It’s not every day that a softball team wins a USSSA World Series championship, but that’s exactly what the Delaware 18U All Stars accomplished under the successful leadership of Coach L. The team of girls ages 14 to 18 only started playing together a few short months ago, proving that with effective coaching comes success.
So, how does a coach create a championship team from inexperienced recreational players who never played softball at a competitive level? Coach L explains his approach to coaching as one that combines skills and behavioral tactics to help the team accomplish their goal of attending a World Series-caliber event.
Coach L knew that his effectiveness depended on three basic personal skills: technical, human and conceptual (Northouse, 2016). Having played softball himself for 25+ years, his knowledge of the game was vast and he was able to share all that he knew with his players. He also raised four girls of his own, so he understood how to interact with teenage girls without creating friction. It is these human skills that allowed Coach L to assist the team in working cooperatively as a group to achieve their goals (Northouse, 2016). Coach L applied his conceptual skills by analyzing the opposing team’s strengths and weaknesses and adjusting his game strategy according to his competition’s style.
Coach L’s behaviors complement his capabilities and also contributed to his team’s success. The behavioral approach explains how an effective leader combines both task and relationship behaviors to influence the team to meet their goals (Northouse, 2016). Being task-oriented by nature, Coach L established routines for building core skills by starting each practice with hitting, fielding and base-running drills. He quickly identified which players would play each position and organized special practices for pitchers/catchers, outfielders and infielders. His relationship behaviors helped the girls feel comfortable with themselves and each other and included building camaraderie, respect, trust and liking between himself, the players and their families (Northouse, 2016). Throughout the season he organized team-building activities so that the players could connect off the field as well. His coaching style balanced task and relationship with a strong emphasis on both behaviors, resulting in satisfied players who trust in his coaching decisions in order to win games.
The team’s success can be attributed to Coach L’s technical knowledge of softball and the behaviors he exhibited while sharing those skills with his players. Applied together, these approaches provide a roadmap to successful coaching and led the Delaware All-Stars to become World Series champions.
Northouse, P.G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.