Like all managers, baseball coaches need to know how to communicate

  • Article by: STEPHEN WILBERS , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 8, 2014 - 2:00 PM

What do good management and good writing have in common?

Whether managing a travel baseball team for the Woodbury Athletic Association or a corporation after a major security breach, savvy managers know good management and good writing are based on the principles of effective communication.

As an example, consider Brian’s message to parents of his 9- and 10-year-old team members. Many coaches would have fired off a quick message, but not this one. Here’s what Brian did right:

1. Audience awareness

Good managers connect with their audience. Brian knows that the parents of his team members are busy. “Bear with me,” he opens. “This is a long e-mail with a lot of information.”

He also knows these parents are likely to be interested in the sport of baseball: “For the week of July 14, I will make every effort not to schedule any activity on July 14 and 15 due to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game being held at Target Field.”

2. Goodwill statements

Good writers open and close their message with goodwill statements. Near the end of his message, Brian thanks the parents for their support.

3. Organization

Good managers think about how to emphasize their main points. Brian provides a detailed subject heading — “ERAA Tournament; Calendar Update; MBL Website; Miracle League Info; Team Snap Update” — and he uses those five components as headings to organize his message.

4. Clarity

As promised, Brian offers a lot of information regarding practices and upcoming events, and he does so with precise language and carefully structured sentences. He also makes it easy for his readers to follow his message by introducing some of his paragraphs with transitional sentences such as “Regarding Sunday evening’s practice time …” and “Speaking of the Metro Baseball League …”

5. Positive tone, credibility

Delicate issues require careful wording. Here’s how Brian handles the challenge of managing energetic children:

“We’re still dealing with some rambunctious kids during games and are working to harness that energy and save it for the field, so please talk with your son about staying focused on the game rather than engaging in horseplay with teammates. I understand this is tough for 9-year-olds, my son is part of the feisty group, and Saturday will be a long day, but I’d appreciate if you could talk a little about this.”

Note how he gains credibility by recognizing his own son is part of that feisty group.

6. Correct grammar, punctuation and word choice

Brian retains credibility by sending a virtually error-free message. His only distracting error is nonparallel structure — “Just click on the standing link on the left side, choose 10A division and we are in Region 5” — which could be corrected by using a verb to introduce the last element: “Just click on the standing link on the left side, choose 10A division and look for us in Region 5.”

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