How to Use Motivational Patches to Motivate and Recognize Baseball Players
The patches are a motivational program that really works. As we all know, keeping players motivated is one of the most important challenges a coach faces. Motivational patches give kids something additional to play for and makes it more fun! As a coach you will enjoy the happiness and smiles they bring, along with the extra effort your players will display. Your time as a coach should be about creating good memories; and patches will help you do just that! You will also be amazed at the difference they make in your players attitude, enthusiasm and play.
I first used the patches in 2008 as an idea from another coach who had used them and really liked how the kids responded. I gave it a try and it was a great success as the kids enjoyed getting the patches and as a coach I was able to reward kids for playing hard, hustling, and giving their best effort. Often players will evaluate their game based on how many hits they had or whether or not they made errors in the field. With the patches I'm able to reward the kids for things that might not show up in the scorebook. This can be especially handy if you know a player is a little down because of a strike out or two or a bad play in the field. You can pick out something that they did well during the game and reward them with a patch. This can really help them feel good about their contribution during the game.
I gave the patches to the kids as a keepsake. It's a fun thing to do and the kids really enjoy it. Just make sure they know where they can't put them!
You can use the patches to help achieve your objectives, and this varies from team to team. Use them to motivate your players, to encourage hustle and aggressive play, to encourage them to practice on their own, for good defense, for listening to the Coach, for improving at a particular skill or for anything you want to encourage. Many coaches use them for practices and have seen great results as players play hard in practice to try and earn a patch!
How Many Patches?
How many patches you will need depends on how you plan to use them to motivate your players. So, the first thing to do is to think about what you want to achieve.
- For example, if you want to encourage practice and game attendance you might want to give a star patch each time a player comes to 4 or 5 practices. At the end of the season, give a Gold Star patch for perfect practice and game attendance, and ONLY give the Gold Star for that.
- If you want to encourage hustle, you might give out the Lightning Bolt patch for players that hustle in and out, backup the correct base, or take an extra base by running hard from contact. This approach really works; it worked for me. Remember, not every kid can be a good athlete, but every kid can hustle.
- If you want to encourage good defense, then you can give the Defense patch for solid defensive plays. I limited this to the best 3 defensive plays per game so you don't have every player trying to get a patch every time they catch the ball.
- I like kids that are positive and try hard to keep the team focused and positive. The Attitude patch is a great way to reward those players. Again I limit this to a couple patches per game.
- I use the Victory patch for key contributions to the win. It may be a great pitching performance or a clutch hit or a great defense play that gets your team out of a jam.
- The C-Patch can be used for many things. A great catch in the field if you want to reward a play in a different way from the defense patch. Many coaches use it for courage, character, and/or commitment. This is a great patch for a plyer who goes above and beyond in some way.
- The Bravery patch is great for kids that are afraid to stay in the box and overcome that. Kids that have difficulty getting in front of ground balls or kids that get hit by a pitch or bad hop.
Think of the things you really want to achieve and to teach and how the patches can be used to motivate your team. Put it on paper and add up how many patches of which color. That's the best way. It's better than the guessing method I used the first year when I ran out of patches!
As a rule of thumb, I would say that most coaches will give out 10 to 20 patches per player during a season if they are giving patches for practice attendance.