Coaching Youth Baseball | What Makes A Good Coach

How do you decide whether if a game, practice, or youth baseball season is successful? Most think it is winning,if your first thought is winning, then we really need to take a look at your priorities at coaching youth baseball and as a youth baseball coach.

Wins and losses only determine success at the professional level. The pros are paid to play baseball and they are expected to win. If your players aren’t getting paid to be on the field, then your success has nothing to do with winning.

We believe a  record of wins and losses should never determine success in youth baseball. As coaches,it is our responsibility to the game of baseball is to create a positive, organized, fun environment that promotes the love for baseball within our players. Success is solely determined by whether the experience is enjoyable for the kids and whether or not they learn something.  Our goal has always to be sure they are learning something in youth baseball and everyone has different levels of learning but should come away with something from youth baseball practices and games.

If the kids are having fun and learn some things about playing baseball, we should feel very good about ourselves as coaches.

The new year is almost here, and that means a lot of people are thinking hard about resolutions. If you’re resolving to be a better coach in 2011, here are some goals you can focus on, regardless of the age group you are coaching.

Are the kids having fun? Baseball is a game and should be fun to play.

You can tell very easily if a group of kids is having fun.

  • Do they move quickly to the field when they arrive or do you have to force them to play?
  • Are they smiling when they’re on the field, or do they seem sad or bored?
  • Is there a lot of laughter and energy, or are the kids lethargic?
  • Do they ask to stay and practice or play longer, or do they want to leave early?

Kids are not hard to read. If they’re having fun, keep doing what you’re doing.

If they appear lazy, sluggish, bored, or unhappy, it’s time to make some adjustments. Keep groups small and keep them active and moving around. Have a variety of activities planned for your practices. Turn drills into contests. Give out prizes. Come up with funny nicknames for your players. Move players into unfamiliar positions. Have a sense of humor.

Generally speaking, if you’re having fun as the coach, chances are your team is having fun too. If the team is having fun, there’s a good chance players will come back for more the following year. That’s the ultimate goal, and that determines your success as a coach.

Are the kids improving?

The most rewarding thing about coaching youth baseball is getting to see players improve with practice and develop and build baseball skills.
Ever had a first practice and have a group of kids who have trouble playing catch? By the end of a few practices, we’ll see that same group of kids making some plays and getting outs. A season spans several weeks, so there are a lot of opportunities to help your players improve their baseball skills.

What should kids being learning at the different ages?

Ages 4-6
It’s important that the skills you are teaching fit the age group that you are coaching in youth baseball. With kids between the ages of 4 and 6, you want to focus on teaching the basic rules of baseball, simple mechanics of throwing and hitting, catching, and the basic roles of each position on the field.

As players progress to the older age levels, your coaching should advance as well – all the way up to high school baseball, where you can work on advanced base running situations, team fundamentals and strategy, and breaking and off-speed pitches.

Kids have a a built in desire to learn and improve. When they’re successful, and those successes are celebrated, the thirst to learn increases. Continuous improvement no matter the skill level shoulod be your goal as a youth baseball coach.

It’s your responsibility as a coach to put your players in a position to experience success and then go out of your way to point out the improvement. Success and positive reinforcement are important at all age levels. 

Are the kids learning?

Players can improve at a skill without actually learning anything – this is where understanding the why comes into play. Explain to your youth baseball players why they are doing a drill or learning a skill, or defensive play.

Beyond helping your players improve through drills, you also need to be focused on teaching. Make sure that your players are learning the reasons behind the fundamentals you are teaching.

As kids learn and understand, they get better and want to learn more. When they improve, they have more fun. When they have more fun, they stay attentive longer and more easily absorb what you’re trying to teach. See how fun, learning and improving all tie together? If kids are having fun, they often don’t even realize that they’re learning or practicing, which means you can hold their attention longer. This leads to more efficient and effective practices.

As you look forward to next season, think about how you’re going to have fun with your team while teaching them something and celebrating their improvements.

Accomplish all three and regardless of your win-loss record, you’ll be a successful youth baseball coach.

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