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Beating the Odds

Freeing Your Players to Play

Today’s post comes courtesy of Scott Illiano, one of the top high school baseball coaches in New Jersey. Always passionate in pursuit of knowledge, Illiano watched the recent College World Series for clues to success. He came up with this gem about motivating players:

Texas had fallen behind the University of Arizona 6-0 and was facing a pitcher who had not given up four runs in a game all year. Texas Coach Augie Garrido called his team together and spoke.

He told the players they were playing poorly, like the famously inept “Bad News Bears” of movie fame. But he didn’t let it end there. He told them “We could start over!

Imagine how it’s going to feel when we turn this around. Picture watching the highlights on Sportscenter, and how it’s going to look when we come back. Baseball is about having fun. None of you are having fun out there because you’re not competing. Let’s start to have some fun and compete!”

Sure enough, Texas came back to win the game and, afterwards, Garrido was asked if he knew his team would respond so well to his talk.

He answered that, honestly, you never know how your team will respond. He was then asked why he pointed out that they played like the Bad News Bears and then emphasized starting over. “Because,” said Garrido, “It removes the guilt. When your players come in after an inning like that they are feeling guilty, they feel rejection. Removing the guilt gets them off focusing on rejection and failure. It’s my job to remind them of their opportunity. It’s like in life, there’s always another opportunity.”

What superb coaching! Remove their guilt, get them having fun, and point their focus on the future!

Many thanks to Augie Garrido, and many thanks to Scott Illiano.


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