Process vs Results – Don’t Get This Wrong!

I have to admit. I see this all the time at youth softball practices. Coaches who are more concerned with the outcome of a play in practice vs the process.

Example? Trying watching a youth softball team practice turning a double play. More often than not you’ll probably see coaches satisfied when the ball is fielded sure handedly, thrown to 2nd, thrown to 1st, then thrown back home.

As long as the ball makes it through all those stages and back to the catcher everything is good and the coach is happy.

But what about how the ball was fielded? Did that person do a good job with footwork while fielding and throwing? Did they transition the ball well and get it to 2nd as quickly as they could? Did they make the catch as easy as possible for the person covering 2nd? Or did they use poor fielding and throwing technique and footwork? Did they make the catch and “turn” at 2nd difficult?

What about the “turn” at 2nd? Did the person covering 2nd approach the bag properly? Were they set up on the base right? Did they use the most efficient and effective footwork to get the out and quickly get rid of the ball to 1st base?

Then there’s the first baseman or the person covering 1st. Did they stretch to the ball correctly?

Was there good communication between the players on the play?

…and so on and so on and so on.

Too many coaches disregard all these components of a good double play.  Their only concerns are that the hit ball is not missed and that the thrown balls are not thrown wildly away. All they care about is that the bases were touched and the ball makes it back home – in other words, the result.

But what is that teaching the players? Are they practicing it right? Are they practicing it right consistently? Are they even close to getting both outs? Are there things they could do better? Or are they just practicing how to turn a double play incorrectly and inefficiently?

None of these things get addressed most times I watch a practice.

I know, I know. Taking the time to correct and refine ALL of that would take so long. Yes, it’s true that you may only get about half the amount of double play reps if you take the time to actually coach all that.  So what?! I’d much rather have 10 quality reps than 20 poorly or incorrectly done reps!

I also see this “Results over Process” mistake with hard throwing players. By the time I get to coach players they are 14, 15, 16 years old. Many have been playing since they were 8 or younger. They’ve been throwing the way they throw for a long time, and yet I see many, especially the hard throwing ones, who have poor throwing mechanics. They don’t get the most out of their body with the throwing motion they use. Most barely use their legs and rely on just their arm.

Since hard throwing players have a these nice strong throws, it seems most coaches during their youth ignored the fact that they weren’t throwing with the best mechanics. Coaches see a nice hard throw and which ends up in the catching vicinity of the person receiving the ball and that’s all they care about. The end result of the throw was good, so why “fix” anything?

Why? Because that’s your job as a coach! To help players get better even if they are already the best on their team or the best in the league for that matter.  There is always room for improvement.  You do your players a great disservice of you don’t help them get better despite how “good” they already are.

Allowing hard throwing players to continue using poor mechanics…

  • wastes a players energy. Proper throwing mechanics are efficient allowing for maximum output with minimal effort. This is super important on long tournament weekends or over the course of a long season!
  • makes them slower defensively than those who use efficient mechanics. The point on defense is to get the ball to your target in the shortest possible time frame (not with the highest possible velocity) in order to get more outs.
  • puts unnecessary strain on their arm.
  • reduces their arm’s effectiveness over the course of the season.
  • shaves time off the longevity of this cannon arm over the course of this player’s career.

Like I said…disservice.

Focus on process over results – how they threw the ball, not where it ended up or how fast it was going when it got there – and you will avoid this issue.

Process Over Results
It’s not whether you get the ball here or not, it’s HOW you made the throw.
It’s not whether you came to practice or not, it’s HOW you trained while you were there.
It’s not whether you ran your sprints or not, it’s HOW you ran them.

Is the point simply to complete the task or complete it well?

It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s HOW you play the game.

You cannot always control the outcome of a performance. You can choose a good pitch and hit a ball well, but you cannot completely control whether you get hit or not. Someone on the other end may make an unbelievable catch and steal your hit. It doesn’t mean you did a bad job. You just couldn’t control the outcome of your good hit. All you can control is your performance.

  • Did you give it your all?
  • Did you do your best on that given day?
  • Did you do what you trained to do to the best of your ability?

Have you ever walked away from a win with a less than satisfied feeling? Have you ever walked away from a win disappointed and bothered by your personal performance in it?

In contrast, have you ever walked away after a loss without anything to be ashamed? Have you ever walked away from a loss feeling proud that you did all you could do and simply came up short on that day against a worthy opponent? Have you ever come away from a loss more deeply respected by your teammates, your opponent, your coach, your family and your fans?

Was it the score or the result of the game that allowed you to hold your head high after a loss vs stew with dissatisfaction after a win?

The score or the result of the game is ultimately NOT the most important factor in how positive the experience was for you. It was about the PROCESS!

Funny thing is, mistakenly emphasizing results, results, results typially don’t get you to the results you want.

Focus on the quality process, on best effort in the process, on best attitude about/in/regarding the process…that’s what usually gets you results you want.

Good results are a BYPRODUCT of excellence in your process (in your HOW)!

Good results are not “the point” – good results are what happens when you really truly get the point.

Kevin Eaton

Hello! I’m Kevin – an openly biased Baltimore Orioles fan; a youth baseball parent; an obsessive-compulsive scorekeeper; a travelling ballpark tourist and a taste tester of defiantly unhealthy ballpark culinary offerings. In this space I share my love for the game of baseball and in doing so, connect with other really great people who love the game as much as I do.

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