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Baseball and Softball seasons are starting all over the country. Travel ball parents, little leaguers, high school players, and pros getting ready, the time is now to get hyped! Many players have spent countless hours in the weight room, batting cage, or on the pitcher's mound honing their skills for the season. Coaches are having tryouts, starting practice, or games are in full swing.
How do we as instructors or coaches deal with these players and their new 'skills'? How can we be the best we can and reward the player for their work in the offseason? The answer is building the "circle of communication"!
At the beginning of the offseason, every player probably has a plan of what they want to improve on. If it's hitting, then they go to a hitting coach. Perhaps they want to get stronger, so they lift some weights. Getting more velocity behind their throw could be a goal. Because of this, the player gets on a velocity program. The player dictates what they want out of a program. Then the coach dictates how they, as a team, go about achieving these goals.
Once the offseason winds down, now it's the instructor's turn to communicate. The player must understand how to articulate his work to his coach. The player must be able to explain the 'why' of what he worked on and how they measured and achieved their results.
The instructor must make sure the player is prepared for any and all conversations with their team coach. The player has put in the work and trusts the instructor. Now the Instructor must help the player get the team coach excited about the 'new and improved' player he's acquired.
Player to coach communication is probably the most important piece of the puzzle. That puzzle piece won't fit unless the first two communication points occur. The player must schedule the meeting with his coach when he gets back to school. Then, he sits down in the coach's office or maybe in the batting cage hitting to discuss his changes. Hopefully, the coach listens, watches, and sees the improvement in their game. When that happens, and the coach is enthused with the player's offseason of work, the last two pieces of communication is possible.
Hopefully, the coach will reach out to the instructor for more in-depth information about the player's offseason program. Now the lines of communication are fully open and clear. This is in the best interest of all involved, the player, the coach, and the instructor. All of these three people want the same thing: the player to do well for the team! Once the coach opens this line of communication to the instructor, the sky is truly the limit.
Now, the coach can communicate exactly what he or she saw in practice and games to the person helping with development in the offseason. Deficiencies in the player's game can be specifically targeted in a one on one setting instead of a group or team setting. The player gets the best of all worlds, a coach who knows the work he did over the offseason and an instructor taking cues from his coach about what can continue to improve.
I have a great relationship with some coaches across the country. Many of which have players they know I train or I recommended to them when the players were in high school. As someone who works with young athletes, I don't want my job to be 'done' when they head off to college or the pros.
I want to work hand in hand with the player, his family, and his new coaches to help further his development. I'd hope any coach who signs any of my players sees some value in the type of work we did with the player and the player's dedication to our program.
There is no reason a relationship cannot be established between coach and instructor. In fact, I think it's pivotal with today's youth culture, travel parents, and lesson culture that these coaches and instructors get together and work WITH each other instead of AGAINST each other. This completes the "circle of communication". Once the circle of communication is complete, it goes on forever and never stops.