Yes, I am a “Star Wars” nerd. I’ve been a fan since the first movie came out when I was in high school. One of the things that I have taken away from all the hours I have spent watching these movies is that there are a lot of great things that coaches can take away from two great coaches, Yoda and Obi Wan.
Obi Wan asks a simple question. “Who’s the more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him?” Which is something that softball players and their parents all over the world should occasionally ask themselves.
There are a lot of well-meaning people, trying their hardest, to coach this game. They are working hard to learn as much as they can and are working really hard to share what they learn with their kids. They understand that they don’t know everything and are willing to ask questions, to observe what other teams are doing, and when they see something that appears to be a good technique or strategy, they can’t wait to share it with their teams.
And then, there are other coaches who feel like they know all there is to know. They are still coaching the game the same way today that they were on day one. Their idea of updating their knowledge base is to stand around the ball park and tell people how amazing they are and how they’re so far ahead of all these other coaches.
Of course, they can point to all the trophies they have won by overwhelming other teams with their amazing strategies that are really nothing more than recruiting better players than many of the teams they compete with. Now don’t get me wrong, recruiting is an important part of building a strong team, but great recruiting isn’t the same as great coaching.
All coaches owe it to their players to keep learning. To keep adapting and to keep growing in their knowledge and experience. No one knows everything there is to know about this game and the real legends are the ones who keep that simple truth in mind.
Arizona and former Team USA coach Mike Candrea was doing an in-depth hitting clinic at the NFCA Convention several years ago and went into great depth about how he was scrapping what he had been teaching about hitting and, pretty much, changing his entire philosophy. Why? Because he was open-minded enough to know that just because most of us thought he was a genius didn’t mean that he couldn’t learn more. Wow!
So next time you get cornered by one of the “coaching legends” who know everything, ask yourself the simple question that Obi Wan asked. You may save yourself a whole lot of aggravation!