Coaching: Keys to gaining credibility, trust and producing success

by Dave Vaccaro
(Bucks County, PA)

Average Reading Time: 4.5 minutes

The world is made up of many successful people. I'm talking about people from all fields. Successful people have a knack for doing things and getting positive results. We could fill a room up with people from all walks of life who are successful at what they do and they would all have one thing in common,

They are educated in their field.

They may not claim the way they do things is the only way or even the best way, but they will tell you one thing: "It works for me."

The same holds true for baseball as well. There are a lot of ways to perform a particular task, but what matters is the end result. If it's carried out successfully, on a regular basis, then why question the process? Just like the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, then don't try to fix it."

As a coach, young men and women are putting their trust in you that the knowledge you offer up will steer them toward success. This should be looked at as both an honor as well as a challenge. Do you have a game plan to meet the challenge?

The first step is to gain the trust from your players. You don't have to be a baseball genius to develop your players' trust. You just have to put them in a position where they either succeed or learn from their own failures. If you've given them the tools to handle adversity, to self-assess, make their own educated adjustments and eventually take one step forward, you've done your job.

Through my experiences, working with players of all ages, there's one common element that I see now and again. That element is, not knowing the answer to the question "why?"

For example, if I am working with a hitter who is having difficulty getting squared up to the pitch middle-in, there are certain things I'll look for. Let's say he's hitting out of a closed stance, but never adjusting his stride to the pitch location. I might ask him why his stance is closed? Very rarely will I hear answers such as, "A coach adjusted me in the past because I was stepping out", or; "I want to concern myself with the middle to the outer thirds of the plate and ignore the inner part until I am down in the count." Both of these responses would answer my question. Instead, I usually get answers like, "It's comfortable," "This is the way I was told to do it," or even "I don't know."

These are all answers but none of them are really justifiable.

Let me make it clear that if you are going to teach a player to do something or not do something, give them an educated reason why or why not. Not only does this add to your credibility as a coach, it gives your players a better understanding of how their body works. This will essentially allow them to self-assess and make their own needed adjustments in times when you may not be able to assist.

Little league coaches are priceless!! Without them, little league would not exist. However, the majority of little league coaches are fathers who come and go as their child moves on. Some of them coach at the next level and others don't. The marks left behind are sometimes ones of beauty, while other are scars.

As a little league coach, if you sincerely offered everything you could about teamwork, good work ethics, instilling values, handling adversity and installing a love for the game, you essentially played a major part in each one of your players' future endeavors in the game of baseball.

However, when it comes to teaching the game of baseball to your young players, teach what you can. By this I mean, teach what you and your assistant coaches are comfortable and confident with. Spend more time on teaching team concepts like positioning, cut-offs/relays, base running, etc...

Do NOT venture into the mechanics of a particular skill unless you are comfortable and more importantly confident with the way you are going to teach it. I'm not necessarily saying it's a matter of teaching it right or wrong. If you can back up your teachings, with justifiable reasoning and educated answers to the question "why", then who's to tell you that you're wrong?

However, an educated response to "why?" is not, "because I'm the coach", or "that's the way you're supposed to do it." Keep it simple, make it fun, and you will be rewarded.

Coach Dave Vaccaro
Dave Vaccaro coaches high school and American Legion baseball in
Bucks County, PA. He is also the creator of HTTP://

Swing Smarter Response: once again, very good information Dave, I agree wholeheartedly. The "why" behind learning any new concept or skill is what we at Swing Smarter preach all the time. My whole life, I was told to hit a certain way and NOT given the "why" behind it. Now, I make it a point to explain the reasoning behind everything I train my clients to do. Great post Dave!

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