Intense vs. Passive Baseball Coaches

Brooks BryantContributor INovember 2, 2009

There are two kinds of baseball coaches, each using a different style to achieve the same goal.

Nobody likes the demand, “Get on the line," a command a coach yells at his players to do countless numbers of sprints as a consequence for goofing off, dropping a ball, or striking out. Most everyone would prefer to be pulled aside by their coach and have him explain what was done wrong, and how to improve next time.

Although this may be true, there are many advantages to being screamed at by your coach. For many players, an intense style of coaching brings out the best in them. However, such behavior makes some players overly stressed, causing their performance to suffer.

Some coaches believe it is best to manage their players passively and stress free. Other coaches believe that in order to get the most out of his players, they must be intense, demanding, and strict. There are many advantages and disadvantages to both coaching methods. Every coach tries to get the same result: winning and making his players better. However, the way they go about achieving this common goal varies.

Intense coaches demand focus all the time. If a player forgets what to do in a certain situation, an intense coach will yell, scream, and demand a better performance by making the player run countless sprints.

A passive coach will take the player aside and explain what he did wrong. The passive coach will make it easier on the player, but the player could forget about what he was just taught if he did not face severe consequences for his actions.

The result of an intense coach’s method in this scenario is that the player will never forget how he messed up again, but he will also be much more stressed to not make the same mistake, potentially causing him more errors in the future.

Intense coaches also have very different motivation methods than passive coaches. A passive coach might provide loving encouragements to the player, raising his self-esteem, making him more relaxed.

On the other hand, an intense coach will yell, scream, and be destructive in order to motivate his players. This past summer, my AAU coach was very intense. He did anything to motive us, including smashing chairs over the bench in frustration. Before a game, my team had a terrible warm-up. Goofing off constantly, we weren’t focused or ready to play our upcoming game.

One of my teammates was sitting in a chair. My coach demanded him to get up from the plastic chair. He then proceeded to use all of his 250 pounds of muscle to entirely smash that plastic chair into a million pieces. Immediately following this, my entire team got pumped. We went back into the outfield to warm up again and we had one of our best warm-ups ever. This resulted in an 8-0 shutout in our favor against one of the best teams in the league. A passive coach would have allowed a terrible warm-up, and that lackadaisical play would have resulted in a loss.

In baseball, offseason training is a significant part of becoming a better team. If a team does not have any offseason workouts, their performance will suffer in the early weeks of spring. Teams managed by passive coaches will simply “go through the motions” during the offseason.

They will not have any intensity, lacking anticipation for the upcoming season. Conversely, teams run by intense coaches will be more prepared and excited for the upcoming season. A team that plays in January the same way that they play in June will definitely have more success that a passive team.

At the end of each year, my team has about two weeks off before tryouts start. Subsequently after tryouts, strength and conditioning starts. This is the most important part of the offseason, and many teams run by passive coaches simply ignore the training. Passive coaches will make sure that during the off-season none of their players get hurt. They will use this time as more of a break as opposed to getting better and improving the team.

When I was younger, I played for a different AAU team before I switched organizations to my current one. Managed by a very relaxed and passive coach, everyone was stress free and had a great time. That year, playing baseball had never been so much fun. During practice we told jokes, tried out ridiculous plays, and messed around. We ended the season with a great record, however, this was only because of the overwhelming amount of talent we had.

During our national tournament, we were projected to come in the top 10 in the country. Instead, we were not prepared and came in 33rd of 90 teams. If I could describe that year with one word it would be: laughing. I had so much fun with my team and I loved my coach. We did not perform as well as we should have, but we had fun.

Relaxed players play better—perfect practice makes perfect. These two contradicting ideas represent the difference in passive coaches and intense coaches. There have been studies that prove that if a player is more relaxed, he will play better. Also, it is known that if a coach trains his players harder and drills into them the right way to play, as well as the wrong way to play, they will play the right way. Both styles of coaching have positives as well as negatives; however, if one looks at who coaches in the major leagues, he will find that almost all of the major league coaches are intensive. The smart player will combine both coaching styles—intense training, and relaxed playing.