Team Culture in Baseball: Creating Winners Without the Toxicity

coach directing the team

From a young age, it has already been ingrained in an athlete’s mind that they have to go for the gold. Be it in an individual sport or team sport, they are trained not just to compete but also to win.

In a sport as big as baseball, especially in MLB, one may assume that it takes a highly brilliant and ruthless coach to create a title-winning team. However, according to researches and interviews, coaching winning teams goes beyond rigorous training.

The athletes’ environment also plays a vital role in developing a tough mindset. But the environment is just part of a whole that forms the team culture.

When teams are exposed to positive team culture, they are more likely to unite and regard their coaches and their sport highly. Expose them to a culture of abuse, and they may lose respect for their coaches and teammates, forcing them to look only after themselves.

So, what kind of team culture creates the winning team? How far should strictness go, and how deep should the relationship between athletes and coaches be?

Types of Team Culture

Every team culture is different, but they can be categorized into at least eight types. Here, we’ll enumerate only the top five and determine which one creates a winning and bonded team.

  • Corrosive

As its name suggests, a corrosive culture is toxic. It fosters conflict, frustration, distrust, selfishness, and other negative qualities. Teams exposed to this kind of culture are usually filled with tension, with the teammates themselves competing with one another.

Instead of striving together and uniting to achieve a common goal, teams would become apathetic or resistant because they’ve lost respect for their coaches and teammates. In effect, their commitment to the sport will be thwarted, and they’d be more eager to escape than to stay.

  • Country Club

The country club culture is no better, either. Rather than to win, teams are trained to make appearances. As such, their relationship with each other is only superficial. And on top of that, their leaders aren’t chosen based on merit, but through politics, popularity, and pay-offs.

  • Congenial

In this culture, the primary focus is getting along and preserving harmonious relationships. While healthy, it could compromise the team’s winning potential, as they’ve turned into more of a support group than a team of competitive and skilled athletes.

Furthermore, a congenial culture is too “soft” for an athletic team. It won’t help in shaping them to be winners. Hence, this culture is better suited for fraternities and sororities, not for a sports team.

  • Comfortable

This culture treats results and relationships with moderate importance. Teams of this culture usually achieve mediocre results from valuing comfort too much. They don’t push their limits when training, stopping instead when things get tough.

  • Championship

From the name alone, we could already tell that this is the optimal team culture. Sure enough, the championship culture places a premium on results and relationships. Coaches ignite their team’s desire to win, while also fostering respect and trust. Each team member feels appreciated and confident that they will reach their full potentials.

Playing baseball

Building Team Culture in Baseball

We can easily point out that baseball teams should establish a championship culture. But how exactly will that be created?

According to a thesis published in California State University, Fresno, a baseball team culture should be built around the following:

  • Coaching philosophy
  • Program vision and values
  • Athlete empowerment
  • Environment

Coaches must be willing to change their philosophies for their athletes, especially those that are still students, to demonstrate their care and desire to have the athletes develop life skills that will be useful on and off the field. Also, coaches should shape their older athletes to be role models to the younger ones.

The principle that teams must win at all costs should be banished. Coaches may value winning, but not at the expense of throwing away their personal values and team culture.

Creating a Winning MLB Team

Now that we’ve tackled team culture and coaching philosophy, let’s now see what actual MLB team leads have to say in creating winners.

Of course, the apparent objective is to score higher than the opposing team. The goal should be a positive run differential, which can be achieved through the right combination of pitching and hitting talent.

As such, team managers should invest in developing exceptional pitching and hitting skills. High-tech equipment, such a speed pitch, can help their pitchers achieve this. The equipment will enable them to practice their throws safely until they get it right.

Hitters, on the other hand, have to lay pitches off the plate they cannot touch. When they give in to the temptation to swing and chase pitches, they may strike out, which coaches would like to prevent as much as possible.

Team managers admit that it’s tough for batters to find success, with the difficulty of connecting with a fastball running at 95+ mph. Hence, coaches should be meticulous in selecting position players, and of course, thorough in honing talents, all while not forgetting to build a positive environment.

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