Keeping up with the game

A while back I wrote about the willingness to change. In that post I talked about how players have to be willing to change what they’re comfortable doing in order to get better.

That thought applies to coaches as well. The worst thing you can do as a coach is get stuck in how you do things to the point where you’re not open to things that could help you and your players get better. Your methods may have worked for you as a player, or in the past as a coach. But if there’s a better way to do things, you owe it to your players to be all over it.

That seems to make sense. Yet that’s not always what happens. There are all kinds of coaches who refuse to consider anything that might different from what they’ve always done, whether it’s skill-wise or strategic. For example, as a coach you may have always bunted your runners to second when they got on first. But if your  opponents are aces at bunt coverage and are throwing out your lead runner, or the pitchers are getting your bunters to pop up all the time, you might just want to change your game plan.

So why won’t some people change? Sometimes it’s ego — they already know it all (they think) so nothing new could be worthwhile. For some, they don’t want to admit that what they used to teach was wrong. That’s a form of ego too, but it’s also a form of trying to maintain or protect a reputation. Some coaches believe they need to be infallible in order to be effective. That’s not true either, but it’s what they think.

Those who are willing to change, though, can give their players an edge. Change isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary.

One thing I’ve changed in the way I teach hitting is more emphasis on a weight shift forward. For years I followed the standard fastpitch canon that said take a short, soft stride, keep the weight back. But after exposure to the idea of getting the weight moving forward from several sources, and seeing for myself how great hitters do it, I started changing what I teach. It wasn’t that traumatic, for me or for my players. I simply showed them what I’d seen, and told them I thought it could make them better. They made the change with little resistance.

Change can be trying, but it’s worth the effort when you find something better. Question everything you know all the time. You and your players will ultimately benefit in the end.

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