2. An experienced and trusted advisor; one who inspires knowledge, self-confidence, skill and confidence in an individual player or team.
  3. One who has a high level of self-discipline, expertise, patience, and leadership

It is so easily said and simply written, but becoming that trusted mentor is full of ups and downs with high amounts of emotions, in a very broad range; it takes time, experience, and knowledge not just from a book or videos, but from being on the field, traveling with our team, and teaching our athletes as individuals and as a whole. Becoming a great coach isn’t easy; it is a part of our life that can and should always be improved!

As a coach, we are constantly learning, constantly changing, and constantly teaching in a variety of ways depending on the personalities we have within our team. We learn that not every athlete learns or understands us in the same way, so we get creative and research different ways of instructing, teaching, and guiding our athletes. We have failures and we have accomplishments. We have good times and we have bad times. We have moments of gratitude, and we have moments of frustration. We panic, we worry, we laugh, we cry, we smile, and we stress. And although we have seasons that are hard and brooding and some that are exciting and uplifting, every single minute we get to help, guide, teach, and coach our athletes are worth it, every single time.

We are not just coaches that are easily and simply defined, but a person, mentor, guide, inspiration, motivator, mother or father figure, trustworthy confidant, and leader that goes above and beyond to help our athletes reach their highest potential not only on the field, but in life itself. Life and sports are connected, and if we can bring just an ounce of knowledge and perspective to each of our kids every day, we are making a difference.

Contagious Energy

Each team has a variety of personalities and demeanors, work ethic and behavior, and traits of being coachable and disciplined, respect is tested or it is followed, and attitudes are good, bad, or both, because let’s face it, it’s inevitable. But as coaches, we see each athlete’s role on the field and among the team. We see their weaknesses, strengths, problems, and behavior when they are given constructive criticism, tips, or instruction. And we see what each of them are capable of! Once we are able to see the potential of our athletes, it motivates and excited us into helping and creating drills, personalized practice plans, and stepping stones in order to reach their goals, reach their dreams, and overall guide them into being the best version of themselves. As each individual athlete starts to see their progress and reach new goals while seeing positive perspectives and staying motivated and inspired, that energy becomes contagious and forms a bond among the team as a whole. A bond that is strong and full of incentive, purpose, intensity, and heart.

Contagious energy can come from many things such as:

  1. Being on time
  2. Work Ethic
  3. Effort
  4. Body Language
  5. Energy
  6. Attitude
  7. Passion
  8. Being Coachable
  9. Doing Extra Work
  10. Being Prepared

Communication/Comfort Zone

Communication is crucial, but it also takes time to have a good relationship with your athletes. As a coach, communication should not be limited to softball talk, but getting to know your athlete as an individual. When we are able to understand each of them, it helps us and them in forming goals and objectives in order for them to succeed as individuals and as a whole team. We are able to encourage and inspire them, but also help them see themselves in a confident and positive way that leads to diligence, determination, and courage. They will learn how to create goals for themselves, how to look to their future with determination, and work and prepare in the present. They will communicate with questions and observations, so they can learn and grow as athletes. They will become aware of what they are capable of if they set their minds to it and put the work in for it. They will become the best version of themselves when they are not only able to communicate with their coach, but with their present and future teammates and coaches, parents, siblings, friends, peers, professors, and colleagues. Communication is just one factor that will help them open doors, grab onto opportunities, and become who they were meant to be in the highest of regards.

Preparation

As coaches we need to prepare our athletes in the best way we possibly can as they start reaching higher levels within the sport. We cannot go through the motions if we want to be the best coach we can be for them, and to help them become the best version of themselves. We must evaluate and learn their weaknesses and strengths as individual athletes and as a team in order to create drills, practices, and instruction that is tethered for them. If we are doing all that we can to help them succeed by preparing each practice for their success, then we are helping them move past each obstacle they are faced with. We are helping see what they need to work on, and what they are capable of, and overall, how to get there.

Care

Lastly, we must care. If we are coaches, coaches that want to help our athletes reach new levels and to succeed, then we are not just coaches who only strive for winning, but coaches who care about their well-being, their dreams, and who care about their future. Some coaches only care about one thing and place value on it over all else, and that is to win, but I truly believe “winning” is watching your kids grow as athletes, as a team, as young individuals, and watching them reach their dreams.

“Behind every fearless player is a fearless coach who refused to let them be anything but the best they can be.”

Written by Nikoli Sharp

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