I'm going into my 6th year of college coaching and have learned so much throughout my journey. When I first started, I knew I had great information to share and was excited to get after it. That excitability created an individual who talked a lot, but didn't quite know how to listen. The art of communication is a lost one. Not many people talk on phones anymore, texting is the way of the world...and when it comes to coaching, coaches talk a lot, and players just listen.
Part of my mission is to create players who become their own best coach in the heat of competition. Where they have a great understanding of themselves, and know what they can go to in order to stay on a competitive track. This includes "cues," "feelings," or simple thoughts that they can always go to.
A couple years ago I had a epiphany...what I communicate makes complete sense in my head because I am the one choosing the words to communicate the message, but that doesn't mean the person I'm communicating with will or should understand it. Part of being a good coach is you need to be able to say the same thing in about 15 different ways. If you can do that, eventually the athlete will be able to visualize and internalize one of those messages and there will be a better chance to make it "click." Additionally, being able to show the move doesn't hurt with the communication, whether it is you demonstrating or finding many great examples to show.
But it doesn't stop there. When I am working with a hitter on a particular move using communication that needs to be adaptable to each athlete, and it starts to look like things are "clicking," there is one key question that I have found to be powerful..."what are you feeling?" This simple question allows the hitter to internalize and explain how his body is moving in space. This turns into two-way communication, where powerful open dialogue can take place, rather than just a coach saying "do this," and "do that."
The open communication doesn't stop there. After realizing how powerful this question was in creating better understanding, I now ask my players many questions...all the time. "What could you have done differently?", "What happened there?", "What did you notice?", "What helped you make that play?", etc. The more we can establish two-way communication and internalization, both individually and as a group, the better...hands down.
I believe that to create robots who have limited understanding of what they are doing or how they are moving, have the coach be the only one that talks. To create baseball players who understand themselves and how they move in space, so they can adjust in the face of competition, two way/open communication is the way to go. That requires questions, not just from our players, but us coaches as well to open discussion.
Players can learn from this as well. You don't need a coach to prompt you with questions to understand something better. If you want to grasp the game better, learn how to communicate it. From what you learn in practice from your coaches, take the time to act as if you are the coach and you are going to explain a technique to a bunch of unknowing people. You can even do this alone. It seems silly, but it becomes powerful. People must think I'm crazy when they drive by me in my car, and I am talking to myself as if I have my hitters or outfielders standing in front of me. I'm completely fine with the weird looks...
I often say, "I wish I knew back then, what I know now." I know I would have been a better player, and would have adjusted quicker. That is because I understand the game better. There are several reasons why, but I believe the biggest reason is because I learned how to better communicate the game better. Communication is everything when it comes to understanding.
Thanks for reading.