My son’s baseball season is over, and it was a lesson to me about the value of good coaching. There’re lots of things that go into coaching, it became clear. For example, I began to believe that if you first don’t instill an understanding of what it means to be a team, you don’t have a chance. And then you’ve got to build not only the individual skills, but also the strategy. Also, you’ve got to have support. I saw teams with really active assistant coaches, and the effect on the team performance was obvious.
I recall from previous years’ soccer coaching that the association’s approach was to drill skills first, and then introduce strategy (not even in the first year). This is apparently something that helps build to a national capacity, though it only works if all coaches observe it. That wasn’t the case, unfortunately, but we still supported our coach in that perspective and were glad he focused on the kids development, not the parent’s desire for their kids to win (and my son’s team did win some). And at this stage baseball strategy would be appropriate.
It occurred to me that a great technique would be to ask the kids what is necessary, and tease it out of them, and even do some experiments to help them learn the tradeoffs and why to do it a particular way. There’s a role for instruction, typically for expediency, but I think a blend could be achieved. I heard other coaches telling their players, before each batter, where the play was. I’d be inclined to think that a better approach might be to ask them where the play is. Making them self-coaching would be a good outcome.
I admit I find the prospect a little daunting, but I still regret that my unpredictable schedule means I can’t commit to coaching. I’d like to think that a chance to practice what I preach in that specific instance would be of benefit not only to me but also to the kids.