The offseason is ending, and players and coaches are busy sifting through the valuable science, skill metrics and new drills that will hopefully lead to an improved 2023 season. Clearly, baseball is in the middle of a Renaissance era, with the vast inventory of observational and teaching tools available to improve performance.
Here is some advice to all coaches and players:
- Let the new information digest for a few days before the new concept, cue or drill rocks your world.
- Don’t be fooled by logos and pretty presentations. Listening to someone on a stage doesn’t make all that they believe and present the gospel.
- Does the new info align with your core beliefs? Unless you were way down the wrong rabbit hole on a topic, don’t do a complete reversal with the “new stuff” you just ingested.
- Question the science. Just because they use fancy words and relied on studies from a “science guy” doesn’t make the content the absolute holy grail. For every scientist that supports a theory, a handful of other scientists can be found to refute the study. Look for peer review, third-party publications and potential conflicts of interest with the “experts” who recommend a product or service.
- Can you explain it to your most stubborn player? If you can’t explain it in language and cues that players can understand, don’t share it. Take the time to personalize the new stuff so that others can understand it without you showing off with large words and technical language. The master teacher takes the complex and creates words, images and feelings for his students to embrace and own.
Dr. Dan Laby, MD, from the Sports and Performance Vision Center in New York, agrees:
“One of the greatest challenges for those of us who research, test, and train baseball performance is translating the science into real-world action and words of explanation. In general, if one can explain a complicated topic in real terms then they truly understand it. The use of big words and complicated terms implies a lack of understanding. Having scientific information is of little use if it can’t be used to improve lives or in this case sports performance. It is truly a skill to be able to convey scientific discoveries to athletes in a way that they are relevant and materially of value.”
The wisdom of several sources that have helped coaches sift through the “candy store” are worth sharing as, perhaps, a confirmation or questioning of your own teaching toolbox. For ease of reading and length for this…