Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

When a team is well coached

May 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Coaching

I had the pleasure of catching a high school playoff game the other day.  Two well-coached teams played.  It’s a shame one team’s season came to an end but that’s baseball.  It was the second time this season I saw the visiting team and the first time I ever saw the home team that was playing.   So how did I know that both teams were well-coached?  The first obvious reason is because I know both coaches.  But even if I did not know them, it would be apparent that they both do a good job of coaching.  You just have to know what to look for.

The following is a list and explanation of evidence from the game. (In no particular order) 

  • With a runner on first, a batter sac bunted to first base.  Many batters would just try to get the bunt down on the ground anywhere.  A well-coached batter bunts to first base since the third baseman is charging immediately.  The first baseman gets a later start because he has to hold the runner.  That’s why he needs to bunt to first.  This must be taught.
  • On an infield pop-up right over the mound, the batter sprinted out of the box and easily made it to second base when the ball was not caught.  Many batters would have sulked and coasted to first base.  A well-coached team runs hard at all times.
  • A 3-6-3 double play was turned.  This is probably the hardest double play to turn in high school.  Everyone was where they should have been at the right time.  The throws were put in the proper place as well.  A lot of little things have to go right for the play to work.  All were which requires a lot of reps and attention to detail in practice.  That’s coaching.
  • When the losing team started taking the first strike to get the pitcher to throw more pitches, the other team recognized it immediately and pounded strike one with fastballs down the middle.  It always amazed me how many times a team is taking the the first strike and the pitcher throws off-speed pitches on the first pitch.  A well-coached team is taught to recognize this and adjust.
  • The game was played during a very windy day.  The wind was wrecking havoc on fly balls by blowing all of them towards right field.  Both teams’ outfielders made all the catches with ease which means they knew ahead of time where all fly balls would be drifting.  They adjusted and made the wind a total non-factor.  This takes a well-coached team to recognize this factor and adjust before the balls are even hit.
  • Both teams backed up throws well.  This has to be taught and demanded by coaches.  Catchers getting down the line on ground balls.  Third basemen backing up throws from the first basemen to the pitcher after pick-off attempts.  Outfielders moving towards bases on infield plays in case they are needed.  Middle infielders backing up throws from the catcher to the pitcher with runners on base.  All this requires extra effort on the part of players.  Good coaching teaches and demands that effort.
  • Both teams’ middle infielders did a good job of keeping their eyes on the runner at first after watching the throw back to the pitcher.  Many middle infielders make the mistake of turning their back to the runner at first when they return to their position after backing up the throw from the catcher to the pitcher.  Sharp runners can take off towards second after the middle guys turn their back.
  • A successful hit and run.  This play is another one that requires a lot of little things to go right.  The runner, after taking off, peeks in at home plate to see where/if the ball was hit.  He did and was able to keep running hard all the way to third base.  The batter was able to hit a ground ball away from the center of the field.  Even better, he hit behind the runner and hit the ball in the area the second baseman would have been had he not been covering second base on the steal.  All this has to be practiced and all this attention to detail must be taught.
  • Both teams hustled.  I used to tell my teams “I don’t teach hustle.  You either hustle or you won’t play here.”  In the game, both teams hustled.  After errors they still hustled.  After poor at-bats the players still hustled out on defense.  Everyone busted it down the first base line.  Everyone hustled on and off the field as a team.  It starts with both coaches demanding it be done.
  • Both teams respected the game.  All uniforms were properly worn.  Both benches were enthusiastic and kept their comments positive and directed at their own team.  Both teams got over errors and close calls quickly.  Both coaching staffs were vocal with reminders and encouragement for their players.  Head coaches set the tone for all of this.

Well done coaches!  Watching your teams play was a joy.  Thank you for all your work.

 

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