Coaches can’t see everything that happens on the field. Their view from the dugout is limited. Their focus while in the first-base or third-base coach’s box is on a few specific things.
Sometimes coaches need an extra set of eyes.
That’s something Drew Stegon has learned in his volunteer duties at different levels of baseball in Claremont, Calif.
Stegon has been coaching baseball at the little league through high school levels for about six years and helps with private lessons at Kempton Sports.
Stegon was a co-manager for a little league team a couple of years ago on a team that had enough coaches to cover the on-field needS. So Stegon — inspired by an old interview with Buck Showalter — found a new perspective.
“(Showalter said) one of the hardest things for him to do was separate being a fan of the game and being a manager of the game,” Stegon said. “You have to look at the game being played as a manager or coach and not as a fan. That’s a difficult thing to do.”
Fans follow the ball. From the pitcher to where it goes off the bat, fans follow the immediate action of the game. But Stegon realized you miss a lot of action — and teachable moments — if you don’t look at the big picture.
“We’re watching the ball and we’re seeing if the ball goes into the gap (but not watching) if the first baseman is still standing at first with his foot there, or if the first baseman is trailing the runner to second,” Stegon said.
“A fan’s perspective of the game is different from a coach’s perspective of the game.”
Stegon began sitting in the stands during games to watch the big picture of the game while other coaches for the team managed on-the-field activities.
With a new perspective, Stegon watched the game “as somebody who teaches baseball” and took notes to help his team improve. At the little league level, he is even willing to give notes to the other team.
“It’s about how do we develop all of our players,” Stegon said. “The end goal is that all players get to be the best possible player they can be.”
The idea spread, and other coaches asked Stegon to scout their teams from the stands and provide feedback. He does the same for the local high school team when he can attend their games.
Stegon compared his big-picture view to having a football team’s offensive and defensive coordinator in the press box during games.
Stegon takes his notes — sometimes just a few items and sometimes a laundry list — on his tablet or phone and shares it with the interested coaches. The quick feedback helps teams address any problems in the next practice through team drills or individual player work.
Stegon is a big believer in teaching advanced baseball and doing the little things as a team to be more successful and efficient on the field.
“Usually the coach is watching if the third baseman fielded that ball correctly,” Stegon said. “I was watching how long did it take the first basemen to (cover first)? Did the second baseman move to cover? Did my catcher get up and run to back up the play? Did (the) left fielder move at all? Did my right fielder move at all to back up the throw.”
Stegon shared with the Season some of the other things he sees from his perspective that could get missed by an on-field coach:
- Is the defense moving in the direction of the ball? Look to see if all the other players — other than the player directly responsible for getting the ball — are moving in the proper direction. For example, is the shortstop standing there, moving toward second base, or backing up the third baseman on a hit to third?
- Did a defender break too late or come too far on a bunt?
- Did a runner get a good lead or a late break? Was he in the baseline? Did he take a good angle?
From GameChanger and Tom Glave.