With the baseball off-season finally upon us, it is that sad - but necessary - time to put down the ball and glove and allow our bodies and minds to recharge as we get away from the game for a bit. Whether it be playing another sport or focusing on becoming a better athlete away from the diamond, the benefits of getting off the field have been well documented. But taking a break from baseball doesn't mean we love it any less, nor does it mean we care any less about being able to make an impact as a player or coach. In fact, that time off doesn't mean we can't find other ways to learn more about the game we all know and love.
One of those ways is Twitter. Social media has changed the world we live in. In some cases, it’s brought us down roads of negativity where we yearn for the pre-Twitter days. But in others, there is so much to gain for those who use the medium as a resource that provides us with an endless stream of content and information to become a smarter person, or in our world on the diamond, a better baseball player or coach.
A quick search of the hashtag #STdrills and you’ll find a vast catalog – five years worth – of drills, fundamentals, and routines that Major League clubs and their players employ throughout Spring Training in their efforts to hone their craft and get ready for the season. If you are looking to learn about the fine details of infield play, there are few resources that offer as much on the subject in one place as #FridayFielders does. Should you be curious to see how command, velocity, deception, and movement all play into getting hitters out, then #pitchingtwitter can give you the answers. And if you are intrigued by the swing, interested in learning about the approach, and enjoy some healthy (or, at times, entertainingly unhealthy) debate on what is widely considered the hardest thing to do in all of sports, one click on #hittingtwitter will do the trick.
One of the most incredible things about Twitter is how many brilliant and passionate baseball minds – from all levels of the game – are willing to freely share their insights on the game to help others get better. Just as every single player is unique in their talent and ability, every coach has their own personal thoughts and beliefs as to how the different parts of the game are meant to flow. And very similar to players who are always looking to improve, for coaches constantly looking to grow, Twitter is an absolute gold mine of information.
If you do decide to use Twitter as a teacher, 280 characters at a time, remember that it is only a piece of your developmental puzzle, much in the same way a book or a video or a presentation offer additional means to learn the game. Online personalities should never replace your real-life coaches who are constantly thinking of ways to help you get better; those real-life coaches who know you far better than some stranger who you’ve never met. With the wide array of content offered online, it is very easy to find contradicting views to what someone may be trying to get you to do on the field, and the more retweets and likes a message may have, there may be the illusion of a certain way being the only way. Rather than writing off your coach or colleague as someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about, bring up the subject and have a discussion about it. Maybe you will open up his mind to something that he never considered. Maybe, just maybe, he might open up yours.
So whether you decide to explore Twitter to learn the basics of the game along with other inquisitive baseball minds every Monday night in one of the weekly ABCA chats, to pick baseball-lifer Jerry Weinstein’s brain about every single part of the sport imaginable, or to see how unhittably-filthy pitching is in this day and age thanks to a guy who refers to himself as the Pitching Ninja, please join the conversation. Twitter can be a great teacher.
And if you’d like me to be one of your teachers on Twitter, feel free to follow me @CoachYourKids