I was recently asked about how to know good from bad baseball instruction. I thought it was a good question and decided to share my thoughts on the issue.
1. Level of experience. First, I believe that it helps if someone has experienced professional level baseball. I believe this is the purest form of baseball. The players are too good for trickery and gimmicky plays, unlike high school and college baseball. Since the competition is so evenly matched the players that separate themselves from the pack, have to learn how to play the game mentally by getting any edge they can. The players are so much better that the little things count so much more. Studying and knowing the game helps for quick instinctive plays in the field. But that leads me up to my second marker.
2. Approach to Learning. Second, I believe that some of your best players are not the best coaches. Some players were just born to be all star's. They separate themselves on pure talent and often times don't need to learn the things that most players need to learn. They haven't spent the time really studying the game. If you look at some of the best big league managers, most were not the best players in their era, but they grinded and they really watched and studied the game.
3. Catchers. Catchers need to know almost every facet of baseball (pitching, hitting, strategy, etc.) since they are in the middle of every play. From their defensive position they can see all, and they are constantly learning. For this reason many catchers can make really good managers and coaches.
4. Flexibility and Insightfulness. Baseball is a unique game where there is not always one way to do something. I believe that it is important for a coach to be flexible in certain areas that are unique to the player but also have enough knowledge to identify the things every good player must do. For example my little league coach would always tell me and others to keep my back elbow up. Why? There is no reason. There are good hitters who hit with their elbow up and some with their elbow down. It is more important to understand how you are getting to the contact point and what every player does at contact, rather than if your elbow is up or down before the ball is even pitched.
It may be of some concern if a coach is trying to mold all hitters, pitchers, etc. to all do things the same way. Everyone is a little different and some of your best coaches work with each player to use what they do best and make that work, rather than molding them into the only way the coach knows.
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