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Communication Needs Improvement

People in a place of power should first of all be fit to be in power and second of all not abuse that power

I recently witnessed a youth coach doing a horrible job communicating and it needs to change because he was just one example of a much larger group of coaches.

He’s not the only one who does it. From what I’ve seen, it’s all over the place. Tons of coaches are doing it. And it’s not helping. They are the problem. It’s not always the player.

The problem, however, is that so many coaches choose to make the player feel like they are the problem which is not always the case. Yes, there are times where the player is being a “problem player” but many times, I have seen that the coaches simply don’t know what they are talking about or they do a poor job of communicating with the player and begin to get frustrated.

Who gets to be the target of their frustrations? The kid.

Back to last night.

There was a coach working with two hitters in a cage. One hitter was not fully understanding what the coach was talking about, and for good reason, because what the coach was talking about wasn’t making any sense to me either and I have studied hitting for over 10 years with a college education in human movement. I stood there for 5 minutes listening, giving this coach a chance to explain himself. But he had such little understanding of what he was attempting to teach that he just continued to dig himself a bigger and bigger hole. Which he couldn’t get out of through explanation.

So what did he do?

He started going on the attack. He started attacking the kid with questions that didn’t make any sense at all. He started to be very challenging towards the kid. Challenging the kid’s intelligence. Challenging his lack of ability to do what he asked. Challenging his understanding. Anything he could do to avoid the truth that he simply had no clue what he was talking about nor how to explain whatever it was he was attempting to explain.

So what did I do?

I pointed out the truth to him. Enough was enough. The kid had taken the verbal abuse long enough.

I told him exactly what the mechanical breakdown in his swing was and I also told the coach the truth about what he thought he perceived from the player and how it was fundamentally incorrect based off the mechanism with which the kid was using to move his body. The truth was obvious to anyone who had an inkling as to how the body moves through a swing.

The coach looked like he wanted to jump across the cage and rip my head off. More than likely because I saw through all of his crap that the child wasn’t so bold enough to speak out against.

There are a few major problems with the way this coach treated this kid…

The obvious problem is from a human perspective. He was treating this kid as a subordinate which is completely unacceptable. The coach’s status of being older and a coach does not trump his shared humanness with the kid. There was a complete lack of respect for the kid. He was treated with no dignity whatsoever.

The second problem is from a baseball perspective. When you train youth players you have to create a positive learning environment for them. Their emotions will absolutely impact their ability to acquire and retain the movement patters they are being taught. Emotions directly affect a person’s ability to know where they are in space (proprioception) and especially through movement (kinesthesia). Body awareness is vitally important in baseball especially with regard to hitting. When the emotions start to take over, the necessary awareness will not be there. (For more about this look for the next blog post to go more in depth)

How do we fix this problem?

There are a lot of things that can be done to fix this problem. One thing could be to fire coaches like that. Or talk with them about the way they are treating their kids and let them know how that will negatively impact the kids. Educating them on the affects of their communication is probably the first step in getting coaches to understand that they can’t treat their youth players like crap and expect them to perform well.

Coaches…learn your trade and learn how to communicate effectively so players can master what they are being taught rather than belittling them for not understanding you when you are unable to explain your own thoughts.

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