Q. Coaching: Discipline. The sword of success
A. Mark Johnson is the head baseball coach at Cherry Creek High School in Denver, Colorado. He has sent many players to the major leagues and has won several state championships including a run of 5 consecutive titles, I believe.
His son is a good friend of mine and I heard him say one time that his dad would always say, "Discipline is the sword of success." I don't really understand the sword thing, but I do understand that when kids become discipline in whatever they do, they get better.
Tonight my catcher dropped 3 or 4 easy balls. I said what position do you play? He replied, "catcher." I asked him if I would put someone in that position that couldn't catch. He replied, "No." I told him that I put him back there because he can catch, but then asked him why he missed those balls. He replied "I wasn't focused." Good answer. I then told him that the next ball that he dropped would earn him 10 push-ups. He didn't miss another ball for the rest of the practice.
My advice: The key to healthy, effective discipline is disciplining out of love. If you discipline the kids when you are angry at something they did, I believe the kids take it more personal and miss the point of why you are giving them push-ups or making them run. To get your team to become disciplined, you should explain in a calm disposition that you cannot let them get away with something that is going to make them a ...bad teammate, bad base runner, bad infielder, bad player, etc.. I think the kids start to appreciate the fact that you are making them do push-ups or run a lap.
More advice: Be careful about disciplining kids for physical errors. For mental errors, goofing off, missing signs, or not working hard I immediately send them running. If it is a physical error I approach it more like a challenge. I tell them that the only way I can get them to focus is to make them do push-ups if they drop balls, make bad throws, etc.. For example, sometimes I will say during a drill something like, "If you don't get this bunt down, you will run and touch the pole." I'm challenging the kid and I'm locking him into a good focus that will help him succeed because he doesn't want to touch the pole.
Written by Brian Berger- Past ABC Holiday Baseball Camp Director, Youth Baseball Edge