‘YES’ people empower.
‘YES’ people encourage.
‘YES’ people teach.
‘YES’ people build on your strengths.
‘YES’ people hold you accountable.
‘YES’ people are process-oriented.
‘YES’ people challenge you to be better than you were the day before.
‘NO’ people direct.
‘NO’ people degrade.
‘NO’ people react.
‘NO’ people unconstructively criticize.
‘NO’ people do things for the wrong reasons.
‘NO’ people are results-oriented.
‘NO’ people expect perfection, rather than someone’s very best.
There’s probably a few people that pop into your head when you think about these two types of people. We’ve all experienced YES and NO people – in life, work, sports, school – everywhere.
I encountered plenty of NO people in my sports career early on. I vividly remember sitting on the bench (where I spent most of my time) during the first summer playing travel ball around age 12 or 13, which was uncommonly late to be joining that party. I was pretty good. I played rec league and was better than average. Like any KID, I was figuring things out. I didn’t have all the pieces put together, not even close. I was athletic, positive, hardworking and LEARNING the game. I heard a lot of indirect NO’s during that developmental stage, like checking the line-up card to find a lot of 7, 8 and 9's (offensively and defensively) next to my name. One tournament I exclusively pinch ran.
At that point, I had enough of the NO people convincing me I wasn’t supposed to be there. I truly believed I wasn’t as good as the other kids, and it made me hate the sport for a long time.
Luckily, I was surrounded by YES people at home. My parents, amazing. My unconditional YES people (besides when it came to PG-13 movies, owning a cell phone and boy/girl parties - but now I’m starting to think they were probably onto something with those parenting decisions!) My sisters and brother, total YES people. My eventual college coach at Wisconsin, one of the best YES people in my life still today.
The only real thing separating me from any other kid wasn’t how good I actually was, it was how good I thought I was.
How true is this for so many kids today?
The kids we work with are unbelievably talented. It’s amazing what a kid can do with a bat these days. Seriously, you go try to do it. We see a sickening number of kids each week who’s perception of their talent level comes from what they’re hearing from someone else (directly or indirectly) – a coach, parent, teammate, whoever. That perception of themselves is directly correlated to their confidence and self-esteem. which is then the determining factor of the success or failure they experience in games. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s something that’s a real problem in youth sports today.
This idea that we can determine the best kid from the worst kid at any age between 8-14 is ridiculous. Yes, there are kids who are more naturally gifted than others, we get that. But aren’t we, as their coaches, parents and instructors, supposed to be empowering all of them with the correct tools, skills and confidence so they all have a fighting chance? If not, we need to review those job descriptions.
When you’re lucky enough to find yourself having an opportunity to influence our youth, especially through sports, be their YES person.
Negativity kills, expecting perfection is poison, screaming is demoralizing, playing only to “win” rather than to “develop” is backwards.
We are 100% about holding kids accountable, we live by that at 360U. That’s called tough love and it comes from a place of genuine care for our athletes to grow into the best-version-of-themselves. Standards are great, as long as they’re built around attitude and effort – two completely controllable traits. If the young athletes we all work with aren’t confident, that’s a reflection of US - not them.
Now, this is not meant to be passive aggressively ‘shared’ around to point fingers at people you believe to fall into the ‘NO people’ category. It’s to remind all of us to take a look in the mirror and make sure we’re being the best YES people we can be for others – for our kids, families, friends, co-workers, etc. It also reminds us to surround ourselves with YES people. Surround your kids with YES people.
We see an incredible amount of YES parents, coaches and adults every day and are so inspired by how they treat the people and kids around them. These YES people are the majority and are exactly who today’s youth sports need more of.
Take some time to thank your YES person, and try your best to be a YES person for someone else. Softball is a drop in the bucket, we’re talking life here.
Maria Van Abel & Laura Beyer
When we started 360U Softball in 2016, our goal was to help softball players get better. We found a lot of athletes needing instruction, and wanted to help them bridge the gap between where they were, and where they wanted to be as softball players. VERY quickly, we found that the grand opportunity in front of us was not just to teach mechanics to these young women, but FAR more importantly, to help them understand how truly amazing each and every one of them are and to find their best self.