(Photo via RowanAlumni.edu, seen here)
For those of you looking to take the next step in your baseball coaching career and jump from the high school to the college level then this post will be a good resource. The jump between the two levels, even going from high school to junior college is a big one. There will be duties assigned to you that you might have never had to complete in the past. They will be time-consuming and in-depth but will definitely be worth your time.
This is part two of a three-part series that examines the transition from coaching high school baseball to coaching college baseball. Let’s take an in-depth look at the duties you could face in college and how you can adjust so that they are completed successfully, helping your program become a competitive one in its conference and beyond.
High School Baseball Duties
Coaching baseball at the high school level, even sub-varsity teams comes with a lot of responsibility. Depending on the program you might be the only coach on the staff. This means that you need to handle quite a bit for practice and on game day. A brief list of those duties includes the following:
- Running practice: throwing batting practice, conducting infield/outfield drills, monitoring the pitching throwing sessions, instruction, catching drills, baserunning drills and more.
- Gameday: infield/outfield, stretching, pitcher warm-ups, field prep, lineup creation, umpire waivers, rubbing up game balls, managing the game and more.
That’s just a taste of what high school baseball coaches need to do in order for their program or team to make it through a season. It’s intense but it’s not nearly as in-depth as the duties found at the college level.
When you are coaching high school at a sub-varsity level and you are on your own this can take its toll. You are the only one throwing batting practice to anywhere from 15-20 kids each day. You are the only one offering instruction and the only one hitting infield/outfield. It can be difficult to focus in on just one aspect of the team, such as only the catchers or only the infielders without leaving the other players without much guidance or instruction.
It’s still a great experience to have under your belt, especially if your ultimate goal is to run a varsity program or jump to college as an assistant. The best part of all the work you put into running a team is seeing the kids get promoted to varsity or getting to watch them play top-side when they get older.
College Coaching Duties
Even though you will find yourself committing much more time as a college baseball coach you will find that you will have to focus on maybe one or two aspects of the team instead of the team as a whole. This, of course, is if you work as an assistant coach in college and not a head coach.
If you get the opportunity to work with a head coach and staff like the one I worked with at Division III Rowan University you will find that the transition will be quite easy.
When I joined the staff at Rowan prior to the 2010 season all of the assistants were new to coaching in college. There were a total of four assistants; I came from the high school level and the other three had just finished their playing careers for Rowan.
I was assigned the duties of recruiting coordinator, bench coach, and infield instructor for my two seasons at Rowan. The recruiting aspect was immense.
I joined the staff towards the end of June 2009. I immediately began recruiting, attending a host of games in Philadelphia called the Carpenter Cup. I watched this tournament almost from beginning to end with hundreds of other college coaches from throughout the Mid Atlantic states.
There was a bit of a break in early July but then the recruiting trail really took off as I attended tournaments all over New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania. I began talking to high schoolers who were of eligible grade level/age to speak with colleges (no earlier than July 1 after the athlete’s junior season).
At the same time that these trips were going on, I took over control of the recruiting software program. This is where we logged every single player in which we had interest, their academic information, the scouting grades we assigned them, the camps in which they participated and every contact we made with them (only one call per week outside of the designated contact period per the NCAA).
We used the program to send mass emails to recruits about the goings on at Rowan University, information about the program, and any camps we were scheduled to host during the summer.
Outside of the recruiting duties, I was responsible for working with the infielders in our program during our fall and spring seasons. This included running infield drills, both indoors and outdoors, hitting ground balls during batting practice to infielders, and going through the bunt rotation plays run by the program.
My duties as bench coach were what I enjoyed the most out of everything I did while at Rowan. We had a chart bag that went with us to every single game. I didn’t let it out of my sight. It came home with me each night.
In the chart bag, we had multiple binders, blank scouting forms, the official scorebook and scouting reports. Those binders featured hitting spray charts, pitching logs, quality at-bat charts, pitch charts, lineup cards and plenty of statistical printouts.
Prior to every game, I was responsible for printing out the up-to-date statistics for the opposing team (batting and pitching), the opponent’s roster, and any other scouting documents requested.
During the game, I was responsible for using a tiny chart that had the opponent’s lineup written on it to log how every hitter’s at-bat ended. This included whether or not they walked, struck out, were hit by a pitch, reached on an error, reached on a fielder’s choice or registered a hit. I also needed to log the final pitch that was thrown to end the at-bat.
When we were at the plate I was responsible for logging all of the at-bats of our hitters to gauge whether or not they were quality at-bats. A quality at-bat included a walk, hit by pitch, hit, sacrifice, or hard hit ball. We then released statistics for each hitter at the end of designated periods throughout the season that showed them their percentage of quality at-bats.
There is a big time commitment when you coach baseball no matter the level. The commitment needed to coach at the college level, even as an assistant, is immense. The off-field duties alone will take up hours each week.
Part three of this series will examine the differences in coaching high school-aged players and college-aged players when it comes to their experiences within the game, their maturity, and how they adapt and respond to adversity.