By Chance Reynolds, Former Professional Baseball Player
In order for your club to “peak” at the right time, you, as a Coach, need to look at the season as a process or an “evolution” of thirds.
The first third of your season should be a time where everyone plays, everyone gets an opportunity, and everyone has a chance to show what they can do. If you have a young kid you would like to try in a certain situation, this is the time to do it. If you have a lineup in mind, but aren’t quite sure whether it will be the right combination or not, this is the time to try it out. If you need to learn if a kid is better in a starting role or in relief on the mound, again, this is the time to run him out there. Do not emphasize winning as much in this time period, because it is more important that everyone is given a chance to show what they can (or can’t) do (which will serve you well later when you have to explain to “little Johnny’s parents” why he doesn’t play as much as he used to.)
The second third is when you, as a Coach, begin “tightening the bolts”. You now know who can run, who can handle the bat, and unfortunately, who is a liability in the lineup and on the field. Your defense should be set and everyone should understand their position and role in the lineup. You now know who can throw strikes, who can’t, and more importantly, how everyone on the team fits into the plans to make it to the Championship. Be it as a pinch-runner, someone who bunts well, or as a left handed relief specialist, you have to find a way for everyone to contribute (even if it’s just coaching first), and this is the time to do that.
The third third is when winning is emphasized. Each and every player should know exactly what is expected of them, and your team should be prepared for every situation. You should know if and when the hit and run will work, who can come through in the clutch, and who can get that much needed strikeout with a runner at third with one out. You should now be able to relax and enjoy the harvest of your hard work; A championship team who is peaking at the right time and “rolling” into the playoffs ready to win a ring!