Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

A letter from a friend

July 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Coaching

When you write a daily blog, you sometimes wonder if you are only writing for yourself.  I don’t get a ton of feedback from people about what I write so when I do, I am very appreciative.  Below is one such email I received from a friend and coach I have not spoken to in a long while.  We coached together in a couple all-star games a number of years ago but because of the distance between us we never get to see each other.

He allowed me to share it with all of you and I am choosing to do so today.  I am not doing so to toot my own horn but to show the importance of the following:

Good coaches always want to improve and are never too proud to alter their approach and try new things.

The video he mentions as his inspiration is located on the Videos page. The tab is listed above with the others.

Bob – Hope all is well with you.

We won our league (13-0, 20-5) and the district title this year and lost a tough game in the second round of the states to the eventual state champions (game was 0-0 with 2 outs and nobody on for them in top 7 and we lost 2-0).  Our success was due in very large part to a coaching philosophy change inspired by your Coaching Mistakes Seminar.  I will elaborate.

1.       Preparation.  We defined what we wanted from the team and from each player individually.  We held 3 clinics in the winter to review both process skills and mental skills.  We made these clinics interactive by preparing quizzes and breaking the candidates into groups.  Additionally, we handed out specific skill sheets (see attached) that explained what we expected for that skill.  Resulted in team bonding and far less time taken to instruct when practice finally started in the spring.

2.       Stopped over-coaching.  We kept 24 players on Varsity.  Each knew what role we saw for them.  We scrimmaged intra-squad, complete game scrimmages, several times before our first scrimmage against another team.  There were no signs given in the scrimmages and very little coaching.  We wanted to players to learn to play the game – bunt when you should, steal when you should, and so on.  Pickoff plays and hit and runs were encouraged.  We set requirements for each team (3 steal attempts, 2 sac bunts, etc.).  During the season the players had a green light on the bases because of what we saw in the scrimmages – our only steal sign was it may be a good pitch to steal on if you get a jump.  Coaching occurred after plays were made or not made and especially the next day.  Resulted in tremendous player awareness and feel for the game.  Several times this year players bunted or stole or ran pickoffs on their own in perfect situations.  They won the games by knowing the game.  I could go on here with many many examples.

3.       Practices were planned every day with written postings.  Resulted in efficiency and kept the players into the practice – no small feat with 24.

4.       Our hitters faced excellent pitching and our pitchers faced varsity hitters in game situations all year in practice.  Resulted in pitchers learning to pitch to spots and batters understanding how to hit in game situations.

5.       Gave much of the responsibility to seniors for discipline.  Because of this very little was required.  Players were ready to play 15 minutes before practice.  Also required modified uniforms at practice, baseball pants were mandatory.  Resulted in a more come to work atmosphere – tremendous fun but the seriousness of what we were trying to accomplish never got lost

6.       Made sure everyone was on the team.  Coaching staff respected and lauded more the guys who didn’t get time for their effort and leadership.  Resulted in a high spirited bench and success for those players in some key situations when they got an opportunity.

We also encouraged them to go to Baseball By The Yard as regularly as they could, and I am not patronizing.  I have found many gems on the site and there is little that does not agree with how and what we teach in our program.  There is much more to a season than six bullet points – the kids were special.  Most of the talent was in the sophomore class including all the pitching which bodes well over the next couple of years.  17 of the 24 are back this year  so the challenge this year is managing egos and work ethic now that there are expectations. 

Thought you’d like to hear this – and thanks for the seminar – it really hit home for me.

Thanks so much for the email coach!  I think it takes a strong and confident person to hand over much of the control to your players.  It can be frightening at first but I think it is well worth the risk if done appropriately.


One Response to “A letter from a friend”
  1. Dan OBrien says:

    Coach , I coach a 11 year old travel team. I been having a problem with my shortstop fielding a ball weather it’s .is thrown or batted. I noticed recently that he catches the ball in the webbing of his glove all the time. Not the palm or pocket of the glove. I talked to him about catching the ball in his webbing. Him reply to me was ” If I catch the ball in the palm it hurts. Suggestions?

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