Focusing On Routines and Procedures To Increase Coaching Efficiency

When it comes to creating procedures for players often this is an area that can be overlooked. Often after a break or time away (like the situation that we are currently in with most if not all baseball organizations) it is a good time to reset or restart procedures for players as it allows coaches to form new habits that previously were not there.

Creating procedures that players do on a daily basis this is a situation where small changes can lead to big time savings. There are a few reasons why creating efficient procedures is important. Most procedures are designed to increase the efficiency of a particular task, the end result being that they help conserves time. These time savings can be enormous over the course of a season.

Secondly when procedures are in place it creates a situation where a coach can explain other items which might be important for players/coaches to think about or hear. Its analogous to brushing your teeth. Your 3 year old might not be able to brush and carry a conversation at the same time, but as an adult you are able to focus on the routine of brushing your teeth and yet process other inputs while you complete that task. Once a procedure is in place the focus of the people involved in the procedure can shift from performing it to analyzing other inputs which might come up during a given period.

I don’t think anyone would say that they don’t want to have an efficient coaching organization. The problem with routines and procedures is that they can be embedded without anyone actively suggesting or doing anything to create these situations. You need to be intentional about the way that players interact with what you want them to do. In other words players can be nudged to make different decisions if the environment is provided for them to do so. Coaches have a say in this situation. Just as teachers can set up classroom routines to maximize down time. Coaches have the same obligation as there is a lot of time that can slip away without players being engaged in the act of improving.

The most effective procedures and routines have a few things in common they are effortless to complete, quick, and they often don’t need a verbal prompt from the coach.

Effortless

Making the procedure effortless is going to be the biggest bang for your buck. Detailed long drawn out procedures can often lead to issues for making these efficient. The simpler you can make these the better it will ultimately be for both the player and you as the coach. A simple way to think about this is by asking yourself whether this is something you will have the players do each day. If the answer is no, sadly this part of the process should be cut out. Often when you think of something being effortless you think it took little time to plan out. But I think that the opposite is true. I think that creating a situation where a player know exactly what to expect when it comes to a procedure the more detailed the coach has planned out the process. Knowing where a player will potentially have a hiccup in the process should be examined, and by taking efforts to eliminate these issues should be the goal.

Quick

If you are able to get players to not only quickly do something, but create a situation where a player is able to quickly get into the procedure this is a win for coaches. The quicker you can make these procedures the more time you will have to coach players. This is important. Lets say that between rounds in the batting cage when a player exits vs. when they leave takes a few minutes and you don’t start your ‘session’ with the player for 4–5 minutes then cutting out this transition you are giving yourself more time to help develop players. Another example of this may be simple but picking up baseballs in the cage. Having enough baseballs to work through a whole 20 minute session may be a good thing but that often isn’t the case. By having a procedures as to how bases are picked up quickly, and efficiently then it saves time for everyone to potentially develop longer. Being quick also means that players are not given time to react in a different way. If they have something that needs to be done immediately after it while this process is automated.

No Instructions Needed

By not talking as the coach during these procedures it allows players to own the process a little more. If they know that when they get into the cage they will face the machine and that they should prepare for that mentally and you don’t need to explain what the days session might look like then it gives the player more information to make themselves both comfortable and own the process a little more.

What does this look like?

Lets say that you want players to do a few things the minute they get into the cage area. You have a time that the player is expected to arrive to make it easy lets say that you plan on meeting for 1:00. The player expects that there will be another player who will be finishing up his work at 1:15. Lets say you want each player for the 15 minutes before stepping into the cage to do three things.

  1. Pick up report from yesterday swing decisions.(Posted on bulletin board or taped on the wall as soon as players get into the cage area)

Simple three steps that players can easily follow. Lets say that each day they walk in and you have two sheets (These don’t need to be paper copies but could even be filled out on a google form before hand) available for players as they walk into the cage. They know to grab them, they sit down, and begin to plan their session for the day while reviewing the reports that were prepared and printed for them. They then progress to watching the at bats from the previous game. Assuming that they can then move on to the film. Something like this should take 10–15 minutes. Then they enter the cage with not only a plan but some information that might help set up that plan on a daily basis.

Obviously this is an example but this can be altered to do whatever. Maybe you don’t want players to step into the ‘Main Cage’ until they are warm, so you might ask that they take their tee work or stretching before entering the cage area. Really the substance is important as long as the routines are reflecting what you want from your players. Routines and procedures are an area that teachers often focus on to be more efficient but I don’t think is examined enough for coaches. Simply I think there is more we can focus on when examining how players go about their day and when baseball comes back this is a good time to reset/restart procedures and routines for all.

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