by Keith Madison
Many times the external and internal pressure to succeed clouds our vision of what each baseball player needs to be a complete athlete. Sometimes, “We can’t see the forest for the trees.”
Volumes could be written about everything a baseball player needs in order for him to reach personal and team goals, but hopefully, the five talking points below will help maintain proper focus.
- Knowledge– As a coach, it’s crucial not to assume that players already know the fundamentals of the game. Players need your knowledge. The more knowledge you possess, the more respect you will earn. There is great power in knowledge. Attend coaching clinics, watch other successful coaches run a practice and read everything you can get your hands on that has been written by smart, successful coaches. Without knowledge, it will be difficult to help players reach team and personal goals. William Shakespeare once said, “Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.”
- Discipline- One of the most common themes I hear from many former players is, “Coach, one of the reasons I am successful is the discipline I learned during my time with you.” The early morning workouts and being a stickler for showing up to team functions on time is a part of discipline. But, another element of discipline includes promoting excellence in practice. A team without discipline is like a boat without a rudder. My best teams were those that “bought in” to the need of discipline and striving for excellence. Author Jim Rohn once said, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.” A more sobering thought comes from Proverbs 13:18, “He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.”
- Encouragement- How do you know if a player needs encouragement? Answer: If he is breathing.
- Time- This is such a valuable gift. It takes great effort for a coach to properly allocate his time to a roster that could reach 30-40 players. Successful coaches invest their time while average coaches spend their time. Time is more important than money. Money is a renewable resource; time is a limited resource. When you give someone money, you’ve given something you can replace. But, when you give someone time, you have given a part of your life. If your “calling” in life is coaching, then according to author Rick Warren “You have just enough time to fulfill God’s purpose in your life.” If you don’t seem to have enough time for your family or your team, you need to: 1. Analyze your lifestyle—be aware of where your time is going. 2. Utilize the present—make the most of the moment. 3. Recognize what’s important—focus on priorities that last. The last guy on the bench may not help you win a game; but if you invest your time into his life, you may help him win in the Game of Life.
- Love- When you share your knowledge, instill discipline, encourage and invest time, you are at the same time giving them love. You don’t always have to say it, but if you give all of the above, you will be giving what every player needs…love. When you ask a player to come early or stay late for extra ground balls or batting practice, you are giving him “extra love.” As we have all heard before, “Players don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
As coaches, if we can stay focused on what players really need, and if we are willing to give, every one experiences success.