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Rookie Coaches Mentorship with Paul Blanchard, SMSU

01/04/2019, 2:45pm EST
By Josh Belanger

Rookie Coaches Mentorship with Paul Blanchard, Southwest Minnesota State University head coach

Key Points

- It’s not about your experience as a player or coach, it’s about how you transfer that knowledge so players can execute and produce.

- Are you hanging out or demanding more?

- It’s not about what you are instructing, but how. Is the message being received and confirmed?

- Clarity with communication. Pause and repeat.

Noteworthy Quotes

“Be early. Nothing screams reliability and you care than showing up ready to go.”

“Never tell them something unless you tell them why.”

“Be concise and precise with your communication. Less is better, slower is better.”


Paul Blanchard has over 34 years of collegiate coaching experience and has been developing this presentation for new coaches for over 20 years. His survival guide for new coaches focused on how best to instruct players and effectively deliver messages to allow players to perform at a higher level.

In his presentation, Blanchard urged coaches to not simply hang out with players, but demand more than what is expected, not only from your players but yourself and your staff.

“Can you instruct an average player to become an above-average player?”  

Blanchard covered a lot of relevant content for coaches entering the business or taking over a new program, however I feel the biggest takeaway from his talk was how he goes about communicating to his players. He always pauses and repeats his statements to allow players to process what is going on and to confirm what needs to happen. Remember how hard is was to focus in Ms. Smith’s sixth grade class? It’s not any different with your players on the diamond. It also enables quicker transitions at practice with players knowing exactly what to do instead of asking a million questions.

“Never tell them something unless you tell them why."

This quote from Blanchard boils down his philosophy when instructing players. He believes that coaches need to prove what they are teaching players is more efficient that what they are currently doing and can improve them as ballplayers, otherwise there is no reason for the player to listen. He also stated that players need to take countless repetitions to feel the difference and understand why it makes them better for a change to set in.

Demonstrating on how to do things the right way and providing teaching cues were also a few survival tips to instructing players. He feels that if players are demonstrated the right way to do things right off the bat they can see with their eyes the difference between what they are doing and the correct way to do it. He wants coaches to have a dialogue with their players and to encourage players to have a voice on what they are feeling.

Blanchard is also a big fan on using teaching cues to help players digest information. Using phrases that are visual can help deliver the same message, just in a different way. “Throw the ball uphill” or “point the arrow” are a couple of examples of how a teaching cue can help a player better understand what he needs to do. Every kid comprehends information differently and varying your teaching methods will ultimately allow you to connect with more players.

More clinic summaries to follow as the 75th ABCA Convention rolls along.

Tag(s): ABCA Coverage