Criticize the Performance, Not the Performer

     A number of years back, we were having our off season organization meetings for the purpose of evaluating all of our minor league players from Rookie League to AAA. Each manager and coach had to make reports and discuss each player to get an idea which players were going to advance to the next level, which players may be used in a trade, which players needed to be protected on the 40-man roster, and even which players might be released. I remember one of our team managers in giving his report on a player, got very personal in his critical evaluations. He made it clear that he didn't like this particular player and made it very personal.


     As coaches, we have to be very careful how we handle our players. As evaluators we have to be careful to protect the performer  and save our criticisms for the performance. I have seen more often at the youth and high school levels where the coaches are using what they call "negative motivation" to get players to respond. Therefore there is a lot of yelling at the players and direct criticism toward the player. I am seeing more young players losing their confidence and their desire to play the game, because they perceive this as the coaches criticizing them personally and not the performance.


      I just don't believe there is any such thing as negative motivation. I learned in school that if you put a negative with a positive, it equals a negative. Negative anything in baseball is not good. Any criticism toward a player from a coach or even from a teammate, should always be constructive, designed to motivate, develop, and inspire. Not to injure, and destroy confidence.


      We all have to remember as coaches that when we played, we weren't perfect. We made mistakes. Why should we expect any more from these young players. So, coaches, remember, when a player doesn't execute a play and you yell at him, you are the one who coached him. The coach should take some responsibility, and try to protect your player. If you yell at him in front of fans and family, you will humiliate him and he will eventually shut you out.

Try to inspire your players and build their confidence, don't tear it down. If the player is showing respect and giving maximum effort, the coach has to show extreme patience. If the player is lazy and disrespectful, simply don't let him play or extract him from your team. Championships are won with chemistry and confident, motivated, inspired players. So remember, criticize the performance, not the performer.


Leon Lee

Talking Baseball with Leon Lee
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