|Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 8||Issue 341|
|Craig Impelman Speaking | Championship Coaches | Champion's Leadership Library Login|
PERSONALIZE AND COACH, DON’T CLONE - (TONY LA RUSSA)
Tony La Russa is the third winningest manager in the history of Professional Baseball. In thirty three seasons (1979 – 2011), his teams won 2,728 games, three World Series titles, six league championships and twelve division titles. La Russa was unanimously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013.
In his book One Last Strike, La Russa described the foundation of his approach to coaching:
"You know, there's the expression that managers have to push the right buttons. Well, with the exception of the ones they wear on their uniforms, players don't have buttons. They aren't machines. They're human beings. The number-one duty of a baseball manager and staff is to understand and relate to the diverse personalities of the players.
Whoever you were, my coaching staff - equipment men to video guys, the strength and fitness coach, public relations people, the director of travel, everybody and I wanted to personalize our relationships with you.
Our goal was to create an environment where the ballplayer looked forward to coming to work. Whether a guy is on a hot streak or going through a slump, we want him to anticipate coming to the park knowing that he has our full support.to put him and his teammates in the best position to succeed.
You demonstrate that effort in a lot of ways—the care and attention paid to every part of the workday from batting practice to the blades of grass in the field. That sends a positive and simple message to the players: we care.
Coaching isn't just about putting on the uniform and working the strategic elements of the game. If you don't have the passion and can't communicate well and really be a teacher, then you're not going to last long in the business.
With both hitters and pitchers, we have a team philosophy, but we take a highly individualized approach. We're not looking to clone anybody; we want players to know and employ basic fundamentals, but the rest we tailor to the individual.
That's probably the greatest challenge teachers of baseball face. We build a curriculum, establish certain requirements, but how you get your pupils to perform well is determined mostly by how well you understand the needs and abilities of your widely varied pupils.
That's why, in our organization, we looked for people who could demonstrate the ability to personalize, develop and nurture their relationships with the players.
After all, the players are the ones who have to go out and execute and perform.
That said, if your coaching staff—and that includes the manager—are all paying attention to every game all year, you never know when that attention or expertise might save a run, create a run, or give you an edge. Proper coaching is like a guy coming off the bench to get a hit or a reliever coming in to get a double play—it's that tangible and legitimate."
What's the foundation of your approach to coaching?
Yours in Coaching,
It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
Oriah Mountain Dreamer (1954-)
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