Player Development during a Covid-19 Lockdown
I've talked to a lot of coaches and players over the past 8 months about how they went about staying active during the Covid-19 lockdown, and the common denominator that I got from high level baseball people, was staying active with their time. This was key for this year and I noticed a big difference between players that stayed active vs. those that did not. The player development process is like stocks, they either rise or fall, but they never stay the same. Each day that goes by, the individual makes a decision to get better or do nothing. And I think that sometimes guys can get caught up doing work just to say they are working but there are no concentrated reps happening, there is not a purpose to the workout. This is something we all need to be conscious about with our work.
During this blog I'm just going to talk about some of the work that MDBC did to keep our players and coaches active during the lockdown, and maybe some techniques that you can take away to your team or own game, incase we are put on lockdown again. I think what was key for us at the beginning of the lockdown was that we were not going to feel sorry for ourselves. I believe too many coaches started making excuses and not adjustments and weren't able to get themselves or their players out of that mindset. Baseball is a game of constant adjustments and if you're the type of person to not make excuses and not feel sorry for yourself then you are going to have a lot of fun playing the game. Dedicating my entire life to the game, the one thing that continues to be consistent is the level headed players with passion are the ones that progress to their highest potential. It's going to be impossible for a player to progress efficiently if leaders around them allow excuses to be a part of their mindset. Everything has to be approached as a challenge and failure is allowed. What is not allowed is letting failure be something that takes away from confidence. We want dogs, and dogs are always on to the next one.
During the lockdown we tried to provide stimulation to our players through zoom calls and at home workouts provided by the coaching staff. MDBC did zoom calls 3x a week in which we would cover a different aspect of the game each session. I'd like to think that this was beneficial to the players, but I know that it was beneficial for myself as a coach and it challenged me to do research, think outside the box, and become a better verbal teacher. We made the zoom sessions very interactive, as players had written homework assignments, had questions they had to answer, and had to provide their thought process on facets of the game. It really gave me an opportunity to see what I had in a team as well. It was very clear the players have genuine enthusiasm and want- to think about the game.
The workouts that we had our players do were very simple basic actions, but it was the consistency and number of reps that were required which were key. We did not want the player doing to much so that if there was a bad action on a function they wouldn't do it rep after rep with no correction. So a lot of the workouts consisted of straight swings, simple throwing routines, and basic defensive actions. So much of the basic drills are being overlooked at the amateur level because of coaches/trainers constantly trying to prove their worth, but you see basic fundamentals being executed at the highest levels. The difference is these basic fundamentals are being done with great concentration and attention to detail. We would also require the player to do physical workouts such as, long distance running, body weight calisthenics, and sprints. We would require the player to tape their workouts and send them to the coaching staff on a daily basis.
Ultimately I feel like our program's ability to keep moving forward during a difficult time for everyone was a big advantage in our season. We came out ready to go physically and mentally, so when we had our first practices and games, there was a level of preparedness that I was very pleased with. So if there is another lockdown my advice to the players and coaches out there would be to roll with the punches, don't make excuses (because untimely nobody cares), and come out of it a better person.