Having coached youth baseball for eleven years and having been a head-coach for nine of those years I can totally relate to what I called the “June Blues”. You’ve had about as much of Little Johnny as you can handle and his mom is about to drive you over-the-top. Hang in there – the end of the year tournament is nearing and with it comes the end of the season.
Fight the tendency to allow your weariness and frustrations to cloud the good times that you’ve enjoyed with your team. If you have had a stellar, championship type year – rejoice and celebrate the victory. If your season was other than stellar find reasons to celebrate. Whatever you do don’t give up on your team – do not let those little guys or gals down. Fight on and finish strong.
Practice still counts and matters. Other coaches getting the “June Blues” will most likely lessen their attention to the details. By you remaining diligent and sticking with your practice regiment and discipline your team, despite it’s showing during the regular season, may have a chance to surprise some teams that performed better during the season. Inevitably there is team seated low in the tournament rankings that peaks during the end-of-season tourney and surprises teams. It could be your chance to rally your team and have them take home a tourney championship.
Our teams faired fairly well during the season but I can recall several times when we were unset by a lower seated team. If you are coming off of a strong season you need to coach your teams to the end and if you detect a loss of focus have some team meetings.
The other thing that often happens at the end of the season is that family vacations can change the complexion of teams. A key player missing from the lineup as a result of a visit to gram’s house can put a huge wrinkle into a team’s strength. As I’ve discussed in previous blogs and in my book you need to communicate early regarding when the season is over and urge parents not to schedule vacations until after the very end of the season. Start this discussion at your very first meeting with your parents (see “Meet the Parents” blog from September 2008) and repeat it often. If you’ve done a good job with this you may not find yourself in a tough situation. That said, it happens and it happens more often to coaches who didn’t stress this with his players’ parents.
Burn-out, loss of focus, injuries and vacations can all come to play as the season winds down and the strength of teams can change. Avoid those items that you can avoid and encourage your players, their parents and your assistant coaches to hang in there and make the absolute best of your season regardless of your win/loss record.