A friend of mine shared a video recently that I’ve since seen circulated on several online platforms featuring St. Louis University High School baseball coach and Coach Baseball Right Founder, Steve Nicollerat. Once I watched (and shared) the video myself, I knew I had to reach out to Steve to introduce myself.
Here’s the 2:24 min video that every parent of a developing athlete should watch.
In it, Steve implores parents (many of whom appear to be dads) of youth baseball players to not allow our current sports culture to dictate what is right and wrong in terms of the total number of games that need to be played or to be pressured into early sports specialization.
Having two boys of my own as well as a daughter who all enjoy playing the game of baseball and softball, respectively (along with several other sports), I believe so strongly in Steve’s message. I see this window of time when they are actively engaged in sports as very narrow in the grand scheme of their lives and I’ll be damned if I don’t do everything in my power to help them enjoy every minute of their experiences.
I asked Steve if he’d be willing to help me kick off a new series, Sharing Wisdom: A Series of Coaching Perspectives, and he generously obliged. In the coming weeks, I will continue to share insights and guidance from many coaches whom I personally respect.
If you like what you read, please visit each of these coaches’ online platforms (if applicable…some are old school and prefer to maintain communications offline) to learn more about their individual philosophies. Reach out to me with questions or thoughts in the comment section below or by contacting me directly.
Without further ado, I bring you the first installment of Sharing Wisdom: A Series of Coaching Perspectives…
Q1: What is the single greatest attribute a young athlete must possess in order to be viewed as a “difference maker” by a coach?
Steve’s Response: I look for kids who can listen to instruction, be open to new ideas, and are not satisfied with being average. Too many or our kids are ok with being ok. Those kids really won’t do much for your program. The more a player invests himself in something, the more disappointed he is when things are not going well. That disappointment can turn into motivation. Too many kids never get to that level of investment.
Q2: How should a kid who wants to compete on a high school team mentally prepare or conduct himself in order to make that jump to the next level?
Steve’s Response: Being open to the idea that the number of games played does not make him better. The player needs to learn the game from his experiences and the experiences of players around him.
Q3: Tell me about one kid (you can name the athlete or choose not to) who left an enormous influence on you/your program and describe why that is.
Steve’s Response: I have had many young men impact me and our program. They all seem to be very balanced, handle success and failure well, and make others around them better.
They seem to put the concerns of others ahead of their own. They seem to know they are part of something bigger than themselves. They tend to challenge everybody around them to be a better player and person, not by saying anything, but by how they conduct themselves. They are very humble in their success. They are very solid away from the game.
Editor’s note: Notice how this coach attributes the overall success of his program to the combined contributions of many dedicated athletes as opposed to singling out any one young man in particular? It is my belief that this approach (valuing teamwork over individualism) will lay a foundation for how these athletes view their relationships with others both during and beyond their playing days.
The Sharing Wisdom: A Series of Coaching Perspectives is written by Heidi Woodard.