Back to Basics: Spring Training Baseball and Business Coaching

Last Sunday, I helped out with tryouts and evaluations for Wayzata’s 10 and under youth baseball league. Nearly 100 kids piled into the Central Middle School dome (it was snowing outside, of course), ready to show off their skills. It was quickly apparent that most of the boys had not picked up a glove or swung a bat since the season ended late last summer; the regression caused by six months of not playing ball was obvious. Bad habits were everywhere, mechanics were sloppy, and it was clear that my fellow coaches and I would have our work cut out for us. The first couple weeks of practice would be all about re-establishing good habits, breaking bad habits, and focusing on form and mechanics; butt down, glove out on grounders; feet squared, knuckles lined up, squish the bug in the batter’s box; two hands on pop flies. The fundamentals.

What always amazes me is that it is no different in the Majors. Right now, the best ballplayers in the world are in Spring Training in Arizona and Florida, and what are they being coached on? The basics; fielding grounders and fly balls, covering bases, throwing and hitting mechanics….all the things our 10-year-olds are doing. They (and we) are picking up where they left off last year, since coaching (especially coaching 4th-5th grade boys) is a process of constant re-training, of never-ending improvement. Hit a ground ball to a player, watch how he fields and throws, offer some feedback and tips on how to improve next time, and repeat it 1,000 times until the proper mechanics and habits become muscle memory.

This is, in a nutshell, business coaching. It is what I do. It is working with business owners and professionals to build good habits and disciplines that will build great companies and careers. Rather than hitting and fielding, however, we are coaching the fundamentals of leadership, communication, vision and strategy, prioritization and delegation, and sales. A business coach works with clients on how to fix what isn’t working and maximize what is in order to succeed in business and realize their vision for the future. It is a process of reminders, repetition and revisiting in order to commit business principles to muscle memory, and it often starts with the basics (goal-setting and time management, not throwing and catching).

Everyone, even those at the top of their respective games, can benefit from coaching. We can all improve. The key is in recognizing the need, having a desire to get better, having a willingness to work on those areas that need improvement and, maybe, finding a coach that can guide and push you toward your goals.

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