Some Surprising Roles of MLB Hitting Coaches

You may think that being one of the major league baseball hitting coaches is the easiest jobs in the world, assuming they just sit back and watch the most talented players in that world, do their thing. That is so far from the truth, as any of the MLB hitting coaches would tell you.

Much greater pressure exists for MLB hitting coaches than one might guess, as they are responsible for 15 players having the statistics that major league teams pay for. When those numbers do not add up, hitting coaches are on the hook, way before the manager is, for being responsible for that lack of production.

Let me just mention three similar jobs, all rolled into one, which identifies the job of MLB hitting coaches – psychologists, analysts, and technicians. Of course, the order of those three jobs are interchangeable, too, and slightly different from player to player . 

MLB Hitting Coaches as Analyst

MLB hitting coaches analyze players numbers and swings continually, in order to figure out why they are hitting up to their potential, or failing to do so. When the numbers are worse than normal, MLB hitting coaches must analyze players’ swings during batting practice, in games and with video analysis, to see what is different from when things were going good for players. The analysis is important, when things are going well, also, so coaches can help players when things turn downward, as they inevitably will at some point in the season.

MLB Hitting Coaches as Technician

So many intricate parts go into the baseball swing. When any one of those parts are off, ever so slightly, hitting failure results. MLB hitting coaches must know those intricacies, be able to see them, and know how to fix them, as any computer or car technician must with their respective “action figures.” Muscle memory is a difficult thing to change, so coaches have their work cut out for them, as time is of the essence, of course.

MLB Hitting Coaches as Psychologist

Herein, the role of psychologist, lays the key to being a great MLB hitting coach. Players are at this level to produce and have been extremely successful at it their whole lives. The problem is that it is the most difficult thing to do in sport. Dealing with that dichotomy, of players with egos and the pressures of being highly paid athletes, mixed with the difficult technical and mental qualities necessary for hitting success, makes the psychological knowledge crucial to helping players get back on track. Coaches must continually build confidence and provide hope for players, while dealing with various personality types.

Of course, I am speculating on these roles, as I have never been a major league hitting coach. But, based on my major league playing experiences and with the almost equal pressures of dealing with parents of youth players as a hitting coach – Haha – I feel I have knowledge of their roles.

Other challenges of MLB hitting coaches are twofold, and as important. First, they must gain the trust of players with their knowledge of hitting and their approach to helping players of that caliber. Second, they must know when to coach and when to be silent, as there is a fine line between under coaching and over coaching. When players are going well, coaches must not over coach. When players are struggling, they must delicately know how to approach them. Finally,  most MLB hitting coaches wait for players to approach them first, so they do not overstep their territory with players, who do not want the help.

 

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