Catching Fly Balls

baseball diamond drawing

By Chuck Gault, Max Coatings President and CEO

I love baseball. I was introduced to the game at an early age and began playing when I was 7 years old. I played catcher until I was 20, and learned a lot during those years.

I’m always amazed by how often the rules and lessons of baseball apply in life and business.

In baseball, there’s a clear path of communication. When a ball is in the air, there’s no question about who should be going for the catch, because from Little League on, baseball players are taught who has priority over whom when it comes to catching fly balls.

The center fielder is the “top dog” when it comes to fly ball priority. This means that if a ball is heading toward two players, and the center fielder calls it, the other player must back off to avoid confusion. Next in line is the left or right fielder, followed by shortstop, second baseman, third baseman, first baseman, pitcher and, finally, catcher (I always hated being at the bottom of the list!).

So, how does this hierarchy in America’s Favorite Pastime apply in business? It’s simple – organizational charts are a key component in efficient communication.

At Max Coatings (and probably your business, too), we always want to make things better – a faster process, a happier customer, a cleaner shop floor. But sometimes, when we try to fix something without following the hierarchy of the business, we can make things worse.

For example, If I’m on my factory floor and ask a line worker why he’s doing a task a certain way, he may make a change based on my comment. He may not realize that his supervisor asked him to do it that way for very specific reasons. If I instead ask the supervisor, I may get a clear response and avoid confusion.

Most organizations benefit from developing and following a clear hierarchy of who to talk to with what kind of issue. A top-to-bottom approach to communication within any type of company can mean the difference between an efficient workflow and chaos and confusion.

Think of it in baseball terms – a catcher shouldn’t run after a fly ball that’s near second base. It wouldn’t make sense and would create confusion for the entire team. The hierarchy in baseball – that’s accepted and followed by all players – creates an easy-to-understand system that maximizes efficiency and efforts.

When that hierarchy isn’t followed, that’s when players end up in the blooper reel!

Birmingham, Alabama-based Max Coating is the leader in metal finishing and provides electrocoating and powder coating services for the automotive, industrial and agricultural industries. Learn more at