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So much of baseball instruction focuses on the improvement of players, not enough instruction is given to the coaches to help improve their team. Game strategy differs some from coach to coach, but some basic concepts of game situation and team improvement need to be covered. The coaches and managers are the leaders of the team, they not only need to know their players strength and weaknesses, they need to know how to get their team to the next level of competion. The Coaches Corner is a section devoted to player development, team understanding, and coaching strategies.
The 2015 World Baseball Coaches' Convention was held Jan 15-17th at the Mohegan Sun convention center in Connecticut. This was my first visit to the event. I have heard some information about the speakers, event scheduling, demos, and overall organization, I was not disappointed.
Although I was only there for one day I was able to gather a diversity of coaching plans, ideas and techniques that I will be introducing to my my own team playbook this year. The registration online was simple, the sign in was well organized, and the information packet about the presentations was clear. You should plan on spending about $125, but with early registration you can save $20 or $30. There were at least 3 speakers giving presentations at the same time in seperate rooms, and most all lessons were about an hour long. The room speakers were very clear and easy to follow with their microphones and powerpoint presentations. Almost all speakers offered questions after their lessons and presented their lessons in a structured outline to maximize the the hour time slot.
The open are cage demos and speakers were a little harder to understand with the background voices and baseball retail booths in close proximity. If you were able to sit near the action it was a successful lesson. I'd recommend the rooms with speakers without distractions, but the demos and lobby instruction still had more helpful information than many other clinics I have attended.
I attended 5 event speakers, each was to the point with their topic and presentation. Dr Howard Freo spoke about creating leadership and talked about his experiences interviewing major league managers such as Joe Madden, John Ferrell, and Don Mattingly. Although he was promoting his book some, his research was insightful and he was well received. Next I attended Jim Penders, head coach for the UCONN Huskies. He centered on the ability to produce quality at bats. His presentation was high powered towards the college level statistics and charting, too much for most coaches in the audience. But I believe he gave the attending coaches not just a new way to review hitting statistics, but an understanding of the in depth world of breaking down at bats at the college level.
Kevin Seitzer, current Atlanta Braves hitting coach spoke next in the main room, about 400 coaches attending. He spoke about the mental side of hitting which has always been a part of baseball I enjoy. His delivery was enthusiastic as was most every speaker. That is very important, you want to be in an atmosphere where you know ( not feel ) that the speakers want to be there, they want to help, they enjoy the time working with coaches, taking the time to give back what they have learned. He had a mechanics of hitting talk the previous day and tried to keep the two seperate, but also explain how they work together. He did a fine job.
After lunch I attended Bob Tewksburys talk on player confidence and mental preparation. Although it was a little more like a psychological mind trip, it was a change of pace. His words probably meant more to some other coaches than me, and that's the beauty of the convention, there is something for everyone, and nothing is a waste of time. The best presentation for me was the "Catching 101" by Scott Stricklin, head coach at the University of Georgia, former professional catchers for the Twins minor league team Rock Cats. Catching clinics by a real professional is rare, I definitely wanted to take advantage of that. I was very impressed with his ability to show drills, demonstrate the common mistakes, and point out the proper mechanics. All this done clearly in the one hour time slot. His "basic mechanics" ( which I know were not basic to many coaches ) were accented with repetition drills designed to get the most out of your catchers, and create a solid foundation for their progess.
Overall I was very pleased with the WBC and wish I had the time to attend one of the other days events. The event has common themes, but the speakers all have their own point of view and unique background to present a fresh look at well known baseball topics. There are plenty of vendors for mechandise, and I would suggest bringing an assistant coach to discuss events, maybe split up and cover more speakers with notes. I will be returning to the WBC with my notebook and eager to hear something new, something that will inspire my players, and me.