We have all witnessed little league or middle school baseball. Just like the old saying goes ‘you need to crawl before you walk, before you run’ so too does your baseball skillset. Executing fundamentals on the field is a big portion to success but what is going to separate young players is their ability to consistently accomplish the following:
- How was their ‘Intent’ with their warm-up and pre-game routine?
- Did they show discipline to elevate their heart-rate and execute a stretching/ ‘pre-hab’ routine?
- How did the player conduct their throwing program?
- How engaged was the player throughout the game?
- Were they watching the game regardless if they were in the lineup or not?
- For better or worse, did the player tangibly show their Baseball IQ?
- Whether it was their own or a teammates, how did they respond too adversity?
- How did they control their body language?
- If there was a possible ‘second effort’ opportunity, did they seize it?
- Did they make the same mistake twice?
This young player is going to get too a point in their Baseball careers were the talent level is consistent, essentially the same (and therefore almost irrelevant). Talent will give you an opportunity and will help you be seen by those at the next level but the ability for the coach to put your name in the lineup with ‘trust’ I believe goes further in the long run. Yes, it’s easy to be adjudicator and just say we need to get better at fundamentals X,Y and Z but EVERYONE needs to refine their abilities. This list above are things you can control and only work on if you have the proper intent and mindset each time you take the field.
Part of developing as a Baseball player IS getting physically stronger and faster but there is also a component of understanding the Game and growing their Baseball IQ that can only come from the attention to detail they have each inning, with the correct mindset. Plenty of Coaches can teach you how to play Baseball; how to hit, throw and catch but learning this game comes from the teaching moments that happen during the game. How accountable are they to learn something new or at minimum reiterate a philosophy/ theory they have, each game?
Evaluating and then articulating with young players can be difficult at times, especially if you’re giving feedback to a player that you have only seen a small sample size of. I could go on about this thought from a personality standpoint, but what interests me is from and IQ standpoint. In Sport, a Players talent level may not reflect their IQ level (in their given sport) and that also applies vise-versa. I like to call this Assumed knowledge, I can’t assume you have my knowledge on any given subject just like you can’t assume I have your knowledge on any given subject.
Coaches: My advice when giving feedback to a player is make sure you talk with them and understand their ‘Baseball journey’. Maybe what you’re trying to present, the player has no education in that matter at all? Maybe they are aware of it and you find a different way of explain things after learning how the Player receives and processes information (for example, you may share an interest and now are able to explain your topic simpler by creating an analogy they can understand).