Saturday, April 19, 2014

Measurement Equals Motivation: What Are You Saying?

Think for a second, what do you measure in your program? Do you post fall statistics with batting average as the first viewable stat?

Do you keep a barrel chart for batting practice? Do you get after your hitters each time they swing at a fastball outside the strike zone?

While it is imperative to keep charts, regardless of personnel or resources available, what we verbally measure creates a desire in our players to do what we ask of them. They are motivated by what we do and say, even when we coaches are unaware of what we are communicating.

If you give hitters a verbal pat on the back for getting the big hit in an intrasquad, despite their duck fart falling just beyond the grasp of the first baseman’s over-the –shoulder attempt, then guess what they will value- getting base hits, which they cannot control.

As humans, we attach emotion to nearly every experience, and then seek pleasure or avoid pain in all future experiences. If you have ever listened to Tony Robbins speak, you know all about what he calls the “Pain-Pleasure Principle.”

Our players want to please- they want to please their parents, their teammates, their coaches- this is human nature. 

If you show them why OPS is important and has a greater correlation to run creation than AVG or RBI, you empower them. Instead of trying to get hits and knock runs in, things they cannot control as a process, they work to become better at reaching base (OBP), which requires plate discipline, and driving the baseball (SLG), which requires committed swings and approaches. 

Thus, valuing or verbally "measuring" OBP will increase plate discipline.  In turn, this will improve SLG, as hitters will swing at fewer fringy strikes or at pitches they are not committed to, increasing barreled balls which have higher exit velocities and result in more extra-base hits. 

When it comes to charting, few coaches have the resources to chart as much as they would like while still feeling effective as a coach in regards to time management. SEC, ACC, PAC12, and BIG12 teams have multiple managers, student assistants and an operations director, all of whom are capable of keeping charts. Most schools have two or three paid personnel, at best.

Certainly, we must teach our players how to manage these charts, and it is not difficult to assign a player or rotation of players to keep track of charts. Many times, fortunately or unfortunately, there may be an injured player capable of assisting. Make them an asset to the program by giving them ownership in the measurement process.

When charting games, we value quality at-bats, barrels (part of the QAB equation) and pitches per plate appearance. We also keep a barrel percentage (barrels divided by plate appearances).

Our qualifications for a QAB are: barrel, BB, HBP, successful bunt, 8 pitch AB, 2 strike hit, RBI out, advancing a runner to 3B w/ 0 outs.

What do you measure in your program?

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