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Beating the Odds

Problems and Possibilities

Every problem disguises a possibility.
And so it is with all the snowstorms, which, among other things, have complicated life for baseball and softball coaches around large parts of the United States.
Fields are covered with snow. One coach in Virginia told me he doesn’t expect to even see green until April.
Even so, the schedule will not wait, and somehow these coaches must find a way to get their teams ready to compete.
And the challenge will be the same as it always is: Get as many meaningful repetitions as possible in the available time. This can test the planning skills of any coach even when conditions are perfect. But with limited space, the task grows ever more complex.
“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination,” Albert Einstein said.
Some coaches will respond to the snow on the fields. Others will complain about it. That’s just the way it is. However, the coach who confronts this challenge with imagination will be doing exactly what we tell our athletes to do: make the best of every situation.
Here’s what’s important to know about practice planning under tough conditions.
First, it’s possible. I recently attended a clinic given by the New Hampshire Baseball Coaches Association. Steve Trimper, baseball coach at the University of Maine, spoke about practice efficiency. He emphasized that he has spent many practice hours in small gyms in the Northeast. He knows how to get the most out of limited facilities. It can be done.
Second, it takes work. You will make mistakes, and things will go wrong. But that is not excuse not to plan. The secret is to get the athletes interested in the process. Can they get their work done even when you’re occupied with someone else? One softball coach recently told me that she offers two challenges to her players: Can you make yourself better today? And can you make a teammate better today?
Third, think of weather problems as adversity training. Adversity — whether in the Winter Olympics, in March Madness or in the NHL and NBA playoffs — is a given. You’re going to face adversity during games, so why not deal with it in practice? There’s no greater gift we can give our athletes than to point out chances for them to grow. And this adversity training is not just for the athletes; it’s for you as a coach, too.
In short, these piles of snow are a problem. But they are also a possibility — a chance for you to grow in your practice planning skills.


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