The Baseball Zone Blog

Baseball Coaching Philosophy - It Is Not Just the X's and O's

Rick Johnston

Find me on:
| Feb 13, 2014 8:27:00 AM

Baseball Coach Being HonouredIn all sports, most people think of a particular coach’s philosophy as the style by which they like their teams to play the game. No matter the sport, each coach typically does have his way of thinking how the game should be played. A football coach may be a high tempo, run and gun, hurry up offensive guy who then finds players that fit the role. A hockey coach might believe more in defense first and deploy a defensive, neutral zone trap and establish this as the type of player he would like on his squad. A baseball coach might believe in big ball, sitting back, waiting for two bloops and a bomb, a la the days of Earl Weaver and the Baltimore Orioles. Absolutely, these are and will always be a part of any coach’s philosophy, but, there is far more than just coaching the X’s and O”s of whatever the discipline is.

Every SUCCESSFUL coach, regardless of what sport they are coaching, has a fundamental, rudimentary approach to the game that most will abide by. Each one of these successful coaches' philosophies involves components that go beyond the realm of these X’s and O’s, and are highly supported by attitude, beliefs, viewpoints and values. These are defining areas of significance, and in most situations, define who they are as coaches and how they impact people, players and staff around them. The philosophy is so impactful, that not only can it define from who they are as coaches, to how hard they work to get to the top, to something as simple as how they handle a player (maybe the best player on team) being late for practice.  The success of the team is generally based on the philosophy instilled. Failure of good teams is not based on talent, it is usually failure based of philosophy. Talented teams, in all sports, have been wasted because of the lack of good, sound coaching philosophy. A coach needs to know what he is going to do before he does it.

No one philosophy is necessarily better than another. Each has its own merits and each its own downfalls. The key is to ensure all parties involved are on side with their belief in the philosophy. The actions of coaches in coaching, decision making and strategy can have great bearing on each player in the present and unquestionably in the future. You are not talking about wins and losses, but self esteem, self confidence and a sense of self worth. These are some of the greatest virtues any coach can influence through philosophy. 

How a player or group of players holds the coaches philosophy in regard will often influence how they feel about the coach. It is natural for players to only want to hear positive comments, such as “well done”, “great effort” or “you led by example today” to name a few.  These types of verbal directives undoubtedly will inspire a player's self esteem, self confidence and self worth. This can be lifelong! Conversely, players that continue to hear “that’s terrible”, “what are you doing” or ‘that is no good” to name a few, will never ever gain the self esteem, self confidence or self worth under the watch of that particular coach. The negative impact, guess what, it can also be lifelong!

So here you are, coaching your sport, baseball. But really what are you coaching? It is not X’s and O’s, as you may think. That is just a small part of it. You are coaching life; young, aspiring players, wanting no more than to please their coach. Before you set foot on that field this summer, ask yourself this question…Do you have your coaching philosophy in place? If it is winning on the field and in life, that is a by-product of philosophy.

Simple Yet General Expectations: Of Yourself

Lead by Example

Dedication to team, group and parents

Loyalty to coaching staff, players and parents

Ability to coach, teach and instruct

Knowledge of strategy, systems and tactical manouevers and effective deployment of same

Simple Yet General Expectations: To Your Players

Positive rapport

Discipline equally

Positive yet constructive

Build character 

Guided discovery

Motivate and educate

Great coaches are rarely remembered and held in great esteem by their former players due to their knowledge of X's and O's. It goes far beyond that. It is how they have affected their players as young men or women that makes the experience a memorable one or not. So this year, why not go beyond the X's and O's - far beyond it - and devise a plan to make it a memorable, maybe even a life-changing one for your players? The X's and O's may just fall into place if you do.


Rick Johnston, Co-Founder & Head Instructor - The Baseball Zone

summer baseball training


Image courtesy of

Topics: baseball strategy, baseball psychology, baseball parents, baseball coaching, baseball communication, baseball philosophy, baseball leadership

See our upcoming Clinic Schedules

baseball clinics toronto

Subscribe to The Baseball Zone Blog via E-mail

Hey, let's connect!


Latest Blog Posts

Posts by Category

see all