In 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.
We know that hitting a baseball is one of the toughest athletic endeavours to do successfully. Much of a hitter’s success or lack of success stems from a simple, simple concept that has little or frankly nothing to do with a mechanical movement in their swing. What is really has to do with is one’s ability to be much more aggressive early in the count than it is to be patient in the count. Many coaches will suggest being more patient in an at bat, causing the pitcher to throw additional pitches, creating fatigue and thus, as the game prolongs, the better chance that pitcher will be out of the game. I am not sure that this would be considered wise or prudent philosophy.
If you have a pitcher who is wild or struggles to throw strikes, certainly, that would be good, smart hitting. However, pitchers are not taught to be wild or throw pitches that are out of the strike zone, they are taught to own the strike zone as often as they can and especially own the zone early in the count. Have we ever heard the phrase “get ahead” or “get ahead and stay ahead”? Many a pitching philosophy is the following:
I turned 42 years old this year and I started playing organized sports when I was about 7 years old, so...let me do some math here...that makes it about 35 years that I have been in sports as a participant, coach or administrator.
In that time I have seen and heard a lot of speeches, preaching, leading, coaching, teaching, musing, philosophising, etc. This has been from coaches, fellow players, parents, pupils, colleagues, gurus, and on down the line. I have almost heard it all. I can say that unless there has been a significant level of SUBSTANCE to what has come out of a given person's mouth, I really don't think it has meant a lot to me. In fact, if there is a lack of SUBSTANCE I actually find it offensive that someone would think I, or anyone else, might be interested in their sermons. I am confident I am not alone in this assertion.
So what is this SUBSTANCE I speak of? Well, it has a lot to do with "walking the walk versus talking the talk" and little to do with "do as I say, not as I do". In the awesome free world we live in (well, mostly free) we can pretty much say whatever we want. An incredible right and privilege we have. However, there is nothing that constitutionally guarantees that whatever we say actually means anything. I believe that the only way your words have meaning is if you actually LIVE THEM everyday...in the flesh...not in your fantasies.