BASE2 – For Player Relationships
By now many of you have heard me speak, read an article, or own the 1PW Books that detail the BASE2 System. You use the BASE2 concept within your program to help guide your offense. It is hands down the best thing I have found when coming up with a team strategy to help stay process oriented when dealing with the offensive side of the game. This article is not about scoring runs or winning games. It is about building lasting relationships with your players that go beyond just baseball or softball which in and of itself can help you win games. Fact: Players always play harder for a coach they respect and trust.
The acronym is the same but the idea is completely different. Each letter is used to represent a way to connect with your players everyday you see them at practice or at school. Just like winning games there are certain things you can do to win your players’ trust, respect, and loyalty. The BASE2 Relationship System is designed as a checklist for you as a coach to help check-in on how you are doing at building those relationships instead of hoping that they grow on their own. Just because you plant a seed doesn’t mean it will grow. You must water it and tend to it. Your players are the same. Growing the trust of your players is all about cultivating those relationships and working at it. You can use BASE2 to stay proactive.
B = Break the Ice
The approach we make as we greet others sets the tone of any interaction. A person’s name is said to be ‘the sweetest sound’ labeling our identity; therefore, using a player’s name instills the sense that they are important and valued. Rather than a casual ‘hi’ or ‘hello’, a coach can build relationships by acknowledging their players’ as individuals and make the effort of a personalized ‘check in’. An example may be ‘How did your sister’s birthday party go, Dylan?’ This may seem like a detail and considerable work; however, Julius Caesar, one of the most successful leaders of the Roman military was able to recall thousands of names of his soldiers. He invested time to know them and made the effort to greet them by name. We know the unity and strength of that army.
A = Attention to Individual Needs
Each player comes to the field to be a part of the team yet brings his individual needs. These needs are not limited to those pertaining to our sport. Home, school, and community aspects impact any player’s ability to focus at practice or in a game. Being aware of the whole individual and knowing their needs allows a coach to support and acknowledge situations to address. Players are left with less to worry about when they have identified an adult they trust and discuss issues with. Things to consider when addressing a player’s needs may include general life updates, inquiries on grades and classes, and interest in family and friends.
More specifically a coach can provide individual attention to a player’s skill needs within his sport. Good coaches will listen to the player and his desire for improvement. If there is a skill deficit impacting a player’s game the one-on-one recognition and time given by the coach creates motivation for continued effort. One-on-one time from a coach reinforces a player’s perception of his worth and value within the greater team.
S = Small Tokens
To some the best form of acknowledgment is something tangible like a gift or reward. Coaches may choose to give a player a token of appreciation to acknowledge the effort or areas of improvement. Tokens can range anywhere from a small bag of candy for reaching a practice goal, to getting t-shirts made that can be earned by the MVP of each game, or a traveling trophy. We had a one of a kind jersey made each year that would be awarded to a player each day at practice and after games. They kept it, wore it the next day, and then gave it away again. The ideas are endless. It is important that the implementation is consistent with expectations that are attached to each token. There could certainly be multiple tokens given each day. One for your most mentally tough player of the day who battled adversity and one for the defense play of the day, etc. Tokens can be awarded by coaches to improve a direct relationship with a player, however there can be consideration to have players award them to each other as well.
E = Effort to Affirm
After breaking the ice earlier in practice with each player a coach should make effort to provide verbal affirmation to each player either individually or in a small group. Rather than a team wide statement to the entire team, the coach is looking for opportunities to connect individually throughout the course of practice. Praise can be given for effort, improvement, and or to follow-up with “Attention to Individual Needs.” As often as possible it should be tailored and specific to the individual player. A non-example would be “Good job!” Although it maybe enthusiastic and heartfelt it lacks the players name and a specific recognition for their effort. An solid example would be, “Nice swing, Dillon. You are staying back on the curveball much better.” This example uses the players name and recognizes the skill that the player has improved.
2 = Two Types of Touch
Verbal connection is important but it is also important to connect through physically touch. High fives, pat on the back, or an arm around a player goes a long way to showing you care. Even physically demonstrating a skill with a player, showing them a proper arm slot, or fielding technique would be considered a type of touch. Touch can be a quick easy way for a coach to individually acknowledge a player.
Trying to reach all five criteria with every player is on a daily basis is unreasonable. But within your coaching staff trying to get to three of the five with each player daily is attainable goal. Also, within each week of the season you should strive to get a five for each player. A three is attainable easily through a nice greeting, quick handshake, and asking a player, “How school is going?” It is not hard to consistently score a three but the effort to relationship building is worth it and takes time. The results are a team of unity, mutual respect, and culture that each person matters.
Winning championships is great but never done without a solid unit that is built upon a foundation of trust. Strong relationships can flourish on your team if provide the context for them to grow. It is up to you. Help build life-long relationships with your players. That will always be more valuable than winning games with players that either don’t like you or respect you.
Special thanks to Amy Snow for coming up with a new spin on BASE2! You are WOW!