WYC 103 – Youth Baseball & Softball – Marshall Lehr talks playing to win vs. playing not to lose

Marshall Lehr is a baseball and softball coach in Texas. He is the father of 4 and has coached many of their teams growing up. He is a passionate believer in the power of sports, and specifically baseball and softball. He is also a great student of the game, having recently gone through John O’Sullivan’s Coaching Mastery course.

Website & Blog: marshalllehr.com

Twitter: @MarshallLehr

Facebook: /marshall.lehr

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‘The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place’ – George Bernard Shaw

Coaching your own kids

  • Make decisions based on results more than potential (it is easy to see the potential in your own kids, but the results need to be the criteria used)

Cringe Moment

  • Marshall had two moms complaining to the ref and instead of diffusing the situation he got in an argument with them.
  • Diffuse situations with the phrase ‘I can see why you think that’

Teaching Skills

  • ‘The ability to learn faster than your opponent may be your only true competitive advantage’
  • Make everything competitive to raise the energy level – You can buy one of those little scoreboard flip charts
  • Game – Pull out a stop watch and see how quick the girls can get fly ball into cutoff

Championship Culture 

  • A healthy learning environment is one where kids are playing free and aren’t afraid to make mistakes
  • Keep one error one error.
  • Book: Top Dog – Penalty kicks:
    • Kicking not to lose: 63%
    • Kicking to win: 93%


  • They had toy WWE belt they gave to best defensive player – and would use Discount Double-check motion during games to lighten the mood and excite each other
  • First out after an error is huge – so after games they would recognize who made the play to get the first out after an error

Connecting with and Impacting Kids

  • Marshall sends notes in the mail to his kids – there is a service where you can print pictures off Facebook in a card format.
  • Reinforce with kids their importance is not dependent on their sports performance

The One that got away

  • Marshall got a 2nd & 3rd chance – He had a kid struggling with pitching and took himself out of the game. The first time he let the kid leave the game. 6 months later the kid wanted to take himself out, Marshall asked the kid to get him 1 out. The kid still struggled. Then 6 months later he asked the kid to get him 1 out and he worked out of a bases-loaded no outs situation without giving up any runs.

Best borrowed/stolen idea

  • The decision is part of the skill – learned from Mark Upton
  • Compete and measure it!

Favorite coaching book/quote

  • Quote/Book: ‘We went out looking for exceptional kids and what we found is exceptional conditions’ – Benjamin Bloom in Developing Talent in Young People. Be the coach to develop exceptional athletes and people.
  • Book: Mindset by Carol Dweck

Parting Advice

  • You can’t teach everyone the same way
  • Have a preseason meeting with your parents to set expectations. ‘The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place’ – George Bernard Shaw


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