New to Coaching Youth Baseball|So You Want To Coach Little League

So you want to coach Little League?

Coaching youth baseball for the first time? It can be a scary feeling not even knowing where to start, or even think you know where to start. youth baseball coachHere are some good pointers and suggestions on the first things to do as a youth baseball coach.
Even if you have never coached in your life, never volunteered or participated in a practice..Relax! The fact that you are here, looking for help, puts you ahead of ninety-five percent of potential youth baseball coaches. Rather than focus on specific drills or practice methods , this article will focus on concepts to start with.

Once you have your list of players and contact info:
1. The first thing you’ll need to do is to call all of your parents and introduce yourself. Call a team meeting within the next couple of days, at a time of day that will be similar to your practice times. It’s a great idea to ask to speak to the player themselves – two minutes of talking to the coach on the phone can really fire up a player’s enthusiasm but is not a necessity.

2. At your first meeting, Do a short meet and greet. Spend five or ten minutes explaining your expectations and general rules for the season, then take your players aside.What, you don’t have any rules or expectations?  Different coaches do things different ways, but the following are some suggestions:

  • Players should attend every practice unless they are ill or have another legitimate reason (school function, etc.). Your youth baseball team will only have so many practices over the course of a season, and even at t ball and coach pitch levels, they are all important as your practices should build upon the previous.
  •  Players should show respect for the coaches, the umpires, and one another. Bad attitudes can not be tolerated. Explain clearly that bad attitudes will result in discipline such as reduced playing time, no starting, a certain drill etc. Sit your star player if he spends his life making his teammates miserable. You’ll have the respect of your players, have a happier team, and in my experience it teaches the player a valuable lesson and get a better overall contribution from him.
  • Once they step on the field, players are expected to pay attention! Watch the baseball.
  • Related to number three, players are always expected to put in their best effort. Let them know that they can strike out, they can miss balls, they can make mistakes… as long as they are trying their best. Coaching Youth Baseball will be fun, but it is not playtime. Players and parents alike should understand, that as a team sport, baseball requires players to rely on one another. If someone is goofing off, they hurt everyone on the team. We all understand that the team is composed of kids, but that doesn’t mean they are free from expectations. You expect them to do their part and to put effort into games and practices.
  • Parents should be free to discuss their concerns with you (and don’t worry, they will!) – but only after practice, after games, or with a call to your home. Coaches………Never have a confrontation about little Johnny’s playing time during a practice! Always after.

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3. Field any questions your parents may have, then take your team aside. Pull them into a huddle, and speak quietly to them. Tell them that you are excited about the season (you are, aren’t you?), that you are glad to have each of them on your team. Tell them that you will win some games, you will probably lose some games, but you will have a lot of fun and you will learn some youth baseball. Ask them who has played before, and who has not, but don’t concern yourself too much with their answers at this point – you are establishing communication with them by getting them to talk to you away from mom and dad. You’ll use your first real practice to evaluate skill and ability.

4. If your youth baseball league has not assigned assistant coaches and/or a team mom, you need to recruit these now. Check your league guidelines for the number of assistants you are allowed (can be as few as one, can be as many as four – depends on the age group and the league), but try to not turn away any parent who wants to help. Just because you may only be able to keep x number of coaches on the field during games does NOT mean you can’t use parental help in practices – use them to help you run practice stations, shag balls, coach bases, etc.

5. Do not underestimate the value of a good team mom. I repeat, do NOT underestimate the value of a good team Mom. Having someone willing to call all the parents for you during the course of the season to announce practice times, to set up pizza parties and trips to McDonald’s, to coordinate who brings after practice drinks and/or snacks… these things are invaluable to team morale and to keeping your sanity (Even it is just one of these things , but you will find more than one participate many times if you ask).

Baseball is and should be the focus, but remember that these are kids, and a little fun goes a long way with them. We’ve had good years and bad years with my children’s teams, and these tend to correlate directly with the amount of extra effort the coaches were willing to give.

We will have some more detail on things to aid you in some of these issues in upcoming articles about coaching youth baseball.

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