Confidence is hard read, at any age, and is especially challenging for a coach. Knowing who your coaching, their personality, body language, facial expressions, conversations and/or lack thereof, is an art to be groomed.
Since you’re knew to the coaching field, sort of, I would use this opportunity to make mental notes – at first, then commit those notes to paper once you get home and settle in. In effect, you’ll find certain traits or characteristics that’ll cover a multitude of trainees, and some tell-tale signs that’ll tip you off, right off the bat, that something is, or is not, going right. Be sensitive to the little things that’ll escape the casual observer, ask your charges to talk to you along the way, keep an open mind to changing things when what you’re doing seems to hit a snag. It’s going to happen.
And another suggestion – don’t coach mad, with an angry tone, and don’t intimidate as a style signature. Coaches that cultivate this kind of atmosphere are weak inside and need that fear factor on those around them as a safety net when real talent and professional ability are lacking. Don’t get me wrong here. Being overly nice is not my suggestion. In fact, dealing with the college, semi-pro and professional player requires you to be a coach, not a friend. On the other hand, coaching the high school age group and even younger is a fine tightrope to walk. I’ve seen good coaches get drawn into a kind of friendship/mentor relationship that really requires a ton of social science courses to back them up.
And last, I would like to be one of those in the field to welcome you to the most rewarding profession to grace mother earth. As you develop, you’ll see things in people that so many others miss. You’ll feel so good, deep inside when you know that part of you is on the field playing ball when you can no longer do it yourself. And you’ll watch your first real success guy make it big, collecting his things, walk by you sitting at a three legged desk, poke his head into your office, reach for a bent door knob and close the door and just stands there. You’ll look up, sit back in your chair until you hear that spring loaded back go… bong! “ Can I help you son?” you’ll say with a smile, only to watch the guy searching for those simple little words of … “ thanks coach, thanks for everything.”
After the guy leaves, you’ll know that this is the only thing in the universe that you were born to do. You won’t make squat, dollars and cents wise, but you’ll live forever knowing the guy you helped will someday pass on a little of you, your coaching style and a lot more, to someone else as a coach himself.
I sincerely wish you and your family the very best. Welcome.
Pitching Coach (Ret.) John Baker