What the Good Baseball Coaches Say
Baseball coaches should be positive ones. But, being encouraging and out to help kids does not mean baseball coaches should not hold players accountable. They should not allow players to get away with laziness, negativity and disrespect for the game. These responses may seem like common sense, but, many coaches lose patience quickly when kids are un-coachable or disinterested. They follow with something sarcastic and things they may regret later. Following are the scenarios baseball coaches should prepare for and use as teaching moments.
Everyday player proclamations that baseball coaches should address:
- “I do it this way.” It is almost funny when youth tell coaches they already know how to hit, throw and catch a baseball. Having players that are not interested in learning new and better ways makes for a challenging season. Coaches should be patient but at the same time explain how players can do things better. Ignoring players is never a viable option. Coaching response – “Good, now let’s also give this a try.”
- “My dad told me to do it like this.” Like the above statement, it ‘s hard asking youth to do something different from what their parents instruct. The key is in the asking, not demanding. Coaching response, “Your dad sounds like he knows his stuff. But, I know he wants you to keep improving, that’s why he signed you up to play for me. So why don’t we try this?”
- “I stink – I can’t hit.” Helping players overcome defeatist attitudes takes time. Baseball coaches are part-time psychologists and must help players with negative attitudes. Coaching response, “You could hit if you believe in yourself and practice a few things.”
- “Do we have to do that again?” Sports and baseball require enormous amounts of repetition and players tire of that repetition. Good coaches should plan, so they spread things out to avoid boredom setting in. Coaching response, “Let’s stay with this a little longer. We are close to getting it right.”
- “I’m too tired.” This one is typical for youth who become bored. Baseball is not a physically taxing game for the most part, but it has its slow times. Coaches must have ways of keeping the excitement level as high as possible to avoid hearing those words. Coaching response, “Hang in there, we are almost there. Then we will play a game.”
- “I didn’t have time to practice.” This announcement is another that has baseball coaches shaking their heads. Coaching response – “You know, it takes about five minutes to take about fifty swings or throws.”
- The umpire screwed me. Coaches should not let kids get off that easy and blame the umpires. Coaching response- “Remember, you get three strikes, and I know the umpire didn’t miss on all three.”
- It was too late to slide (dive). Kids must learn to play the game the right way. Coaching response, “Do not be afraid to get dirty.”
- I thought he was going to catch it. Nothing says disrespect for the game as failing to hustle down the line after putting the ball in play. Coaching response – “You only bat three to four times a game, there is no excuse for not running hard each time.”
- “I don’t want to play outfield” – At the lower levels, outfield play may include little to no action. Coaches should rotate players around to different positions. Coaching response – “The best athletes play the outfield at the high levels of play.”
Most of the above statements are kids being kids. But baseball coaches should use them as teaching moments to build respectful, hard-working players.