Don’t try to re-invent the Game: When coaching this great sport some coaches feel as if they need to come up with this “new” way to teach different aspects of the game. Coaches will develop new drills and some scientific way to teach a kid how to learn to field the ball or hit the ball. Don’t get us wrong, we like drills too and we will do several. What we want is to do drills that make practical sense and not just because we read it in a book somewhere….that this is how to make your kid a better hitter, fielder, or pitcher! Have you ever been to a practice and seen a team being talked to about how to field a ball and then the coach will have them do a drill that you’ve never seen before and you think “that makes a little sense”. The team will then do the drill and will promptly move into another drill on how to hit or maybe even a different drill on how to catch that ground ball. But if you notice the team never actual catches a ground ball hit off of a bat and never throws across the diamond to complete the practice out. SERIOUSLY…..are they not going to let the team actually practice the act of completing the process of a ground ball out!! Most drills are good and can be very beneficial but the act of repetition of the skill is more important than anything.
Don’t waste time: In the previous section we discussed a practice that is drill oriented. These drill oriented practices is usually put together to maximize reps and time. That is to good side to them, but as we discussed they are not getting the actual practical practice they need. In this section we will discuss the other end of the spectrum and quite frankly a waste of time and worse than the “reinventor’s” practices. How many times have you been to a practice and watched a youth team get warmed up, go take a round of long infield for 30 minutes or so and then take a 1 hour batting practice and then run a few laps around the outfield and call it a day? This is the biggest waste of time for the players, the coaches and the parents. During this 2 hour practice, each player has taken a total of maybe 10 ground balls or fly balls, taken about 10-15 swings of the bat and then stood around the remainder of practice. Think about this in depth, each player getting a maximum of 20-25 reps of baseball skills each practice!!!
Be practical and productive: A practice plan should be practical and productive. We looked at both ends of the spectrum when it comes to practice and we noticed that the two ways are right in concept but wrong in execution. A practice should have some drills to it, but there has to be great repetition of the simple tasks. Practice should have something as simple as taking a ground ball and getting one with the throw but should be quicker paced and have more reps. When we take a look at our drills you will notice that we have a variety of drills that fit both molds and a practice must be integrated to be a successful practice. A practical and productive drill for example is the 4-corners drill. This drill is when each infielder will get 30-40 ground balls each if not more…..and will make 10 throws across the diamond to first base. We will get more in detail when we get to the drills section of this book, but just remember to keep it simple, practical and productive. Playing Time and Positions When discussing playing time of players there are many aspects to cover. First, playing time depends on the age group you are coaching. The non-baseball factors we speak of are; showing up to practice, showing up to games, and discipline issues. No matter the age, the players and parents need to understand that you must show up and you must follow the rules or their will be repercussions. Players must follow non-baseball rules and as they progressively get older playing time will be determined more and more each year by ability and projection. Just as a note, you must always consider all factors in playing time and document skills by using PSE and VPS as well as other statistical and evaluation tools. Positions that players will play also is determined by age to a certain degree. Players 10 and under should be playing as many positions as possible. Players 10 and up should begin to start finding a position or positions for the present and projecting on to the future. That being said, you should still try to keep in mind they will still be changing physically and skill wise over the next several years and thus you should give them opportunities to play as many positions that they are capable of and/or possibly show some projection. No matter what the level no teams should play left handed players at non-left handed positions. Those positions are 3B, Shortstop, 2B, and catcher. All left handed players should be playing outfield, pitcher, and 1B. This goes back to the concept that we are preparing these players for their future…..as men and as baseball players. No left handed players at the high school level and beyond play these non-left handed positions.
No Favoritism: When entrusted with the title of head coach you are expected to be fair to all players. If you are a head coach of then you must not show favoritism to any player for any reason. If you have a relative on the team or there is a relative of the assistants on the team, you must not show favoritism to that player. With that said, I have seen coaches that are solid coaches and solid people treat their son or relative in the opposite direction. As a coach you must treat each player as and equal individual…..period!!! That does not mean if your relative is the best player that he has to set the bench more than some others…..this would not be FAIR!! Be fair to all……..it’s that simple!