Coaching my first travel team and the lessons I learned from it.

    This blog thing can be addicting, I literally wanted to post something everyday since my first post. (There coach Bree I believe I put a comma lol ).

Ok let me give you a quick back story on how I became a travel ball coach. I was a helping hand/assistant to a friend of mine who coached for a team called the Mt Vernon Magic. One of the best coaches I have ever worked with by the name of Coach Craig, and he is a also a friend. Well i absorbed all of what coach Craig was doing at practice and tried to watch during tournaments. I thought since I was coaching rec ball how could travel ball be so hard? well there i go being 100% wrong again.  Well the fall season was winding and I was asked if I wanted to coach my own 12u travel team called the Alexandria Tsunami. Hell yea I wanted to do it! and I accepted but I really didn’t know what i was doing quite yet, but I was super excited and i knew for a fact we were going to win a lot of tournaments because we were going to play B level softball and i was mentored by coach Tasaka so how could this go wrong?

Ok step one on how things went wrong:

I betrayed a good friend of mine and damaged our friendship to be able to coach my own team. See I didn’t know yet that players committed for the year not just the season, so I assumed that I was doing this at the end of the season. I didn’t have great knowledge of winter workouts and things like that, so when I left the team with Vanessa about 5/6 players came with me. So I could have potentially crippled my friends team, I didn’t even think about the damage it was going to do to the team or our friendship, I just assumed teams did tryouts in the spring every year. Thankfully my friend is a great coach and players signed up to play for him so he rebuilt a very successful team.

Step 2 on how things went wrong:

I no clue what I was doing! when i say no clue i mean i had ZERO idea of what i got myself into. I assumed with my Mentor helping me i would be good to go! well i didn’t know how to run a practice. I didn’t know how to teach hitting, i myself did a 2 hour hitting lesson to be able to understand what I’m teaching. I still didn’t understand cutoffs or defense. I had my 3rd baseman behind the base for a bunt defense! yes we got bunted on a lot! i didn’t know how to set a line up or even rotate players correctly. I was drowning!!

step 3 on how things went wrong:

I was probably the meanest coach ever in life! I assumed that I could coach every player like I coached my daughter her whole life. Trust me you don’t want to know how i coached Vanessa, my mother would have to leave because i was VERY hard on Vanessa. I was in her face and i pushed her to the limits, you know emotions are for the weak, pain is weakness leaving the body, why are you crying, run sprints, do it again until its perfect, if you want to quit just change your last name because Arroyos don’t quick!  yea i was tough on her. Yes i coached my first ever 12u team like this, i would yell i would scream i would make them run i would yell again. These players were playing in fear most of the time so they didn’t have ANY fun! at least i don’t think they had any fun now that i look back. We won a whopping 5 games i believe and that’s me pushing it. I look back now thinking “damn these players kept coming back” and i kept making the game worse and worse!  I am thankful that some of them still play today, but i know some don’t because of me, and that sucks.

Step 4 on how things went wrong:

I blamed the players for everything. We didn’t win because the players weren’t getting it,  the players are talking a lot because they don’t listen, the players aren’t motivated maybe we need new ones. The hard truth was told to me by my mentor Coach Tasaka, he said the team is as good as the coach. So I tried to point blame again, but I was told again  “You are the head coach, they will do what ask them to do and what you coach them to do, if the team sucks its because you suck. Well that was a tough pill to swallow but it changed my life! and it changing my coaching life! I had to look at everything with a completely different perspective. That in my opinion is the hardest part about coaching. Find 13 different ways to coach 13 different players to all play as one.

Tryouts for my team were coming up for the fall season and i lost everyone but 4 players and one of those was my daughter. Then the rebuilding process began, and it took up until my 2nd half of the year 14u team to finally have players love to play for me.

A couple lessons here, for one please by all means have your kids commit to something! If the players makes a choice then they have to live with it unless things are truly unhealthy. Don’t team jump or team hop because your not getting enough playing time or you think the grass is greener.  Teach these kids to work harder!  there is a quote by Derek Jeter that i love, “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there is no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do- and i believe that” .

Trust the process and  things don’t happen over night. Push hard, work harder and be confident and listen to your coaches. Trust me things will fall into place.  Coaches need to stick together and work as a team to make things work for the team, everything starts with the coaches! Take blame for the losses and give credit to the players for the wins!


thanks for reading!

Coach Berto!






3 thoughts on “Coaching my first travel team and the lessons I learned from it.”

  1. We all have to start somewhere! I’ve come a long way since I started coaching and have had to change my philosophies some. I was once the tough coach, but I have softened a little because today’s kids are not built for someone to be in their face all the time the way they were to me when I was a player.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Been there too brother. Coaching is tough & students are reflections of their teacher and overall environment. People in positions of any kind of team leadership have a hard job because at the end of the day – everything is the leader’s fault. The sooner we take that hard honest look in the mirror the sooner we make the changes we want to seenun ourselves. You’re the man Bob.

    Liked by 1 person

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