Coaches have also developed their own language and the longer someone coaches, the more unique phrases they tend to have. This summer I took my family to a summer college game and we sat near the visitors bullpen. In the middle innings a relief pitcher and catcher made their way down to the bullpen. I over heard the pitcher say "coach said to go to the bullpen, but not to get hot...whatever that means!" Because he was unsure what he was supposed to be doing, and there was no bullpen coach, he just played a little bit of light catch. This highlighted two critical issues:
1. The coach used a term that was foreign to his pitcher.
2. Even if the player understood the phrase it may have meant something different to the player than it did to the coach. Was he supposed to go to the bullpen and just play catch? Or was he supposed to get loose and start throwing off the mound but not get all the way to game speed? Or was he supposed to go to the bullpen and get his body loose but not throw at all? The answer would depend on your interpretation of "getting hot".
Coaches typically use certain terms as a way of abbreviating their instructions. When instructions are shortened, however, important information is usually lost. Here is what you can do to make sure your instructions are not lost in translation:
1. Become more aware of the phrases you use
List the phrases that you use most often and take the time to write them down.
2. Write out a full explanation for each phrase
Detailing exactly what you mean by each phrase will help you provide additional information for your players when you use that phrase and will fill in the communication gaps.
3. Take the time to define each of your phrases to your players
During practice is a critical time to communicate with your players using more in depth instructions. You can use your most common coaching phrases, but you also have time to detail out exactly what each phrase means. Then, when you get into a game and communicate more in short-hand, your players will understand your expectations more completely.
4. Remember that your players can't read your mind
And you don't want them to have to guess what you are thinking. If you are asking yourself do I have to explain everything? The answer is YES.
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