To help athletes become excellent baseball and softball players, you need to know what skills players need to play these sports. Athletes must master many technical skills and know how to apply those skills in tactical situations. In addition to technical and tactical skills, a vast array of nonphysical talents—mental capacity, communication skills and character training—overlayathletic performance, affect its development and should be considered. Even though every skill is important, not all of them will be within the reach of your players, so you must filter the all-encompassing list of skills. First, you need to identify the skills your team needs to be successful. Here are some suggestions about how to identify the specific skills your players need.
First identify the basic or core skills that every player must possess to play baseball/softball at your level of competition. Your athletes will likely possess these core skills to varying degrees. Because all sports require that athletes perform the fundamentals well, you’ll want to help your athletes develop these skills further and keep them sharp throughout the season. Consider the skills of each position and for various situations in the contest.
Information is not always readily available on which tactical skills to teach and how to teach them. We encourage you to identify the significant tactical decisions in your sport, to describe the knowledge needed to make the appropriate tactical decision, and to determine a way to have your athletes practice these decision-making skills. To do so, as with technical skills, we recommended observing and consulting with other coaches and experienced athletes and working with a mentor coach if possible.
In sharp contrast to tactical skills, an overwhelming amount of information is available on physical training (e.g., strength, speed, power, and endurance as well as nutrition and weight control). Due to the abundance of available information, you should have no difficulty identifying the physical training skills your athletes will need for your sport.
You probably recognize the importance of self-confidence, mental toughness, concentration, and attention skills along with anxiety and anger control, but you may feel ill equipped to teach these mental skills. If you’re like many other coaches, you simply ignore these skills, hoping your athletes will acquire them by playing the sport or perhaps through divine intervention. On a day-to-day basis you are the mental skills coach, whether or not you recognize or accept the role. How you demonstrate these mental skills, how you respond under pressure, and how you motivate and provide feedback to your athletes will influence their development of mental skills. To be a successful coach, you must become a student of sport psychology so you will know how to teach the basic mental skills needed for your sport.
In order to perform well, players need to be good communicators. Communication with teammates during a contest is often vital to facilitate team play – for example, verbal commands, nonverbal signals, and these almost imperceptible movements of the body, face, and eyes that communicate direction to a player. Most coaches just hope these communication skills develop within their teams, but better coaches direct it.
Character Development Let’s not forget about teaching character development, which should be a part of your instructional plan. Although athletes certainly don’t need to be good characters to win in sports, they do need to be good characters to win in life. You can help them achieve this much-needed life skill. The Identifying and Evaluating Skills worksheet shown below provides an overview of the basic to intermediate skills needed in baseball. This figure provides an excellent framework for outlining the skills your athletes should master to play baseball successfully.
The American Sport Education Program (ASEP) is the leading provider of youth, high school, and elite-level sport education programs in the USA. Rooted in the philosophy of “Athletes first, winning second,” ASEP has educated more than one and a half million coaches, officials, sport administrators, parents, and athletes. For more than 25 years, local, state, and national sport organizations have partnered with ASEP to lead the way in making sport a safe, successful, and enjoyable experience for all involved. For more information on the ASEP sport education courses and resources offered by BRL, visit www.baberuthcoaching.org.