SIGN UP for our Digital Editions and E-Newsletters

Search form

Pitching Player Engagement

To get players engaged in their athletic career, it’s important to get them involved at all levels of their training. That’s the advice of John Pinkman, a writer for Pinkman is a celebrated coach who runs the Pinkman Baseball Academy in Northern Virginia.

“Try beginning practice by telling players the entire practice plan,” writes Pinkman. “You probably have it written down already. Just hand it out. It is the responsibility of a good coach to know the skills his players need to develop.”

Another good idea is to make time for direct engagement with players, even allowing some give-and-take. This will foster growth, even if it leads to disagreement. Those coaches who take an approach of “my way or the highway” will lose the confidence of today’s young people. It may get the job done in the moment, but it’s not an effective teaching tool.

Teaching lessons in sport is a two-way street, especially with Millennials. Getting inside their heads means catching their attention with innovative approaches that are more likely to click with them.

Pinkman adds that during practice time, leave time for “players to decide what is best for the team or themselves personally, based on the last game. If players have a hard time speaking with coaches, they should write down the skills that are important for them to learn.”

The concept of "extracurricular activity" was developed to incorporate classroom education into sport. It should be thought of as another path to applying knowledge and skills into actual experience.

What are some ideas for engaging today’s student-athletes? Consider these basics:

• Talk to your players.

• Create a secure educational environment, which could mean greater parental involvement and letting students into the planning process.

• Solicit your athletes’ opinions about what they need to know and how they feel they can learn.

For coaches who balk that this may take more time, Pinkman feels that is a poor excuse for upgrading your techniques. After 25-plus years of coaching, he believes that those who use time as a alibi are simply not interested in getting better at their jobs.

Pinkman closes his blog with a tender plea: “Please remember, it's not about our past; it's about the player's future.”

We’ll send ALL OF YOUR COACHES a weekly email newsletter containing instruction, advice and valuable information on:
  • PROPER COMMUNICATION: With your athletes, parents, administrators and the coaches
  • SUCCESSFUL OPERATIONS: Pre-Season, In-Season, Off-Season
  • LEADERSHIP TECHNIQUES: Creating the proper environment for teaching athletes life skills
  • RISK MANAGEMENT: Keeping your athletes safe at practices, during games, off-eason training, etc.
  • ATHLETE PERFORMANCE: Tips in areas of Conditioning, Nutrition, Mental Training, etc., that help your athletes perform at their best and improve their overall wellness
  • PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Ways to help your coaches be the best they can be