GB Baseball’s Mission – to Inspire, Develop and Perform – has received worldwide coverage in the last several years, including by ESPN during the 2016 World Baseball Classic Qualifier. Lesser known is how the Mission, and associated Vision, are defined. Exploring that is crucial to understanding why GB Baseball is expanding efforts to work with coaches across the country.
While the perform strand of the Mission is the bread and butter of any national team’s programme in any sport, giving back to clubs and coaches while building relationships across the country is integral to the success of Great Britain Baseball. Most important, perhaps, is recognising that a focus on inspiring and developing the British baseball community will impact performances; after all, it is the clubs up and down the country who recruit and train current and future national team players. Those clubs, and their volunteers, deserve as much support as possible, regardless of whether they have produced a GB player. They are also central to the Vision, which is simply an extension of the Mission:
Our programme is visible and accessible.
Every British child who plays baseball dreams of playing for their country.
Our community passionately supports Great Britain Baseball.
The GB Way is ingrained in the British baseball community.
Our player identification, development and selection programmes operate nationwide.
We are collaborative leaders in all development areas.
According to Head Coach Liam Carroll, the collaborative piece is key. GB Baseball staff have worked with BaseballSoftballUK to produce content for the country’s official coach education programme and recruited volunteers from across all three formats of baseball and softball to make advances on and off the field.
“Our efforts to help coaches with their development can only serve everyone’s interests. We want to get more people through the door to BaseballSoftballUK’s coach education programme, and supplement that learning with year-round opportunities. I think that balance of informal and formal work well together, and every coach with a white belt mentality will appreciate that.”
Framework for Winning - An example of a photo post, reinforcing our belief in focusing on process over outcome. Within the Facebook group we go into detail about our Core Principles and Playing Philosophy.
As presented at November’s BBF AGM, GB Baseball is planning a flagship outreach programme: the Inspire, Develop, Perform Project. It will include two components: player camps and coach clinics. The latter will be designed to present components of GB Baseball’s technical-tactical model along with coaching topics chosen in consultation with club coaches.
In addition to Inspire, Develop, Perform, and to fill a more immediate need, GB Baseball has organised two more initiatives to collaborate with coaches around the country: a Facebook group and coaches meet-ups.
A slide from “Building Blocks for a Complete Hitter” - a six-part video series posted to the Facebook group
On any given day up to 170 coaches from across the British baseball and softball community take a few minutes out of their day to check out resources and discuss ideas in a Facebook group, designed to share information to improve player, coach and club development.
The group is open to coaches from British clubs, across all three formats of the sport. In addition to discussions prompted by GB and club coaches alike, resources available to the group have included insights from coaches in the professional and collegiate ranks, including:
Darren Fenster, Boston Red Sox
Nino Giarratano, University of San Francisco and 2018 BSUK Coach Summit Clinician
Dillon Lawson, Houston Astros
Brad Marcelino, University of San Diego and GB Baseball alum
Dave Turgeon, Pittsburgh Pirates and 2017 BSUK Coach Summit clinician
Jerry Weinstein, Colorado Rockies
“We get out to see more clubs each year, and have the ambition to get to everyone, but just as clubs are driven by volunteers, so is GB Baseball,” says Carroll.
“So it’s in forums like the Facebook group that we can reach a wide audience on a daily basis. It’s been great to see the group grow and I think that not only is it a great resource for every coach in the country but also a springboard to bigger projects. The more we can engage the community online, the better we can meet its needs in person.”
An example of the Fast Five interviews. Dave Turgeon was a guest clinician at the 2017 BSUK Coach Summit.
Recognising a growing demand for opportunities to talk baseball, GB Baseball is leading the charge to get coaches in a room together to share and to network. These meet-ups are designed to be less structured than formal coach education programmes, focussing instead on giving coaches a casual environment to compare notes, learn more about the national teams programme and most importantly, build relationships with fellow coaches.
“Simply sitting down with other coaches and talking baseball can be one of the most impactful forms of coach development and I think it will also have a broader impact on British Baseball,” Carroll adds.
“The importance of simply getting together has really crystalised for me in the last couple of months, both in enjoying endless chats at the ABCA Convention and having some great discussions at BaseballSoftballUK’s Coach Summit. There’s a demand to just talk baseball, and I’ll come back to that word again – the more that we can be collaborative in our approach, the better off we’ll all be.”
The first meet-up took place in London on Tuesday 13th March. To kick things off the group watched San Diego Padres manager Andy Green’s clinic from the 2017 ABCA Convention, prompting a discussion that covered topics ranging from coaching style to culture to throwing mechanics.
While the format of these meet-ups will evolve, the priority is to make them a regular fixture in the British baseball calendar, and GB staff are already looking at setting up future dates and locations. What’s likely to remain is screening clinic videos from the ABCA Convention, providing insights from some of the best coaching minds in the world and reinforcing a central tenet of GB Baseball’s approach to coach development: that The GB Way is a great way but not the only way. It’s through collaboration and sharing that every club and coach can establish their own way to grow the sport and improve the experiences of everyone within the community.
To get involved and shape the discussion, join the Facebook group.
The first coaching meet-up, held in London on March 13th