Art of War is the 1st coaching and leadership book I ever read and to this day, I still find that Sun Tzu’s masterpiece is still the most impactful and influential book on my coaching career.
Whereas other coaching and leadership books may attempt to pigeon hole a coach into thinking a certain way or acting a certain way, Sun Tzu gives no specific direction for a certain way of thinking or acting. The genius in Tzu’s writing is that Tzu created a set of redundant rules that helps a coach tip the odds of achieving success in one’s favor without actually telling a coach HOW he or she has to follow the rules!
Tzu essentially creates a checklist for success detailing what is needed to succeed without dictating the order of how the checklist needs to be accomplished and the style for how it needs to be accomplished.
When I first read The Art of War I took notes on each of the 13 chapters and when I was done I realized that Sun Tzu repeated themes throughout the book. I utilized the notes that I originally took and I was amazed at how much help the notes were with team management and overall game management.
I started to get into the habit at the end of each school year of reviewing my notes, re-reading The Art of War, and using wisdom I had gained from the preceding seasons to expound upon and decipher in more detail how I could better apply Tzu’s teachings to baseball and softball.
I vowed not to waste my quarantine time and to do something impactful and lasting and these past 2 months (March 13 – May 13) of quarantine have allowed me to review my notes once again and finally put them in one decipherable paper / book. I have published my writings on my website (championshiphitting.com) in a flipbook titled: “The Art of Baseball and Softball War”. The Art of Baseball and Softball war was written in the same style that Tzu wrote getting straight to the point of the matter without sharing stories of how the "rules" have been applied in the real world setting. Perhaps in the future, I will make edits explaining stories and instances of how I was able to apply the rules to my coaching, but in keeping with the style of Tzu of not limiting personal coaching creativity I chose not to include that information.
In saying all this, I realize that The Art of Baseball & Softball War is more utilitarian than most books, as it lacks in drama and creative picture painting that most coaching books do, but the book is meant to be a modern translation of baseball and softball concepts paralleling Tzu's teachings.
If you read the Art of Baseball and Softball War, the coolest thing I was able to do with the book was to “cross reference” related points to one another allowing readers to simply click the “cross reference” number to see the inter-related quotes from different chapters in the book. Although this process was time consuming, it helps to see how important Tzu felt about certain concepts. 6 main areas Tzu redundantly writes about are listed below with very short descriptions of Tzu’s philosophies regarding them.
1. OFFENSIVE STRATEGY
Tzu encourages teams to be extremely varied in skill and able to employ the various skills at any point in time throughout a game when the opportunity for use provides itself.
2. DEFENSIVE STRATEGY
MISTAKES LOSE GAMES. Games are more often lost than won! Prepare to DEFEND ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING so that mistakes can be avoided.
More than anything else, The Art of War is a manual preaching the importance of military “culture”. When utilizing the word culture, I am referring to the customs, communication, operating procedures, and spirit of enterprise a team utilizes to run their program.
Sun Tzu is adamant about learning as much as a team can about their opponent, but more importantly, Sun Tzu places a great insistence on SELF SCOUTING!
5. PLANNING / PRACTICES
Sun Tzu believes that battles should attempt to be won without any fighting at all and Tzu believes that this can be done by properly planning for an opponent.
Tzu believed that the best way to win a war was to be victorious without fighting at all or to limit fighting as much as possible. To do this, Tzu heavily relies on DECEPTION. This is perhaps the most controversial of all the parts of the book as many of Tzu's recommendations would run afoul of the unwritten rules of the game, but deception, up to a point, can be used and is still utilized in the game today.
I hope you are able to find a nugget or two in the “Art of Baseball and Softball War” to help you on your coaching journey!
Feel free to reach out if you have a question or comment or if you read a quote from the book and think about or decipher the quote it in a totally different light than I did. Although I did not write my applications of Tzu's rules in my book I would love to share a story or two of how these lessons helped to win state championships if you are interested and wish to converse!
About the author: Coach Turco is a 6 time state champion hitting coach who coaches a nationally recognized high school program in Marietta, Ga. Coach Turco publishes the blog “Championship Hitting" and posts work samples on twitter @championhitter