I spend a fair amount of time on twitter (follow us here!) and I've read a ton of articles from a ton of coaches on the internet. I do this because I want to learn, I'm looking for a nugget out there somewhere that I haven't heard before, or that I've forgotten about.
In the process of reading and observing, I see a little bit of everything. First of all let me say, there are a TON of great coaches on the internet. We live in an awesome time where we can find great advice on our craft from all corners of the Earth at a moment's notice. It's exciting, and it helps us spread our message to all of you guys, we love it.
The important thing to remember however, is that not everybody is a great coach. We have a tendency these days to believe everything on the internet. Unfortunately, the internet is sometimes just one big popularity contest.
"If a guy has three thousand people doing his thing, than it's better than the thing that only has a hundred people doing it."
I urge you to be very careful subscribing to this belief. On the internet, more "groupies" might just mean better marketing.
Coaches do crazy things to market their product. They buy fake followers on Twitter, they argue with other people openly to draw attention to themselves, they invent insane headlines to grab attention, and there are about a thousand tricks they use to splatter their logo all over Google.
Again, this isn't to say there isn't good stuff out there, or that there aren't some great coaches who do some of that stuff to get their product out there to the people! The internet is noisy, there is a ton of competition to fight through to get your stuff seen by people.
The problem I have, is with coaches who speak like they're the only one who has it all figured out.
I think one defining feature of a great coach, is the recognition that he doesn't know everything there is to know, and the desire to learn it.
Coaches should never, ever stop learning. Never think of yourself as a master, always a student.
Having said that, a coach who is telling you that he knows it all and there's nobody else out there doing it right, is a coach you should run from.
This game is complex, and I don't care if we're talking about hitting, pitching, catching, defense, whatever, it's complicated.
Strength, conditioning, anatomy, mobility, mental approach, biomechanics, sequential movement patterns, central nervous system cues, muscle development and recruitment, offensive strategy, baseball physics, body awareness, physical and mental development of young people, psychology, pitching accuracy adjustments, hitting for power, sprinting technique, flexibility training, static vs. dynamic stretching, leadership, mentorship, baserunning technique, tendon and ligament therapy, velocity training, rotational forces...just to name a few.
Could you imagine a person that was an expert at all those things?
That person doesn't exist, and yet all those things are directly related to the game of baseball. How then could any coach pretend that he was anything even close to an expert? A master? If you look through those subjects, I bet you would find that you aren't a true master at any one of them. Let alone all of them.
Something else to consider is that every kid is different. Even if a coach had it all figured out for one kid, that doesn't mean he knows anything about another one.
Coaches that act like they know it all, like they're the one and only way to get stuff done, are nothing more than jokers. They are fooling you (and maybe themselves) because they want to make money or boost their ego, probably both.
I know that I'm not an expert at any of those things, but I know that I read material about every one of those things all the time. Every day. I will never master it, but I will always be learning it.
The more I learn, the more I realize that I'm not even scratching the surface.
That doesn't mean I always change what I teach, or what I believe. It doesn't mean I don't have principles and proven methods, I very much do.
It does mean though, that my principles and proven methods are always under attack by my own research. New facts, new ideas, probing existing thoughts for weaknesses. This process fortifies a coach's ability to truly teach.
Hollow coaches are threatened by this process, scared that they'll find something that is counter to what they've been saying or doing. Great coaches embrace this process, and know that challenging themselves is exactly what makes them even better.
If the coach you're working with says he's an expert, be skeptical. If he says he knows it all, run.
The internet is filled with coaches saying they have the secret and that the other guys have it all wrong. Stay away from those guys and find the coaches that believe they're part of a magical game and an awesome fraternity of other teachers and students.
Run toward the guys that learn new stuff every day, because if you become their partners, you'll be doing the same.