DEVELOPING A PASSION FOR THE GAMEUpdated Monday August 8, 2016 by Suzy Brazney- Head coach Golden West College Asst. Coach USA Softball Jr. Women’s National Team.
As an athlete and coach, I have often heard people talk about passion for our game and whether it could be taught. I can respond with a confident Yes. I believe we all have passion. Our passions may look different, feel different and transpire into the world differently; but I do believe someone can learn how to tap into their passion.
So, it’s not actually the passion that's being taught, it's teaching people how to tap into their passion. You become passionate about something that you love; something that means so much to you that it is so important every day. For example, someone might try painting for the first time and find they really enjoy it. Then they practice painting more and more and the passion builds up until it becomes part of who they are.
Success helps build our passion because we all want to do things that we are good at and succeed. That is why I believe teaching kids the fundamentals of the game is so important. They develop as they achieve those beginning successes. This includes the strategies of the game, understanding the intricacies of the game, and the parts they like the least, such as how to keep score.
Helping kids find their “niche”, which may be different than what their parents “want” them to pursue, will help their passion grow when it truly is their dream.
To find that 'thing' that you are passionate about takes time. It helps to try different things as this will open up doors that you never knew existed. You become passionate about something when it 'clicks' with your uniqueness. Give it time and it will come into your life.
We as coaches want all our players to have our level of passion, but in reality, not every athlete will. I strive to help every player I come into contact with, leave me with an understanding of how to tap into their own level of passion for the game. Everyone’s level will vary, but developing that love of the game will transcend their lives.
Passion is the outcome of a clear goal that feels right and is on track. When someone says, "I am passionate about music," they are saying that music is an important part of their lives and they are fueled by that as long as they stay connected with music. I know a lot of coaches who are passionate about helping people do their best work but then spend virtually no time helping their athletes set up their goals and checking to see if they are on track to achieve those goals.
Recent studies tell us that we feel intrinsically motivated when we feel we are "making progress." We want to progress. We want to feel like our efforts have meaning and make a difference. We want to see and feel that we make an important contribution. On the field, our passions will increase when we can see the contributions we are making and they fade when we feel our work does not make a difference. I believe that if the coach loses his or her passion then they can’t help others tap into theirs. I’m sure everyone has felt that “moment” when things go exactly as planned. Through hard work in practice, successes will come and in turn, our confidence will increase. Our natural passion for our work will shine through with a little effort, and our athletes will respond to and reflect that.
If you are a leader who wants to ignite passion, talk about it with your athletes and make decisions with it in mind. As a coach, consider this element as important for helping your athletes race toward their goals. I want everyone to have goals that are so exciting, that they get chills just thinking about them. Those “chills” will help the passion carry into all aspects of sport and life. Those "chills" will feed the passion!
Lastly, love every minute you get to be on the field, as a player or as a coach. There is no better “job” in the world so give it you’re ALL every day!