Become Your Own Best Baseball Coach

There Is Not Better Coach For You...Than You

There are most certainly two different schools of thought when it comes to training amateur baseball players.

On one side you have baseball coaches who want the players to work on the physical skills of the game only.  These baseball coaches believe players should not think about much of anything at all while they train.  They teach the "how" without touching on the "why".

On the other side you have coaches who believe knowledge is power, and they insist their players get as much information about their development as possible.  Video, classroom, mental game chats, worksheets...always very heavy on the "why".

Both sides have merit, but the key balance that must be found is this: Is the player able to be their own baseball coach with the information they have?

It Only Works If It Makes Sense To The Player

It is absolutely key that the player is able to go to work in the cages or the bullpen without a coach looking over his shoulder, and work on important things to improve.

It's our opinion that coaches in the first school above do not give the player enough information to do that.  The players don't understand what they're doing well enough to make adjustments when it isn't working.

The second school has a tendency to overwhelm young players with too much information.  Paralysis by analysis comes to mind, when a player is basically stuck in a place of non-action because he's simply overloaded with cues and instructional points from the coach.  He has ten things going through his head, and he can't sort through them.

Strike the Right Balance Between Knowledge and Action

Back to the word balance; the balance that we must find is the one which allows our student to understand what he's doing enough to make adjustments on his own, and that's it.  Any information beyond that is probably overload.

When a pitcher is on the mound and he's missing his spots by 6 inches to the left, does he understand his release point and his body enough to adjust himself?   As a coach, we cannot stand out there with him and coach every mechanic and every adjustment as he pitches. 

He's got to be able to feel what he's doing, relate it to his training, and make his own small adjustments as he goes.

Same with a hitter at the plate from pitch to pitch.  If he's relying on his third base coach to yell something to him that will teach him how to hit, he's lost.  He must understand the baseball swing and how it occurs within his body, so that he can relax and make subtle adjustments if he needs to.

You're the Only Coach You'll Always Have

Perhaps the most important piece of this for a player is that he won't be with the same coach for his whole career.  He will have several coaches, with several different opinions, and it will be his job to sort through it all and use what makes sense to him.  The only true way to properly develop for a career, is to be your own best coach and understand what you're doing.

This advice is obviously going to change slightly for every kid.  Some of them want and need more information than others, and some will do more damage with the knowledge than they will good.  However, it's our belief that we need to teach our players a fair amount of "why" to go along with the "how".

We can't be there for every throw or every swing, so if we put them in a place where they can feel their body and understand what they're really trying to do, they will develop much faster.

How To Teach Them To Be Their Own Coach

Keep it focused, and start with physical feel over verbal cues.   When we say that players need to understand the "why", we don't mean they need to know everything.  They need to understand themselves, they need to grasp a couple concepts that will help THEM improve and allow them to be their own coach.

If you're a coach, the next time you're working with a player you should be asking yourself if you're putting him in a state of understanding, or dependence.

As a player, if you're dependent on a coach or on a video app to let you know how to adjust or how to improve, you need to invest more time in learning the "why".  When you make this investment in yourself you will set yourself on a path to lifelong improvements and eliminate a lot of the ups and downs that many players experience.

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