Body Language is Extremely Important
Often overlooked, but never missed by opponents, coaches, & recruiters
I’ll never forget my brother’s senior year of high school. He had already signed with Vanderbilt and was having a monster senior season. Every game there were at least two dozen pro scouts in attendance.
Since many of them were at almost every game, I got to know them well. I’ll never forget one night my brother went 2-for-2 with two home runs and a couple of walks.
This one scout made a comment that he was hoping to see him struggle. He wanted him to have an 0-4 night with a couple of strikeouts. I was a little confused.
“Everyone knows he can hit,” he said. “I want to see how he handles failure. Baseball’s a tough game, and he won’t hit .600 with a home run and double every game at the next level.”
Made perfect sense. Since then, I’ve had this same conversations with many scouts and college coaches. How a player handles adversity, and what type of teammate they are when things don’t go their way is a MAJOR factor in recruiting.
I thought about this yesterday when I was watching my older son’s 18U game. Much of what I’ve written about so far has been focused on the little guys, but from the time I walked into the park I was looking for something to write about.
It took me about half an inning to find something…body language.
A kid strikes out. How does he react?
The pitcher gives up 4 runs in the first inning. How does he react?
A teammate makes an error. How does the pitcher react?
How does a player take the field? How focused is he between innings, or in the on deck circle?
So much can be determined about that player by how he looks and acts when the play isn’t even live.
The majority of time spent working with players is focused on mechanics, baseball knowledge, and game situations. Very little time is spent on some of the less-exciting aspects of the game, but those can yield huge short and long term results! Body language is one of those.
I believe this is important at all levels, coach pitch and high school, and not just for the immediate return on baseball. Body language, and all that goes with it, is a key ingredient for success in life beyond baseball.
Personal and Team Confidence
Body language is important in competition. It’s important for yourself, your teammates, and the opponents.
Bad body language can empower opponents, just as good body language can be intimidating to opponents.
As Dr. Cleere is quoted above, body language impacts how you see yourself. Good body language translates to confidence, and bad body language drains confidence.
Bad body language can absolutely kill team morale and spirit, while good body language can motivate teammates and galvanize resolve, even in the toughest moments of competition.
Coaches and Recruiters
Think about long term and trying to play at the next level. By the time a coach or recruiter visits a school to see a player, they already know that player can physically play.
Just like the story about my brother. Everyone in the park knew he could hit a 450-foot home run and throw a baseball 90 mph. They wanted to see how he reacted when things didn’t go his way.
Check out this quote from legendary UConn Women’s basketball coach, Geno Auriemma:
Watch the whole two-minute video, and then share it with your son and your team:
I’m not sure I even need to say anything more! Geno is a best-in-class coach, but thousands of other coaches and recruiters feel the same way.
You can have the best player in town, and his body language can turn a coach, scout, or teammate off instantly.
Make it a point to talk to your son or team about their body language and the impact it has on them and their teammates.
And it’s never too early. I talk to my 8 year old about his body language from time to time, and I feel like I’m always talking to my 16 year old about his!
It’s hard to correct, and displaying poor body language isn’t fixed overnight. One good way to deal with it is to video it. Video your son, or your players, and then make them go back and watch it. Ask them to describe what they see. They’ll have a different view seeing it first hand from a different lens.
Until next time, GET YOUR ELBOW UP!
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