Many adult volunteers start their Little League® “careers” as coaches. It’s a great way to get a feel for what is required to serve Little Leaguers® in a way that develops character, baseball and softball skills, and a life-long devotion to sports and fitness.
“If you are considering the move, it’s probably because you find the activities rewarding, want to increase your impact on youth, contribute more to your community, and take on the challenge of doing that all, as well as possible, in the highest leadership position on a team.”
Of course, we hope many volunteer coaches also fall in love with Little League enough to make the next step up and manage a team. Here are some points to consider as you decide to take that next step.
Can I devote the extra time to managing?
Moving from coach to manager, you will spend more time on your Little League activities than you did before. If you are considering the move, it’s probably because you find the activities rewarding, want to increase your impact on youth, contribute more to your community, and take on the challenge of doing that all, as well as possible, in the highest leadership position on a team. Good for you. Just recognize that it will take extra time, so make sure your employment and family situations are supportive.
Am I willing and able to handle the extra responsibility that managing entails?
Managers are more likely than coaches to: fill out line-up cards, address parents’ concerns, serve as the first stopping point for any players who want to learn more or have an issue that needs to be discussed with an adult, interact with the league’s Board of Directors, take responsibility for paperwork, participate in division and league meetings, plan practices, and make strategy decisions.
That partial list is a lot of additional responsibility, and not everyone is up to it. You can be a strategic genius, who has trouble getting parents on board with the team culture. You can be a whiz at paperwork, but not a great teacher of skills. But as a manager, more than as a coach, the buck stops with you on all those fronts. Perhaps most important of all, your peers, players, parents, and spectators will look to you as the person responsible for how your players carry themselves, how well they perform, and whether they are having fun and learning.
Coaching pre-teen kids in youth baseball training can be extremely rewarding. But you have to learn to accept and embrace the challenges that may arise. Being prepared for these challenges can make the coaching experience more enjoyable.
Here are four tips to consider BEFORE you start coaching youth baseball:
1. Not all kids will be good players. Be prepared to figure out how to include all kids regularly in some fashion. The way this is handled varies by age group. Finding ways to patiently correct kids and encourage them, without giving false compliments, can be difficult. Make sure you are honest but caring.
2. Parents. Manage parent expectations from the beginning. Don’t wait until parents are upset or getting too involved to correct communication.
3. Little League Rules. Be sure you have an excellent understanding of the rules before you start coaching. Many parents and players have had frustrating experiences with coaches who are unclear about the rules. Make sure you are the authority, not the parents.
4. Attitude. You will have to deal with many developing personalities. Set expectations with the kids up front. Let them know behaviors that will not be acceptable and the penalties for those behaviors. Make sure you enforce your penalties, even if it costs the game. Kids need to learn how to play for a team, not themselves.
If you have decided to take on the responsibility of coaching a youth baseball team, you should be commended. Being prepared for what lies ahead will help you succeed.
In order to be the best possible baseball player, training should happen year-round and be a joint effort between the coach, the player and the parents.
Coaching little league baseball and softball is one of the most rewarding activities a parent or adult can enjoy with children. Here are some little league baseball/softball coaching tips to help your team win games,
but more importantly learn and have fun. I’ve compiled this list from years of organizing physical education lessons in a Montessori school in which teachers were responsible for creating lessons on all subjects. My career has also included several stints as assistant little league coach and track and field day coordinator. As a special needs teacher, I have developed and implemented methods for inclusive team sports.
Little League coaching tip one: Start your little league team off with tee ball. Tee ball is the precursor to little league baseball or softball. In place of pitching balls to each other, the tee ball is batted from a stationary tee, like golf. Tee ball (usually played with ages 6 or 7 and under) is an ideal game to introduce children to baseball and softball. Tee ball helps coaches focus on batting, hitting, running, catching and baseball rules and game play; tee ball delays the more advanced skills of pitching and introduces children to those skills at age and developmentally appropriate levels.
Little league coaching tip two: Keep your team players moving at practice. One of the biggest reasons children drop out of little league is because they spend too much time sitting on the bench waiting for their turn. Boredom spells disaster, especially for young children. Organize your drills and practice activities in small groups to keep all team players actively engaged. Every team has better and poorer players; keeping everyone involved hones your better players’ skills while boosting poorer players confidence and ability level. In the classroom, we call this kind of teaching ‘learning center based’. Set up center activities where team players practice in small groups for 15 minutes and rotate among three to five activity zones.