With the weather finally appearing to be stabilizing, baseball season can be enjoyed in the comfort of warmth. Thousands of leagues with millions of kids are engaged in competition and hopefully some fun. However there is no denying that many kids will be looking to gain an edge by looking for some added coaching or instructions. Sound coaching is at a premium this time of year. Knowing the importance and demand for good coaching, it should be the responsibility of every coach and parent to provide the best instructions available. I realize that coaching at most amateur levels is a matter of choice. However, it does carry a certain degree of responsibility. After playing baseball for 30 years, amateur and professional, I did not think that anything could satisfy the competitive hunger that dwelled in me. However I’ve been involved in coaching since 1994 and find it to be very rewarding and satisfying, not to the level of playing but certainly a great substitute. As a matter of fact, with 13 years of coaching experience in addition to my playing experiences, some may consider me an expert. As this is a flattering compliment, I question if anyone is an expert when it comes to coaching. There are numerous books and videos claiming to have the answers taking the guess work out of coaching. Many of them promote generic philosophies and techniques. Based on my experience, most of them fall short of explaining sound coaching techniques. Even as I may be considered an expert, I do not have all the answers needed to master the art of coaching nor do I claim that other information is useless. I do have some advice that may help: (1) There’re no absolutes in coaching (2) Never demand more of an athlete than is physically possible (3) Coaching style such be tailored to the level of players (4) decide whether your coaching will be instructional, development or for winning. Whatever your coaching style will be, patience will always payoff. In a sport full of ambiguous terms, getting your message across can be challenging. It would be to a coach’s advantage to use terms that are easily understood. Avoid or full explain terms like level swing or squash the bug, which is used frequently at the lower amateur levels, can lead to misinterpretations of instructions. Coaching is more than instructing. It involves giving options in techniques and mentally preparing athletes to perform.
Coaches have the task of motivating players. It is the hope of every coach that the thrill of competition is enough to motivate every athlete but this is not always the case. Most athletes are visual learners therefore are motivated by the appearance of results. It is the desire of every athlete to be the best, accepted, experience the thrill of competing and victory. The fulfillment of these is among the highest motivators, however, the lack of either can cause an athlete to lose confidence in the coaching and, eventually, the motivation to continue trusting and practicing the techniques. An important fact for any coach is to remember that the majority of athletes are result driven and it is this fact t can make it difficult to get athletes to understand and trust the process. Therefore, a relationship of trust must develop to maximize a coach’s efforts. The athlete must trust the coach even when the results are not immediate.
Since players don’t always respond to the teachings of the coach, coaches need motivation as well. They need to see some positive results of their efforts, some measure of success. For a coach, there are many variables that determine success and unfortunately, for coaches, success is measured by victories. Recognizing and managing variables such as; physical ability, mental awareness and knowledge of the game just to name a few, will increase your chance of success. Above all, you must have patience.