Baseball Individual Goals or only Team Goals?

This is a follow up on an article titled “Baseball a Team or an Individual Sport” I had a little disagreement from a former MLB player on this issue a while back. We discussed the game numerous times on emails and also a couple of phone conversations. The conversation was going very well and I was excited to have this gentleman in agreement on how to improve the game. Then I sent him the article Is Baseball a Team or Individual Sport?  This did not sit very well with him at all as I think he had the opinion that I love selfish players. This is so far from the truth and I will explain my view and would love to see a lot of comments.

I love the challenge of giving players individual attention and to set the bar high, but attainable. Coaches, parents and teachers need to bring out the rugged take charge attitude and to expect the most from players and students! We want the players when they are on the diamond to say hit the ball to me, because they feel they are the best. They have the confidence because they have taken 100s of ground balls, because of working in small groups or individual drills.

Our players understand with the with a runner on second base and no outs, our hitter will know that he has to hit the ball to the right side, so at minimum he moves the runner over.  They will do all they can to try to get a hit to the right side. Our players will work hard in practice to do this correctly. This needs to be worked on at practice, and will be discussed in a later article.

What needs to be pounded into each player is they have to work hard to be the best individual player they can possibly be on the diamond. Our players will get there with individual drills, praise, and setting goals. They need to have the confidence that they are the best at their position and can go as far as their ability will take them. That is what a good coach does he sets goals for and challenges each player to be the best that he can be in life and on the diamond! When the individual player feels good about his ability, this helps the team to reach their team goals!

We are going to be pounding in education for our players as they are playing the game. Teachers have to push the average student to reach for higher goals and to work the C student to get the B or above grades! Coaches are like teachers you need to work players as individuals to bring the most out of them. We are responsible to our players to explain the importance of getting their education. Here is an article I wrote on this subject – Education for our Athletes

One of our goals is to improve the coaching at all levels, and I feel we are getting some very good people on our team. We do need to have everybody on the same page on this subject. Big Dog Baseball USA is going to make a difference in how the game is played and how it is taught at all levels.

We are going to discuss the youth levels and what needs to be done to prepare the players for the high school level. I have some connections that will be checked out on teaching coaches and them earning certificates for completion of their programs. Here is an article on coaching youth baseball. Great Information on Coaching Youth Baseball

It is important for the coach to find the best positions for the players to succeed at this level and also at the high school level. Every player should be able to play at minimum of 2-3 different positions.

The coach needs to pound into the individual player the importance of him to be the best player he can be on the diamond. For example if you have a stud shortstop and the team is taking infield practice, he needs to be pushed. Yell out to him and say you have a chance to be a very good shortstop at the next level and maybe all state! Push him to get the ball in the hole and gun the runner out at first! Get excited and say that is the way you play the game! If he has a problem going up the middle, you work him hard as an individual and give him confidence he will improve.

The catcher is working on drills throwing out the runner trying to steal second base. You explain to him when he is behind the plate he has to want the runner to try to run. He dreams about gunning the runner out at second base! You pound this into him that he has to want it! This is individual work on the ball diamond.

Then we proceed to the ball being thrown to second base. The shortstop or second baseman will be receiving the ball. This is individual talent and has to be practiced. I worked all my players on a drill of receiving the ball in the dirt and making a quick snap tag. This was always done after they got their arms warmed up. I would also take my infielders to second base and would stand close to the mound and bounce the ball and they would be expected to catch the ball and make the snap tag. There is a natural tendency on these drills to start the glove low and go up with the bounce and then come back down to make the tag. This is not the way it is done, they need to start high and come down for the ball and make the tag all in one motion. My players were 12-14 years old and were very good at this, because of individual drills. Push them and when they succeed give a lot of praise, laugh and have fun with them.

My first baseman Brett was excellent at scooping the ball out of the dirt, because I gave him a lot of individual work on getting the ball out of the dirt. I would throw him the ball in the dirt from close to the mound and challenge him! This one time he was smiling as I was throwing the ball like a bullet and he was coming up with the ball like a MLB player.  I was smiling and acting like I was getting mad because I couldn’t beat him! This is pushing the player as an individual.

A good coach needs to push each individual player to be the best he can be on the diamond and with this he is helping the team to win. My goal at the youth level was player development for the next levels and for my players to want to win as a team. I coached to win but wanted to teach the players the proper individual and team fundamentals to be good players.

Here is an example, we were in the field and there was shot to third and RP dove and fielded the ball cleanly and made a low throw in the dirt to Brett at first and the runner was called safe. The runner was probably out, my coaches gave the ump some grief and I said I had no problem with the play because our guys made a great play!

The high school level is the same as the youth except you pound into certain players their potential to play at higher levels. In the cage and batting practice you push the players to use the whole field if they want to play at the next level. The coach is constantly on the players to do their best to be all state and say they have potential to play at the next level or above. Push them and you need to hustle, teach and be enthusiastic. Article on high school coaching-Coaching High School Baseball/  Article on hitting program: The Best Hitting Program in America

When you sell the players on the importance of individual drills and the importance of being the best player they can be to help the team win, you have succeeded!

A good coach has individual meetings with his players before the season starts to discuss the player’s potential and what it means to be a team player. You are going face to face with the player and you will say Jeff you are a very good hitter and I want you to shoot for a 400 batting average this year and gun out more than half the runners trying to steal! Mention that he has a high ceiling and has potential to move up to higher levels. It is all up to you how far you can go in baseball. Be firm and enthusiastic in your conversation with all your players. You do the same with all your players and discuss their role, individual potential, and how important it is to be a good teammate and play for the team.

College level is the same as the above but you discuss with the individual player about his ability to play at the professional level and to be an All American or All Big Twelve! Set the individual goals for the player to strive for in the current season. The coach will say to the player that he will do whatever he can to get him ready for the pro game, but he will still need to play as a team. This will be stressed to the player to play as a team, if he doesn’t he will be taken to the wood shed!  Short article on college coaching-Coaching College Baseball/

The professional is next and I will discuss a couple of situations that occurred late in the Cardinal regular season.

The second to last day of the season Matt Holiday got a hit to reach 300 for the season and I think he hit one more time and walked, and was taken out of the game. Then he didn’t play the last game in order to secure his 300 batting average. I had no problem with this because each player needs to set his individual goals at all levels!

Matt Carpenter was sitting on 199 hits for the season and everybody was pulling for him to reach 200 hits! What is so bad about a player wanting to reach 200 HITS in a season? I think it is an individual ambition for a player to do his best to reach 200 hits within the team goal. I think he had 3 games to reach 200 hits and could not get another hit, Cardinal fans weren’t happy and I am sure Matt wasn’t jumping for joy! Watch how the Cardinals play as a team, but with a lot of individual goals and hard work!  Here is the previous article-Is Baseball a Team or Individual Sport?

Big Dog Baseball USA and our baseball family will make a difference in the game on the diamond and also to promote the game to the masses!

Here is some good information – Big Dog Baseball USA Words of Wisdom- Words of Wisdom/


Bob Brown

Big Dog Baseball USA is an organization dedicated to teaching, discussing, and interacting with baseball fans all across America. Our goal is to teach, explain and promote the game to the masses!

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