I am putting this out there to try and determine how to overcome issues that come up all the time. At all levels of ball there is always more than one way to skin a cat. Different techniques for accomplishing this task, different ways to attack a situation, or different solutions to a problem that may exist. It seems everyone knows how to do this-or-that and everyone has a way to fix something. Often, there is more than one way to do something, and a conflict exists at the coaching level. How do we overcome this?
One of the most common things I hear parents and less experienced coaches tell their kids is to “keep your elbow up”. I used this only as an example, while this is not the worst advice in the world, it is wrong. The elbows should be relaxed and the hands high. Raising the elbow simple increases the swing plane and increases the time from the point the hands release to the point of contact with the ball. What we really want is hands to the ball as fast as we can with the most possible bat speed. This is accomplished by having the hands high, pulling with the lead elbow, and whipping the bat through the zone. Having the elbows relaxed facilitates this.
Another point of contention is the bunt, how to stand, should the batter square up? How should the feet be positioned, should they be running at contact? There are a number of ways to teach this, none in necessarily wrong, but everyone, including myself, thinks they know the perfect way to do this. I still see old school high school coaches to this day having their batters square all the way around and face the pitcher to bunt, this is wrong, but I see it daily.
But what do we do when there is a conflict between the coaches? The worst case is that one coach teaches it one way, and the other another. Then the kid is all confused. Should a coach who feels strongly about their position teach it w/o regard to the other coach? That seems counterproductive. Hopefully a strong manager will step in and make a ruling, but what if they don’t know for sure either?
I once had a 9/10 all-star team comprised of about 75% of players from my team. They were very good, they knew what to do and had been coached by me for 3 months. I had an assistant from another team who taught hitting differently than me. He was teaching an advanced method of hitting that I did not teach until the kids got to 11/12. Most of the 9/10′s had just started playing, so the goal was to keep them still and have them turn into the pitch. He wanted to teach them to rotate and explode right away, they couldn’t handle that yet, they weren’t at that skill level yet.
Even though I asked him not to continue it, he decided it was his job to teach every girl on the team a new way to hit in less than two weeks. Asinine. He screwed up every girl on the team’s swing and we went from scoring 20 runs a game to 3 or 4. Needless to say, we didn’t win the tournament. This is a tough situation to be in and one that often arises at All-Star time. Hell, I have daily battles w/ my regular season assistants, but that’s just it, we have battles, sometimes arguments even, but we work it out and everyone respects the other’s position, then we move forward.
I don’t have the answer to this situation. It happens in life every day. How many times have you been at work, come up with a plan, assigned tasks, and a week later, everyone shows up w/ whatever they felt like doing, or felt was best to do, rather than what the plan originally called for? You see this in the NFL all the time. When a team is winning they seem to flow like a well oiled machine, but when they are losing it seems the parts are fighting each other.
I guess this is what makes great leaders. Creating an objective, defining success, mapping a plan that offers the best path to success, and getting everyone on the team to buy into it. I have a friend who is a master at this, he is always positive, always encouraging, and always letting everyone know what they are supposed to be doing to achieve success. He is clear, simple to understand, and very motivational. Care to guess where his teams always finish?
Anyway, I guess my solution to any conflict resolution is listening and understanding, but making sure never to stray from the stated objectives. Where most coaches and leaders break down is never having clearly defined objectives in the first place. If we don’t know what we are striving for, how can we work to attain it?
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