Understanding each hitters is different will be crucial to their development throughout the year, honestly it's probably going to change month my month through progressions. You are going to inherit a hitter into your program at the beginning of each season, whether fall or spring. It is our job as hitters coaches to assess their baseline structures of strength, mobility and stability. Taking them through a personality test, one on one interview and a breakdown of the type of metrics we will be tracking throughout the season during practice sessions and why we think they are important.
First I will start with the individual himself. I want to learn about him, his family, how he grew up, his interests and what motivates him. I"ll take you through my player interview and tell you what conclusions I can draw from it or at least have a good idea of the player I am going to be working with.
Starting with the simple hometown, major and birthday. Some guys will just state the hometown and some will say it proudly with a chest bump or head nod, you'll find out if they have a lot of pride about where they came from. When some players can tell me what they want to major in I can find if they have a pretty good grasp on their personal development and probably organized enough to have researched what they want to do after baseball in college or pro ball. Birthday is good to have to celebrate that players birthday at practice to keep the family tight. Then moving into their family and learning if they are the oldest or youngest and what not. You briefly talk about how they grew up and the family dynamic, did other siblings play sports, parents? How did your player get into baseball, how long has he been playing?
Next is one I like a lot, has your player ever had a job? You find out what kind of work, whether with their family or friends. It's interesting to find most of my players who have had jobs seems to show up ready to work at practice everyday. Then learning their biggest fear and what is interesting is probably 70% of them will say "failure". It's great because it makes it so easy to talk about failure during the first week of practice, help the players understand that the game of baseball is designed for you to fail as a hitter. Help them understand what makes them successful and what really is defined as a win that day for their individual development.
The next question is my favorite question because it helps me learn how they want to be taught, how to be approached and motivated. This question to me is a MUST.
The one last meal question helps me learn if they can be detailed in their thoughts, can they dig deep, or do they just kind of show up. A lot of younger players don't know how to be detailed in their thoughts yet. They haven't really learned to think for themselves. So many of their protectors or adults in their lives tell them how to think or the social media they see.
The next is nice to see what kind of lifestyle they may have grown up in when learning what their parents do for work.
Then move into their one song they need on the BP playlist. Some don't even have one and some can't pick just one. But it's a great way to learn what guys like to listen to and how they like to pump themselves up or get focused for competition. I use this list to add all the songs to a playlist too for pre-game BP.
The next three questions and crucial to knowing what they want to learn and where they feel they need to improve. More importantly, how to approach them when you feel they are leaving something on the table. Not bringing full focus and effort to practice. How to jump them in front of everyone or pull them aside and have a one on one talk. Then learning where they think they are valuable to a team and it allows you to key in on who you think finds ways to lead the team and who is a true leader. Many of the players think they have great leadership skills but many are truly still learning.
Next I will move into their hitting portion of a brief questionnaire, having them fill it out at home then bringing it in and reviewing it with them. I'll take you through this brief questionnaire as well.
1. I just want to have a good gauge on the player and what type of hitter he thinks he is, I want to know why he emulates a certain player and what does he like about that professional players style.
2. I need to know what the hitter is wanting and trying to do in the box. I also need to make sure it isn't part of any timid style of mindset. I want my hitters full throttle, I will worry about pulling back the reigns if I need to. This also helps me know if they were told things in the past by coaches to where there were constraints put on their approaches.
3. Just understanding how they challenged themselves over the summer and seeing if they learned anything new. Helps you know which summer leagues, teams and coaches can be trusted.
This is just the starting point for the hitters and it is a must. You have to be able to connect with them, they have to be able to trust you. This is a great start of foundation for trust and showing you care about their personal development.
Next post I will go over the physical assessments I have used in the past for understanding their bodies and where their baselines are.