Coaching is a highly visible position that carries with it many misconceptions. The most basic erroneous belief is that coaching is easy—easy from the point of view that any former ballplayer will make a good coach.
As with most things, such a generalization can lead to false assumptions and unrealized expectations. For example, just because you took a math class in school does not qualify you to teach math. Or, an even more absurd example is that because you once had a medical operation you are now qualified to perform one.
"I've Played Softball (Baseball), So Coaching Will Be A Breeze"
Yet, in coaching we often make the mistake of assuming that because we once played the game we are now qualified to coach. Having played may give you a leg up on some things, but if you want to be a good coach you will realize there is so much to learn.
Whether you have ever played softball will have no bearing on how qualified you are to coach, or on how good a coach you are capable of becoming. The only advantage that playing softball may give you is a better understanding of the rules and strategies of the game, and a better feel for the game itself.
However, the rules and strategy of the game, and a feel for the game can all be learned, just as a player has to learn how to play the game.
"What About Me, I've Never Played Softball"
Actually, knowing the game from a player's point of view is totally opposite from a coach's point of view. So, those of you who have never played softball, or possibly any other sport, take heart. If you really care about your players and if you are willing to learn and work at it, you can become a good coach.
The key to your success will be the willingness to learn all you can. The more you learn, the more you can help your team improve. And that in essence, is what coaching is all about - helping your team improve and learn the game of softball.
"But I Told You, No Sweat, I've Played Ball"
Back to those of you who have played softball or baseball, and as a result think coaching will be a breeze. To put it gently, obviously you have never coached a youth sport.
As mentioned above, coaching requires a totally different perspective on the game than playing. The biggest problem most former players face when they start coaching is realizing they have a lot to learn.
Having played softball or baseball will certainly give you general knowledge of the game, but it does not mean it will help you in your new role as "coach." Time is precious.
Doing the Homework
Let's say you just moved your family from a warm climate to the northern portion of the United States. Your 12-year-old daughter has just come home and announced that she is going out for luge after school and she wants you to be her coach.
She does not believe you when you tell her that you can't coach luge because you do not know anything about it. She starts crying, saying you raised her to believe she could do anything she puts her mind to, and she has put her mind to luge. You can't break your little girl's heart. So you go to the library as fast as you can and read every book ever written on the luge.