Inside Pitch Magazine, November/December 2023

@CoachYourKids: Change the Scoreboard and Start Stacking Wins

By Darren Fenster, Assistant Baseball Coach, University of Miami, Founder/CEO, Coaching Your Kids, LLC

An image of a scoreboardIn baseball, a win can take shape in many forms beyond the victory handshake at the end of the game. A win can be as simple as a base hit for a batter. A stolen base for the runner standing on second. A strikeout for the guy on the mound. An out for the infielder with the dirty uniform. The game is filled with these little, individual wins that, if a team collects enough of them, they often find themselves on the right side of the ledger at the end of the night. 

In life, many measure their personal wins in dollars when it comes to their professional careers. For someone who wants to lose weight, the currency of their wins is likely pounds. An addict in recovery may keep score by days, while a student might track their wins in letters. Every part of life has a scoreboard, but for many, it is a challenge to come out on the winning side. 

Losing can take its toll on you. Failure is one of the biggest killers of hope and joy. Both can be deflating and can leave a path of destruction if you’re not careful. There are only so many times someone can strike out in baseball or in life before doubt and discouragement creep in. The human psyche can only take so many punches before you want to take the gloves off and leave the ring.

The struggle is real for us all and failure is a common part of everyday life for anyone with a heartbeat. Those three Ds—deflating, doubt, and discouragement—are all in the mind; they aren’t tangible. And because they aren’t tangible, maybe there is a way to change the lens and create a different perspective. How can we flip the script and become uplifted from a loss? How can we shift the narrative to confidence after failing? How can we feel encouraged after getting kicked in the gut?

Easy. We change the scoreboard.

No longer is the challenging result the currency of our success. Instead, we develop an easier game to play, and when we start stacking win after win in those games, those bigger picture wins that have been eluding us slowly but surely become more achievable and oftentimes even take care of themselves.

For a hitter who may really be struggling, instead of chasing hits, let’s start focusing on the pitches he is swinging at not just in games, but in practice as well. Every good pitch they swing at is a win; every bad pitch they don’t go after, also a win. Stack enough of those Ws, and the hits will come because hitters are only as good as the pitches they swing at. For that pitcher who can’t seem to get anyone out, let’s track first pitch strikes and the race to strike two, both clear pre-cursors to actually getting hitters out.

For someone who wants to lose weight, let’s stop centering everything around that number on the scale and instead start concentrating on simply showing up. Showing up for a walk. Showing up to the gym. Showing up to sweat. How many times in one week can you show up? Start a streak for showing up. I promise you, when you show up consistently, the number on the scale will start moving in the direction you want it to without even focusing on it. For the business professional chasing dollars, how about chasing “awesome” in your daily, remedial tasks? Stack up enough “awesome” over time, and that promotion—and raise—will likely follow.

The true influence of a leader goes far deeper than the end result. A huge part of achievement begins with the belief that we can, in fact, achieve. By changing the scoreboard, you help your people turn a loss into a win, a nothing into a something, a pain into a gain. You are enabling your people to stack little victories that instill the belief in self needed to earn the big wins that everyone wants in the first place. Changing the scoreboard isn’t about making life easier, but rather it’s about building the confidence we all need to successfully navigate through the hard parts of life.  

Inside Pitch Magazine is published six times per year by the American Baseball Coaches Association, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt association founded in 1945. Copyright American Baseball Coaches Association. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without prior written permission. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, it is impossible to make such a guarantee. The opinions expressed herein are those of the writers.