“More times than not, when I get angry, it’s a mistake. As you get older, you learn from your mistakes. More times than not, when I lose my cool, it winds up hurting us so I try my best not to do it. If I start to get frustrated or start to feel that blood boil a little bit, then I have to take a deep breath and realize, ‘Hey, I have to keep my cool because these guys are relying on me to be relaxed and confident in pressure situations.’ It’s hard to do sometimes.” – Clemson University Head Baseball Coach, Monte Lee (via http://www.tigernet.com/story/baseball/Tantrum-throwing-helmet-slamming-bat-breaking-Monte-Lee-14870)
There are successful coaches of all different personalities and coaching styles, and this article should not be confused as an attempt to say that there is a one-size-fits-all way to coach. But are there traits shared by successful coaches? We think so, and the one that sticks out like a sore thumb is temperament. If you want to be a successful coach at any level, you need to develop a winning temperament.
Merriam-Webster defines temperament as “the usual attitude, mood, or behavior of a person.” So what is a “winning” temperament? The most important feature of a “winning” temperament is consistency in your behavior as a coach, regardless of the game situation at hand. If you want your players to handle a high pressure game or situation as if it were any other routine game or situation, then you must act that way. Players can sense panic and drastic behavior change from coaches, and often mirror these changes in their own behavior. If you are on a roller coaster, you can expect your players to be on the same ride, and that rarely turns out well in the pressure filled moments.
Consider some of the praise we hear showered on championship teams or winning organizations:
Calm under pressure
The game is coming easy
Playing to win
Wanting the ball in the big spot
Wanting to have the big at-bat
Get better on the big stage
And the list goes on…
Now consider the managers in last year’s roller coaster World Series. Dave Roberts and AJ Hinch have different personalities. Roberts is more outwardly enthusiastic and Hinch a bit more stoic, but both displayed remarkable consistency during the biggest moment of their career. They never wavered from their approach or temperament and this consistency allowed the players to be themselves and do what they do. In this post-game interview, Hinch describes how in the big moments he never stopped doing what got them there. A big reason why the players are described as having “the game come easy” or “playing loose” in the big moment is because of the winning temperament displayed by the team leaders. The consistent and predictable behavior, regardless of the situation, is mirrored by the players and allows them to relax and trust their training.
We love the above quote by Clemson Head Coach, Monte Lee, because it not only speaks to the players reliance on the coach for consistent demeanor and temperament, but also how difficult it is to achieve a winning temperament. Achieving a winning temperament takes maturity and practice, but every coach can work on being more consistent in their behavior on a daily basis. By being more aware of your behavior and working to develop a winning temperament, your players will benefit tremendously. The following 6 characteristics of a winning temperament can serve as a good checklist and remind you to be consistent during the ups and downs of an inning, game, and season.
6 Characteristics of a Winning Temperament
- It’s difficult to tell the situation (score, stress level, etc.) of the game by looking at the coach
- The coach does not let his emotions interfere with making rational decisions during game play
- The coach allows his players to enjoy the big moments by focusing on the process and not the results
- The coach helps to simplify complex situations and is able to clearly articulate instructions to his players
- The coach remains positive and encourages his players to enjoy the big moments
- The coach is able to turn the page and move on after good and bad outcomes or games