Twenty-nine combined seasons of Major League Baseball experience has taught first-year high school coaches Royce Clayton and Jack Wilson a thing or two about how to teach the game.
Paramount to both longtime big league shortstops is a basic tenet: Don’t over-coach your players.
“It would be a mistake if I tried to control everything,” said Clayton, who played 17 seasons in the major leagues and is now Oaks Christian School’s (Westlake Village, Calif.) coach. “Baseball is a game where you learn by doing. In fact, the only way to learn is to make a mistake and find out there’s a better way. I don’t want a bunch of robots playing for me. I want a bunch of guys being aggressive and learning every day, whether it’s a game or a practice.”
Wilson, for 12 seasons a top-notch shortstop in the majors, has taken the head coaching job at his alma mater Thousand Oaks (Calif.) High. He said his first priority has been to establish a conducive environment that spurs forward progress for his players.
“I want them to have fun playing the game,” he said. “If you have fun and you’re willing to work hard, you’re going to get a lot out of the game of baseball. To me, the most important aspect of coaching is not about wins and losses.
“Every day should be about learning the game and getting a little bit better. My job is to help them reach the next level, if that’s what they want to do. But what I really want is for them to be successful at whatever they choose to do in the future.”