Baseball Magazine

Is There a Wrong Way to Make a Player Better?

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard

Is there a wrong way to make a player better?Let’s say a batter is only hitting weak ground balls and comes to you for lessons with the two goals of 1) hitting with more authority and, 2) driving the ball more.  Let’s also say that you tell the kid to do A, B, and C.  This results in the player achieving both of those goals.

Here’s the big question …

Does it really matter what A, B, or C were?

I ask the question because we in the baseball community seem to have endless discussions and debates about the “correct” ways to be instructing kids.  The more you coach, however, the more you tend to come to the realization that every player is unique.  No one technique works equally well for every player.  Therefore, there really is nothing that is off-limits with regards to instruction.

Here’s a story …

I was a pitcher in AA and one of our better hitters was shagging balls in BP when he came over to me and began to vent about how badly he was hitting.  I asked if he was open to some advice and he said he was.  I told him that when he took batting practice that day I wanted him to hit every single ball as hard as he possibly could on the ground.  It didn’t matter to what side of the field.  I told him to think of skipping a rock across a pond and try to “skip” the ball through the infield in the same way as opposed to getting the ball to “bounce” through the infield.

During BP, the guy hit rockets to all fields.  Ironically, very few balls ended up being hit on the ground.  After BP, he ran out to me and said “I’m back!” and thanked me.  He went on a tear and was in the big leagues the following year.  (Note: No, it wasn’t because of me.  He was getting there regardless of what I said that day.)

I’m sure many coaches would never dream of giving that advice to a hitter today.  In fact, it very well may be the wrong advice for 90% of the hitters you deal with.  But what do you do when you have a struggling player in that other 10%?  Are you going to keep saying something that is consistent with your philosophy even though it doesn’t seem to be working for that player?  I hope not.

In the end, our main job as coaches is to help players improve.  It really doesn’t matter how we do it.

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