If you are anything like me you hate making mistakes. Only thing I hate worse is immediately reading something new that would have helped me avoid the mistake. I’m going to share my most recent mistake … which involves running my mouth when I should have just been silent.

Last Friday evening I was hosting my 7th annual Christmas Batting Extravaganza. 4 straight hours of batting and competition at a local batting cage. Shannon Murray one of my former students and assistant coaches, is now a senior in college and came by to visit, hit and speak about her experience in the recruiting process and her experiences as a collegiate player. She did a fantastic job. After she completed I asked the 20 players that were if they had any questions for Shannon while they had this opportunity. Then I made a huge mistake.

I paused for an entire 1 and 1/2 seconds and when nobody shot their hands into the air I said “Wow, you have such a great chance right now and none of you want to take advantage of it.” Paused for another 1 1/2 seconds and proceeded to say “Ok lets get back into the cages since there are no questions.” Two huge mistakes on my part in less than 5 seconds.

The first mistake was that I answered the question “Why didn’t they ask questions?” in my head with a variety of negative assumptions:

  • They are just tired
  • They aren’t really interested
  • They are too focused on the fun to think about their future

Fortunately I recognized right away that was the wrong thing to do. These were great young ladies, most of which I personally selected to have as students. So I followed the advice I had just read earlier in the week and asked one of my students instead of trying to fill in the “why” for her. Her responses was something like “I thought of a question, but then I forgot it. Then I thought of it again, but then I forgot it again.” Very honest answer. Not learning from the prior mistake I followed up with another negative response to the next “why” in my head with “blonde moment.”

I returned home. Excited that the event had gone so well except for “in my head” the fact that the girls were to “intellectually lazy to even ask questions about what could be the most important pending decision of their softball lives.” I slept restlessly and awoke about 3 hours later. Decided I might as well read some more of the book that I’d been having troubles sitting down. Fortunately for me the author reached off the 2nd page I read and smacked me in the face with the answer I needed.

“Now if I have to think about what I want to say while someone else is talking, who is listening. Ahhh now there’s the problem: no one is listening because when one person is talking everone else is thinking about what they want to say. No wonder we can’t communicate.”

The problem wasn’t a blonde moment. The problem wasn’t that they didn’t care about their futures. Shannon had done such a great job communicating that she actually held the attention of 20 teenage ball players late at night. They were so focused on her and actually listened that they didn’t have time to formulate a question. The problem wasn’t them at all, it was that I could hardly take a breathe before I had to move on and fill the void of … silence.

Whether you are a coach, a parent or a player I highly recommend picking up a copy of “Stop the Drama: The Ultimate Guide to Female Teams” by Doc Robyn Odegaard. It is filled with practical explanations that will help you, like me, understand the silly things that we do that lead to drama. Things like filling in the “whys” in our own heads with negative responses instead of asking why. Things like the fact that if you want good questions, good responses you have to take the time and allow people to think. Even though the silence can be deafening while they are.


Category : Coaching / Mental advice