Inside Pitch Magazine, May/June 2022

Intentional Walk: A Coach, a Provider

By Keith Madison, Chairman of the ABCA Board of Directors & National Baseball Director for SCORE International
Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin in white jersey standing on dugout steps looking out onto fieldEvery coach should be relentless in providing the very best opportunity possible for the players in his program to perform well and put them in a position to have a great experience…and win. A coach should make it a priority to equip his players to realize their God-given potential. Coaches wear many hats, but one thing is certain, a coach is a provider. To emphasize this point, I would like to borrow John Maxwell’s Law of Addition with my personal notes on how this relates to the role of a coach. 

Purposeful: Coaches should approach each player with a purpose to add value.

Relational: The coaches’ offices or spaces should be warm and inviting, promoting positive relationships. 

Objective: Coaches should assess each player’s strengths and weaknesses objectively.

Vulnerable: Coaches should always model self-disclosure and honesty.

Incarnational: They should always be examples of what they teach.

Dependable: Coaches should be consistent and responsible for their promises.

Empowering: They give power away and facilitate growth in others.

Resourceful: Coaches should use every tool they have to grow people.

Yes, coaches are providers. They should also be givers, giving freely their knowledge, time, energy and love. Coaches should be role models. A significant number of players on every team at every level need positive role models, someone to teach them how to be a husband, a father and a productive citizen. Players may not listen to everything you say, but they watch everything you do! Your behavior will have a significant impact on their lives. This is no small part of helping each player become the very best they can be. I’m so very thankful for the coaches who have made a difference in my life.

One of the goals every coach should have is for every player to leave his program with more love for baseball than he had when he first joined the team. There is no substitute for passion. Each practice should be designed to—obviously enhance performance—but also to develop respect and love for the game. It’s rewarding to see former players coach at all different levels…from tee-ball all the way up to MLB.

Coaching is a gift, an opportunity to teach skills, competitiveness and character. Good coaches are great teachers, but if we only teach skills, we’re missing an incredible opportunity to touch a player’s life in a profound way. Coach John Wooden once shared this poem:

 “No written word and no spoken plea can teach our youth how they should be; nor all the books on all the shelves; it’s what the teachers are themselves.”

Coaching the right way comes with great responsibility. 

“…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded: and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”—Luke 12:48

Inside Pitch Magazine is published six times per year by the American Baseball Coaches Association, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt association founded in 1945. Copyright American Baseball Coaches Association. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without prior written permission. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, it is impossible to make such a guarantee. The opinions expressed herein are those of the writers.