Coaching Mistake

The tryouts are scheduled, field positions are elected or assigned, the bullpen tryouts are scheduled and everyone doing the best to make it. Call it tryout camp, appointments in the gymnasium, or whatever – every player is trying hard to be the best that they can.

For some, it’s their first year, for others – who didn’t make the cut last year, it’s their chance for a spot in the sun. And then you have your returning veterans who appreciate an honest shake based on effort and ability.

Ok – the youngsters are going through the drills, they’ve been on time for every session, their trying to juggle homework, grades and everything else just to make your club.

But wait – this is not for every one. You know you have a few seniors that have been with other sports and those sports will be ending just in time for the start of your baseball season. So, just before or just after the cuts, five guys show up in the locker room, suit up and start bullpen practice. Their tossing next to guys that have been grinding it out since day one. The look on the senior’s faces says they have a guaranteed spot.

So what? These guys are seniors – it’s their last year to play – their all stars – champs – the school’s best athletes. Hey, as a coach you know how the game’s played……it’s all about winning – right? Besides, the winning or losing label is not going to leave with the kids that are passing through your school/program… that label is going to stick with you.

If you’re a first time coach, don’t buy into that scenario. Just remember what you got into the coaching experience for. Your kids and you deserve no less. I know the politics can be sticky in some schools/programs… but, run a clean show.

Coach B.

so who do you take?

As a pitching coach I have no influence or authority over other position players. Where the pitching staff is concerned –that’s a different story. In that regard, I have two environments in which I negotiate the three phases of selecting the club’s rotation – (1) invitation, (2) tryout, and finally (3) selection.
b Invitation Phase[/b]
This population is made of up of scouted/formal invitation personnel and in some limited instances walk-ons. These individuals are given first crack and access to the facilities before any other candidates. Because many of these people are “first-timers”, it’s been shown from past experience, that a gradual adjustment serves everyone well. In fact, skill assessment is usually better when these people are not mixed with returning veterans. The duration for this phase is usually two weeks… sometimes three. Also, because most of these people are new to the club, a short orientation session of policies, protocols, the try-out and final selection process is conducted.
b Tryout Phase[/b]
Everyone now starts off with a schedule of time, place, order of appearance, on field interviews, health issues and physicals, legal and other administrative preliminaries are addressed.

Every three days a candidate is scheduled for a meeting with me and assistants to review progress, goal(s) assessment, quality and caliber of talent/player chemistry, player adaptability, self evaluation,competitive mindset, etc. At the end of all meetings, the assistants and I make an evaluation of where –if at all, this player will fit into a rotation staff that balances the club’s ability to compete. If we’re fortunate enough to have a club that has a talented fielding unit, then I’m devoted to concentrating on a pure rotation without the nuisances of second-position players. If second-position players are a fact of life, then my attention is devoted to those that will only pitch and let the second position players “fit in” after they’ve been selected by the Fielding Coaches.

b Selection Phase[/b]
This phase is usually an on going process after the three week Tryout Phase. Selection is made based on a level playing field –sort of speak, and rarely are there surprises. Also what’s rare, are selections
made based on guarantees, “who-ya-know”, returning stars from the prior season(s), etc.

I should qualify the last sentence above with the following:
Sometimes a player is a “shoe-in” because someone who IS someone says so. I’ve seen this over the years and it does no favors for the incoming player. Inevitably, the guy is odd-man-out, has little if any
quality relationships with other club personnel, and all-in-all has a miserable season.

The bottom line to all this is really simple – fairness and a level playing field in amateur athletics cultivates … said same. High profile politics and patronage is a counter culture that I have elect to avoid. And I’ve done it for thirty two years. And on that note, I can look every single player that I coached straight in the eye and say “ son, you made it on your own.”

Coach B.

[quote=“Coach Baker”]The bottom line to all this is really simple – fairness and a level playing field in amateur athletics cultivates … said same. High profile politics and patronage is a counter culture that I have elect to avoid. And I’ve done it for thirty two years. And on that note, I can look every single player that I coached straight in the eye and say “ son, you made it on your own.”

Coach B.[/quote]

The word “integrity” comes to mind. That’s awesome, Coach B!