Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

How to deal with an old school coach

June 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Make Up

As a high school teacher, I am forced to attend numerous in-service days geared towards teaching the latest trends and techniques in education.  It’s no secret that improving self-esteem has been a big trend in education (and society) for some time now.  This year the new buzz word was “differentiated instruction.”  It basically means that

I doubt Billy Martin was all that concerned about Reggie's self-esteem in this famous dugout scene

different students learn differently and at different paces and therefore your teaching strategies in class need to reflect those differences.  There are certainly pros and cons to all this.  Regardless, all this talk about self-esteem and differentiated instruction is like nails on a chalkboard to “old school” teachers and coaches. 

This being a website about baseball, I’ll stick to the coaching side of all this.

Play the game long enough and you will undoubtedly have to play under a coach or manager who is considered “old school.”  These people are generally no nonsense coaches who don’t seem to be all that interested in your self-esteem or whether or not their coaching methods are in line with your learning strengths.  They are the coach and you (the player) make adjustments to fit their needs, not the other way around.

Today’s coaches and their parents find these coaches to be very difficult to play for because they seem to go against everything that is current in our society with regards to raising children and athletes.

Future posts will give other tips on how to handle an old school coach but here is the first and most important piece of advice I can pass on.

Separate the message from the method.

To keep their sanity, a player must develop the ability to differentiate between the message the coach is trying to pass along and the way in which he is passing it along.  Example:

Coach A“I’d like to speak with you privately Tommy.  I’ve noticed that when you pitch in the last inning, your control suffers and you fall victim to walks.  I’m worried that you are putting too much pressure on yourself and fear losing the game.  I’d like to see you become more aggressive in the later innings and force the offense to adjust to you instead of you adjusting to them.  You have great stuff.  I think you will become more successful if you consider my advice.”

Coach B“Thomas!  Get the %$#@ over here!  What the %$# are you doing out there in the last inning?  Do you leave your guts in the dugout or what?  Next time grow a pair, get out on the mound, and shove the ball up their #$%!  Or I’ll find someone who will!”

I think it’s pretty obvious who the “old school” coach is.  Right or wrong, good or bad, Coach B probably will not be coaching for much longer if he is currently in the lower levels.  Administrators, parents, and players of today just won’t stand for that very long.  However, sometimes they stick around for quite a while, especially if they have had a lot of success in the past.

As I mentioned above, the key to playing under such a coach is to separate the message from the method.  Both coaches are trying to let the pitcher know that something changes in the late innings with regard to the mental side of pitching.  Clearly the coaches differ on the method of passing that information along.    As a player under Coach B, you have to grow some thicker skin, brush off the harsh method, and dig deeper for the hidden message. 

It’s certainly not easy but it’s the first step to surviving an “old school” coach.

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