It’s been an eye-opening season for Evan Martin.
In his first year coaching on the diamond, he’s picked up plenty of pointers either from hands-on experience or from veteran coaches. Martin, an assistant coach for the Sting in the Mosquito Division (ages 10 and 11) of the Saugeen Shores Minor Baseball Association in Ontario, is learning as he goes.
“I ask a lot of questions of a few coaches — one in particular has been coaching for 25 years,” Martin said. “He was most helpful with regards to a few low confidence kids on my team. It was great chatting with him and seeing what experience can bring to the plate.”
Martin has already faced plenty of challenges.
“With 10- and 11-year-olds, it is a tough age to coach because there are second-year players who have seen this league before, and the first-year Mosquitos have never hit from a pitcher, since the past four years for them have been coaches pitching and pitching machines,” Martin said. “Just getting them to stay in the batter’s box and not be afraid has been the hardest lesson to teach.”
Martin has figured out that the best way to overcome his main challenge is to keep his players positive at the plate, regardless of whether they strike out or collect a hit.
“I also pitched to the kids during practices — fast, yet controlled — and allowed them to hit all over the park,” Martin said. “Hits build confidence, especially when they get to hit pitches from the coach.”
Martin is always picking up nuances as he builds experience in the coaching game.
“I learned that kids all learn at different rates and different styles of teaching,” Martin said. “Some are driven to be the best player they can be and are sponges waiting (to) soak up all you can give them. Some are just there because mom and dad just don't want them to play video games all summer. It's really how excited you can get all of them about baseball and growing the game in all of the kids.”
Understanding how to motivate and interact with the young players should help Martin for years to come, he noted, as facing some adversity in his first year should only help him become a better coach.
“It taught me to accept the kids at face value and realize they all have different goals and expectations of themselves,” Martin said, “so therefore you have to set different goals for them as well.”
After a successful inaugural campaign, Martin is happy to offer advice to others who are new to coaching.
“Just to ask the parents at the beginning of the season what drives their kids, and then go to the kids and let them lead you a little to what they want from themselves and from the team,” Martin said.