Coaching or managing a team isn’t for everyone

Coaching

From age seven to 37, I played baseball under the guidance of dozens of coaches and managers.  From age 7 to 22, I played as an amateur, and then, after I signed my first pro contract with the Washington Senators in 1971, I played 16 years as a professional, including under Royals Hall of Fame manager Dick Howser. I would like to offer some personal views on the subject of coaching and/or managing.

Prior to playing in high school and college, my teams were coached by volunteers. My most vivid memories of “volunteer” coaches were how loudly they unnecessarily screamed at me and my teammates.  My Florida Southern College coach, Hal Smeltzly, had the most pleasant personality of all of my baseball coaches. He was a great motivator and I never remember him screaming.  As I look back though, the bad coaches simply help me appreciate the good ones.

As an example, when I became a professional, my first manager got frustrated with my poor performance during the first game of a doubleheader.  As he was reading out the lineup for the second game to the team, he looked at me and said, “Pryor, you can take your uniform off and I don’t care what you do.”  I was crushed.  If I did not have the desire to improve and have that “no matter what” attitude, I would not have a 1985 Kansas City Royals World Series ring!

Advice for Volunteer Coaches

In my opinion, baseball is the best team sport in the world.  A special thanks to all volunteers and parents for helping young people learn how to play baseball. Mostly, the game is learned between the lines during the games by players who desire to improve. Players will get tested by the competition and then find areas that need improvement. Players will remember your “nice” personality and even-keel demeanor more than your “expertise.”

When I coached my girls in softball for five summers, my practices were organized so most of my players were moving – doing something to improve.  During your practices, create drills to help all players stay as active as possible. Ask parents not to yell at the umpires or coaches from the stands. It is a hindrance, not a help.

Advice for Paid Coaches/Managers

The odds are 99.9 percent of your players will not become a pro ballplayer. You do have a 100 percent opportunity to help a young player improve as a high school or college player. Being paid to coach does not equate to being a good coach. Each player thinks differently. You need to know how they think and adjust accordingly.

If you are knowledgeable, you will know how to explain the better way to run, catch, hit and throw. You will recognize which players want to get better and who are more teachable. Your coaching ability will be reflected by the improvement of your players.  Be cheery and positive. Do not try to force improvement through constant guilt and negativity. Teach don’t taunt.

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Article by ’85 World Series Champ Greg Pryor. You can reach Greg at lifepriority.com: call 1-800-787-5438 or email customerservice@lifepriority.com.

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