Friday, March 26, 2010
Qualities of a Great Coach
We were discussing the virtues of a good baseball coach high school and up, with a group of friends a while back and the topic got a little heated. Our definition of a good coach is one that is:
A good coach should not be afraid to throw a few F-bombs (emphasis on few) around here and there to show who's in charge. We feel that a tough coach is the best coach and is paramount to a players success. Baseball is a game of mental toughness because it's a game of failure. A Hall of Fame player will have failed 7 out of 10 times at the plate over his career. One bad pitch by a pitcher that throws over 90 pitches a game can mean the difference between a win or a loss. It's a grueling game. As a result, players will be better served to have a coach that is tough to the extent and for the purpose of making his players even tougher.
A good coach should always teach and never assume that his players know the game. No matter how many years a players has played, there's always something new to learn. A great coach has to be a student and a teacher at the same time. He must keep in touch with new practice techniques and better ways to hone his players skills.
There's a difference between teacher and mentor. A teacher shows you the fundamentals...A mentor shows a player how to process that information and become a mature and mentally sound baseball player and person. A good mentor will show a player how a great work ethic can result into a great player.
Organizer and Time Management Expert
To become a great baseball player, you need to have a plan and stick to that plan. Good coaches will give you a pre-game, post game and off-season schedule to help make each player the best that he can be. I know many coaches that keep a daily log to make sure their players are sticking to those schedules. These guys know who the talented players are and want to make sure that they stay on top of that talent and never get complacent. If a team has the goal to maintain its winning ways, then the coach has to manage the time of all of its players. It's not considered a control issue...it's just good common sense..especially if that player is in college on scholarship. Young players are just months removed from being kids and a great coach must hold these very young adults accountable for their actions and teach them the consequences of not staying on track.
This is part of the teacher grouping, but great coaches grill and pound into the minds of their players how to react to the multitude of situations a player will encounter during games. This includes drills upon drills...handouts upon handouts and tests upon tests to make sure his players don't get that occasional brain freeze during a crucial inning.
Proper mechanics are the bread and butter of a great baseball player. A great coach will identify a players mechanics as a hitter, infielder, pitcher, catcher outfielder etc. Every position has it's unique mechanical criteria. Every hitter has a different approach to every pitch in the count. Every infielder has a spot to cover and a stance to emulate based on outs, pitch count and situation. Every outfielder has to have perfect catch and throw mechanics to be able to make those plays to a base or the cut-off.
A coach that is tough may not get the respect of the players at the outset of the player/coach relationship, but over time and after the fruits of all of that coaching are seen in the stats and win-loss column, that respect will be recognized. We know of several old school coaches that were hated by parents and young players at the beginning...but over time, the good players always realized the sacrifices and the end game that the coach was trying to mold out of his players. Sometimes it is during the season and sometimes it's after the end of a season...but players that take this game seriously will always have respect for that coach that pushed and pushed to get the most out of his players.
A head coach can't do it all. He has to know how to identify other talented coaches that can execute his overall mission and plans to be a winning organization. That head coach has to be as tough to his assistants as he is to his players. Jobs and school revenue are on the line...especially in college and believe it or not at many high schools as well. Everyone has to be held accountable and the head coach has to know when and who to delegate those tasks to and get the desired results from his players.
Along with delegating...a great coach and his staff must be the ultimate communicators. No player should ever doubt their standing on the team or their role. Lack of ones standing on the team leads to low morale. If a player is just not living up to his expectation, a good coach will be in his grill to tell that player exactly what his standing on the team is. It's then, up to that player to take that information and process it to either sulk or improve his status on the team...but at least they were told the score...and the tough players (the type the coach wants on his team) will step it up and give the coach what he wants.
Talent Scout and Salesman
Above all, a good coach has to identify the athletes from the role players. College coaches have to know their future needs and what holes to fill. They need to manage that talent search...and develop a pitch to land that talent. Good coaches know all of the high tech social networking sites to communicate that level of interest and sell the program as if it was the only logical choice for that prospect.
There's more to great coaching we are sure. These are just our thoughts...Have any more virtues of a great coach that you'd like to share?