Development

Why base coaching, signs, and pitch calling ruin baseball instincts

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Derek Jeter was notorious for having a “6th tool” that few players in this day an age seem to have: Instincts. If you’ve played baseball for a while, you understand that baseball instincts are important, and quite frankly, more and more rare. Turn on the TV and watch a baseball game and you’ll see a number of instinctual plays that happen throughout the course of a game. Whether its base running, positioning yourself a certain way on defense, or even calling a certain pitch, your instincts play a huge role in your ability to play the game with freedom. However, they are often overlooked, and more importantly underdeveloped.

Why are fewer players these days showing the great instincts that some of the all-time greats had?

Well, its because that’s how they’re being developed.

Coaches these days from the youngest levels all the way through college are providing a crutch for their players. Over coaching, over managing, and underdeveloping.

Let me explain myself. Coaches these days are controlling too much of the thinking throughout games. We have base coaches that tell you when to advance from base to base. When to steal. When to bunt. When to swing!

To me this is one of the biggest crimes in the development for our amateur players. They never learn to play the game for themselves. They are taught to be passive, not on purpose, but by default. They are taught to give up the responsibility and the thinking portion of the game to the coaches.

“Coach told me to steal”

“Coach got me picked off”

“Coach waved me home and got me thrown out”

“Coach called that pitch, and the guy hit a bomb”

Its of my opinion that very little coaching should be done in game situations. Players should be set free on the bases, at the plate, and in the field. They will make mistakes! They will fail. But they will learn what they can and can’t do, and sooner or later, develop instincts to perform under their OWN ability.

Pitching coaches that call pitches are not only giving their pitchers a disadvantage, but their catchers as well. Pitchers and catchers need to learn to call their own game without a coach telling them exactly what to do. If they give up a couple home runs because the wrong pitches are being called, so what! They will learn from those mistakes and make adjustments.

So let them steal when they want. Let them bunt when they want. Let them swing when they want. They will learn what they need to do to be successful.

No base coaches. No pitch calling. No outfield positioning. Let them play. Let them learn.

The coaching takes place after the game, in practice, or in a controlled environment. Address the mistakes they make after they happen and have discussions on how they can improve and avoid those mistakes in the future. But there’s a big difference between coaching to prevent mistakes and coaching to learn from mistakes.

This is the only way to develop our youth players to have the “6th tool” that is so desperately needed at the highest levels of this game. If you can’t think, play, and make adjustments for yourself, you will never play with the freedom you need to perform at a high level.

No coaching is better than bad coaching.

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About Brian Hamm

My name is Brian Hamm and I am all about "Baseball Development". Through my journey as a high school and college player, I always felt that a competitive advantage eluded me. I constantly researched and discovered new resources, ideas, and theories that have shaped how I coach today. It’s my goal to work relentlessly in order to give my players, clients, and coaches the biggest competitive advantage that will allow them to reach their full potential. My mission is to spread my knowledge to baseball players around the world and help change the developmental process forever.

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