Boot Camp Philosophy
Image via Wikipedia
I approach all-stars with a boot camp philosophy. A mother told me the other day, "my daughter said she misses you. She said he drove us hard and I probably complained back then, but now I miss him". I have NEVER driven a team harder than I did the team I have this year, the response? Overwhelming smiling faces tonight!
My philosophy is fairly simple. You have about two weeks to practice for the district tournament. The problem is they are all from different teams! While they likely know each other from school and such, they are still very loyal to their team. It is important to remove them from this and rebuild them. The problem is you only have two weeks to do this!
Tear Them Down
The first week we tear them down. The second week we rebuild them. Tearing them down requires a boot camp mentality where we work drills that require lots of running and everyone is exhausted when they leave practice. Absolutely no nonsense is permitted, and players are constantly reminded that anyone on the team is capable of taking their position from them and that others are waiting in the wings should they want to quit.
By today, everyone is exhausted and about done with being beat on. That is success! Today the rebuilding begins. To start with we held two practices today. The morning session was typical for a Florida morning 90 degrees and extremely humid! There was not a smile to be found. I smelled things this morning I never want to smell again! It has been raining and all cleats, coaches sneakers, catchers gear, bat bags, etc. are wet and stinky! It was quite rank!
Build Them Up
At the close of the morning session, I announced I would buy everyone pizza for dinner after the evening session. OK, that got a smile out of them. Tonight, after a rain that cooled everything making for a perfect Florida evening, I couldn’t wipe the smiles off of their faces! It was awesome!
We hit tonight, and then played a bunting game and a game of 21 outs. Then the pizza’s arrived. The point of the pizzas was to begin the bonding process. It was nice, and I gave a little speech about how proud of them I was at how hard they had worked without complaining once. I told them I had never worked a team harder and that they should be proud of themselves as well. Then it happened.
It wasn’t planned, there was nothing behind it, it was spontaneous! I asked them did they want to play some more or go home. I also asked them what they wanted to play. One of the girls said they wanted to play us, the parents! They all enthusiastically agreed! It was a no-brainer.
We played them. I have never seen a team have so much fun! Also, they came together, decided batting orders, positions, rotations, etc. They knew to have the good outfielders play because we would hit, and they put the right people in the right positions in the infield! They were pumped! It was amazing to watch and I could not have written a better script to start next week with.
The best part of all????? WE LOST!!!!! The parents lost! For real! We didn’t even tank it! And the absolute best of all. I made the last out against my own daughter!!!!!!!!! And she got the assist on the 1-2 putout. I was swinging for the walk-off homer and hit the ball right to her of the end of the bat. It was brutal. They went nuts! The dugout was buzzing for half an hour!
The last cheer in the circle of "1-2-3 All-Stars " was the loudest of all year! They have begun to come together, they are happy, and they are magic together. Next week we begin to focus on the games. Next week, we pull together as a team.
What is the best bonding experience you have ever seen a team have?