When coaching, we should always start with the fundamentals or basics, and from what I’ve seen on the field many young players, even at higher "elite" levels, are lacking strong fundamentals. Why does this happen? Well, here are just a few thoughts...
- Typically practice plans are designed to move too fast. While coaches and parents often want to quickly move on to more “advanced” things, that might not be the right move. When college coaches ask us about players, they ask about the player's ability to make routine plays consistently, not “advanced” ones. They want players who have excellent fundamentals and this is exactly what players often lack. If players can’t routinely field a ground ball, or catch a fly ball, throw strikes and other "basic" skills, they can’t play in college!
- Coaches should also remember that training a skill in practice is very different than applying it in a game. In a game, the skill we build must hold up under pressure and under pressure the weakest links will break. To bridge this gap, we must use transfer training, which simply means we must create and train in an atmosphere as close to the one in which the skill is to be executed. We often see athletes who demonstrate strong fundamentals in practice but can’t take them into a game - these athletes need transfer training!
- We must remember that developing an athlete is a long-term process that requires we spend time where time is needed. Skills are mastered neither quickly nor easily. In a small window (such as a single game or practice) if a player "gets it" and seems to demonstrate a good handle on a skill, it does not necessarily mean they have mastered it. So, prioritize and be honest and objective with where our players are developmentally and use games for feedback. Feedback will guide us to where our players are strong, where they need work and we can structure development plans accordingly.
As always, I look forward to your comments. Thanks for reading.
Associate Head Coach and Head Pitching Coach of The Baseball Zone
Canada's most popular baseball training facility
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