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How To Handle Coaches Changing Mechanics

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From the time kids begin playing baseball (7-9 yrs old average) through our teen years (16-18 yrs old), players may see a new coach every season.  With each new coach brings a new viewpoint, new ideas and new philosophies to the table.  Although ALL coaches are terrific people for dedicating their time and energy to the development of young players, there are some coaches whose baseball and training philosophies may not mesh with a players or parents own philosophies.

It is becoming more common nowadays for some athletes to train with private instructors on a one-on-one basis.  More often than not, these private instructors are separate from their Team Managers.  While the private instructors are paid to improve a player's abilities, some coaches disallow players to see any private instructors or to listen to any other suggestions but their own.

Often I am asked, "How do you deal with a coach that is changing my son's/daughter's mechanics?"  Most recently, I offered advice to a parent who has been taking his son to a private pitching coach and has shown much progress in control, location and velocity...only to find that his son's new coach wants to completely change his son's mechanics without really seeing what those mechanics can do. 

Players and parents in this case are in such a precarious situation.  The fear is that if they don't do what the coach tells them to do, their playing time will be affected.  What do you do in this case?

Here is my advice to one such parent:

"Have you yourself personally spoken with this coach yet? I would advise you speak with the coach immediately. This is not your son's problem to deal with at this point.

The way to approach this situation is to ask the coach for his time and politely explain that you don't feel that it's in your son's best interest to question his coaches. However, you have been spending good money working with a private coach that has made vast improvements in your son's control, velocity and mechanics. Your son has become confused and although he's trying to work through the new mechanics, he is uncomfortable and is showing a drop in both velocity and control, not to mention tenderness in his elbow. You would love to hear his feedback and opinion of your son's mechanics and the REASON for why this coach feels he NEEDS to change (not WANTS). A good coach will explain these reasons to anybody...not just dictate and demand.

At the end of the conversation, ask the coach if he can continue with his original mechanics that he has worked hard to improve (not to mention your $$$), and if he shows poor outings or performances against hitters on a consistent basis, that he will be open to suggestion then, but only at that time.

Kids and parents need reasons too. It is important for coaches to try and explain the changes they would like to see happen and why those changes may be necessary. If a player hears those reasons and there is some merit behind it, then the player will be able to see the coaches side to it and either be able to agree/disagree with those reasons accordingly. If the player agrees, then he/she would be more open to suggestion and willing to improve. Reasons are everything.

I wouldn't let your son work this one out on his own. Its your money you've been spending...the coach needs to tell you WHY HE THINKS YOU"RE NOT SPENDING YOUR MONEY PROPERLY, WHAT THE PROBLEMS ARE, AND HOW THESE NEW MECHANICS WILL FIX THEM. This could all be done with a very diplomatic approach.  Who knows, if a coach gives you a good enough reason, you and your player may feel comfortable making the change."

Last Updated ( Thursday, July 30 2009 18:29 )