LWAA: Coaches Corner

Thursday, February 12
Hopefully useful information for our coaches


 NEW! NEW!

To avoid any confusion and ensure that our fields stay in the best shape they can, please use the following guidelines;

When practicing, you should follow instructions on the video below when you are done, lock all equipment in the lock box, and replace the mat on the pitching mound. Do not ever leave drags or rakes on the field.

When you have a game-

Home team lines field, puts out bases, removes mat out of the playing area. You should enlist some help from parents/ Assistants and someone should plan to arrive 20 minutes before the team.

Visiting team removes bases, grooms field ala video below, and locks up bases and equipment. You also should change out garbage bags, there are extras in the boxes, and leave the trash at the least near the parking area, better to just dispose of it. There are dumpsters at both schools. Again, it would be wise to enlist help.

Should you "forget" to leave the field in great shape, we will happily add you to our volunteer list for the next major work party. The guys who made them nice will appreciate the help.

 

We Found this Video, and it pretty much describes what each Manager will be responsible for after each game and practice.

Please note- We will not be putting the bases back out after the fields are groomed, but locking them up. We also do not yet have sprinkler heads to worry about. But the grooming of the infield, mound, batters boxes and base paths do apply. Please also note, there is no machinery involved. If done on a daily basis, it is not needed.  We will have all needed equipment at the fields ASAP. Equipment will probably be chained and locked as the boxes are.   Click here to watch video

 

 

Time Managing a Little League Game
    Every year it seems that innings are lost due to poor time management by coaches during games. These innings represent lost opportunities for skills improvement and sheer fun for the players, not to mention the effects on games following the one running late.
   
    Following are tips and expectations the League offers to make you a more efficient coach:

1)   Start on Time:
    Nothing is more ridiculous than the sight of two coaches arguing over time limit for a game, especially when they started 5 or 10 minutes late in the first place. We know from experience, that VERY FEW GAMES ACTUALLY START ON TIME. If you're the home team, get your pitcher out to the mound 1 or 2 minutes before the scheduled start time. And expect the other guy to have his team ready, too.

2)    Prepare:
    Have a written substitution grid ready. Why not even the night before? Do it in pencil in case someone doesn't show. Hang it in the dugout for the kids to see. Tell them it's a "plan", not a "promise". They'll soon learn to anticipate where they have to go and to understand when things don't go according to plan and you need to make adjustments.

3)    Put a Sock In It:
      This is the most important. People come to see their kids play, not to marvel at your baseball genius. Forget the mid-game pep talks and the trips to the mound every inning. Get 'em out on the field, where they want to be. That's the whole reason they showed up in the first place. Also, any conversations with the umpire or opposing coaches can wait until after the game. The Umpire runs the game once he calls play ball, you are a guest on his field.
   Here's a test:
   Get a watch with a second hand, sit comfortably, and when the second hand reaches 12,close your eyes and visualize your team making the last out of a half inning, then proceeding to their positions on the field (especially the pitcher warming up). When, in your mind's eye, your pitcher is ready to deliver the first pitch, open your eyes and check the watch. You'll be surprised. Most people use about 75 seconds.
   If you keep to 90 seconds down time during the season, it's all but guaranteed you'll get in 6 innings every game - comfortably.
    Put another way, 90 seconds lets you AVERAGE 9 min./half inning in a game and still qualify to play a 6th inning. Do the math.
    By the way, the warmup rule allows 8 pitches OR 1 minute, WHICHEVER COMES FIRST. So the issue really becomes, "Is there any reason you can't get your pitcher to the mound within 30 seconds of the last out being recorded?" We think not.
    Expect some umpires to focus on this, and the parents to love you if you do.


 

Links from Kids Sports Network-Useful information for coaches in any sport


Remembering the Obvious

Across the United States there are literally thousands of Little League coaches who work with hundreds of thousands of children in organized recreational baseball leagues. Certainly a very high percen

t of these adults love the game of baseball, are strong family members and are solid members of the community in which they coach. Still somewhere along the way many of these coaches seem to lose track of why they became coaches in the first place and occasionally even lose track of the purpose of baseball to begin with. A quick review of what every little league coach should know can help all coaches to bring perspective and common sense into what they do and really make the time they give truly valued by youth players and their parents.

1. Little League baseball is a sport. No matter how basic that sentence seems to be, for some coaches it may be the first one they forget. When it's the last inning and their team is down by a single run, it can be easy enough to simply lose track of the fact that what is going on out on the field is an organized sport for children and not professional baseball.

The reason for Little League primarily is to provide structure and support for an activity that can give children a chance to develop muscle strength, coordination and have some fun with their friends. Practices and games can provide the kind of exercise that keeps kids healthy and a little competition helps kids to learn both how to win and how to lose but mostly how to enjoy the game. What every Little League coach should know is that once you have stepped outside of those parameters, you begin to give kids a counter productive experience .

2. Little League baseball is a team sport. On every Little League team there are some good players, players that because of natural gifts, an early start playing baseball or lots of home workouts, have extended their abilities beyond the average player. Good for them. What every Little League coach should know is that you are coaching a team of young ball players in a community program. No matter how good a few of your players may be, they, like everyone else that comes to practice, is part of a team.

Remembering the Obvious

All team members deserve the same practice time, the same playing time and the same on field opportunities regardless of previous training. If this method of equality is used by coaches then besides l

earning who is the best player on the team, everyone learns that everyone has something to contribute and should have an equal opportunity to contribute.

Competition can bring out both the best and the worst in people. What every Little League coach needs to know is that there is really very little chance that he is coaching a future Major League Baseball player. Pretty much everyone on the team is going to grow up and do something other than play baseball for a living. If that's the case then doesn't it make sense to train all the members about team work rather then to teach a few players how to be Little League stars?

3.What you model, kids will learn. One of the most difficult things for some coaches to keep in mind is how very crucial their own personal behavior during practice and during games really is to the young people on their team. It's far too easy for coaches to think that their actions, words, gestures, or volume are lost on the kids. It's too easy to think that 10 year olds are oblivious to or understanding of adult behavior.

Kids see what they see and hear what they hear. If the actions and the words are delivered by a coach who they like, they begin to believe that certain behaviors are somehow permitted on the ball field even if they have been taught that they are most definitely not permissible in daily living.

For some coaches the hardest part of coaching is getting themselves to the field for practice after a full day at work. For other coaches harder still is hitting an endless streak of pop ups for fielders to run under. But clearly for many coaches the part of their coaching task which is overpowering may be remembering that throughout every practice and every game their behavior is on display and will be seen by children as an example of adult behavior. That's why included in what every Little League coach should know is the understanding that what they model in front of children is what those kids will learn and take home with them.

4. Getting parents on board. Understandably, one thing that keeps some folks from coaching at all and causes headaches among those who agree to coach is parents. Every parent wants the b

est for his or her child, but some go over board in making sure that they express these feelings, regularly, to the coach. Parents can do a lot of silly and regrettable things at Little League games. They too can forget what the game is really about. For the good of the team and for their own peace of mind what every Little League coach should know is how important it is to get parents on board with the real purpose of Little League play.

This can be done through group meetings, letters home or if need be individual chats with parents who seem to miss the point. By sharing from the outset a clear understanding of the procedures you will use in terms of practices, time on the field, opportunities to play skill positions and pitching options coaches can remove lots of problems down the road. This approach can remove the likelihood of mid game temper tantrums by frustrated parents. It will also mean that your policies will get at home support from parents.

There is a lot that is really enjoyable about coaching Little League baseball. What Little League coaches need to know is by remembering what baseball is all about and sharing that knowledge with kids and parents the year can really be enjoyable day in and day out, for everyone.

 


Lessons Learned from Coaching Little League Baseball

Thirty years ago, I took my two sons to their first practice for youth baseball. The man coaching had the team all by himself but seemed to be doing well at the job. As practice was ending, he approac

hed me and asked me if I would coach the team. Coach little league? Are you kidding? I am sure his only reason for asking me was the obvious. I was the only parent that stayed to watch the practice. It could not have been my extensive qualifications for the job. I found out the next week that he was president of the league. I agreed to take the job until he could find someone else, which never happened of course. My team won my only championship that year and I coached my last game twelve years later.

Quotes and Lesson Learned

The first lesson I learned about coaching was that the job can sometimes be more about parents than it is about the kids. Kids are easy compared to the parents. I was fortunate to have some great parents though. There were a few of my parents that should not have been out there though. I realized in later years that the reason some parents on the other teams were so much trouble for their coach was that the coach did not set the tone at the outset. There were generally three quotes that my players would hear often.

The first was "There is only one person on this team that is going to argue with the umpire and that person is me. Since I don't argue with the umpire we do not have to worry about that this year."

The second was "If you don't pay attention I am going to have you running around that outfield till I get tired of watching you."

The third was "You have got to play with class and throwing a bat down after striking out is not playing with class." Parents need to know that you have their sons' and daughters' (yes, I had some girls) best interest at heart and will not allow nonsense at practice or games no matter how good the player is.

Parents and Umpires

The worst parents I ever came in contact with were with a team on the other side of the county. We had to play them twice on their field. It was so bad in the first game that when the second game came

up on the schedule, I told parents that I would not take the team over there without two deputy sheriffs present. We ended up not going much to my relief. That first game was where I learned that some "hometown" umpires think that they can call timeout while the ball is in play in the outfield and my runners are rounding second and third and heading for home. That community had its problems and I was delighted when we were not scheduled to go back the next year.

Running the Bases

Unless someone has had the benefit of some broad baseball training, coaching Little League can be a real experience. I had played Little League and summer league in high school. Since I was always a catcher, I never had a chance to play infield and only occasionally played in the outfield. To make up for my deficit in training I had to either pick up every technique I could from others or allow the boys to play at their own comfort level. I usually took a pitcher as I found him - especially lefthanders. I still don't know how lefthanders throw a ball. My first coaching lesson was in base running. I learned that teaching them how to run the bases was better than using signals to steal, etc. They fail to pay attention to the base coach many times and are slow to react but young kids are incredibly quick to learn when there is an opportunity at glory. Unless your playing some incredibly well trained kids the base runner can get away with almost anything. We had many practice sessions at base running before they became comfortable with game situations but you can be assured that they learn what they practice. It is those situations that you did not prepare for that will give you ulcers. Remember to tell the runners that a catcher with the ball in his glove standing on home plate can be beat if the catcher does not tag the runner in front of the plate. We got away with that one many, many times.

Batting Practice
There were two situations in batting that I encountered often. One was the player who came to me batting "cross-handed". The player will tell you they cannot bat any other way and you can simply respo

nd, "Well, I don't guess you will be batting at all because my players don't bat cross-handed." Remember that their moment of glory at the plate is what they live for and I never had a player who continued to bat that way. The other situation was the batter who moved his back foot around before the ball got to the plate. I would generally try to find someone to pitch batting practice (I know I am showing my age - my grandsons use batting machines now) and I would catch the entire practice so I could talk to the batter on each pitch. When I saw the back foot moving around before the ball got to the plate I would smooth the dirt and have the batter step back into the batter box and tell him, "Plant that back foot and do not track all over my nice smooth dirt". This technique usually paid off real well for the team batting averages by the end of the season. I finally quit coaching because my knees no longer held up for me to catch during practice.

Batting Order

My first game I learned that the coach has one major responsibility that just did not occur to me before the game for some reason. Nothing happens in a game until the coach hands in the batting order and I forgot to make one. It is not uncommon now for leagues to require that the batting order be consecutive through all the players on the team before any player bats twice. If you are coaching just consider this rule a "God sent". It takes many of the complaints away and makes your day go better. In official Little League the players have to coach the bases and you are not allowed on the field. You have to go to the third base line but not cross the line to have a visit on the mound. This too is a very good rule. Anything that keeps the adults off the field is good. Sometimes I thought that the adults wanted to show off more than the kids.

Having Fun

When you begin to determine how you did as a coach at the end of the year just make this observation. Are your players all showing up for the last five games and are they having fun regardless of your win/loss record? It would tickle me at the end of the season when we were playing a team that had no chance of winning the championship and we would have no chance of winning the championship. We would have all fifteen players show up and I would loan their team two players because they only had seven show up. This is the result of too much emphasis on winning and not enough emphasis on learning and having fun. The last team I coached came about because I had "retired" from coaching earlier and the board asked me to come back and take a team even though my sons had grown out of Little League. The board told me the boys had no chance to win and they did not have a single athlete on the team. I agreed to take the team and I knew that the only way the season would be a success was to make sure they had a good time. We did slip up and win two games that year.

Sometimes you may have a routine experience that seems normal in every way. I had a shortstop one year that was the tallest twelve year-old in the school. Somebody had trained him well at fielding a g

rounder because if he could reach it, there was a guaranteed out in the making. After the season was over I never saw my shortstop again and later had to relocate to another state. Eight years later I was having some tires changed and was watching a University of Alabama basketball game on TV. The announcers kept talking about this player on the Alabama team and were praising him on every play. The boy was my shortstop from years earlier. To make a long story short Robert Horry was not only my shortstop but also is now the proud owner of NBA championship rings from at least three different NBA teams. I like to tell young people that I know who Robert Horry is; that I taught him everything he knows - about baseball.
Bob Shubert

 


Attitudes in Youth Baseball - How to Fix Attitudes in a Youth Baseball Team

Attitude for a boys youth little league baseball team is highly important and a coach and or parent can fix it. It is easier to start the attitudes out right instead of trying to fix youth baseball pl

ayers attitudes later in the season. The youth baseball coach creates the positive attitude right from the beginning. Positive attitude on a boys or girls youth baseball team..here are some things to incorporate.

Team Unity - As a youth baseball coach , one of the most important tasks you have to do is create team unity. You have to do this while keeping the players active and developing skills. It is very important for team players,coaches, and parents to have a good, positive attitude. How is this done? The Coach creates it. A couple of points to remember are.. each child is an individual, and is important to the team. What is the most important position in baseball? It is wherever the ball is! Your youth baseball players should hear this from coaches. Practice should be fun..work, but fun. Write down your practice and go over it with your other coaches. Be sure they are involved.

Involvement - Parents and Players in some of the youth baseball decisions. Remember, as a coach you have the final say. But, there is nothing wrong with getting input from those around you with common interests.

Mistakes are O.K. ! Its how we learn. A child , (coach or parent also) should not be got on to for making a mistake. Learn together. If something is done wrong or not the way you would like it.. Show the correct way, tell why it should be the way your are demonstrating , let them try it again.

Ownership - Let your players take some ownership in the team. Everyone should be responsible for their own equipment. My Mom or Dad forgot it dont cut it. Remember, every child will be different! If you have stretching drills before practice or games..let a player lead the streching..call ot the drill..etc.

These guidelines will show you are serious about education. Coaching youth baseball is education. Here is how you start the season to foster a good attitude..

1) Team meeting
2) Goals - Have it written down, and give a copy to the parents and assistant coaches so everyone knows the teams goals.


3) This will let everyone know the direction your taking with the children
4) Ask for help - To do right you cant do it by yourself. You need help from parents. The parents now have a vested interest in the team. You need parents for...
the dugout..drill stations..fund raising..different viewpoints

Another useful tool is a chalkboard or dry erase board. Everyone knows the goals..you have parent helpers..you have heard advice..(implemented or not). A chalkboard or dry erase board should be set up at practices. You can write on it the goals for practice, next game time, next practice, and any other information relevant. This allows you some free time, instead of having discuss so many times..the kids know what is going to happen that day , the parents know what is going to happen and whats next..

The kids! After all the kids arrive to practice and have warmed up some, Take a few moments to go over the days drills with them so they know exactly what they are going to work on and why. To many times I see kids not sure of what the hell is going on and what is expected of them. If you write the days drills down (on your board) .. you will notice the kids looking at them as they arrive and even looking forward to certain ones. The point here is developing an involved positive team attitude. Coaches, parents and the boys or girls will know exactly what will be done at practice and why. This will help the attitude of your team like you have never seen.

 



So, You want to Coach Little League?

 


 

You have never coached in your life, and you have volunteered/been nominated/been conscripted to do so. Relax! The fact that you are here, looking for help, puts you ahead of ninety-five percent of potential youth baseball coaches. Rather than focus on specific drills or practice methods (you can find those everywhere), we will focus on concepts and other tips born of experience.

Odds are, you'll have a list of players and telephone numbers provided by your league. The first thing you'll need to do is to call all of your parents and introduce yourself. Call a team meeting within the next couple of days, at a time of day that will be similar to your practice times. It's a great idea to ask to speak to the player themselves - two minutes of talking to the coach on the phone can really fire up a player's enthusiasm.

At your first meeting, shake everyone's hand and introduce yourself. Spend five or ten minutes explaining your expectations and general rules for the season, then take your players aside.

What, you don't have any rules or expectations? You really should try to clarify these before you ever meet your team. Different coaches do things different ways, but the following are suggested:

1. Players should attend every practice unless they are ill or have another legitimate reson (school function, illness, etc.). Your team will only hae so many practices over the course of a season, and even at the coach pitch level, they are all important.

2. Players should exhibit respect for the coaching staff, the umpires, and one another. Bad attitudes will not be tolerated. Explain clearly that bad attitudes will result in discipline such as laps, pushups, reduced playing time, etc - and stick to this. Sit your star shortstop if he spends his life making his teammates miserable. You'll have the respect of your players, have a happier team, and possibly teach the young man a valuable life lesson.

3. Once they step on the field, players are expected to pay attention! My daughter had a outstanding coach in her first two years of softball - the man seemed to always coach the first place team, despite having less talent, year in and year out. He once told me that holding the attention of his players was the key. "On a team of twelve kids," he'd say, "I'll have nine that can hit, eight that can field, and three can can pay attention."

4. Related to number three, players are always expected to put in their best effort. Let them know that they can strike out, they can miss balls, they can make mistakes... as long as they are trying their best. Baseball will be fun, but it is not playtime. Players and parents alike should understand that, as a team sport, baseball requires players to rely on one another. If someone is goofing off, they hurt everyone on the team. We all understand that the team is comprised of kids, but that doesn't mean they are free from expectations. You expect them to do their part and to put effort into games and prctices.


5. Parents should be free to discuss their concerns with you (and don't worry, they will!) - but only after practice, after games, or with a call to your home. Never, ever have a confrontation about little Johnny's playing time during a practice!

Field any questions your parents may have, then take your team aside. Pull them into a huddle, and speak quietly to them. Tell them that you are excited about the season (you are, aren't you?), that you are glad to have each of them on your team. Tell them that you will win some games, you will probably lose some games, but you will have a lot of fun and you will learn some baseball. Ask them who has played before, and who has not, but don't concern yourself too much with their answers at this point - you are establishing communication with them by getting them to talk to you away from mom and dad. You'll use your first real practice to evaluate skill and ability, not the fact that Billy has played t-ball but Scott has not. End your huddle with a nice "Go Team!" or something similar.

If your league has not assigned assistant coaches and/or a team mom, you need to recruit these now. Check your league guidelines for the number of assistants you are allowed (can be as few as one, can be as many as four - depends on the age group and the league), but try to not turn away any parent who wants to help. Just because you may only be able to keep x number of coaches on the field during games does NOT mean you can't use parental help in practices - use them to help you run practice stations, shag balls, coach bases, etc.

Do not underestiate the value of a good team mom. I repeat, do NOT underestimate the value of a good team mom. Having someone willing to call all of the parents for you during the course of the season to announce practice times, to set up pizza parties and trips to McDonalds, to coordinate who brings after practice drinks and/or snacks... these things are invaluable to team morale and to keeping your sanity.

On that note, don't neglect the after game McDonald's trip or the occasonal post-practice water gun fight. Baseball is and should be the focus, but remember that these are kids, and a little fun goes a long way with them. We've had good years and bad years with my children's teams, and these tend to correlate directly with the amount of extra effort the coaches were willing to give.


Bench Your Players to Improve Your Team

Every league has one or two - superstar players who don't put in their full effort, or who reserve that effort for games only.

Perhaps you have one of these on your team. As the coach, you were excited to land one of the "top" players in your league. And then, when you started practice, you discovered that your star shortstop doesn't seem to take practice seriously. He has been told all his life how good of a player that he is - and he has the all star jerseys to prove it.

So he goofs off in the batting cage, since he can hit the ball without even trying. Likewise, during infield practice, he showboats a bit, missing routine plays more than he should, while making up for it with a spectacular throw or backhanded stop. Yes, he might pick up a bad habit or two while doing this, but during actual contests, he has his game face on, and still manages to play at a high level.

So what's the harm? He can still help you win a championship, right?

If that's your line of thinking (along with 90% of youth coaches out there), you should seriously rethink what your motivations as a coach really are. Should you want to win? Absolutely. As a coach, you should put the best team on the field that you can. But your first responsibilty is to help each and every member of that team to develop into a better player than they were when you met them.

So don't be afraid to discipline that superstar. Try talking to him first, privately. Let him know that you realize he has great talent and skill. Let him know that you realize he turns it on during the game. But explain that he is letting his team down by not putting forth his best every time that he steps on the field - his teammates look up to him, and if he dogs it, they may, as well. Furthermore, if he does not practice hard, he gives up the chance to improve as much as he could have, resulting in limitations to his game that simply should not exist.

You can try small discipline steps - give the player laps the instant you see him lagging in practice. Make him pick up trash afterwards. Give him push ups.

If he still does not respond, pull him from your infield and play him in right. Or better yet, let him start a game on the bench. Drop him to the bottom of the batting order. Explain why you made this decision, and make it clear that the requirements for every team member are the same - all players should be expected to give 100% all of the time; everyone is expected to earn their position. If your star is exempt, you are a hypocrite.

Ideally, you can identify this issue before the regular season starts, and have the chance to clear up any issues during the preseason. Even if not, know that the life lessons you teach this young man - and everyone on your team - are more important than the victory or two that might be in question because of your move.


Run Quality Practices With Stations

So, it's time for baseball practice. After some good warmups - maybe a short jog, defintiely some throw and catch - you are ready to begin. You line your fielders up in their positions and begin hitting grounders. In order to give some game situational repititions, you go through the infield, having players make outs at first base, then cover second, then play as if the bases are loaded. You hit balls to the outfield, having your fielders practice hitting the cutoff man where appropriate. You hit balls faster and faster. You keep the players moving, you work them hard.

Now, you bring in batters. Maybe you even have them run bases after hitting, to really help with authentic game situations. What a great practice, right?

Right?

Sorry, pal. You are wasting everyone's time.

You will involve no more than two or three players on any given repitition. Tops. Everyone else will stand around and watch. If you are like one hundred percent of the other youth baseball coaches who run this sort of practice, you will almost certainly hit two to three times as many balls to your infielders, knowing that they will see more action in games. Maybe you'll even just give up and pull your outfield in to run bases exclusively.

This is not a great practice at all - in fact, you are making baseball into a chore for many of your players. Kids want to play, they don't want to watch others play. Even your star shortstop is probably bored, waiting for his next grounder.

This is not to say that there is no merit to having your whole team on the field; yes, there is a time and place for doing it this way. However, you will see much more benefit if you run stations.

What the heck are stations, you might ask? Simply put, the idea is that you divide your team into several small groups and have them each focus on a specific skill. One station might consist of a batting tee and a coach to help make sure the player is getting in a nice number of quality swings. Another station might be a coach throwing batting practice. A third could be practice on fielding grounders correctly... and so on.

Have your players do thier station for a set amount of time, then rotate them to the next. In this way, they get many more repitions at that particular skill than they ever would have standing around and waiting for one ball out of twelve.

Following are tips on how to organize your stations:

Come to practice with a plan
Know what you want to achieve ahead of time. You don't have to plan for weeks in advance, but make sure that you have one before practice begins. A cheap three ring binder is invaluable for organizing practice!


Use your parents wisely
There is no way you can be everyone at once. Use your assistant coaches, and if need be, your parents to run stations. Ideally, you as the head coach will seldom (if ever) run a station - instead, you will roam from station to station, observing and offering pointers to both parents and players.

Tell your coaches/conscripted parents what to do before they begin running their station - during warmups, when kids are throwing to one another, is an ideal time. Don't expect your parents to know everything about the drill they are running; instead, explain one or two important flaws to look for, and let them concentrate on those. For example, if your parent is t the station teaching the proper way to field ground balls, have them make sure that players sidestep properly, frame up the grounder with their feet, and use both hands in fielding the ball out in front.


Emphasize quality repititions
Instruct the players on what to do at each station before they begin - even if you have qualified assistants, it's a better use of the time to do your "big" explanation once, not three or four times as each new group rotates in.

Set stations so that each group works for a certain amount of time, not a certain number of repititions. If you focus on reps, players tend to rush and take shortcuts, which lead to bad habits. Make sure your kids hustle between stations, but emphasize the importance of working hard and doing things right at each station.


Make it fun!
Many drills can be done as games. Whenever possible, take advantage of this fact; your players will enjoy them more, work harder, and get more out of practice.