5 Tips To Be a Better Coach, Parent, Baseball Player and Person From John Wooden
By: Coach Kyle Elmendorf
How do you get two of the best managers in Major League Baseball to drop everything they’re doing and look like a wide-eyed kid in a candy story? You introduce them to the legendary basketball coach and Hall of Famer, John Wooden.
Although he created his legacy through basketball, Coach Wooden loved the game of baseball. And baseball standouts like Joe Torre and Mike Sciosia loved him, so much so they would sit and talk baseball for hours. Why? Because of his ability to develop people to be the best that they could be. Not just in sports but as people. John Wooden made everyone else around him better. He was a great leader and team builder. So much so, that the Pittsburgh Pirates actually made him an offer to be their manager even though he had never coached the game.
Practice these five tips learned from John Wooden and be a better baseball player, a better parent, a better coach and a better person.
1. Enthusiasm. We can’t be great at anything unless we enjoy what we do. Success is unattainable without enthusiasm. The best players and the best teams bring this every day. Be the one who has contagious energy and lift those around you. Baseball is a great game, America’s Pastime. Enjoy the game and the opportunity to play it.
2. Friendship. Treat people well; really well. Be a great teammate. Teammates don’t care about how fast we can throw a ball or how far we can hit it. They care about whether we’re a good teammate or not. Coach Wooden said, “To make a friend. Be a friend.” Focus on building others. Show genuine respect for all coaches and teammates. We give more to the team when we share respect while working towards a common goal. Teams win more when the right level of friendship exists amongst teammates. Wins or loses fade but friendships last.
3. Confidence. Prepare to win and then expect to win. Confidence comes from preparation. In order to have success we must be willing to pay the price. Hard work and sacrifice are requirements. When you work hard, do the right things, and are a good person, you have the right to be confident. Be confident, not arrogant. Baseball is a game that can humble you quickly like no other can.
4. Skill. Never stop working to become the best you are capable of becoming. Always work on your craft, develop physically and mentally, and add new components to your game. Be able to do all things the position(s) you play require. Once you think you know it all, you’re through. The greats know this to be true. Great pitchers evolve. They start out as flame-throwers but over time must learn how to use multiple pitches and multiple speeds. They have to learn how to work the pace of a count, hitter, and game. It’s an art. And the same goes for hitters. I love to hear stories of great players giving tips to one another. Learn to study the game and then be a mentor for someone else. Pay it forward.
5. Patience. Is there a more important skill for baseball than patience? There is no such thing as an overnight success. It takes time to develop greatness. Zig Ziglar said, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.” If it were easy, everybody would be doing it. There will be many long days. Days where you go 0-4, make multiple errors, and go through a prolonged slump. You can’t change everything when there’s a slight bump in the road. Patience pays off. Remember, today’s strikeout brings you that much closer to your next home run.
Many of these traits have nothing to do with your stance, grip, or bat speed. While skill is important it means nothing without patience, friendship, confidence and enthusiasm. Coach Wooden believed in personal growth and that his job was not just to teach his players to be better, but first, to help them be better people.