Wednesday, September 3, 2008

When a player is playing badly, he knows it

Don Honig wrote a book 20 years ago titled "October Heroes."  [It's been republished a few times, I think.]  

I started thinking about a section of it recently after my son had a rough game.  As parents (and coaches), we're tempted to talk to our kids immediately following their game.  We want to begin correcting their mistakes right away while they're still fresh.

But in Honig's book, there's a quote from the great Casey Stengel who believed this is the exact wrong approach:
"I've found out in past years that when a ball player is playing badly he knows it.  He knows what he's done.  Well, that is NOT the time to hop on them. When they're winning they'll take a lot more from you than they otherwise would.  And not only that, but whatever you tell them they'll absorb a lot better than they will when they're mad.  Because when they're mad they won't listen."

According to the author, "that was a technique Stengel used all the time. When he was sore about  something and wanted to get it across he would always wait for the opportune time -- and for him that was when things were going good and everyone was relaxed.   One thing I will say about him, he never individualized in his criticism. When he held a meeting to get some things straightened out, he would talk in generalities; but the guys he was talking about always knew."