• By Derrick May-Former MLB player, MLB coach and Minor League Hitting Coordinator, Father, Brother, Son, friend and Kangaroo court judge.
I was reading an interesting article about Gabe Kapler. No, not about coconut oil…I was reading about his philosophy of no rules and having a healthy clubhouse culture. I am kind of viewing this as a player and a coach.
As a player, having no rules, not worrying about time as long as I was where I was supposed to be on time, only worrying about yourself and getting ready for the game would be great. Being treated like an adult and having an atmosphere of fun would be awesome. After all, I am a Major League player. I am in the Major Leagues.
There is something to be said about letting players be themselves and giving them the choice. I can’t knock Gabe Kapler for trying this approach. It will take a network of strong character players and individuals to pull this off.
I think there are two schools of thoughts. One, that knowing and doing the right thing is inherent and two, knowing and doing the right thing is taught. People and influences are the biggest factors in success or failure. So, strong character players will be important. On the flipside not everyone knows what the right thing looks like or wants to do the right thing. Just being real. It’s classic rebellion. Open resistance to the estabilishment or ruler. In this case the manager or coaches.
Now, looking at it from a coaching perspective. I can definitely understand building a healthy clubhouse culture and atmosphere, it is always fun to be in a clubhouse with happy players.
Ok. Here is the but. For a coach, rules are important. Consequences are important too but only if they have real consequences. Which goes back to strong character players and people in the clubhouse who will be accountable and hold others accountable. What happens if you don’t have them? What happens if you’re not winning or playing well? It could get ugly.
Structure and consistency are probably the most important things when you are talking about preparation and improving. Coaches pride themselves on these things and work within them. Structure gives direction and consistency shows trust in the process. What happens when they don’t? Usually Chaos. Without order or direction there is chaos or just being lost.
Time is the biggest reason for rules and structure. Being efficient and getting work done is critical to preparation and improving skills. All Major League players aren’t the same. Older players are seasoned and understand how to prepare, to the younger player who is just figuring things out. Younger players have always learned from older players. But the younger player still has a long way to go to catch up to the older more established player in skill.
Use it or lose it. One of my biggest fears as a coach is complacency. When an (some) athlete becomes content, he becomes complacent and stops preparing or improving. I often look back and admire guys like Andre Dawson,Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Carlos Beltran, Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter. These guys never were content. They continued to maintain and hone their skills daily. They set an example for future players to come, as did those players for the next future players. Reading the names, it is no secret why they are Hall of Famers or soon to be.
I agree that adults should be treated like adults and allow them to make the right choices. Ultimately, it is their career. Hopefully, the players will embrace a culture of accountability and not allow complacency to dewindle its spirit. Best of Luck Gabe