So you’re new coach. Ok, now what?
Coaching a team sure seemed like a good idea, maybe even easy…until you started thinking and getting into it deeper. All those players, parents, draft, practices…and those game decisions…ugh. Maybe coaching 3rd base might not be so easy... What were you thinking?
Rule #1 – Relax, It will work out! You’ll probably even turn out to be good at it. How do I know? Why would I think this?
Well, first you are searching for information. Websites like ours with articles like this are sure signs you are at very least trying, instead of sitting on your hands, ducking your head and relying on your Little League experiences from long ago. And because of…
Rule #2 – You will be organized… And yes, you will have time to do it. As a matter of fact, there is an article that I strongly urge you to read. It is about how to organize your team and yourself and is titled, “Plan To Succeed.”
Please finish this article before you jump there (I’ll include link at end of this article).
Rule #3 – You will have fun! Look, more fun you have, more fun your kids will have…and yes, opposite is true.
Personally, I think that some of best things about youth baseball are adults! I also think they are some of worst things about youth baseball. I mean this because as we get older…we tend to forget how to have fun and play games. Life just does that to us. Here we are trying to solve problems on a baseball field like we do at work…UGH! We get tight, our kids play tight. We say ugly things in dugout…well, you get picture… Let’s move on (This lesson either hits mark or it doesn’t).
One final thought (from someone who is privileged to be in baseball for 350 days each year)… IT’S JUST BASEBALL! BASEBALL IS JUST A GAME! (It just happens to be best game ever!)
Rule #4 – You are here for every player! If you are in this game for any reason other than those kids… every one of them… GET OUT NOW! (This was paraphrased and stolen from a speech given by a friend, Gordie Gillespie, winningest coach in college baseball history! He is absolutely correct!)
You will get more joy with that attitude than you can imagine!
Every player who doesn’t share your last name is not here for entertainment and support of you and your son! (You have probably seen it happen). Coaching your own child is a trick indeed. I hope you will truly enjoy it (though it can test your mettle). But, I can assure you that embracing an entire team of kids can really give you an idea of how good a coach and person you might be or can be! Personally, I can tell you that early influences of my youth coaches are indelibly stamped on me…That’s how important you are.
Rule #5 – Winning is important…It is just not everything. I determined something many years ago. Take this for what it’s worth…
Few 10 year olds have a grasp of concept of winning! Half of 11 year olds have a grasp of concept of winning! Almost all 12 year olds have a grasp of concept of winning!
Every? All? No. I guess I wouldn’t include all players on some hot team of 9 year olds who travel country vying for many “World Series” out there (how many worlds are there anyway). Those teams and families have adopted a lifestyle. It’s a language spoken at dinner table. They are probably more exception than rule anyway.
You simply need to have a strong grasp of competitive nature of your league and your team.
Rule #6 - You will be boredom police. Looking for a great way to turn a perfectly good baseball player into a soccer player? (God forbid)… BORE HIM!
A young boy begins his day by opening his eyes with a first thought of…”HEY, WHAT’S FUN TODAY!” And we dare to bore them? Remember my comment on how we tend to want to solve problems in baseball as we do in office? They are kids. It’s a game…and games are fun… It’s fun OR THEY FIND A GAME THAT IS MORE FUN!
Rule #7 – Ask for help from other parents. Women are right…Men do not ask for directions. We need to be rock steady and have all answers…yada, yada!
Personally, I have never had a coach come up to me after a game and ask me anything on how or why I played a situation way I did! I MEAN NEVER!
WHY? Because this is baseball…and we are guys. We played Little League (20 TO 30 YEARS AGO). We watch Pro Baseball on TV…UGH. What a bad idea to try and teach a group of kids to play same way greatest players in game do. So, we don’t ask…and that cheats our kids.
SOLUTIONS: Aside from reaching for information such as reading articles such as this and finding videos, books, etc (did you check out our video and book library?)… Why not incorporate and embrace some of parents. Have a parents-only meeting for 10 minutes after one of your very first practices. Let them know who you are and how you envision season (in general).
A team mom is worth her weight in dozen roses you had better buy her at end of season.
Make note of dad(s), hopefully plural, who hang around fence during practices. Many really want you to ask for their help. They don’t want to horn in so it’s up to you to ask because they may not!
Some parents are better served as your scorebook keeper instead of your BP (batting practice) pitcher. Another may be most comfortable helping you set up dugout and raking and lining field before games.
Yet others really want to be on field hitting fungoes or infield.
The bottom line is that I believe that adults play better when they work together…and as a byproduct, you will all be richer for actually developing relationships with your new-found friends.
WARNING: There is one rule I highly recommend… You are coach, they are team's parents. One guy has final say so. You, coach! This is a no lobbying area, disputes are handled away from kids and action and decisions of management (you) are final. There are no politics, just honest decisions made by you…the coach!
Note: Baseball is greatest game in world to second-guess!
One Last Important Suggestion Regarding Communication: