How To Be A Good Youth Baseball Coach- Without Even Trying.
The best part about coaching kids is they are sponges. They pick up on every little thing you do. Sometimes to a fault. When I was going through my Mike Epstein Hitting Certification Course Mike said something I will never forget. He said, “If you can’t do it, don’t.” What he meant was you may not be able to physically do some of the things you are asking your players to. I know that for example, in high school I played catcher for an entire season and parts of others. I couldn’t catch for an entire at bat right now my knees won’t allow it. I can’t even get into a good crouch anymore. So for me showing a player how to catch is out of the question. I have to tell them. That is O. K. For me it is easier anyway I don’t have to go home and ice down my knees and take 500 Ibuprofen to go to work the next day if I just talk.
We will start this conversation about being a good youth baseball coach off by sharing. My first baseball coaches were my mother and my best friends mother. Sounds strange but none of the dads in the small town that I am from wanted to waste their time coaching a bunch of 5 and 6 year old kids how to play T-ball. From my Mom and Mrs. Cook I learned that patience and persistence are the hallmarks of a good coach. They were kind but stern. When we were asked to perform a task it was in a gentle voice and usually was followed with a please. “We need everybody to get their gloves and go stand by second base, please.” It was uncanny the way the entire team would scramble as soon as they said please. The thing I liked best about playing for them was they taught me at 6 years old that being nice is important.
My next coach was an interesting man. All I can remember about Coach George is this. On the first day of practice my second year playing baseball my best friend and I, now 7, had been promoted from T-ball to the majors. A very grubby looking man, I think he was a mechanic, shouted I want everyone on the third base line now! We all looked at each other and walked to the third base line. As we stood there all the 11 and 12 year old players, my friend Ralph and me we watched Coach George light up a cigarette. He then proceeded to walk down the line of players and, this is no joke, point at me saying, “You, you are the shortest one here. Go play shortstop.” I grabbed my glove chuckling inside and sprinted to shortstop. If this guy knew anything about baseball he wasn’t going to show us. I learned that year that what Coach George lacked in baseball I. Q. he made up for with pure luck. It turned out that I was the best player on the team and ended up starting at shortstop for the All-stars that year.
After watching from the stands that year my dad talked to the owner of the company he worked for and made arrangements to be available to coach my baseball team. I was never more grateful. My Dad was the typical dad coaching their kid. Not in a good way either. He used me as the example in every drill. He knew that I knew how to do them. The biggest thing my dad did wrong though is use me as his relief valve. When things didn’t go right I was the one that got yelled at the most. This is the hardest part of coaching your own child. You know what they can do and if it is not up to your standard you tend to parent as opposed to coach. Don’t parent! You can do that in the car on the ride home or at the dinner table. There is a time and a place. The great things my dad did far outweighed this though. He taught us. Remember that phrase. You are volunteering your time and expertise. You are teaching baseball. He understood the game of baseball and loved it. He went over every possible scenario with us. He would walk around the infield and outfield while we were working on individual drills and ask us questions about situational defense or base running. One of my dad’s favorite saying was, “Physical mistakes happen. Mental mistakes can’t.” Everything I needed to know about the mental part of baseball I learned from my dad.
Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.” Truer words have never been spoken. I understand that to mean you need to give 140% to be a great baseball player. Do the math.
O. K. To The Point.
Being a good youth baseball coach, without much effort may be easy. Chances are though if you looked this up on a web search it will not. You have to know what you are doing. It is easier to something if you are the smartest person in the room. You must educate yourself before you can teach. There are a lot of great resources out there to help you I would recommend you start with this one. The 2017 Little League Baseball Official Regulations, Playing Rules, and Operating Policies: Tournament Rules and Guidelines for All Divisions of Little League Baseball. By Little League International. If your league didn’t give you one ask for it. If they don’t have it you can click the link here and buy it.
Know the Rules
Baseball is one of the few games we play where most people don’t even know the rules. Even the ones that think they know the rules are usually only partially right. When I was 6 my dad gave me a copy of the Little League rule book. He told me that if I wanted to play a game I needed to know the rules. I read it. It has been invaluable to me throughout my baseball life. Even if you think you know the rules read them again you’ll be amazed at what you didn’t know you didn’t know. Most importantly don’t take someone else’s word for it they probably don’t know either. I have had to show rules to umpires we are only human after all.
There are a million ways to get information today about coaching youth baseball. Baseball Coaching: Schupak’s Baseball Super 8 DVD Set is a great place. He has drills and practice plans in this series that cover hitting, fielding, pitching and everything else all set up to be fun for players and coaches. The best part about this set is that you can purchase the whole thing or if you are just looking for a specific area that you need a little help in you can buy the individual DVD. This set covers everything and will be a valuable resource for as long as you coach youth baseball.
I hope that you have learned something here today. Nothing good ever comes easy. If you have any other coaching resources that you would like to share with me or the other readers of Hitting With Wood please feel free to leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org