Coaching Management 23.2

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Page 20 of 39 Coaching Management PreseasoN 2015 19 Coaching Management PreseasoN 2015 19 a runner over. So I make sure I talk with them about the game plan before they go in." After a bench player's appearance is over, it's vital to discuss it—especially when things don't go well. "Backups put a lot of pressure on themselves," Bedics says. "I remind them that one mistake isn't going to lessen my opinion of them. I'll say 'Yes, you were picked off, but we still have confidence in you. Tomorrow in practice we'll talk about how this happened.' "And I'll look for the positives in a situa- tion," he adds. "Maybe a hitter made the third out in an inning, but he hit a hard line drive right at the shortstop. That's some- thing he can be proud of." Coaches can also help bench players by inserting them in situations that are suited to their talents. "If you call on a guy who struggles with hitting a good curveball to come in to face the other team's best starter, you're putting him in a demoralizing situa- tion," McDonald says. "Instead, look for a matchup where he's likely to be successful." IN THE SPOTLIGHT With so few chances to shine, it's easy for bench players to feel overlooked as the start- ers soak up the accolades. That's why it's incumbent on coaches to recognize the con- tributions of their bench players. "Last season, I probably used the same lineup in 28 of our last 29 games, which meant that a lot of the bench guys didn't get a chance to play," says Schlossnagle. "But I'd take the time after a game to remind the squad that by charting pitches, for example, these guys were part of our success that day. Simply pointing that out made them feel valued." More tangible awards can also help bench players feel appreciated. At Bay City Western, the coaching staff creates a list of in-game goals that can earn a player a Gatorade. "The list doesn't include things like hitting a home run or striking out 10 guys in a game," McDonald says. "Instead, it's focused on things any player can do, like executing a squeeze bunt or steal- ing a base late in a game. "By making the list ahead of time, the bench guys know that we're not rewarding them just for the sake of it, and it gets the whole team behind them," he continues. "If a player does something we know is on the list, everyone in our dugout starts yelling, 'Gator juice! Gator juice!' It means a lot to that player when the starters show him support." Another way to give bench players their due is to make sure they are considered for any honor or award that is not solely for on- field performance. "Our booster club gives out an award each year to the player on the team who's shown dedication to athletics," Bedics says. "It's not an award specifically for bench players, but it's the kind of award that can recognize their contributions, whether it's being the first one on the practice field each day or always showing up for fundrais- ers with a great attitude." Sometimes, just letting bench players partake in something usually reserved for the starters can make them feel valued. "I'll rotate my captains throughout the year and have my bench guys available for media interviews after the game," Bedics says. "I don't want those things to only be for my best athletes." Whether through something big or small, the key is to let bench players know they're a big part of the team. "Each year, we play a non-league game at Safeco Field," Wiese says. "I'll have a lot of my non-regulars start that game and play a few innings to thank them for all they've done for us. It doesn't take a lot to give your bench players a moment they'll never forget." CM COVER STORY Give your infi eld the unique, deep brown color of NEW Pro League ® Champion Brown, ™ or select one of our other custom-engineered colors to enhance your fi eld. Our full line of infi eld conditioners are designed to provide you with the safest, most playable fi elds. BETTER PERFORMANCE. BETTER COLORS. HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE The #1 Conditioner for Safe & Playable Fields For a sample, call 800-207-6457. For more on the Pro League lineup, visit Pro League ® Red Pro League ® Natural Pro League ® Heritage Red ™ Pro League ® Champion Brown ™ Pro League ® Champion Brown ™ ✸ NEW Circle No. 111 Click Here to sign up for our free series of educational digital newsletters

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