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Sunday, November 30, 2008

How to Become a Complete Baseball Player

By Bob Hines

This is the ultimate goal for a ball player right? Developing the "five tools". It takes commitment and dedication of course, but it also takes a positive attitude towards improvement.

I read a quote yesterday from a college coach that really stuck with me...
"you will never improve a skill or ability if you start out thinking you know everything about it."

Sounds simple enough. Some would say "keep an opened mind" says the same thing but I think there's more to it. My interpretation of this statement is... in order for a person to reach their goals they must be open to learning from others who have been down the road before them. In relationship to baseball it means listening to all advice and finding the good in it.

A baseball player will work with many coaches throughout their career. Youth players generally have different coaches every season. Some more experienced and knowledgeable than others. If you are lucky enough to play for a coach who really knows his or her stuff you will do yourself a great service by opening up, paying attention and taking in everything they want to teach you. You may not agree with everything, but take it in. Then you can balance that knowledge with what you have learned from others. This is how players improve... take the best lessons from the best coaches and put it all together. That's how you become a "complete" player.

For example, my friend's son has played for a coach the past 3 seasons who is VERY knowledgeable about hitting.. he played Div1 ball, was a powerhitter, taught him a lot. This coach also thought he knew a lot about baserunning. He knew some, but another coach this player worked with privately was a base stealing phemon who taught him things that the hitting coach had never learned. However, when the hitting coach gave him baserunning instruction he listened and took it in. Yet he practiced and used most of what the baserunning coach taught him. One day he had a game where he stole 3 bases. After the game the hitting coach said "say, great game today, you seem to have come up with a baserunning technique that really works for you, stay with it". Get the picture?

There are very few absolutes in baseball. While there are general guidelines on how to do things, every player is different. Players learn baseball skills in a way that fits them. That's why when you look at college and pro players, they all have similar elements in their swings, yet every swing is different.

Good coaches know that not all players have the same batting stance or the same load/stride technique, or the same stance when leading off 1st base. A good coach wants a player to get the most of their mental and physical ability.

The best advice to you, the player, is listen to all your coaches and take in the best parts from each. If you do this you will be well on your way to meeting your baseball goals and becoming a "complete player".

Coach Bob
Visit Coach Bob's Youth Baseball Blog @
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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick