We’re back at it! Fall Baseball has started up. Softball too. We are so busy running from one practice to another… and Marching Band also. We will sleep when our kids are in college.. hopefully. LOL This is why I haven’t posted in a while…life has been so busy for us.
With our season underway, it got me thinking about how busy we are and how to best use our time. Our practice time also. We’ve seen several different coaching styles through these last 16 seasons that our kids have played baseball/softball. Most of them my husband and I were in charge of. Some teams, we have been coached by others. It’s interesting to see the differences in coaching styles but this is what I’ve seen work best.
Know the names of your kids! Coaches, as you are starting your new season, as a mom…. I beg beg beg of you to learn and know the names of your kids on your team. I know this sounds simple… but after several weeks, our son’s coach was STILL calling my son by the wrong name. He saw it in writing, he was corrected dozens of times, but wouldn’t you know… he STILL called my son by the wrong name. This is not going to make the kids on your team happy or make them feel like they can trust you when you are shouting at them from the dugout and not calling them by their REAL name. It doesn’t make their parents too happy either. 😉
Have a Practice Plan and Stick to it. Seriously…Write it out. Schedule in every little thing. Do you need to talk about something? Schedule adequate time. Do you need to teach a certain skill? Allow time to teach and execute. We’ve seen so many practices where kids are on the field standing around where one kid has batting practice. There are so many things to work on.
Set Skill Stations! Depending how many coaches you have or talented baseball dads that can help (please don’t ask just anyone), it’s a good idea to have small groups go to 3 to 4 different stations to work on basic fundamentals. This way all of your players are working on something at the same time and no one is standing around. Rotate stations about every 10-20 minutes until everyone has had a chance to be in all stations. It is so important to practice the basic fundamentals at every practice for success in a game. And don’t waste your time practicing something that really doesn’t matter (like pick-off plays) if your team can’t do the basics like catch a fly ball or throw accurately to get someone out on base.
Suggested Stations include: fielding ground balls (every practice), catching fly balls (every practice), batting (every practice), throwing accurately (you can work on this in the fielding ground balls and catching ground balls station), catching infield pop flys, pitching, catching, base running, bunting, etc. Your stations can be set by the need of the team that week. My husband used to bring a hand held size notebook and when he would see something in a game that needed to be worked on, he would write it down and address it at the next practice. (schedule it in) 🙂
Develop your Pitchers and Catchers! The success of your team will revolve around your pitchers and catchers! Develop them. Teach them. Practice with them. Give them the experience. You will need plenty of players that can do this. Give them a chance. And you might even uncover a hidden talent that a kid didn’t even know they had. Even if you don’t have the strongest team, the success of your team will revolve around your pitchers and catchers! It makes me crazy to see coaches using the same 2 or 3 kids as pitchers AND catchers. This will wear out their arms. Please don’t let this happen to you or your kid. See my post on How to Prevent Little League Elbow
Don’t Talk Too Much! If you need to explain something or talk to your team, allow time for that. Often times, we have seen coaches that will talk and talk and talk and lose valuable practice time, instead of cutting off their speech at a suitable amount of time, when their team is zoning out. If you talk too much, your players will lose interest. And I’m a big fan of the best baseball players being the best listeners! Is your athlete coachable? But… speeches should be efficient, effective, short, and sweet.
Parents are happier when they see their kids working hard at practice instead of seeing them stand around at the chance of a ball coming their way. Parents also want to feel better at how they and their child are spending their time. As a coach, you want to teach your players the game of baseball by working on the skills needed to play. The game of baseball/softball can be slow… and practices can be also. If you let it. Let’s give our kids the tools needed to play in such an efficient way because, let’s face it, we’re all busy, and time is short.
Enjoy. Live. And Play Ball.