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From Player To Leader – J. J. Edwards On The 4th Episode Of “And That’s The Game”

J. Edwards, head baseball coach at Wofford College, recently appeared on the “And That’s The Game Podcast” with Wayne Mazzoni

J. Edwards discusses his coaching philosophy and career journey. He brings a wealth of experience as both a player and coach, having competed under Mazzoni at Sacred Heart before embarking on a 13-year coaching career at Wofford. His insights provide a fascinating look into the making of a successful college baseball coach.

Watch the Full Episode (Or Listen) 

Coach Edwards touches on many other important aspects of his career as a player and a trainer. And as the Wofford chapter closes to an end, he expresses his enthusiasm for what lies ahead. 

Learn all about it now!

The Genesis of a Coaching Philosophy

Edwards credits his early coaching style to the influences of his playing days. As a young coach, he focused heavily on skill development in the batting cage, aiming to replicate the high-level instruction he received as a player. Over time, Edwards learned the importance of adaptability, developing his “coaching voice,” and forging connections through open communication. This laid the foundation for Edwards’ coaching priorities of relationships, camaraderie, and helping players develop on and off the field.

How to Craft Team Identity? 

Developing a strong team identity emerged as a pivotal component of Edwards’ approach. He aimed to foster a culture of athleticism, energy, and accountability. Edwards worked with coaches to identify the program’s strengths and recruit players who embodied the desired traits. 

He notes the team underwent a dramatic transformation, from winning just 20 games in his first seasons to averaging nearly 40 wins over the past five years. Edwards credits establishing a unique identity and recruiting philosophy for catalyzing this change. He emphasizes, “Let’s pick something that’s going to make us unique, and then let’s recruit to it.”

Recruitment: Finding the Right Fit

When recruiting, Edwards seeks players aligned with the program’s identity. Skills are important, but not the sole factor. Edwards examines a prospect’s strengths and assesses if they will excel in Wofford’s system. He particularly values personal connections with potential recruits, cementing their alignment with the program.

Fostering Player Development (The Edwards Way)

Coach Edwards focuses heavily on continuous skill development, both individually and collectively. He analyzes players’ strengths and weaknesses, and then tailors training programs to capitalize on their abilities within the team context. 

While Edwards embraces tools like tech and data analytics, he stresses that development requires adaptation. Players must learn when to conform to the team identity versus asserting their individuality. Mastering this balance unlocks potential.