By: David A. Aguirre
While it might stand to reason that the youths playing baseball are the ones who need tips when it comes to techniques and skills, the same holds true for coaches. Coaches need guidance and tips to keep them at their optimum level of performance as well. A great baseball team requires more than talented players. It needs a coaching staff whose not only willing to dedicate their time and energy for the baseball team, but are willing to make any adjustments, receive constructive criticism, and accept accountability when wrong. When managing a youth baseball team, a coach will inevitably encounter a multitude of frustrating scenarios both on and off the field. Below are 7 helpful tips that not only maximize a baseball team’s chances of winning, but also optimize positive morale, build strong relationships with parents, and create lasting baseball memories for your baseball players.
TIP #1: STAY FOCUSED AND KEEP YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME
While it has often been heard that a player needs to keep his or her head in the game, the same holds true for the baseball coach. I can speak firsthand to the difficulties of coaching a baseball team while simultaneously dealing with the pressures of a job, managing a household, and raising children. When volunteering to become the coach, make certain your schedule can accommodate such a heavy commitment. If the players are unable to receive a coach’s full and complete attention, that coach becomes a detriment to the entire squad. Remember, when a team enters a strenuous situation during a game, everyone looks to the coach for answers. Even though coaches are human and may not always have the best answers, just simply keeping your baseball team optimistic, encouraged, and focused will extract the most from the players. Panicking, passing blame, or screaming at the umpire only decreases a baseball team’s morale and serves no purpose in building strong character within the youth players.
TIP #2: ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B
A plan B should not only be developed but also fine-tuned during practices. When executing the game plan doesn’t translate to success on the diamond, a good coach always comes prepared with preconceived adjustments or a secondary strategy. In addition to creating a Plan B, a baseball coach must be mentally prepared and willing to abandon his or her game plan for the betterment of the team.
TIP #3: COACH WITH INTEGRITY
In organized youth baseball, the preverbal “face” of the team is usually the head coach. More often than not, the attitude and demeanor of a youth baseball team reflects the attitude and demeanor of the manager. Coaching with integrity makes the youth baseball experience positive and rewarding for your players. It’s very important for coaches to constantly reinforce the fundamentals of baseball over and over at practice. Simultaneously, it’s equally imperative that coaches uphold honor and integrity throughout the course of a season. The level of a youth coach’s integrity presents itself in many situations, few of which are listed below:
How patient is a coach to novice players who may have never picked up a baseball bat before?
Does the coach compose the lineup around their own kid or around winning games?
Does the coach ever take accountability in the face of adversity?
TIP #4: HAVE PATIENCE WITH PARENTS
There should probably be a mandatory class for coaches to teach new coaches how to handle any situations involving parents. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable that youth all coaches (especially in baseball) will eventually run into a disgruntled parent. Despite the fact that coaches have no obligation to accommodate requests or complaints, keeping an open door policy for parents to address concerns shows them that the coach is always willing to have a conversation for the betterment of the team and that particular player.
TIP #5: ADAPT YOUR COACHING STYLE ACCORDING TO EACH PLAYER’ S UNIQUE PERSONALITY
In my humble opinion, there is no better advice I can give a coach of any sport than this one. When dealing with children, many coaches lose sight of the fact that each child possess a unique personality. If a particular style of coaching brings the best out of one player, it might not translate well with others. A good youth baseball coach will understand that some players will shut down when confronted with an aggressive coaching style while other players respond well to a loud and stern approach. If the purpose of a coach is to extract the maximum amount of mental and physical effort from the players, then forcing a particular coach’s style upon them seems counterproductive. Simply put, a coach is the full grown mature adult and the baseball players are children who are still developing mentally, emotionally, and physically. Having one single adult adapt to many kids will produce a more efficient product in any sport versus having many diverse children adapt to one adult’s style of coaching.