Baseball Magazine

Coaching Vs Managing

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
In one of my first days in professional baseball, I got an eye opener about the difference between a coach and a manager.  A teammate of mine started a conversation with our manager by saying "Hey Coach, ...".  What came next was quite unexpected.  With a very serious look, the manager shot back sternly by saying "I'm not a coach.  I'm the manager."  I found myself thankful he did not say that to me since it was just a matter of time before I made the same mistake.  Up until then, I had never called anybody anything other than "coach."  From that day on, I either used the guy's first name or said "Skip" - short for Skipper, as in "Skipper" of a ship.

Coaching vs Managing

Good managers tend to have a better feel
for when to "coach" and when to "manage."

In my coaching career, I have held the title of both coach and manager.  To be quite honest, I couldn't care less whether players call me the "coach" or the "manager."  However, there is a big difference between the two and coaches themselves often don't fully understand the balance that needs to occur between them.  Even though a person running a team may describe himself as "the manager" or a "coach,"  he actually is both at the same time.  In my opinion, how much he is of each often depends largely on how talented his team is.  Sometimes a person is managing when they may need to do more coaching.  Others are coaching when the team needs a bit more managing.
Some years, when we had a very talented team, I tried to become more of a manager.  Other years when we were not as talented I had to be more of a coach.  I believe the difference between the two depends on how much teaching is taking place.  A less talented team needs much more instruction (coaching) on how to play the game correctly.  Drill work, explaining the how's and why's of various fundamentals and mechanics, chalk talk, and numerous team meetings usually are found on such teams.  However, a very talented team may be beyond much of this and respond poorly to it.  Backing off this "coaching" and simply "managing" a talented team sometimes is more useful.  Basically, get out of the players' way and let them play.  Some coaches have a very tough time doing that.
Of course, if a guy tried this "managing" approach to a less talented team, there is no telling where the players may end up on their own.  Backing off might be the worst thing for this group who probably need more structured, hands-on "coaching" until they learn the game and start performing at a higher level.
Many managers have a particular style that they tend to stick with regardless of how talented their team is.  Some do more "coaching" and some do more "managing."  Give a guy who is more of a "coach" a young, less talented team and he may do quite well in that setting.  Give that same guy a talented roster and he may drive them all nuts.  The opposite is true for the "manager."
The best coaches out there realize that they are both a "coach" and a "manager" at the same time and also realize that which one gets more attention ultimately is determined by the talent in which they are in charge.   We, as coaches and managers, want our players to be flexible and adjust to conditions around them.  Sometimes it's not just the players who need to adjust.

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