Coaching is a labor of love for most, and for some, you can earn a king’s ransom to manage a kid’s game. Whether you’re coaching t-ball or the Bigs, you have the opportunity to be a mentor for the future leaders of your community, or even our greatest athletes. Picasso once said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” The same should be said in the world of coaching. Don’t be afraid to steal something that works and relay it through your own voice and mechanisms. The same goes for the swag (yes, coaches can have swag). The tools that a coach uses matter, and whether you like it or not, so does your look and what you wear. Let’s get into the top 12 products a baseball coach must have.
Some coaches still rock cleats during BP, mostly former players that cannot get away from the baseball itch to put the full uniform on. Most of us coaches prefer comfort in the form of a turf shoe, basketball shoe or good ol’ tennis shoes. The Nike Alpha Huarache Elite 3 at Dick’s for $80 or Eastbay and the New Balance 3000v5 Baseball Turf Shoe at Dick’s for $90 are great choices if you’re going to be standing on a ballfield for 3 hours a day.
A trending basketball sneaker will get you more cred with the kids though. Aaron Boone, along with Yankee third base coach Phil Nevin, has been kicking dirt for his boys in the latest Giannis shoe since 2019.
While you have to hunt the aftermarket for the Freak 2, the Freak 3 is available at Dick’s.
Coined the walking stick or king’s staff, the fungo is a must for any coach at any level. Its the ultimate live training tool to hit baseballs with game-like pop but without pulling an oblique in front of the whole squad. It’s also used as a pointer for player directives or even a big pencil to draw in the dirt.
One of the most popular fungo bats used from Little League to the Big Leagues is the SSK ZP Professional Edge Coaches wood bat fungo for $84.95 at SSK or Amazon. SSK may offer more customized colors than Amazon, but who doesn’t have an Amazon gift card nowadays. For a less challenging option, the Fungo racquet at BaseballExpress.com will get it done for $67.
A coach needs to see the field. Bonus points if the other team doesn’t know where he or she is looking. 100% Vision is the hottest eyewear in MLB right now, and they’ve got a lot of flashy looks that will take your swag up a couple pegs. Shop at 100percent.com.
Whether you’re tracking your own pitchers’ pitch count or the opposing pitcher, a pitch counter is a must. A good coach has a gameplan & pitch limit for a young pitcher, and it doubles as a stroke counter at the golf course. The Rawlings Mechanical Pitch Counter can be found at Baseball Express for $6.95. I recommend getting two since, if you’re like me you will forget one.
Good coaches use a stopwatch to track speed and for keeping drills on time. A professional first base coach gives his base stealers an in-game edge by tracking the time from when a pitcher lifts his leg to when the ball reaches the catcher’s mitt, and the catcher’s pop time (from when the ball hits the catcher’s mitt to when its delivered to the second baseman’s mitt). Some coaches even quantify pitcher velocity with a stopwatch. Dicks Sporting Goods has one that’ll get it done for $11.99.
Hanging the roster or used to hold your notes, the clipboard is usually in hand or nearby in the dugout. This is one of the first items that gets shattered on a bad call or if the coach gets tossed in the 2nd inning. (Free coaching tip: Don’t be the coach that has a meltdown every week. That routine can definitely get your kids’ attention, but not when its abused. And you’re no help to the kids when you’re sitting in the parking lot.) The Rawlings System 17 Coaching Clipboard is $12.95 at Baseball Express. It has dry erase capability and a durable vinyl protector, and you can clip it to the fence.
The BP shell is a staple piece for baseball coaches everywhere. It has a distinct baseball look to it. There is basically one in every baseball brand and color. I own many of them, and for about 7 years it’s all I wore. My go-to is the EvoShield Men’s Pro Team BP Jacket for $49.99 and the adidas Men’s Triple Stripe Short Sleeve Batting Jacket for $29.99. Both are carried by Dick’s.
I hit up my former teammate, Arizona Diamondbacks High A Skipper Vince Harrison, to find out his on-field musts. After all, Vince’s younger brother is swag legend Josh Harrison, and the swag runs in the family. “Long sleeve undershirt every day, regardless of weather.” The Men’s UA Heat Gear Armour Long Sleeve compression shirt for $35 at Academy Sports is a solid one.
The coach’s purse, seat, and sometimes punt-able prop, a bucket is an all-in-one solution that holds the pearls, maybe your glove, and even a Gatorade if you’re low on baseballs. Buckets are usually sold with the baseballs but can be found separate. The Easton 6 Gallon Ball Bucket is $34.95 at Baseball Express.
The Radar gun is not just a tool for pitcher velocity, but also used for hitters’ exit velo and infield/outfield arm strength. But they can be pricy. Bushnell carries a great Radar Gun for $100 at Amazon. The Major League scouts are using the Stalker Sport 2 Radar Deluxe Package, found on Amazon for $785.00.
Sunflower seeds are a legacy like the crackerjack and hotdog. I took a social media poll in a group of hundreds of current and former MiLB & MLB Coaches & Players to get the low-down on seeds. The stats speak for themselves!
Dill Pickle was among the top flavors, however I wonder about the tastebuds overall in the ballplayer community. David Sunflower seeds were the winner among the pros, and I voted Spitz. What about you? Weigh in below:
Hitters use batting gloves to hit and coaches wear them for swag, and to stay warm of course. A warm cup of joe is the original handwarmer, but batting gloves do the trick the whole game and if you’re a fungo monster, they’ll keep your hands in decent shape. Get the Pro Classic in your own custom team colors for just $45 at FranklinSports.com.
What did we miss? What other products are a must for coaches? Please comment below!