Playing vs. winning

Which is more important: playing lesser-skilled players (and possibly losing), or playing more-skilled players (and possibly winning)?

I asked that question in a blog post last week. Thanks for the great comments! Here’s my answer to the question…

As a coach, I have tried several different approaches. I, like Bob C., believe there are ways to win other than just with the score.

As a former assistant coach at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, we were there to win. It was understood by all that we were not looking for any other victories.

All the players had a role to fill and if your’s was to sit the bench—only to go in if someone got hurt—then that was the way it was.

This was a school with an impressive softball team and an impressive head coach; there was lots of winning and tradition to uphold.

That’s high school.

I think that the younger years (8-14-years of age) should be the developmental years, and everyone should get playing time.

At the high school level the best should play.

If that doesn’t include your student-athlete then you and your child have some work to do.

One of the reasons I love softball so much is the game responds to how much work you put in to it.

Think about it: basketball, volleyball, and track all place a premium on height or speed. If you are blessed with either of those attributes you have a distinct advantage over others.

Softball can be played by all.

You might have to work harder, but if you want to play go for it!

Like former UCLA softball coach Sue Enquest once said at a hitting clinic, “If you love softball, softball will love you.”

My interputation of her meaning is: work on improving and the return the sport of softball will give you is playing time.

She went on to say that she needed 100 percent from her players every day. Understand your child might not be at 100 percent, yet.

But if all your student-athlete has for today is 80 percent, then the coach and the team still need all of that 80 percent.

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One Response to “Playing vs. winning”

  1. Kent February 19, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    Great answer. I’m with you Mike. At the younger, formative years it is well to play everyone. It gives all the opportunity to play. It showcases those who have talents in certain areas ie hitting, batting, catching and develops a sense of team and commraderie. As the girs get older they will also learn a valuable lesson of life. You get what you put into it and,for those who look for hand-outs and easy ways you will, at some point in time, realize that nothing is free. Competition encompasses many factors. Preparation, discipline, morality and spirit. Win or Lose.

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