It’s not what you know or did, it’s what you can teach

A couple of years ago I was at the National Sports Clinics as Jacqui Joseph of Michigan State Universityprepared to take the stage. Mary Nutter, the formidable force behind the clinics and a long-time friend of Jacqui’s, gave her a glowing introduction. Mary talked about Jacqui’s accomplishments as a player and as a coach, particularly at MSU. The list was long and impressive and the audience eagerly awaited her presentation.

When Jacqui took the stage, she put everything into perspective immediately as only she can do. Thanking Mary, she said something to effect of, “That stuff I did is all well and good, but non of it means (expletive) if I can’t help you teach your kids how to hit.”

Everybody laughed of course. But the point was made. It doesn’t matter how much a coach did in his/her playing career, or how much he/she knows. It only matters how much of it he/she can convey to a student or player.

You see it at times in live coaching situations. But you see it even more on the Internet, on boards like our own Discuss Fastpitch Forum. Most people who go to online boards have one of three goals: they either want to learn something new to teach their players/daughters/students, they want to solve a particular problem, or they want to give back to the game by helping one of the first two groups. Well, I suppose there’s another reason, which is the social aspect of “conversing” with people who share like interests.

For a small group, though, they are not particularly interested in learning anything or helping anyone. They simply want to show off how much they know. They will focus on arcane bits of knowledge, claiming to understand the movement of every little muscle and tendon in a complex athletic movement, and use technical or pseudo-scientific terms with only one goal in mind: to show how much smarter they are than everyone else.

That’s all well and good. And they may possess a great deal of technical knowledge. But if they can’t convey it in simple, understandable terms, what good is it? You can tell me how to split an atom in agonizing detail but it’s unlikely I will ever build even a rudimentary nuclear reactor. It’s just over my head.

So I guess my caution today is to not be impressed by incomprehensive mumbo-jumbo or fancy terms. Remember what Jacqui Joseph said. The people you want to listen to are the ones who can tell you how to make your daughter/players/students better in simple, easy-to-understand terms. Which hopefully is what you feel I do here. The rest is just self-serving blather.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on February 20, 2010, in Coaching. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I feel the same way. I feel bad for those who want to find an answer and get technical mumbo jumbo or the barbed answers which seems to be some attempt at humor. I do admit, I have my interests, but it doesn’t solve the problem of how to swing a bat or catch a ball. It makes reading the boards hard, and even more difficult to respond.

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  2. Well, check out the new and improved Discuss Fastpitch Forum. It’s cleaned up a lot in the last week, and there is a real spirit of learning there. It’s funny how much information you can get when everyone is trying to be helpful instead of trying to one-up each other. For us coaches, it’s also important to keep that in mind with our students. It’s not enough if you know. You have to be sure your players know it too. One good technique is to ask them questions instead of giving them answers. Ask them how they would fix a problem, or what they would do differently. It’s a real good way to check out how much they actually know.

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