Do You Speak Coachspeak?



There is a scene in the movie Miracle about the 1980 U.S. Hockey team and it’s amazing win over the Soviet Union in Lake Placid that inspired this topic and how it relates to the game of Fastpitch.


Herb Brooks is standing at the rink-side glass and is drawing plays on the glass with a grease pencil. After he talks about all the options the play offers to his team he asks, “Any questions?” and skates away. As he skate away a couple of the players ask the question that is the title of this blog.


Now here is where this whole thing gets uncomfortable! I spent many years as a coach believing that the players I coached understood what the #&{{ I was talking about too. Guess what, I was really, and I mean really, wrong. And so are you!


Now that I have transitioned into the role of instructor rather than coach, I’ve had a coaching “Come to Jesus” moment where it became really clear that when I thought they understood they often didn’t. Now I spend a great deal of time explaining “coach speak” to my students to help them better understand the game and the things they are being told.


Jargon! Catch phrases! Slogans! Cliches! Are all part of the problem and something, we as coaches need to get a handle on. Why? Because most of our kids don’t really understand what we mean when we use those statements. 


Here is just one example for you to ponder on. Many more of these to come, I promise!


Coach: “Keep your hands inside the ball!”. 


Player: OK! 


What’s the problem, you ask? Well, the vast majority of players really don’t know what we mean when we say it. That they need to keep their hands closer to their body than the flight of the ball.


And even if they do understand what we mean, their swing is so long that they really can’t keep their hands inside the ball, without creating a whole laundry list of other problems to force it to happen.


So just like the movie Cool Hand Luke, what we have here is a failure to communicate!


In the coming weeks we will spend some time working our way through the whole laundry list of coach speak that our players really don’t understand!


Get ready, you aren’t going to like it!


About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.


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