Coach’s Tip – The Power of Communication
Use stretching, warm up, and catch play to make yourself available to your players. Prepare well and early to allow yourself to “be present” during this time. You’ll be amazed at the conversation that comes out when you are quiet and have time to listen.
Getting back into uniform after several years away, there were a couple areas I wanted to be sure to focus my energy more: dynamic warm up and catch play. I think it’s very important to be present during both activities and for multiple reasons. First, to ensure the athletes get good, focused work. High school, college kids are no different than youth players – they are kids! 13th graders as my buddy (and co-pitching coach) Coach Lambright sometimes calls them.
The second reason is communication. I like to “touch” each pitcher, let them know their plan for the day, ask them how they are feeling, and make myself available for anything they need to discuss. Yesterday, one of my dudes communicated how little he liked the fast that I was trying to drop his arm slot down. We are working together to gain sink, depth, movement… ANYTHING to help him find mound time. As a staff, we like this kid – we think he can compete – but he’s 83-85mph from the right side with a fairly flat fastball / slider combination. This is a long-term project, and one that requires an open mind from both coach and player. I LOVE the fact that he went home and “slept on it” and then had the stones enough to come talk to me. And this is EXACTLY why it’s important to make yourself available as coach. We’ll see what happens with him, I still think he’s better from a lower arm slot 🙂
Prior to yesterday’s discussion, I ran into a conversation with a two-way player of ours. He’s a shortstop that started pitching last season and has thrived thus far this season on the mound. Long story short, his grade check was brutal. And this isn’t anything that we tolerate at Cypress. So, he was kicked out of practice and missed a game to get his act together, make up some missing work, and serve a bit of a detention. As he came back to practice and rejoin his baseball family, he approached me with a question about time-management and handling college-level responsibility. What followed was a deep, emotional conversation about his life situation.
When I’m struggling, I’ve been taught to get back to my fundamentals. For me, that’s eat / move / sleep. How’s my diet? Am I exercising well/enough/intensely? And am I getting good sleep? So, I started there with my pitcher. I quickly learned that this dude has no father figure in his life, ran with a sketchy crew in high school, and was in danger of flunking out of school. The amazing thing is that I would have NEVER guessed this! He’s a happy kid, respectful… seems to have his act together. But man oh man, there’s some challenges going on behind the scenes. I intend to support him with love and check in with him frequently now that I know what’s up. And for the purposes of this special baseball community, THAT is why I coach.
The bottom line is that COMMUNICATION made this possible. Actually, listening made this possible. Specifically, making myself available during the stretching and throwing portion of our practice is what did it. The other time that is great is pre-game batting practice. During regular BP (at a normal practice), pitchers are throwing bullpens or working through stations like medicine balls, plyometric leaps, mobility, and rotator cuff / scap stability… but when we are away from home and hitting on the field, there’s not much for our pitchers to do. So, they shag and collect baseballs. And as we are good soldiers that want our outfielders sharp come game time – we stay behind them and generally out of their way so they can track fly balls. This means there’s time for conversation, and myself and Coach Lambright take the opportunity to tour the outfield and connect with our pitchers.
- There are no Execution Keys
- There are no DC Keys