When we’re thinking about coaching, one thing I always come back to is that I want to win the game because of what the athletes did, not because of what I did.
For me, as a coach, this is a North Star. I think about what it was like to be a player, and how I like to be coached. I had coaches in my life that allowed me to play in a way that was free, and I felt like they believed in me. In times like this, I usually performed my best, and I had other coaches that wanted to try and control every little thing that I did. I always felt micromanaged, as an adult. I’m sure you can relate to how annoying it is to be micromanaged. Now imagine trying to play a sport and being micromanaged on every little thing that you do and every decision you make.
The problem isn’t the conversation about whether or not the decision we made was the correct one. The problem is the lack of it being a discussion about what the athlete saw versus what the coach thought should be done. There’s so much nuance in sports; it’s not always clear-cut, and often the way coaches communicate makes it seem like there was an obvious right and wrong answer.
Imagine if you asked your boss why you do something a specific way, and they replied, “Because I said so.” That’s not the type of environment that I want to create for athletes. I want them to learn to think for themselves.
The bottom line is athletes can do great things. As a coach, it’s my responsibility to create an environment so they can do those great things, and sometimes that takes patience.
I’ll give you an example, and I won’t use the athlete’s name. Let’s call him Mark. I’m coaching a 13U team this fall. An athlete that I know has a great swing starts out the season 0 for a lot. He was striking out a lot, struggling to find where the baseball was as it was coming in. But given the fact that we knew he was moving in a way that was functional, we decided not to change anything and just be patient. Well, Mark was absolutely on fire for the last 2/3 of the season, extra base hit after extra base hit. It was awesome.
When it comes to coaching, when someone is struggling, oftentimes, a gut reaction is to change the swing of the athlete because that’s the only thing the coach feels like he has any sort of control over. When many times the issue is either timing or the athlete is not swinging in the right spot. Which is more of a visual adjustment thing than it is a swing thing at all. Sometimes your swing can limit you; that’s absolutely true, but it’s also true that if someone is relatively functional in the way that they rotate and can hit the ball pretty well in the cage, we should resist the urge to be hyper-invasive unless we find it absolutely necessary, or there is some clear data that shows us where the athlete is lacking.
As a coach, this can be really hard. It’s really hard not to overcoach, but when you are able to figure this out, athletes truly are able to thrive. And seeing someone like Mark truly come into their own honestly is the thing that pushes me to be the best coach that I can be.
Founder and CEO of Ignite Baseball
Head 13U Cadets Coach
Ignite Cadets Head Of Player Development