Manager Vs. Coach


#1

When we look at any Major League team on TV we can definitely see a distinctive division of labor. We see a roster of position players, we see a host of coaches (pitching coach, batting coach, etc.) then we see the head coach, or Skipper as he’s called.

This division of labor comes into the picture when we watch the Skipper of the club jockey batters around, call the bullpen, and so on. What we don’t see is the head coach telling the position players how to do their job specifically – that’s a designated coach’s job. And there’s where we can see detail verses management.

Ok, how does all this relate to your son or daughter playing ball?

If your son or daughter plays for a team, then it would be customary to know what kind of team it is. Sounds simply enough – right?

If your son or daughter has a coach, or coaches, then these people should instruct, organize each practice session, and groom your youngster to be a better player coming out of the season, then when they went in. That’s what coaches do. It’s there only job.

If your son or daughter has a manager, then this person doesn’t instruct, groom, or advise in any detail. This person uses what is available, with possibly a little tweaking here and there, and then onto a season of baseball.

The distinction between a manager and a coach in amateur baseball can be confusing and even a mixing of titles. Your son or daughter’s “coach” can be in reality nothing more than a manager of what he/she has to work with.

Some highly competitive amateur clubs have managers instead of a coach in true form. So, if your son or daughter is to get the most out of his/her baseball experience, I would assume that they would have to find private “coaching” somewhere on their own, or at a lower level.

I hear from time to time that some youngsters sit on the bench while others get lots of playing time – even though the talent pool is even-steven. This reminds me of a tradesman that has a favorite tool. Sure, there are others just like it, but the favorite gets used more than not.

With the advent of travel teams and such in amateur baseball, it’s kind of difficult to find private coaching, which is “coaching” in its truest form, that’s affordable and timely to the busy schedules of a family. In my opinion this weeds out the have’s-n-have-not’s.

Ask the club that your youngster is interested in if they coach to improve playability, or do they use the best talent available as-is.
Rarely is there a compromise between the two.


#2

Coach B, Reality is around here we have three choices. Play local rec ball for a “dad coach” which is a crap shoot. Even the better coaches must rely on other dads for help so there’s little expertise among the coaching staff. Three weeks of practice after school until dark gives little time for even the best to offer much in the way of individual instruction (assuming coach is capable). Second option is local travel & the path we chose. Our team is coached by two former college outfielders who also have sons on the team. They do a good job (my opinion) of “managing” the team but neither was a pitcher or infielder. Team consists of kids from 5 schools; one way drive to practice for us is 45 minutes. Due to proximity we practice one or two days per week. That being said there is little time for individual instruction. Most on the team get individual instructions as does my son since age 12; he’ll be 16 in a few months. Third option is an “elite” team with a heavy price tag promising exposure and normally requiring private lessons from the coach who owns or teaches out of the facility. Personally I think its nuts for younger kids but to each his own. We will probably seek out this type program next summer, tryouts for most of these type teams are this summer. My son is fortunate to play for a HS with a great coaching staff consisting of longtime HC “manager” & 3 position coaches. They will work to make the kids better but don’t select “raw talent”. If kids don’t have a reasonable idea how to play when they get there they’re not selected. HS coaches still expect kids to work on their own.


#3

Another double post. Sorry


#4

Pitcher17
Your posting here is similar to what I’ve seen over the last two (2) years.

I’m retired, and have been for some time. Since retirement I’ve been approached to coach, but I have no experience with youth baseball, not even close. I’ve given a few “suggestions and pointers”, but for 99% of those who listen, they end up wanting something else, hurry up and show me how to do this-or-that, or have no retention value worth progressing, or even worse, injuring themselves.

In any event, what you described seems to be the way of things of what I’ve seen from a distance. On the other hand, I could be wrong and witnessed only a limited sample of the youth baseball population - high school included.

[color=blue]HS coaches still expect kids to work on their own.
[/color]
Yes, I’ve seen a lot of that. Unfortunate. This is the place where transition should warrant a better training/practice system. I attended a few practice sessions for my nephew who had hockey practice, in the wee hours of the morning just to get in ice time. Now there was dedication, coaching that was real coaching - not just shuffling kids around or expecting them to be in tuned with hockey when they hit the ice.

Pitcher17, your comments were very well organized and completely understandable.


#5

Thanks Coach B. Would be a great experience for the kids if you reconsider coaching a youth team; know we would loved to have had you!


#6

[quote=“Coach Baker”]Pitcher17
Your posting here is similar to what I’ve seen over the last two (2) years.

In any event, what you described seems to be the way of things of what I’ve seen from a distance. On the other hand, I could be wrong and witnessed only a limited sample of the youth baseball population - high school included.

[color=blue]HS coaches still expect kids to work on their own.
[/color]
Yes, I’ve seen a lot of that. Unfortunate. This is the place where transition should warrant a better training/practice system. [/quote]

Pretty much what I’ve experienced. Travel ball starts at 9, and kids who stay with the game and move up to High School ball get there by working hard, playing in travel ball, and have private lessons. A few make it by natural ability, but it is an uphill fight without travel ball. The coaches are managers. It’s not their job to develop talent, especially if they have a strong talent pool (i.e. parents who don’t mind the time and money consumption involved to develop their kid.) Parents have choices. 1) Do it themselves, and be on the outside or 2) go travel and private lessons. Private lessons at $75 to $90 per hour isn’t financially feasible for everyone, so less oft communities must act differently than well oft communities. And from my observation, private lessons and travel ball doesn’t necessarily increase athletic ability.

For the middle to upper-middle class, baseball skills and development is done away from the field, away from team participation. The hard work of these kids away from the field shows in the playing time they get.
The question comes in what happens with the athlete who has the natural ability and talent, but not the $$ to afford travel ball and private coaches? Where does this kid get the playing opportunity and training needed - assuming he has the talent - to develop into a D1 player? And, does natural ability and talent eventually rise to the top and replace the hard working kid, or are they always in the “wait-till-next-year” game?
Back in the 70s kids we played unorganized baseball every day at the schoolyard, unless of course, it was snowing. Playing these pick-up games developed instinct and listening to games on the radio increased baseball IQ. Coaches spent a lot of times teaching the fundamentals of the game, and very little time on mechanics. Everyone threw FB, FB, FB. The mechanics derived naturally from playing. It never occurred to a parent that a kid would need private coaching, for that’s what the team coaches were doing.

Today, the few coaches who coach emphasize mechanics, and lack fundamentals. What are good mechanics vary from coach to coach, so the kid really never develops anything. Five different coaches will have five different ways to hit the ball. Every pitching coach has a set way to throw, and they’re all dependent on how the pitching coach throws. The fastball is scorned, because anyone can hit a fastball. The curve is praised, because everyone gives up on it, and if a kid can get it over the plate, no matter how fat it is, he’s got a strike. Kids give up on the curve because their coaches/managers tell them to lay off and only swing at the fastball. The fastball are hittable because they’re not fast. So, it’s senseless to expect the athlete will develop from team practices and games. That leaves parents to look outside the establishment to assure their son is getting appropriate coaching, opportunities, developing the right relationships, and everything else that is needed to break into the game. The consequences for not following this system is that the kid can make the team, but will be developmentally behind and therefore not play.
Still, the question remains, will natural talent eventually win out, or is travel ball and private lessons the only way to make it in baseball? Will the kid with natural ability eventually take the position of the kid who works hard, who has played years and years of expensive private lessons and travel ball? And if so, is that fair? I thought about this at length yesterday while watching my son finally get off the bench and onto the field. During the first four games he got off the bench just once, and that was to pinch hit. But yesterday was different. He got in in the fourth inning. One incredible defensive play after another he wowed the parents who sat in the stands, awakening them from their usual boredom. Parent after parent asked why this boy wasn’t playing. The parents loved his hustle, his all-out fully extend diving catch of a long fly ball, and the laser throw from deep right to 3rd to gun out the runner tagging up. The parents started adding up a few other things, like the pinch hit fly out that went 400’ to center. Varsity kids don’t hit the ball that far, let alone the kid who sits at the end of the bench. Then they started thinking even further. Why doesn’t the coach let him and the 90 mph sophomore pitch? Why doesn’t the coach see what they can do and develop them? Suddenly, the kids the coaches chooses to play didn’t make sense. Realization hit them – the coaches don’t play the best players! They play the kids who fit a certain mold and whom they feel comfortable with, such as 1) growing up together playing travel ball, 2) private practices outside of team practices, and 3) year round commitment to baseball, which is shown by 1 and 2.

I’m not sure if any of this makes a difference. Coaches are set and content to make out the line-up. It’s unlikely my son will not develop by practicing with and being on a High School team. As a bench player, he gets little practice. There’s no teaching involved. So, I still strap on the catching equipment, hit ground balls until I get blister’s, analyze his hitting approach, study his delivery and recommend little tweaks, work with him on the mental game, etc., and try to keep him from walking away from the game he was made for. But most importantly I’m trying to instill within him the ability to teach himself, to feel what he’s doing and make his own adjustments. I’m a firm believer that if he works hard, is friendly and encourages others, stays positive, plays aggressively in the field when given the opportunity, and doesn’t hesitate or think about what the coaches think, then when his opportunity comes, he’ll make the most of it and never let it go.

In today’s environment, it seems to me development is by default the parents and child’s responsibility.


#7

West,
I believe the cream will eventually rise to the top. The private lessons don’t have to be so expensive. We’ve been able to find quality instructors normally in the $60 per hour range with half hour rates ranging from $30-$40. Honestly believe kids can get what they need out of instruction with a 30 minute session per week; we’d occasionally do a full hour but mostly stuck with 30 minutes. When mine fist started we did full hours but after a couple of months instructor covered hitting and pitching in the half session. My son loved baseball from an early age and seemed to have some talent. I was a 12 yr old baseball drop out that had other interest when I was young. I realized playing catch in the yard and pitching to him in the cages was helpful but he soon outgrew my usefulness in anything related to baseball other than to be a supportive parent. I also realized while I was clueless; local coaches weren’t that far ahead of me. Long story short I believed as long as my son had a passion for baseball I would do everything with reason to help him. I believe kids who didn’t play travel can be every bit as good as travel players. For us the decision to travel came down to playing better competition and better coaching. There is an advantage early on in high school to playing travel but I believe it dissipates quickly when they begin to play at the same level. The biggest issues I see that hurt some in our Freshman class is the need for total adjustments upon entering High School. Most common are long arm swings & this is not limited only to non travel players. Kids that have been successful are having a difficult time making the adjustment & understanding why they need to adjust anything. If given the choice between my son playing travel or receiving private instruction (assuming either/or) I’d choose private instruction every time. Your son will be fine; coaches might be seeing something that will make it more difficult for him to compete as he gets older & the players (especially pitching) get better. unfortunately coaches have a lot of kids (our program has around 60) and have limited time. As previously mentioned in a lot of ways I believe its true they do more managing than coaching. Might not hurt for your son to have a sit down with his coach and ask for an honest assessment of what he needs to work on. If the coach is competent he should be able to provide him a list. Talk to some of the dads whose sons receive instruction and get recommendations of good instructors. Lessons from a quality instructor is a much better investment (IMO) and cost much less than a season of travel. Good luck & Best Wishes to you & your son!