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Why Not Playing Professional Baseball Made Me a Better Coach

August 12, 2015

Many athletes and parents of athletes assume because a coach or instructor played professional baseball that he is a great coach. Sometimes this is true, but not always. Some people were blessed with arms that throw 95 mph and some people were blessed with the ability to hit the ball 450 feet, that doesn’t mean they are capable of teaching other people how to do it. And on the other hand, people who weren’t blessed with those characteristics are very capable of teaching other people how to do it.

I was a right-handed pitcher at a NCAA Division II school in North Carolina called Belmont Abbey. I had a successful college career and probably could have continued playing in a professional independent league somewhere, but I was happy with the way my baseball career ended so I decided to hang up my cleats and trade them in for some trainers and a fungo and I could not be happier with my decision.

I was actually quite fortunate to have the career that I had as I was cut from a junior college as a very average overhand pitcher. My only option to keep playing the game I loved was to learn how to throw submarine. I’m sure I topped out somewhere around 81-83 over the top but it wasn’t for lack of effort. I was in the weight room every morning at 6 a.m. before class, I could squat 405 pounds, and I long tossed, tried weighted baseballs and anything else that I read about that was supposed to increase velocity. I was a good pitcher, I just didn’t throw hard. I knew how to do it, but it just wasn’t in my genetics. Through all of my trials and tribulations, I think it made me the coach that I am today. The beautiful thing about coaching is that there is no limitation to how good you can be. As a coach, if you continue to learn and stay open to change and new ideas, you can become the greatest coach to ever coach.

The difference between me and a coach who played professional baseball is that I had to work extremely hard to be the player I was, and I take that same work ethic into being a coach. Whenever I see a guy with a 90 mph arm and a 75 mph work ethic I always say, “Why couldn’t I have been given that arm?” My colleague and former professional baseball player says “because if you had that arm, you would have the same work ethic.” Obviously not all 90 mph arms come with a 75 mph work ethic, but you get my point.  When a former professional player uses the back of their card to market their instruction, I use the fact that I study pitching mechanics and strength training for hours in my free time. Unlike some professional players, nothing in baseball ever came easy to me, because of that, I feel I can understand and relate to the players that I coach and instruct.

Baseball is a game of adjustments. I had to overcome many obstacles and make many adjustments to continue playing baseball. I have faced adversity many times and overcame it many times as a player. I grinded every day and did everything in my power to become the best baseball player I could possibly be. I studied as a player and I continue to study as a coach and be open to new ideas and change. All of these were contributing factors to making me the coach who I am and I am striving to be better each and every day.