What Makes A Good Coach

I am sure there are varying opinions about this topic. Some will say the W/L record, some will say the amount of fun being had, and million other things. But the most valuable trait that any coach can have is the ability to reach each player individually as an individual. Meaning, the ability to find the right words or right actions to convey to the player in such a way so they “get it”. Each player is different and subsequently will react differently. I will give an example: Several years ago I had a player on my team that would consistantly swing down with his head and chest finishing towards the ground. After several failed attends to correct the problem by saying things like, “finish with chest up”, or “chest at the pitcher”, and going through the motions myself, I finally said, “finish with your chest up like Superman”. For whatever reason, that resonated. That player’s swing was much better and he started hitting the ball more consistently.

I all too often see coaches telling a struggling kid the same thing over and over again thinking that they will just magically understand it after the 11th time to only give up and move on. I certainly understand that there is limited practice time and there are other things to work on, just don’t give up. Find another way to instruct that particular player, either a few minutes before/after a practice or try to come up with another way before next time, but do not give up.

The point here is that a good coach will find a way to convey the message to the player. It is not always going to be the first thing that comes to mind, or the way you were taught. Understand that each player is different, just because one way worked for someone, doesn’t mean that it will work for everyone. Anyone can look up drills on YT (just make sure you properly vet, that will be a topic for another time), but the ability to reach a player when they are struggling combined with patience, is what makes a good coach. The ‘fun’ part of it is a by-product of good coaching and, well, playing the great game of baseball.

Also a good coach knows how to coach appropriate to the age group in which he/she is coaching. I have seen several coaches coach their 10U team like they were playing college. This Does Not Work. They are 10 and therefore have 10 year old minds. This is the same for any age group really. You cannot have a practice with a bunch of shuttles, triangles, poles, etc and expect the 10 year olds to have fun and want to be there. Yes, of course the exercise is important, but just don’t base most of practice on it. A good coach will keep the kids interested, having fun, and hopefully they come back and play at the next level.

Be flexible. Be creative. Be interactive. Be open. Be fun. Remember, baseball is a game and games are supposed to be fun.

-FTL

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