Czech baseball coach Martin Šmidt has it figured out.

His belief is that as a head coach, building team culture and spirit is priority number one. It is his focus on exactly that that many believe is the catalyst behind both his U18 and U21 teams bringing home the Czech Championship for the Prague Eagles in 2022. It is this sentiment that was shared by the 11 people who messaged our Instagram account recently, nominating Martin as a top coach in Europe for 2022.

After doing some digging, we agree. It is clear after speaking with his peers and players, that Martin has a knack for bringing people together.

“It doesn’t matter, to some extent, whether it’s a championship or non-championship team,” said Martin in an interview this past fall. “What is important is that it’s a team whose players understand each other well and know that each of them has an invaluable role to play.”

Photo: Martin’s U21 team celebrate their national championship which they won in dramatic fashion, coming back from a 0-2 deficit to Draci Brno. Photo Credit: Jan Beneš

He even found success after assembling a team of players from clubs within Prague to compete at a fall tournament in Barcelona in which they placed well.

“Martin doesn´t only focus on performance on the field but also team spirit,” said David Komorous, a player with cross-town rival, Kotlarka Praha. “He brought together such a good team in Barclona, with nice relationships, energy, vibe and fun. He organized some team bonding free time at the beach where we played some fun games. That was the best team building I have been part of. He even cooked for us as well!”

Of course, as anyone who is familiar with the Eagles complex would know, Martin has access to great facilities by European standards including two youth fields, a batting cage centre, a great indoor facility with cages, and a gym. Martin does not let this go to waste, especially in the offseason.

Photo: Martin congratulates one of his U21 players. Photo Credit: Jan Beneš

“We have some intense off-season workouts,” said Martin. “We split into pitchers and catchers and fielders. By splitting into these groups, we are able to fully focus on the tasks at hand in practice.”

Of course, building team spirit is only part of what Martin does well. He also has an ability to communicate with his players and pass along his knowledge.

“Martin has a unique way of passing his knowledge to all the players and also his very thought out philosophy,” said U21 player Marek Slaby. “He surely is the best coach. The way he works with the players is just stunning.”

I treat the players fairly and I don’t demean anyone,” Martin said of his strategy in dealing with his players. “Over the years I have seen some opposing coaches berate their players and I think that is the wrong way to go.”

Photo: Martin attributes a lot of his success to the thriving Eagles youth program. Photo credit: Petra Šlencová Bílská.

Martin does not like to take all of the credit and attributes a lot of his success the large youth membership enrolment and strong coaching at all youth levels, all a direct result of the hard work of those behind the scenes recruiting players and youth coaches.

“I have to say that the quality of coaching at the Eagles is high and as head coach I am proud of that,” said Martin. “If you have quality coaches, the results will start to come and that will complete the circle.”

When asked of his coaching philosophy, Martin simply replied with “hrát a nechat hrát”, which translates to “play and let play”. Oh, and to find a wife that is patient and supportive.

I must definitely mention my wife, without her patience and support I would not be able to do this work.”

Not ready to hang them up?  Seeking a new career path?

Annually our members sign over 300 contracts overseas. There are a variety of levels overseas which present opportunities for players and coaches, both aspiring and established professionals.