Coaching Tips & Advice
- Teach / Coach: Teach in practice, coach during the game. Players have enough to think about at the plate without extra instructions
from a parent or coach. Pitchers can’t learn new pitches on the mound during the game. During the game you want your players to focus on the
task at hand. No instruction during the game - instead, make mental notes for post-game talk or a specific skills work during the next practice.
- Practice for games: Put your emphasis during practice on situations you actually face in games. Pitchers who throw knuckleballs
in practice but never in games, or infield pre-games with throws from first to third - those are two examples. You might as well practice triple plays.
- Want it to happen? TEACH IT: You can't ask players to do something in the game that they've never practiced. If you expect a
player to bunt, you need to have taught him how. Same with basics like base running, backhand fielding, and whatever else. No one wants to try
something for the very first time in a pressure situation with an audience.
- Don't say "Don't": If you want a batter to keep his head on the ball, the instruction is not "don't look up". The worst offense:
coaches who say, "whatever you do, don't strike out." Keep your comments positive.
- Be Open: Be willing to try new drills, switch player positions, call steals, and so on. Young players like to challenge themselves.
Coaches need to share that enthusiasm. Practice with intensity. Players need to leave practice pumped with desire to test what they've learned in a
game. Plan every practice allocating time for each drill or skill station. Keep practice moving and keep the players focused. It’s the best way to
build a team that wants to excel.
- A Little Praise, Please: Every improvement, however small, deserves a compliment. One of the best things about coaching is seeing
your players do better - individually and as a team. Let them know it - praise even minor accomplishments because they may only be minor to you, but
major to them!
Here are 5 fundamental areas a volunteer coach should focus on
- Fun - Since when was a baseball game supposed to be fun? If your players aren’t making 2 million a year, then why do they play? For 4 to
8 year olds, they play completely for fun. For players’ 10 to 12 years olds, they play for competitive fun, and beyond that, it is mostly for the
competition and camaraderie.
- Teamwork - Young players are very "me" oriented and have very little awareness of the team or "us". Balance your team by equalizing skills,
sizes and abilities. Having strong players help less skilled players can help the less-skilled player greatly.
- Fitness - There is a problem with declining fitness of America’s Youth. Always include warm-up and conditioning exercises in your practice
sessions. Challenge your players to work on agility and strength drills at home. Anytime you are faster and stronger you'll be a better player.
- Skills - Depending on the age of your team, you will have to modify the information you teach slightly or at least lower your expectations.
Be sure to prepare your practice sessions in advance. Practice and review previously taught skills, then introduce and practice new skills.
Encourage other skills in your "Team Talks", such as communication and decision-making skills.
- Respect - Your leadership and example will instill most of these points. For them to respect themselves, they must feel good about themselves. So, a little praise for minor or major accomplishments goes a long way, and guarantees their respect for you.
- Respect for the game.
- Respect for them.
- Respect for you, the coach. You will foster this by listening and respecting them.
- Respect for the other players and other teams.
- Respect for the rules.
- Respect for the officials.
- Respect for the volunteers that make our youth leagues possible.
- And while you’re in the neighborhood, how about respect for their parents!
- Do not be with a child and not have another adult present
- Walk the field before practice and games to check for sprinkler heads, glass and potholes, etc…
- During practice make sure batters and runners wear helmets including areas such as the “on deck” area.
- Make sure water and water breaks are provided.
- Send out information to parents about expectations, team rules and team responsibilities.
- Use common sense when planning practice and dealing with children.