Things we unfortunately can’t teach our students are Heart, Drive and Determination. In the game of baseball, players with greater athletic ability constantly get surpassed by players that work harder. I don't think it is responsible as a coach to EVER tell an athlete that they cannot make it. As a coach, instructor and most importantly mentor, we should be teaching our athletes that they CAN make it but WON"T unless they put in the time. We should be teaching them how to set goals and do everything in their power to achieve them. We should be giving them the information they need to get to those next levels because they are looking to us for guidance and if we do not have the information, either go get it ourselves, or point them in a direction where they can get it.
Part of the beauty of the game of baseball is that you will get out of it what you put into it. It is truly a game unlike any other that takes a unique skill set that is LEARNED and does not just naturally appear. No child is born with the proper footwork and fielding technique to field a ground ball. No child is born with quality pitching mechanics. No kid is born knowing the fundamental way to block a baseball in the dirt or how to receive properly as a catcher. No child is born with the knowledge and understanding of the complexity of the baseball swing. No child is born knowing that you have to let the baseball get deep in the zone to hit pitches on the outer half efficiently. The skills necessary to TRULY succeed in the game of baseball are ALL learned. Even hand eye coordination can improve through doing the necessary drills. It is absolutely my belief that work ethic, heart, drive and determination are far more important than natural athleticism. I was fortunate enough to attend one of the top Baseball Academies in the US for 10 years and in that time I saw COUNTLESS players with more work ethic, surpass players with natural athletic ability just because they put the time in to learn the skills and do the drills! I have been giving private instruction since I was 17, at first as a side job but then when my playing career ended 4 years ago I began doing it full time. I have coached players that had all the athletic ability in the world and pissed it away because they had NO work ethic and I've coached kids that were small and weak but determined and they have gone on to get college scholarships. In fact let me tell you a quick story.
I got hold of a player 4 years ago as a 13 year old that was 6’0 175 lbs with a muscular physique. His dad is Samoan and his mother was a professional weight lifter. This was a player touched by god with athletic ability and a gene pool unlike most of us could dream of. He was the MVP of the SoCal Football showcase for all of the top sophomore football players at USC. He was throwing 86 by the age of 15 and seen as one of the top Baseball prospects in the Southern Califronia area. I unfortunately moved and was not able to continue giving him full time instruction anymore and he stopped going to Baseball instruction all together. Now, he is a senior and he is 6'3" 230 lbs of pure muscle with 2 DUI's before his 18 Birthday and will have a hard time getting anyone but a Junior College to accept him because of his grades as well. He could be a draft pick out of high school but because he thought he was Bobby Big stuff he has screwed his life up. I doubt he will ever turn it around because of his unfortunate attitude but hope and pray constantly that he will find himself at some point. I knew him as a young determined athlete but he let all of his success swell his ego to the point where he believes he can get away with anything and still make it.
I also had another student that had parents both under 5'9" and he is only 5'5" now as a senior. I have had him since 13 as well and he is now 17 about to go to college next year. He was not even a starter as a freshman in High School and he will be moving on next year to a quality Div II College in California. He has become a dependable stud 2nd baseman who you can always depend on. He can do all the little things well and hit the ball to all fields. He is a smart and competent hitter that makes every team better because of his ability to analyze pitchers, pick up signs and steal bases. He executes ALL the tasks asked of him on the field from getting bunts down to getting the ball on the ground to the right side. He steals bases not because he is the fastest guy on the team but because he is savvy as a baserunner. Right now he plays on the 5th ranked high school in the nation and is one of the best BASEBALL players on the team but he is probably not even in the top 7 Athletes on the team.
I will never tell a player that they can't make it. I will tell them it is going to be a long road. I will tell them they have ALOT to work on. I will tell them what to work on and give them all of the information and drills to do on their free time to get them where they want to be. They can get faster, they can get stronger, they can throw harder and get better bat speed. They can work on hand eye coordination and they can learn the information that will get them there. The question is how bad do they want it?
We are not just making baseball players we are making men. It is up to us as coaches to guide them and teach them that they CAN do and achieve anything if they WORK for it. It is up to us to teach them that if they set goals and truly do everything in their power to achieve them that they CAN do it. These aren't dreams these are goals!! Dreams are for people who take no action. Goals are for people who make strides towards what they want in life.
Even if they don't make it, they will be better men for having tried. They will have learned an innumerable amount of life lessons and skills. In turn you as a coach will know you have prepared them to succeed in life, which is something that as coaches we should all be striving for!!!!