Starting with Why. Creating offseason development plans that increase player buy-in.

Jonathan Gelnar
Sep 2 · 5 min read

First off, thank you for taking the time to read this! I am trying something new besides the (aotc) podcast. I am by no means an expert, I don’t pretend to be. I just want to develop players and students that go out and change the world. If I am asking this out of the people that I am around on a daily basis, wouldn’t it make sense to do that for myself? That is my why. So, why is that important? I’ll get to that in a minute.

I love to read. This hasn’t always been the case. Most of the time during my high school and college career I rarely opened a book, much less read one. But a few years ago, I started my coaching career. Obviously, I was an expert. We’re all experts because we played, right? I thought I had it all figured out, that was until our players started asking me questions. We’ve all been there, frozen, because we had no clue and had never even thought about the question that Little Johnny was asking. So, out of fear of embarrassment, I started digging into every coaching book I could find. I had no idea how much there was to learn and think about in the coaching world. This was my why for starting to go to clinics, my why for starting to read, and my why for starting the podcast. So why does this matter?

Have you ever heard of Simon Sinek? If you haven’t, here’s the third most popular ted talk of all time titled, you guessed it. “Start with why”

In short, here’s a quick summary.

Simon Sinek presents the idea that great leaders inspire others by putting the Why (the purpose) before the How (the process), or the What (the product)

This is the time of year that we are brushing up on our knowledge, listening to podcasts, and putting the finishing touches on our best idea of what the offseason should look like. So how does starting with why relate to baseball and more specifically, offseason buy-in? Well, according to Sinek there are two types of motivation used frequently. Inspiration (carrots) and manipulation (sticks). These are both short term solutions. But there is a third option… Why?

Most people don’t want the what or the how until they know why it’s important to them. That’s how we inspire action. That’s how we inspire the true lasting buy-in.

If you are reading this article, you could undoubtedly come up with a great plan to make each of your players better. You’re a learner and your kids are lucky to have you. Let’s say you come up with a player plan based on years of research backed by many high-level coaches and data. Let’s say it is completely curtailed to exactly what this player needs to maximize their potential and become a key piece to the lineup and a title run (if you can do that for each player, feel free to email me, lol). But let’s say you put all of that work in, and you don’t get buy-in. You start with the what instead of the why. You put the plan on a player, albeit a good one, without considering the players psychological needs/wants. We can’t forget that they have thousands of swings under their belt. They’ve known their swing longer than they’ve known any of their coaches and so making sure we include them in the process is a must if we want to create lasting change.

So, within our player meetings, let’s always start by asking the question why? The real why. Most of our players will say they want to compete for a state championship. Is that truly what drives them to get better on a daily basis? I’ll venture to say no. If we are wanting to get to know our players as closely as possible, wouldn’t it make since to know why they’re playing the game we all love? There is also a component of trust/safety, which Daniel Coyle establishes as his first skill in which great cultures are built.

Normally, we think words matter; we think that group performance correlates with its members’ verbal intelligence and their ability to construct and communicate complex ideas. But that assumption is wrong. Words are noise. Group performance depends on behavior that communicates one powerful overarching idea: We are safe and connected. (10 Quotes From The Culture Code By Daniel Coyle

So now you have established the why, let’s get into the how.


The next question we need to answer is how we are going to get there. This is essentially the process part of our conversation, the day to day. To state that process is important would be an understatement. I mean, here is Nick Saban talking about it.

He credits all of his success to adhering to the process on a daily basis. If Saban is talking, I’m listening. We all may differ a little bit here, but I will share my thoughts on what our player development process looks like in a few weeks.


The final stage of how were creating buy-in this offseason is what. The what is essentially what the end product will be. We have assessed and understood our players why, we have outlined a plan together on how (the process) we are going to get there, now we know what type of player they want to become, we know what to do and we know what the outcome will be. This is the final ring in Sinek’s “Golden Circle.” We’ve come up with a plan on how they can make that happen. Now all that’s left is to do the work.

Start with Why — How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take —

Here’s your homework for the week.

  • What is your why?
  • How are you going about accomplishing that on a daily basis?
  • What is the intended result?

Thanks for reading, feel free to reach out to me at to let me know what you think.


Jonathan Gelnar

Written by

†follower. Husband. Influencer of our nation’s youth through the national past time. @union_baseball. Host of @aotc_podcast

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