Players learn at a very young age to listen to their coaches. If a coach says “jump,” you say, “how high?” Right? Once upon a time that was absolutely true, but of course, things change, times change and kids change, mostly!
Example 1: Dad messed up
One of my talented young players came in for a lesson and explained to me that her coach (Dad) who was sitting on the bench a few feet away forced her to strike out. How did that happen, I asked. She explained he gave her the take sign, by mistake, with two strikes, so I took strike three!
The player knew there were two strikes and chose to execute a strategy she knew was flawed. What should she have done?
Example 2: Coach messed up
As many of you know, Terry, my wife and I coached together for many years. While we were coaching at Tennessee Tech, we had a runner get doubled off because Terry told her their were two outs, by mistake, and the runner took off on a fly ball to the outfield. The players response was to blame Terry and Terry’s response was to take the blame.
The player certainly should have known there was only one out. She was the second hitter in the game! (Please be certain that I made her very aware of the fact that it was impossible for there to be two outs and no excuse for her not knowing so!)
So who is really at fault here? The coach who mistakenly gave bad information to the player, or the player who should have known better?
You’re right! Both are mistaken but the player, who knew better or, at least should have known better, is wrong.
Why, you ask? Just another coach sticking up for coaches and blaming the players, right? The all-knowing-and-powerful Oz can’t be wrong, right?
Coaches do make mistakes, just like everyone, but players have to also take responsibility when they know something’s off. Call time, ask a question, check in with the umpire, huddle up with your coach, whatever you need to do, just don’t blindly follow along.
Two wrongs never make a right.
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.