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Dealing With Player Meltdowns

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This resource stems from a question submitted to the Ask PCA blog. Responses come from our experts including PCA Trainers, who lead live group workshops for coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes.

"I coach youth baseball, ages 10-12. How do you handle the emotional meltdowns that can take place on the field after errors or strikeouts?"

PCA Response by Mike Farley, PCA Trainer-Milwaukee
To me, this is the most important aspect for learning in sports. As coaches, we can train anyone in certain basic skills, but what do we teach about overcoming adversity?

How will I deal with failure? After the strike out, the errant throw and the dropped fly ball — that's exactly the time to learn. Excuses and frustration typically only result in more failure. Relaxation and visualization can help. So, too, can coaching that allows for failure. Screaming and cajoling an athlete will most likely produce more fear, instead of motivation.

How can I prevent failure? Preparation, both physically and mentally. We let so many of our kids simply wander out and "play" without giving them the skills in practice to understand. Make a point in practice to put them into the very situations that will cause the most stress. Experience is a great cure for the jitters.

How do I carry on when I'm down? Quite possibly the hardest thing to do in life… and the most rewarding. Coming back from behind. Again, calling out players who battle through these low points can be great teaching moments. Don't miss the opportunity. A batter who fouls off six pitches only to strike out on a seventh, in an age of pitch counts, has done his teammates a service, not put them at a deficit.

Download a printable version of this resource, including any additional commentary from PCA, by clicking the PDF below. To read more questions and answers like this, or to submit your own question to the Ask PCA blog, click here.

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