Being a team in our organization means that other teams know when they play us that we will play fast and aggressive. We will teach our guys to be aggressive and make aggressive mistakes. We will also be aggressive in our coaching. On offense we will steal, double steal, bunt, squeeze bunt, hit and run….the other team will know us by this reputation before the game even begins. In turn this will cause our opponents to play on edge and make many more mistakes! On defense we will be aggressive on the mound, always preaching to our pitchers to attack the strike zone. Our defenders will be aggressive to the point of reckless. As coaches we will not say it is OK to dive for balls and miss them…..we will say….we expect you to dive for balls and miss some!! These concepts go back to the main coaching theme of the process over results; we need to play the game hard at all times with no thought of failure or success. Think of it this way, if you think about the successful execution of the play rather than just the effort, doesn’t that lend the mind to think of the failure of the task rather than the effort as well??
Play the Game:
We always tell our players to “play the game….not the score”! Obviously we need to play the score as coaches….that is our job as a game coach. I contend the catcher, pitcher, and shortstop need to know the score to determine the way to approach hitters or where throws need to go on cutoffs and issues such as that, but in general we don’t want the players thinking of the score or most certainly dwelling upon it. Another addition to the phrase….”play the game” is “play the game….not your opponent”. As coaches we need to know and scout an opponent but the players do not need to hear “how good this team is” or how “we should beat this team if we do this or that” all our players need to hear is we need to play our game and we need to execute what we do! Always keep in mind that winning is not number one on our list. In fact, winning is down the list at number 4 or lower. With that said we want to try to win as coaches because frankly….winning will help in the other organizational goals. Just remember, coach at a fast pace and coach the fundamentals and if you are doing those things, along with coaching aggressively then winning will occur as well! Don’t run it up Teams in our organization will not “run up the score”. There is no set number of runs ahead that you need to stop stealing or bunting….you just have to know as a coach when to stop….and when to sub in players that don’t normally play as much. I don’t want you to “call off the dogs”, so to speak, and then lose the game, so you need to have a feel for when you have a team beaten and they are overmatched. That is one side of the running it up story…if you feel that another team is doing the same to your team….do not lose you temper….but you may calmly tell the other coach how you feel…one time!!! If the team continues to run up the score and/or ignores your feeling on the subject just use the game as an example of how not to play the game for you team!
Don’t create Robots:
When we coach our teams we should not be creating robots or puppets! What we mean by this is the players need to act upon the play and not re-act or constantly follow directions. This takes a great deal of patience from the coaches and parents as well. What has to happen is you have to prepare your players and then allow them to make some mistakes. This philosophy holds more and more of a heavy importance the older the players get…..but it must start young! An example is that you should possibly talk to an 8 year before the play on what he should do, but once the ball is in play you need to let him and his teammates take over. If they rely on you (or the parents in the stands) to tell them what to do with the ball then they will always have that reliance. You should let them act upon the ball and learn to talk to each other to make the play. Your coaching is most needed before and after the fact. A good coach is big into preparation and constructive criticism. A player that has to wait for instruction when the ball is in play is not acting upon the ball….he is re-acting!! The older a player gets the less you should have to say to him pre-play as well, the older the players get the more they need you in practice and post-play. Your job in the game is to handle the lineup, prepare them for warm-ups, organization, position players, work with the assistant coaches, substitutions, discipline, motivation, strategy, handling the pitching staff, and overall support……not to “pull the strings of puppets”!!