August 9, 2011 3 Comments
“A baseball manager is a necessary evil.”
–Sparky Anderson, Major League Baseball Manager
For almost a decade I’ve been coaching baseball for my town’s park district leagues. Even though my son Jacob and his friends are in high school now (and some, including Jacob, are playing on the high school team), there is still a need for coaching at their level. The kids are little less open to it at this age, but the coaching is still needed. That coaching opportunity is the same one I see at some of the companies Slalom has the fortune to consult for: while they may not believe they need it, support is still needed.
My favorite part of coaching is being the first base coach. I enjoy working with kids on the fundamentals (i.e., stopping a grounder or improving their pitching mechanics). But I especially like being on the field. From my vantage point–someone removed from the play (I’m not the one running the bases after all)–I am able to help the runner do better. Whether it is by providing another set of eyes looking for the pick-off move at first base, or whether it’s helping the batter gauge the risk of trying to take an extra base off his hit, I can provide the support to help make the players more successful. Coaching isn’t just standing there looking pretty (though some coaches in our league think that’s all it takes).
As much as the players are certain that they know the game, they always need encouragement (for a hitting slump or a bad day on the mound) and reminders on what to do (get a secondary lead on the pitch). For as long as these kids have been playing ball, they are still developing and learning. One of the great managers I had the opportunity to work with used to say “I can always accept a physical error on the field. A mental mistake is simply not acceptable.” As coaches we are there to help players avoid the mental mistakes. Read more of this post