What is Your Dugout Like?
The atmosphere in many dugouts can vary throughout the year. The best coaches and teams are the ones that can not only put a great product on the field but also have a great climate in the dugout too. Take a serious look at what goes on, what you hear, and the feeling you get as you walk through yours. What is it like? Be honest with yourself.
I think there is a point in every season where the players who had hoped to earn a starting spot or potentially lost theirs realize that this might not be their season to contribute as much as they wanted to. Let’s face it you will have players who are let down. It is natural to feel that way. The last thing you want is the team split into two because of playing time. Have you built a culture of We before Me that is strong enough for those players to be selfless?
Great dugout talk must first be modeled by the coach. They way you talk to your players needs to be positive and speak of what you are trying to avoid. One of my pet peeves is when a coach or teammate says something like, “Don’t lose em!” or “Don’t chase the high one.” Those are seeds you do not want to plant. Start by having only positive dugout interaction.
Next, create a dugout identity that everyone wants to be apart of. In many dugouts, there are almost two different teams at work. The have’s and the have not’s, those who have playing time and those who don’t. You cannot have a unified team one goal, one mission if this is the case. Everyone must be in it for each other. Selfless players are what we want, players who don’t care who gets credit for the win or hits that night.
If you look closely at the College World Series the last few years, you will see dugouts that had great participation and created positive energy for their teammates even though they were not in the game at the time or key contributors. These players found other ways to make themselves useful for their teammates.
Be creative with it. Anything that brings the team closer together, some laughs to stay loose, and doesn’t disgrace the game itself or the other team is great. Let your players come up with their own dugout climate and encourage it when they do.