What do you value in your program?

I got into coaching because I love baseball, sports in general.

I wanted to be around it.

I wanted to be a part of it.

I really couldn’t get enough of it.

I got into coaching because I wanted to win games, win championships, and be known as a great coach. I loved to win and hated to lose. I got into coaching, partly, for selfish reasons. All of those are still true. However, there is also a part of me that wanted to challenge young players not to make the same mistakes I made as a player… and as a person. I have always been a dreamer. Of course, like most young boys, I dreamed of playing big time college baseball. I dreamed of playing in the big leagues. I dreamed of all-star status and hall of fame credentials. I didn’t fulfill those dreams. My skills and abilities as an athlete weren’t where they needed to be for that to happen. Even if they were, no one makes it on talent alone. I often think and wonder to myself– “What if?” What if I was disciplined enough to skip the party and head to the cages? What if I knew what accountability was and stopped making excuses? What if I was committed to taking the extra ground balls or extra swings after practice? What if my attitude could have been better about some of the tough situations I put myself into as an athlete? What if I gave the EXTRA effort? I don’t like that “what if” feeling and I struggle with it often. I feel like I played and practiced as hard as I could. I wasn’t afraid to sweat, or bleed, or get dirty during games or practice, but there was a lot of sweat and blood that I held back. What if I had done more? If only I would have listened a little more. I hope my players don’t have to struggle with “what ifs?” But through God’s Grace, I have people in my life, my parents; my siblings; my wife; other coaches, who love me enough to impact my life and help me realize what is important. At the end of the day, the wins and championships are great memories, but the lessons learned are what will carry someone through life. Coaches have a unique and tremendous platform to share those values and teach those lessons. And sometimes it is the coach who has the greatest impact on a young person.

I have been very fortunate to coach with and coach against some very skilled leaders, guys who are respected, guys who are revered, guys who are loved. It is no accident that those coaches consistently win. The past several years as a coach, under the guidance of champions; hall of famers; great coaches; great men; great husbands; great fathers, I have started to develop a set of core values that I believe are vital to a championship program– winning on and off the field.

Discipline: Do the right thing. We don’t make rules JUST to make rules. We don’t give players responsibilities to clean up the field, cages, or weight room because we don’t feel like doing it. We don’t tell players to act right in school and to keep up their grades for eligibility purposes. I truly believe these things create discipline. Discipline is an effort to do it right… ALL THE TIME. Every rep. Every pitch. Every at-bat. Every play. Every game. In every day life, discipline is an effort to do it right. Every situation. Every conversation. Every assignment. Every class. Every day on the job. Every day at home. Every day. Putting in the extra work, taking time to make sure you’re doing what is best for the team– your home team or your sports team– that is discipline.

Accountability: No excuses. We all hear them. We all make them. It is a daily struggle that we see more and more each day. “It’s not my fault.” Accountability is owning up to mistakes and taking on responsibility to fix it. How can a player get better if he or she does no wrong? Mom, Dad: how will your child get better if he or she does no wrong? It takes a conscious effort at home, at work, at school, at practice, at games. The best of the best make no excuses.

Commitment: Do what it takes to be the best you can be. I ask my players all the time do be committed to being the best they can be. Take extra reps. Put in early work or stay later. That’s how the great ones do it. Commit to studies. Commit to doing your job well. One day, Lord willing, our players will get married and have kids. Commit to being there for your family– your spouse, your children.

Effort and Attitude: All of the above take great effort and the right attitude. It’s easy to be negative and to give in to laziness because something is difficult. I am guilty. But there is good news– each day I wake up, I get a chance to fix that attitude. I get a chance to work to make it better.

These are important for players to understand and equally important for coaches to understand and model for players, for children, for co-workers. What a platform to create change! That’s why I am behind the message and goals of Bigger Than Ball. I love to win and hate to lose as much as anyone, but I choose the opportunity to win the right way– implementing values that will lead to success on the field and in life, because it really is bigger than ball.

–Chris Shelton

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