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Cheat Sheet

Coaching Baseball For Dummies

From Coaching Baseball For Dummies by The National Alliance For Youth Sports [with Greg Bach]

Coaching baseball is hard but rewarding work that requires a variety of skills. You have to be organized enough to bring what your players need to practices and games, knowledgeable enough to make practice both effective and fun, versatile enough to be able to coach first and third base, and inspirational enough to give memorable pre-game and post-game talks as well as build your players’ confidence.

What to Bring to Practice as a Baseball Coach

As a baseball coach, you not only have to lead your team, you have to bring the supplies for practice. You may want to augment the following list, but it contains the basics to bring to every baseball practice:

  • Properly stocked first aid kit

  • Extra water

  • Practice plan for the day, broken down by time segments, detailing drills you’ll be running

  • Bats, balls, and other equipment you need

What to Bring to Games as a Baseball Coach

It’s game day! As the coach of your baseball team, you’ve done your best to get your players ready to play, but you have additional responsibilities. You have to bring equipment for your players and information for the officials. The following list shows what you need to bring to every game:

  • A fully stocked first aid kit

  • Cell phone in case of an injury emergency

  • Extra water for players

  • Your roster of players, the positions they’ll be playing, and your batting order

  • Scorebook and pencil

  • Sheet with your substitution rotation to ensure equal playing time for all the kids

  • Knee cushion for coach pitch leagues where you may pitch from one knee

How to Make Baseball Practice Fun

As a baseball coach, you not only have to teach your team the fundamentals of the game, you have to make learning those fundamentals fun so that your players stay interested and engaged. Use the tips in the following list to make baseball practice fun:

Ensure lots of repetitions for each child. Stop practice briefly to point out when players do something well — not when they made a mistake.
Keep kids active; don’t force them to stand in lines. Solicit feedback and ideas from the kids on drills to use.
Involve parents in drills once in a while to rev up the excitement. Applaud the slightest improvements to maintain the kids’ interest.
Introduce some new drills at each practice to keep the kids’ interest. Conclude practice with the most popular drill to end the session on a high note.
When drills turn out to be boring or ineffective, discard them and switch to something else.

Sample One-Hour Baseball Practice

Most of a baseball coach's time is spent in practice, so structuring that practice to make the most of it is important. The following list offers suggestions for how much time to spend on which activities for a one-hour practice:

  • 10 minutes: Warm-up period.

  • 20 minutes: Individual and team hitting drills

  • 5 minutes: Base running and situational drills

  • 10 minutes: Team defense and situational drills

  • 10 minutes: Position-specific defensive drills

  • 5 minutes: Cool-down time and team meeting

Responsibilities of Base Coaches in Baseball

Baseball coaches are responsible not only for the play of the team as a whole, but for coaching players when they reach first and third base during a baseball game. The responsibilities of coaching each base are different.

What a first base coach does:

  • Encourages batter to hustle down first base line on infield hits.

  • Reminds runners of the number of outs.

  • Instructs runner when to take extra base and when to round first base but hold up.

  • Tells runners how far to go on pop flies.

The responsibilities of a third base coach include:

  • Sending runners home or holding them up at third base.

  • Letting runners know whether to slide into third base or come in standing up.

  • Assisting runners when tagging up by letting them know when to run.

  • Reminding runners of the number of outs.

How to Deliver the Pre-Game Talk as a Baseball Coach

As a baseball coach, you talk to your players at every practice, but your pre-game talk is your last chance to get your players ready for their upcoming game. The pre-game talk is your chance to remind players of the goal and game plan in general terms and to get your players psyched up. The following tips can help you give an effective pre-game talk:

  • Meet with the team away from any distractions.

  • Keep the meeting short.

  • Focus on just a couple of main points.

  • Stress to the kids the importance of being good sports — no matter what happens on the field — and to show respect toward the umpires.

  • Exude confidence in their abilities.

  • Avoid using unfamiliar terms or introducing new strategies.

  • Conclude your talk by reminding players to have fun.

How to Deliver the Post-Game Talk as a Baseball Coach

As a baseball coach, you enjoy when your team wins and suffer when they lose. Win or lose, though, you need to talk to your players after the game. After the baseball game is over, your post-game talk should cover the following points:

  • Be upbeat and applaud the effort everyone put forth.

  • Point out the positives and recognize the displays of good sportsmanship.

  • Don’t allow the scoreboard to dictate how you talk to your players.

  • Wrap up the talk on a high note, conclude with a team cheer, and send the kids home with a smile.

How to Build Players Up as a Baseball Coach

As a baseball coach, you’re an important person in your players’ lives. You teach them the rules of baseball and you have a hand in developing them as players and as people. Use the tips in the following list to encourage your players:

  • Use the “sandwich” method for giving feedback to players by placing a critical remark between two encouraging comments.

  • Always keep in mind that making mistakes is part of the learning process.

  • Give kids high-fives and pats on the back to reinforce that their efforts are appreciated.

  • Set realistic goals for the kids so they will gain a real sense of satisfaction upon reaching them.

  • Never allow your tone of voice or body language to reveal disappointment in a child’s performance or ability.

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