TIP of the MONTH

Coach Jerry “Kal” Kalista

May 1, 2017

Coach Jerry Kalista


“Riding the pines” or “catching a few splinters”, use to describe the baseball players who spent most of their time sitting on the bench. Unlike basketball and football, where a coach can spot-play several players for a few minutes, baseball does not allow free substitution, a restriction that can cause a lot of discontent among the non-starters (bench players). Distracted bench players are rarely mentally prepared when called on to play. Therefore, when given the chance, most subs perform well below their capabilities.

At the first team meeting, emphasize each player’s importance. Nobody on the roster should be considered insignificant. Expect your coaches to study each player’s personality and identify their reactions to setbacks. Make sure the coaching staff understands that the bench players have to be coached each inning, the same way as the starters. You can’t ignore the players on the bench! Ultimately, this neglect will cause a breakdown in team unity.

Before the season begins, a meeting with the players and parents should be held. Explain that your main objective is that by season’s end, every player has a good experience and improves as a baseball player, and as a person. The parents, as well as the players should be told that all players will not play every inning of every game. Starting positions are earned through hard work and having a good attitude. The parents and players should be told that some of the coaching decisions made throughout the season, will be unpopular.

If a player is good enough to make the team, they should be good enough to get playing time. The amount of playing time will depend on the player’s talent, work habits and attitude. You don’t want any of the bench players to “Ride the pines” and miss out on the valuable playing time experience.

All teams need role players. Pinch hitters, pinch runners, defensive replacements and relief pitchers can contribute a lot during the course of the season. Discuss these rolls with all your players. Coach them to be game-ready whenever they are called on to contribute. Stress the importance of roll players to the team. Never let a player who has failed in a crucial spot to come back to the bench and dwell on his failure. Baseball is often cruel to the players because failure happens more often than success. It is every coach’s responsibility to rebuild character along with confidence.

Too many coaches get so involved with the action on the field, that they pay little or no attention to their bench players until it is time to make a substitution. Bench players will often disconnect from the game and even lose interest all together. Make an effort to talk baseball to your non-starters during the game. Coach them on how to watch the game. With their minds on the game, they should be ready when called on.

Do your best to make all players equal. If and when allowed, use the DH position, courtesy runner rule, re-entry rule and free-substitution rule to get more players in the game. As a coach, it is important to build team unity, and to be fair in all your decisions.

At the end of the season, the success of your team is not only measured by the wins or losses, but did all the players improve as a player, and as a person, and was the season a good experience for all the players?



Coach Jerry “Kal” Kalista

NOTE: Direct any questions or comments to Coach Kalista at kalbaseball@comcast.net