Undertanding Difference with Short Term Goals and Long Term Goals

Good coaches classify baseball adjustments into short term goals and long term goals, so players can compete short term and improve long term

I often say things like this to my baseball students, “That habit will take some time to fix but in the meantime, try this.” Muscle memory changes are very difficult to make for most baseball players, so it is important to classify baseball adjustments into short term goals and long term goals, otherwise players often get too frustrated to go on playing. When it comes to changing habits, just telling players what they need to change does not make it easy, even when they understand what needs changing.

Of course, it takes experienced coaches to know what classifies as short term goals and long term goals, when it comes to baseball skill development. A good way to think about classifying them is to think of mental adjustments as short term goals and muscle memory ones as long term goals. Mental thoughts are not necessarily easy to change, but they help buy time until muscle memory changes occur. Good baseball coaches come up with mental tips for players to try until the long-range goal of improving physical mechanics take effect.

Hitting Example of Short Term Goals and Long Term Goals

Short Term – Expect all pitches outside; Long Term – step into the ball

Many young ballplayers step out with their stride, when batting. Just telling them to stop stepping out or telling them to step into the ball rarely helps, because there is a flaw in their baseball swing, causing them to step out. However, coaching them to expect every ball on the outside half of the plate may help in the short term, until they work on the long term goal of stepping into the ball more.

Pitching Example of Short Term Goals and Long Term Goals 
short term goals and long term goals

Short term – try to bounce ball; long term – develop better rhythm and timing with delivery

When kids are continually high with pitches, it is probable that their pitching mechanics and timing are incorrect. A short term goal for this problem is to have pitchers try to bounce balls in front of the catchers feet, instead of hitting the catcher’s glove. This gives them a quick fix until they can figure out their pitching mechanics, which are difficult to change in the middle of games.

Categorizing skill development into short term goals and long term goals helps kids realize they do not have to perfect everything immediately, but that they can still compete at the moment with little philosophy changes. Additionally, this process helps them learn to make in-the-game mental adjustments, until they can practice long term mechanical fixes

Finally, players are all different with their skill development, as some are able to make quick muscle memory adjustments, and for others it takes much longer, if ever.

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