Communication: Player & Coach

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Why are players hesitant – or afraid – to talk to their coach?

By: Jeff Young-February 5, 2008

dp logo1On the High School and College levels today, why are players afraid to come and talk to their coaches about adjustments or how they feel the best?

While giving some lessons this winter, I spoke with some of the high school players about an approach or mechanics, and they have said their coach wants them to hit a certain way. They have told me they are afraid to talk to the coach about where they feel the most comfortable. Whether it is the placement of their hands hitting or their arm slot on the mound, why is it so hard for them to ask, or to respectfully tell you, where it works best for them, THE PLAYER.

Why is this? Are the coaches so afraid to let the players think a little?  

We are coaches trying to help them to DEVELOP to get to the next level. We coach to put these players in the best possible position to SUCCEED. There are more ways than one to do this.

I, personally, love it when a young man on the field talks the game and about what makes him go. His feeling of being comfortable on the field, in the box and on the mound will make him play at the highest level of the talent given to him and what he has worked so hard to be at this point.  You don’t have to perfect mechanics to succeed.

Thru my experiences working with professional hitters, we work with what is there. I have had a player that most of the high school and college coaches would absolutely want to change. He has a swing that looks very awkward and is mostly a shoulder-induced stiff swing, but his hands are lightening through the zone with and he makes solid contact. He has been successful enough so far, and consistent enough of a hitter with some power, to make the jump to Double-A in just three full seasons.

Some Big Leaguers didn’t have the best mechanics through their careers. Can we really say that Nomar Garciaparra has a great swing, how about Hal Morris with happy feet in the box, Eric Davis with his “hitch” and Cal Ripken with his long swing, just to name a few hitters…  

The players we coach are all not built the same to do as we demand them to do. Coaches, don’t be so harsh on them when they want to learn by talking the game with you, on a hitting adjustment with you, on a pitching adjustment with you or any other part of the game. Be thrilled and listen to what they have to say and talk WITH them about their adjustments.

Believe it or not, the PLAYER may just be right about how his body works better with his swing, delivery or the part of the game he may be talking to you about. He may just be a better player for you because you respect him enough and listen.

As much as players need to learn how to come up to the coaches with a question, the coaches need to learn that his highway may not be the best or easiest path for that player.

As this is a TEAM sport, there is also a lot of INDIVIDUALITY that makes your team very good in the style that is played. Let them learn how to talk to you by letting them ask those questions that they need help with.

You can sit back after reading this and ask yourself, “Does this pertain to ME? Or am I the coach who has the ability to listen to my players, especially when they are struggling. 

Have A Great Season Developing These Very IMPRESSIONABLE young men!

About the author: Jeff Young just completed his fourth season as a coach in professional baseball, three in the Cincinnati Reds organization, last year with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Previous to coaching at the professional level, Young spent ten years coaching collegiately at Furman, Presbyterian, Kentucky and Emory. He spent last fall coaching the 18u South Carolina Diamond Devils and will be an assistant coach this spring at Riverside High School.