Updated: Nov 26, 2018
Many of us whether now coaches or interested in becoming coaches or an individual of influence in player development are most likely involved because of the possible impact we can make on a player(s). There is a good chance that we went through our playing careers and had the chance to play for a coach that just didn’t quite measure up to expectations or thought yourself could have done a better job. Chances are that most of us, knowing what we know now, compared to what we were taught or how the organization was run when we played could easily have at the very least taught more about player development.
The amount of “coaching” I have seen in whether my playing days or my coaching days presently are very much so of just showing up and being a machine. Or at least a simple programmed robot with only one program, one mindset in which to teach hitting, pitching, base running, defense, practice planning, etc. We have all had the one size fits all coach and what is even worse is when that particular coach doesn’t see you succeed in that approach he deems you either “uncoachable” or just not good enough. Which ultimately ends the players career unless he somehow finds ways to battle against the coaches philosophies that do not work for him and still manages to perform well enough for the coach to continue to play him, or he transfers to a different school to where the culture provides an holistic approach to player development.
These coaches that teach with this approach are in what is called a fixed mindset. Carol Dweck is a professor at Stanford who researches motivation. Her TED Talk describes the difference between people with a “fixed mindset,” who believe intelligence is static, and those with a “growth mindset,” who view intelligence as something that can be developed. This is easily applied to physical growth, not just mental growth. With baseball it takes development of the mind and the body to truly be competitive at the highest level in today's game.
It really isn't an option for anyone wanting to become a coach or work their way up the ranks. Unfortunately there are coaches in positions that are comfortable and have job security to where they "don't need to learn" because they already know because they have been "coaching" for so long or they know they won't lose their job unless something drastic happens.
There are certain subjects necessary you need to be well versed in, and not just being able to hold a conversation on the subjects. You need certifications, prove you know them, something tangible to show credit for. You need to be able to teach them, not just attempt to learn them. Below are what I believe to be valuable to a coach in the baseball industry, but really almost any sport.
1. Know the body: Mobility specialist, CSCS, TPI certified, OnbaseU, Mobility WOD, ALTIS.
- You need to be able to know where the body is weak, where they lack efficiency and why they aren't moving well. It isn't just "mechanics".
2. Leadership: Jocko Willink (Extreme Ownership), Simon Sinek, Entreleadership, Tim Ferris, John Wooden books.
- I am not a believer in team captains. I believe all members of the team need to be leaders. Everyone needs to be invested in the program/organization. It will not happen if you only have 3-5 members of the team viewed as "the leaders".
3. Mental Development: Daniel Coyle (Talent Code), Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers), Meditation, Team competitions.
- Learning about the 10,000 hour rule or 10 year rule. You know it takes a long committed time to your craft to become an expert, make every second count. As a coach you can control the pace of your practices and limit the amount of wasted time.
4. Life Skills: Whether you like it or not, as a coach you are spending more time with your players than their parents do at times, especially in college. I believe it is irresponsible of a coach and show lack of care towards the individual if you are not challenging them to learn and preparing them for adulthood. There will always be life after baseball for any player. The last teacher they will spend the most time with is YOU.
1. Give your players a survey at seasons end, ask their opinion. Ultimately they will control if you keep your job at some institutions.
2. Keep them involved in the decisions of the program. It's ok to delegate power to your assistant coaches, just like it's ok to delegate decisions to your players. Such as which uniform they wear for the game, pre-game meals, even if you have a team practice that day, etc. Give them some autonomy within the program.
3. Most importantly, care about your players. If you can do that, you'll be alright.
SUCCESS IS NOT SECRET ANYMORE! IT IS A CHOICE!