Tip 001: Take Notes During Games
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When talking to parents and coaches, I find two common problems:
Coaches don’t have a good plan for their practices (or a plan at all) so they default to the standard taking a round of infield/outfield and batting practice (which is typically not a good use of anyone’s time).
Parents want to help, but don’t know what to work on with their kid.
Coaches and parents don’t mean to allow this to happen, but it can significantly hinder development of a team or player. Taking notes during games can help with each of these.
Taking notes during the game is critical for getting better during the week. If you’re like most teams, you’ll play at least four games over two days during a summer tournament, or anywhere between two and four games over the course of a one-day fall tournament.
It’s easy to say, “we need to work on hitting,” or “base running killed us this weekend so we should work on that at practice.”
But what exactly are you going to work on? And who needs to work on it? What was the situation you need to recreate to drive home the lesson?
Also, even if you make a mental note during one of your games of a specific player or situation that needs to be addressed later, chances are you’ll have twenty more of those mental notes by the end of the tournament. Then, three days later when you’re thinking about practice you can’t remember them all!
Don’t overthink this, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are two EASY options, both of which I have done. Choosing between the two comes down to personal preference.
Get a card stock piece of paper and keep in your back pocket along with a pen. When something happens you want to refer to later, simply write it down. Any paper will work, but I have found a thicker card stock is easy to handle and lasts throughout the game and tournament.
Use your phone. If you keep your phone in your pocket, take it out and use a note taking app to keep track of your thoughts and observations. This option is also good if you want to easily share with other coaches later on.
TAKE ACTION: This weekend, take notes. Spend your brain power managing the game, not remembering all your mental notes. Then when it’s time to plan practice for next week, take out your notes and put them together. You’ll be amazed at how it all comes back to you!
While the overall idea is similar, there are a few key differences.
Taking notes specific to your child as things happen can help. You’re typically focused on your child more than the others, so you’re paying closer attention to the little things.
If something sticks out to you, jot it down. If you observe something happening over and over, jot it down. If you notice something GOOD, jot it down too!
IMPORTANT - DO NOT REVIEW ANYTHING NEGATIVE AFTER THE GAME!
The purpose isn’t to point out all the things a player is doing wrong, rather to look back on themes, issues, tweaks that could be brought up during a practice, lesson, or in the driveway doing some individual work.
For those of you that are more knowledgeable about the game, go ahead and take notes accordingly.
For others, there are “non-baseball” things you can look for that can actually make a big impact, especially for young players:
Observe body language.
Is your child being a good teammate?
Are they the last one out of the dugout every inning?
Are they constantly looking for their hat and glove when it’s time to take the field?
Do they take every first pitch? Do they swing at every first pitch?
How do they respond to their coaches?
TAKE ACTION: Take notes this weekend, and spend a little time next week reviewing SOME of your observations. It’s okay to review a thing or two, but please do not approach your child with a list of 12 things you noticed. Start with something that is small but could have a decent impact. See how they react. Stay positive and encourage. This is to HELP them, so it shouldn’t feel like they’re sitting in their principal’s office!
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