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Life Lessons

The Breakthrough Moment

Why do you coach?

Yesterday I had a moment that reminded me why I do.

It was at middle school softball practice, a relaxed day of batting practice and fielding. A pitch came in, and the batter lofted a short fly.

The ball landed in the glove of a seventh-grader, who then said, “That’s the first ball I’ve ever caught that was hit by a batter.”

It was the breakthrough moment that every coach can cherish. We have been working with this seventh-grader all season long to help her catch a ball. And she did!

In my years as a sports writer, I got to witness many instances of sports history: World Series, Stanley Cup playoffs, Olympics, etc. But this was better. It wasn’t just SPORTS history. This was HER history.

Who knows where this young woman’s softball career will go now? One thing is for sure — she had a moment of joy that will probably keep her playing for a while.

After practice we asked every athlete what they learned or accomplished. Each one came up with something to say.

This is an area of coaching I’m working on right now: making sure that the athletes leave practice with a sense of accomplishment. It’s not easy to help everyone have a breakthrough moment every day, but it’s certainly worth trying!

The process begins with a sense that there is potential in everyone. There is a need to be recognized in everyone. If you can remember that, there can be more breakthrough moments that will remind you why you coach!


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