Do You Truly Love the Game of Baseball and Know Enough About the Sport to Teach it? (i.e. Can You Bring Some Value to the Table and Instill a Love of the Game?)
Over the years my kids have been involved in all sorts of sports. Pretty much everything except football. The only one I’ve ever even remotely thought about participating in as a coach is baseball. And I played three sports growing up. The reason? Baseball is the only one where I actually remembered enough, and felt passionately enough about, that I felt I could add something for the kids.
Coaching is definitely a labor of love. As you’ve been reading and will continue to read, not everything about it is puppy dogs and rainbows, good times and laughter, fun and carefree afternoons. There’s paperwork, abrasive personalities, stubborn parents, coaches and even kids.
But what sustains you and makes everything remain fun for both coaches and kids is a love of the game, and a real true desire to impart some knowledge that you have on the next generation. That’s the real meaning behind he name of this site — GenerationBaseball.
But a love of the game, while it’s maybe 70 percent of what you need, isn’t necessarily enough. You also have to know what you’re talking about. Especially as kids get older and have the basics down, you’re going to be expected to be able to help them get better. So you’re going to need at least some skills to draw on to hopefully teach them something they didn’t already know or can’t quite do yet — techniques for showing them how to improve and get better.
I’m not saying you need to have played in the minors or college or wherever. I don’t think I know a single coach who played past high school in our league. But every one spends time studying drills and techniques and practice activities, etc. to give them ideas on how to teach kids to get better.
That’s not something you do without a real passion to be good at your job. Personally, I played into high school before I hung up my spikes…at least competitively. But when I started teaching my son and then coaching, I started doing some research to supplement the stuff that was already second nature to me.
And I found out that there are a TON of people out there who know way more than I do, have put way more thought into how to teach techniques than I have, and who seriously applied themselves to become better at imparting knowledge.
It’s a pretty important part of the job description.
Again, you don’t have to like those romanticized characters in every youth baseball movie you’ve ever seen — the Little League coach who would have been a Hall of Fame player if he hadn’t gotten hurt, or the guy with amazing talent who sabotaged his chances at the big time with self-destructive behavior and “name your cliche here.” Nah. It’s not like that.
But at least be kind of a good player yourself. At the very least. You don’t want some 10 year old showing you up out there. 😉
Real Story from “The Trenches”
I have three kids, and I’m quite frankly astonished that any of them can read. I don’t mean that as dig against their intelligence. They’re all super bright kids. But my point is, I’ve never, ever, ever understood how someone can teach another person to read. I just can’t fathom it.
That kind of translates to teaching anything. There are some things I can teach and some things I definitely can’t. I don’t remember learning how to play baseball. I really don’t. I just remember being able to play one day. I also don’t really remember teaching my son how to play. I just accept it now that he can. It’s weird.
Growing up, I don’t remember drills or our coaches doing anything that seemed “planned out.” We just got together and practiced…took ground balls, hit against other kids on the team, did some running, etc. Of course, that’s kind of changed now with all the regimens that people have developed and, more importantly, are able to share to the world with nothing more than a YouTube account.
I do remember a high school coach teaching me how to throw a curveball. Turns out, his technique is exactly what you DON’T want to teach kids. I only learned much later on what the proper technique was, and now, on occasion, I’ll throw some to my son, just so he can see them.
But had I not been educated beyond what I learned when I was growing up, I would have wound up teaching him the same technique that I was taught, and that ruined my arm later on.
So all this is a long way of saying that it helps if you have a passion for the game and actually WANT to learn new and better ways of teaching something you think you may already know.
I find it fascinating to learn about theory and new drills and the “inside baseball” stuff that we weren’t really taught as kids. If that kind of stuff bores you, you might want to think twice about coaching.
Most of the coaches I know aren’t physical specimens and they’re not turning pro anytime soon, or ever sniffed a major league tryout. And they’re still great coaches because they’re great with kids and know enough that they can impart some knowledge. That’s really the minimum requirement, I’d think.
So…take stock of your true abilities, I guess is the takeaway here. Again, you don’t have to be Babe Ruth out there, but at least know how to spot the things that kids may be doing wrong, and be able to teach them a better way. Once you get used to it and see results, it’ll spur you on to do even more.