You see it every weekend in travel ball, a coach standing in the 3rd base coaches box coaching at the top of their voice saying something like; let it travel, have a plan, get on time, etc. When I watch those games, I'm always trying to figure out, are those coaching cues really for the player, or just generic babble that's been said so often there's an assumption that everyone understands the meaning? Or is it possible that it's just being said to give the impression to those within earshot (including parents in the stands) that the coach is actually coaching? Are they? Do the players really understand the true meaning of these often over used coaching phrases? Well, to find out I've put it to the test.
Each summer (when not prohibited like this year) I have the good fortune to work college coaches Showcase Camps. In these camps players from programs from all over show up to be seen by college coaches with the hopes of getting on their recruiting radar.
It's in this environment, I will ask what would seem to be a very remedial question, one that every player has heard since they first picked up a bat and ball. Something like; what does square to bunt mean? Of course they look at me like I have three eyes, then proceed to mumble and stammer with some nervous answer. I might also ask; when you hear let it travel, or let it get deep, what does that mean? Again some stammering. When explained, they'll nod and say something like, that makes so much sense, or now I get it!
Now I get it? It's little things like understanding the meaning of these phrases that allow your players to grow at a much faster pace. Without the understanding, how can they be expected to execute the meaning of those words.
More importantly how can they be expected to turn those words into athletic feelings or timing. Coaches we have a great opportunity to help young players really grow. Assuming that our words are always understood, even though we really want to believe they are, is dangerous to our players and teams success. Take the time during the drill portion of your practice and ask simple questions, like, what does let it travel mean? I think you'll be surprised at the answers you receive, and even more pleasantly surprised at the outcome of the athletes performance when they fully understand the meaning behind the instruction.
Enjoy the game!
Coach Monroe is owner of Bases Academy and an active D1 college coach.