Baseball Magazine

Don't Ignore Your Star Players.

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
On every team there are going to be varying levels of ability.  Much of the time spent interacting with players involves trying to get the players who are struggling to improve.  A combination of encouragement and constructive criticism is usually what is recommended in order to do this.  Our time as coaches is limited so what usually happens is that we identify the biggest needs and address them first.  If we need runs, we usually target those hitters who are struggling to get them to improve.  If our pitchers are walking too many batters, we work with the worst offenders and try to get them more in the strike zone.  Much of our practice time and discussions with individual players follows along this strategy.
But there is a danger when we always follow that same path.  Sometimes the star player(s) on the team get shortchanged and in some cases, almost completely ignored.  When us coaches see a player doing very well in one or more areas of the game, we tend to just leave that player alone.  One reason is the time factor.  "My time is limited so why spend it on a player who's doing well?"  The second reason sometimes involves a coach not wanting to screw up a good player.  They fear that if they tinker with a very successful player, the player's performance may start to drop.  It goes to the "if it's not broken, don't fix it" theory.  And no coach wants to be labeled "the guy who ruined so-and-so."  Unfortunately, both reasons can hurt or at least frustrate the star player.
Don't ignore your star players.
Many star players are the kids who spend a lot of time and energy on the game both on and off the field.  They have made a tremendous investment in the game and sometimes feel the most pressure to succeed.  This pressure can come from themselves and/or their parents who expect to see their investment in time and money pay off.  These high strung kids sometimes are the players who need the most encouragement of them all.  Unfortunately, coaches tend to ignore these high performing kids for the reasons listed above.
The point is, make time to check in with your stars to see how they are doing.  Give them the encouragement they need as well.  Tell them that they are doing well and that you are very happy with the way they are playing.  Pick out specific things they are doing well and tell them one-on-one that it isn't going unnoticed.  It's unfortunate but there are many talented players out there who never hear those positive comments at home.  These are the kids that get burned out and end up quitting because, in their mind, nobody seems to notice that they do well.  Their parents may only point out their mistakes and the coach spends all his time with the less talented kids.  
It is true that many star players get all the positive feedback they need just by looking at their stats and trophies.  However, great stats and trophies mean nothing to those kids who need to hear from important people in their lives how special or good they are.  Every player has a story and every players' needs are slightly different as a result.  
One of the main jobs a coach has is to get his team to improve.  Coaches need to be careful not to ignore the star player(s) in the process.

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