2013 Lorain Youth Baseball: Tips

Tennis Ball Drill
Tennis Ball Drill


Eye hand coordination,


Bat, Tennis Balls

•        Have players pair up; one feeds (soft toss) and the other hits
•        Player can feed tennis balls to batter soft toss style or bouncing
•        The batter takes a normal swing and follows-through right through the ball
•        Have the hitter hit line drives into the backstop.

Key Points
o        Bouncing balls are more challenging
o        You can also do a walking toss where the player walks along with the batter and bounces the balls to the hitter. Very challenging

The complete player by position
The complete first baseman

While first base is a position that can be learned easily, it is a position that requires a lot of ability and particularly good hands. A first baseman not only has to field balls hit to him, he has to accept a lot of throws from the other infielders.

The first baseman has three positions he must assume, and each is governed by the situation, inning, score, outs and hitter. First is a deep position that is normally dictated by a strong left-handed hitter who can pull the ball with authority. A deep position close to the line may also be necessary when an extra base hit will hurt the club. Second is a halfway position. With a right-handed hitter it will be off the line unless the inning and score dictate his guarding the line. Normal halfway is for the bunting-type hitter who will push or drag for the base hit to get on base. And last, the in position is used; naturally, if the bunt is in order or the infield is playing in to cut off a run at the plate.

Your first baseman should:

Play close enough to the bag so he can arrive on time to be a target for your infielder.
Have a pick-off sign with your pitcher. When a bunt is in order there should be a sign indicating when and when not to throw over so the first baseman can get a jump on the bunted ball.
Be well trained in positioning himself for the cutoffs and also in following the runner to second base on the extra-base hit.
Be instructed when to protect the line. This is the judgment of the manager.
Continually work on giving the ball to the pitcher. Chest high, usually underhand; show the pitcher the ball.
Be schooled in breaking off the base to a fielding position, when holding a man on.
Work on the throw to second base and return to the bag, and work on throwing equally well to all bases.
Watch the runner for missing the base when rounding it on hits, especially extra-base hits.
Work on tagging the runner coming to first on throws up the line.
Back off the bag to handle the ball on the long, difficult hopped-throw, instead of advancing toward it.
Practice taking throws at first base, throws of all kinds. Practice receiving throws to either side of the bag, high throws and also a lot of throws that are in the dirt, as a first baseman should become good at scooping the low throws.
Get in to the habit of using one hand.
Learn when to come off the base and block bad throws.
Catch all pop flies toward home plate.
Know the range and position of second baseman.
Always be alert and communicate with pitcher, catcher and other infielders.
The shift of feet to receive the thrown ball

Straddle the bag.
On the ball to the right: The left foot moves to the right corner of the bag and the player advances with the right foot.
On the ball to the left: The right foot moves to the left corner of the bag and the player advances with the left foot.
The crossover is preferred by many good first baseman and should not be criticized. It is sometimes easier for less agile first baseman learning the position.

The complete second baseman

Few clubs have ever finished near the top without a playmaker at second base unless their hitting power, pitching and defense could offset the need for the double play. An ever-alert second baseman with a good double-play pivot and the ability to work cleverly with the shortstop and act as a field general is a tremendous asset to a club. He should be a man with the speed and the arm to handle the tough pop-up down the first base line and act as relay man on the extra-base hits to the right field area.

Many second baseman, however, have mediocre arms and make up for this with fast hands and by charging ground balls when the need for hustle is necessary. They can generally be protected on relays by the first baseman and shortstop and fall into the backup spot. Remember, your second basemen is a target for base runners. He should be agile, fearless and staunch. His ability to make plays under fire can be the deciding factor in many a game.

Your second baseman should:

Have an understanding with the shortstop as to who is covering the base on any given pitch.
Know the proper time to leave his position on the bunt and not leave his side of the infield unguarded too early.
Call the questionable play on the ball hit in areas where he and the first baseman both make an effort for the ball.
Be careful about moving on pitches after receiving the sign from the catcher.
Make every effort to make the catch on the short fly ball down the right field line.
With a double steal situation, determine in advance who will cut off the catcher's throw. The position and who takes the cut off is determined by many factors, such as: the hitter and how he will be pitched to; the running speed or ability of the base runners; the importance of the run on third and first; the arms of your infielders; the fact that you are at home or the road; the ability of your pitcher to hold men close; and the limitations of your infielders.
It is generally recommended that either the second baseman or shortstop (depending on the situation) make this play by himself. He will advance to the bag and watch for the third base runner to make the break for home. He then advances, cuts the ball off and makes the play at the plate. In the event the runner on third holds up, he will attempt to tag the runner advancing from first base.

The Double Play—the most controversial play in baseball. Again we remind you a pattern cannot be formulated. Practice is a fine substitute for controversy. The suggestions below may be helpful.

On a double play, your second baseman should:
Determine how and where the shortstop likes the throw and concentrate on making a good throw.
Realize in advance the importance of the play in relation to the situation and the stage of the game. In key situations in late innings the play must be made. Therefore, speed and chances must be taken. In early innings caution is used, as a bad first throw or play can lead to a big inning.
Always be cognizant of the interference play by the base runner and never shy away or become alarmed when the runner is approaching.
When tagging the runner in the base path for the double play
Tag with both hands: the ball in the throwing hand, the glove for protection.
Realize the runner cannot run out of line. Do not chase him.
In the event the runner stops, start him back to first base far enough to permit a run-down before throwing to first base.
Work on the double play from every angle. Throw off the bag, across or behind the bag, and learn to throw accurately from every angle.
Shortstop and second baseman should play catch together so that they become accustomed to each others throwing habits and ball movement.
The second baseman and shortstop should go back on balls hit over the infield with the intention of catching the ball until the outfielder calls them off.

General reminders for second baseman
Knock the ball down at all times, yours is a short throw.
On a hard-hit ground ball, no one on, don't be afraid to drop to one knee.
Establish the range of the first baseman. Run him off most balls to your left.
Your throw will most times be a 3/4-type throw. When acting as a relay man, however, as well as making throws home, stay up on top for better accuracy as well as carry.
Don't get in the habit of flipping the ball. Arm strength cannot be developed this way.
Communicate with the shortstop regarding who is covering the bag. Let the shortstop determine this by hiding his mouth with his glove. Use closed mouth (me), open mouth (you).
Anticipate at all times what you are going to do with ball before it is hit to you.
On a ball hit to your right, throw out your right leg and slide along the dirt as going to the ball. As the ball is fielded, plant right foot and throw against it.
Cover first base when a bunt is in order.
Make every effort to get to a pop fly down right field line that first baseman can't get.
Go back on all pop flies until outfielders run you off.
Do not play too deep. You must cheat on the double play as well as cover the bag for steals.
When covering first base on a bunt, go to the bag and play as a first baseman would.

Don't time it to just barely get there. Be there early to give a target.
When covering the bag for defense of the double steal go directly to the bag and listen for the verbal command from the shortstop. If the runner on third base is going for home, you will then have to come up from the bag and make your throw to home. If the runner stays, then you must lay back and tag out the runner coming in.
When making a tag on a sliding runner, catch the ball and take your glove straight down and straight up.

In making the double play
Do not feel that every ball hit with a man on is a double-play ball. The speed of the ball and where the ball is hit will determine this.
Always get the headman. Your job is first to catch the ball, then give the shortstop a good throw. The shortstop will execute the double play.
The shortstop will cover all balls hit back to the pitcher unless a real right-handed pull hitter is hitting. It will then be your responsibility.
When going to bag to execute a double play, charge the bag hard and then have a slight hesitation or shuffle to see in what direction the throw is coming.
When a poor throw is made to your glove side it may be necessary at times to move your left leg to the left and then tag with right foot, throwing as your right foot touches bag. When possible come across the bag to get out of the runner's way. Use the bag as a pushing point.
Determine, based on distance from the bag, if a throw is necessary or if a underhand shove will get the runner.
When using the underhand shove, give it to the shortstop firmly. A stiff wrist will increase your accuracy.
When ground ball is close enough to bag, tag the bag yourself. When it's not necessary, don't handle the ball twice. Stay in back of bag if you can on this play.
Don't hide your throws. Only at one time will you turn completely around, and that is when a ball is hit really deep in the hole to your left (very difficult).
No need to do a jump or full pivot when making double play. Catch the ball, turn your hips and upper body, bring your hands and the ball back and throw.
Draw a line in infield practice. On one side of line you must throw, on the other you can shove.

The complete shortstop

To play short, all it takes is a slight of hand.
Your shortstop should have good hands, good arm, and the ability to get rid of the ball fast. He should be quick and possess ability to get the jump and cover ground. He must be a student of the game to the point where he anticipates the opponent's strategy. He should be a playmaker.

An old baseball axiom states that no club is ever successful unless it is strong through the middle. The shortstop is considered the "middle of the middle." Add the good second baseman and you have a combination that spells success. As with any infield position, the fungo stick is your best teacher. Use it freely.


Accurate throwing is the result of good balance. As all right-handed players throw off the right foot, it is extremely important to get the right foot planted to throw accurately. On the ball to the extreme right, a sliding stop is recommended, and when perfected the player winds up with his right foot braced against the loose dirt piled up by the sliding foot. He may find himself balanced to throw from this position but ordinarily an adjustment is necessary to maintain balance and throwing leverage. This play, known as throwing from the hole, is the shortstop's toughest play. On balls to the shortstop's right, that he is sure he can get in front of, he will go directly to the ball and field it, making a strong throw to first base or a quick, accurate throw to second base.

Your shortstop should:

Learn the ability of his arm and from what positions he throws best for speed and accuracy.
When time permits take the short crow hop for rhythm and leverage and not throw flat-footed.
Never hold back on a throw.
Never loaf on the ground ball and try to make up for lost time by firing the ball.
Attempt to give his second baseman a chest-high throw that can be handled, either underhand or from any angle. Do not hide the ball.
Distinguish between a ground ball he can tag the bag and make the throw on and a ball he must give to the second baseman.
Recognize the ball he must charge, the throws he must hurry and the throws he can take his time on.
Know his relay positions and his back-up positions.
Be aware of the game situation at all times.
Assume the ready position and not be caught flat-footed when the ball is hit.
Keep the glove low to the ground, hands and arms relaxed, and give with the ball.
Call plays and coach his teammates on Texas League Type balls, pop-ups, etc. and recognize the fly ball back of the infield that can be handled best by the outfielder.
Have an understanding with the second baseman as to who will cover the base on any given pitch.
Play catch with the second baseman so as to learn his throwing habits and the movement of the ball.
The shortstop and second baseman should go back on balls hit over the infield with the intention of catching the ball until the outfielder calls them off.
When tagging a sliding runner, catch the ball and take his glove straight down and straight up.
The shortstop is the most important infielder, and his application is somewhat different as he is the key to the double play, defense against the double steal, cut offs, etc. Specifically, the shortstop should:

Anticipate at all times what he going to do with ball, before it is hit to him.
Stay on top with most throws.
On a ball hit to his right, throw out his right leg and slide along the top of dirt as he is going to the ball. As the ball is fielded, he should plant his foot and throw against it.
Not play too deep when double play is in order. Cut down the angle by coming in. Cheat toward the bag when double play in order.
Cross over more than any other infielder because of greater area he covers.
Verbally keep your second baseman, third baseman and pitcher alive.
Charge the ball more than any other infielder.
Cover second base when a bunt is in order.
Hold runners close. Don't let them get big leads.
When the second baseman is taking throws on double steals, advise him verbally if a runner breaks from third base toward home so that he (second baseman) can come up from the bag to make the play.

When making the double play:
Do not feel every ball hit with a man on is a double play ball. The speed of the ball and where the ball is hit will determine this.
Always get the headman. Let the second baseman execute the double play. The shortstop will catch the ball.
Let the pitcher know who is covering second with man on first.
Cover second base on all balls hit back to the pitcher, unless the batter is a real dead pull hitter. Then second baseman takes the bag.
Charge the bag hard. Then, slow down with a slight shuffle to determine in what direction the throw is coming.
Step with the left foot then tag the bag with your right foot. This can be a tag or a drag. When the ball is thrown on the outside, tag the bag with your right foot and shove off hard out of the oncoming runner's way. If the ball is thrown on the inside, tag the bag with your left foot, shove off, plant your right leg and throw. When as a shortstop you take the play by yourself, you should tag the bag with your left leg behind the bag. Tag the bag as you are making the throw.
Throw the ball low; make the runner get down.
Have an understanding with the second baseman as to who is covering the bag. Do this by hiding your mouth with glove. A closed mouth will mean "me," and an open mouth will mean "you."
Determine, based upon distance from the bag, if a throw is necessary or if an underhand shove will get the runner.
When using the underhand shove, give it to your second baseman firmly. A stiff wrist will help accuracy.
Tag the bag by yourself. When not necessary don't handle the ball twice. Stay behind the bag when making the tag. As you plant your left foot down and make contact, release the ball.
Draw a line in infield practice. Establish that balls on one side of the line will be shoved and those on the other side must be thrown. When game time comes it will be fixed in players' minds what to do naturally.

Don't hide your throws from the second baseman. Let him see the ball at all times.
If the ball is booted stay at the bag. Act as the first baseman would.

The complete third baseman

Although in assembling a club, a manager sometimes fills this position with a man with bat ability that is less adept at covering ground, the third baseman is still very important defensively. He should qualify in the field with a good arm, good hands and fearless determination. He should be able to knock down or block the hard-hit ball and still have time to throw out the average hitter. He shifts and plays position more than any member of the team.

Your third baseman should:
Consider the type of hitter, the ball and strike count, the score and the inning.
Be ever alert for the bunt.
Recognize all hitters and know where and when to play in and back.
Guard the line when the situation dictates.
Learn to charge the bunt and field it with the bare hand and throw—but only when no other method would retire the runner.
Attempt to field all ground balls to his left. He is in a better position to make this play than the shortstop. This is particularly important with a play at second base.
Keep his eyes on the hitter and not the pitcher.
With a man on second or first and second and a bunt attempted, recognize who can handle the bunt and either retreat to third or advance and make the play himself. On this play, when forced to field the bunt, he should evaluate the possibility of a force at second. If not possible, he should make the play at first. When retreating to third base for the throw from the pitcher he should hustle, take a look at the bag and not feel for it with his feet.
On the sacrifice fly situation check his runner for leaving the bag early.
Catch all pop flies he can get toward the plate.
The third baseman, like the first baseman, has three positions he must take—deep, halfway and in. The positions will be taken depending upon the score, outs, inning, situation and hitter.

Deep position should be taken when strong right hand hitters are biting.
Play deep and guard the foul line when an extra-base hit will allow a runner to score.
Play halfway and over when a left-handed batter is hitting.
Play halfway in a normal game situation when the hitter has the ability to drag bunt.
Play halfway when a below-average type batter is hitting.
Play in when a bunt is in order.
Play in when left-hand drag or push-bunt type batters are hitting.
Play in and over when left-handed pull hitters are up.
Play naturally in when trying to cut off a run at home plate.
General reminders for third basemen:

Knock the ball down at all times.
Cut in front of the shortstop and get all balls he can.
Throw the ball over the top on all balls hit right at him and to his right.
On balls hit to his left, at times it may be best for him to come from the side.
Run pitchers and catchers off pop flies.
Go to the fence and screen, then come away, allowing him to be in better position to catch pop flies.
Know what to do with ball before it is hit to him.
With men on first and second, and a ball hit to his left, go to second base for double play.
With men on first and second and a ball hit to his right, tag third base, then go to first.
With bases loaded and a double play in order, make the play the easiest way. If the ball's hit to the left, go to second base; if to the right, tag third base or go home. If the ball comes right at him, go to second, third or home, whichever is easiest.
Act as cut-off man when a man is on second and single is hit to left field.
Act as cut-off man when a runner is on third and fly ball is hit to left field.
When acting as cut-off man get self in position—left side of diamond between third-base dirt area and home plate.
Hold hands high, giving outfielder a target to throw through.
Advise pitcher when a runner is getting too big of lead off third.
Run pitcher off all topped balls that will be easier for him to field.
Make the play on a topped ball with his bare hand when necessary.
When time allows, make a small arc and come around fielding a topped ball so that you are facing first base and will not have to throw across your body.
Not always cross over when the ball is hit to his left. A hard-hit ball won't allow this.
Back up throws back to pitcher after a pick-off attempt and when the first baseman is returning the ball to the pitcher.
When going to right, plant his foot and throw off it for strength and accuracy.
Throw from over the top for strength and accuracy.
Encourage the pitcher.
Be alert for the squeeze and alert the pitcher to the same.
Forget about talking to third-base coach. He will only try to distract you.
The topped and slow-hit balls are your toughest plays. Practice them.
Know how much ground the shortstop can cover.
Know the ability of the catcher to catch pop flies.
Know the fielding ability of each of your pitchers.

The complete outfielder

Your outfielders have a lot of ground to cover, and as a coach, you need to know what qualities each of your three outfielders should have. Cal Ripken Sr. has a wealth of information for you on how to develop great outfielders.

An outfielder's feet should be a comfortable width apart—about shoulder width. Hands can be placed on knees and as the pitch is delivered to the plate the player's weight shifts to the balls of the feet and the outfielder gets to a ready position. This position allows him to move right or left, back or in. Watching the pitch and knowing what type of hitter is at the plate will give the outfielder an added insight into where the ball will be hit.

Getting the best jump on the ball
From the ready position, the outfielder uses a quick crossover step in moving to his left or right. This enables him to get to the ball as quickly as possible so that he can make the play with a good throw. At this time he should know what he is going to do with the ball and where he is going to make his throw.

The center fielder is the general in the outfield and should catch any ball that he can reach. Naturally, if this catch would be an easy one for the side outfielder, the center fielder should encourage the side fielder to make the play. Outfielders should constantly talk to one another. When calling for balls, the center fielder should continue to call for a ball since a one-time call may be at the same time as the side outfielder's call, and the players may not hear each other.

Outfielders should learn to throw over the top with the grip across the big seams of the ball. With this grip we not only get the carry that the ball needs, but if we are making a throw to a base with a good one-hop throw, the ball will skip more quickly and on a straight line either off the grass or dirt.

Fielding a ground ball and making a throw
The outfielder should charge the ball, slowing down as he nears it so that he can field the ball out in front off his front toe with the glove hand. This allows him to be in a position to take one step and a crow-hop as he is delivering his throw. This method will also allow him to get rid of the ball quickly and get the maximum distance on his throw.
Sometimes with a rough outfield he may feel he has to block the ball first. By playing the ball off the front toe, if the ball takes a bad hop it will hit him in the body and stay in front. In other situations when it is not necessary to throw out the runner, he may want to field with two hands and may even get down on one knee to keep the ball in front.

Fielding fly balls
The outfielder should learn to catch the ball with two hands over the throwing shoulder. Then when it becomes necessary to make the throw on the fly ball, all he has to do is lay back off the ball, then move into the throw. This way the body's momentum enables the fielder to make the throw in one motion. By doing this consistently, a good habit is formed and it becomes automatic.

Your outfielders should:
Move quickly and alertly to and from their positions.
Constantly check wind and sun conditions. Check playing field conditions.
Keep in mind the condition of the outfield surface and the distance to all the fences.
Watch all the actions of the hitter closely, such as stance, change for hitting to opposite field, stance for bunting, a shortening or lengthening of his grip on the bat or any change that might indicate the direction he might attempt to hit.
Always assume a slightly squat position with the weight off the heels and leaning forward when the pitcher releases the ball.
Know the opposing hitters and how the pitcher will attempt to pitch to them.
Back up other outfielders and all throws to bases.
Call plays whenever a call is necessary.
Back up infielders on balls hit to them.
Run on the balls of their feet and make a smooth approach to the ball.
Know all game situations, such as number of outs, tying and winning runs, etc.
Be sure they know where to throw the ball before they get it.
Attempt to hit all cut-off men with a chest-high throw.
Refrain from making useless throws where a following runner or hitter could advance.
Charge all ground balls with reasonable timing and do not lay back on them. They should not allow a runner to challenge them.
Concentrate on positioning themselves for the throw on both ground and fly balls whenever possible. Try to catch all balls on their throwing side in order to get rid of the ball quickly.
Give the ball to the infielders in the same manner they would like it if they were playing the infield.
Never be caught without sunglasses. One fly ball lost in the sun may cost the game.
Call loudly, distinctly and confidently on all fly balls and take all fly balls they can handle toward the infield. Never pressure the infielder by forcing him to make the tough play. The infielder goes back until the outfielder calls him off the play.
Learn how to play fences. On balls that stop at the bottom of a fence, outfielders should make sure they look at the ball when they pick it up, so that they don't have to reach for it more than once. Pick the ball up the first time. If we use two hands we won't bobble or drop the ball. Each time you fail to pick up the ball the runner advances another base.
Like infielders, anticipate every ball is going to be hit to them. Think, "What am I going to do with the ball when it is hit to my right, my left, in front, over my head, hard, soft..." etc.
Practice taking balls off the bat during batting practice. Much more can be learned by fielding balls off the bat then by any other method.

Tips for special situations
When playing on the road with less than two outs and the winning run on third, outfielders should play short enough to provide a good shot at the man trying to score. This also might enable the outfielder to handle a line drive that would otherwise fall for a base hit.

The toughest play for an outfielder to make is when the ball is hit directly over his head. An outfielder should turn to his strong side on this ball, whether it is to his right or left.

The complete catcher

It's sometimes said that the catcher runs the diamond. Do you have what it takes to excel in this critical team role? Cal Ripken, Sr. tells you what makes a great catcher.
The catcher is the only player in foul territory and the only player that can see all the other players on the field without turning his head. It is his job to call the pitches, call the plays and to generally run the ball game. He has to work hard and has to keep himself in top physical condition.

A catcher should:
Have knowledge of pitching.
Have knowledge of the opposing hitters.
Be able to handle each pitcher as the individual he or she is.
Have a good arm.
Check the condition of the playing field before each game, particularly in front of the plate.
Check to see how hard the wind is blowing.
Be a take-charge type fellow.
Practice his throwing and shifting while warming up on the sidelines or at any time he is playing catch.
Show desire and determination to become a good receiver.
Study each pitcher individually and work him accordingly.
Do everything to help the pitcher—not make himself look good. The catcher and the pitcher are a team within the team.
Discuss the game before and after with the pitcher so they think alike and work together as a unit.
Go to the mound and talk with the pitcher. Do not yell from behind the plate.
Make a thorough study of opposing hitters and discuss them freely with the pitcher.
Learn to receive the ball gracefully and work it cleverly into the strike zone.
Give a good target (types of targets for pitchers vary).
Learn to know pitchers and types of targets they prefer.
Learn to throw well to all bases, and to throw back to the pitcher accurately. (Hit the pitcher in the glove shoulder.)
Learn to call for the pitch-out at the proper time.
Have the pitcher throw something he can get over until he is ahead of the hitter.
Call the throw (where the pitcher or infielder is to throw the ball on the bunt).
Field a bunt with body low and eyes glued on the ball. Use two hands bringing the ball into the glove with the bare hand—kind of a "raking together" action.
Learn to protect his fingers. (He should not point fingers toward the ball when receiving it. He should have his hand in a relaxed position with fingers in toward the palm, thumb under the first finger but not clenched like a fist.)

Learn to catch with one hand but not be altogether a one-handed catcher.
Practice throwing the ball with fingers across the big seams—with this grip the ball will not sail or sink. (Throw to second base whenever the bunt is in order and the pitch is missed by the batter with men on first and second.)
Never delay a throw because he does not have the proper grip.
Hide signs from the first- and third-base coaches and give them slowly and clearly so the pitcher and shortstop have no trouble getting them.
Know what pitch he is going to call next so as not to display indecision, as this will tend to make pitcher indecisive too.
Learn to block the low pitches by hitting the dirt with both knees. He should not try to block balls he cannot get his body in front of. If a base runner is stealing he should try to catch the low pitch instead of blocking.
Keep his pitcher working and keep the game moving.
Rub balls up for pitchers.
Use simple, easy signs or the pitcher-shortstop combination will not bother to read them.
Learn to catch pop flies. In learning to catch foul flies, the catcher should move under the ball until it appears that it is dropping right on the tip of his nose. When possible the mitt should be face up. Learn to keep the ball in front of you.
Learn to shift his feet properly. On moving to his right from a spread stance, step into the pitch with the right foot to receive the ball. The left leg naturally follows through into throwing position. On moving to his left from a spread stance, a catcher should take as short a step with left foot as possible and move into the ball getting the right leg in throwing position.
Study the effect umpiring has on each pitcher. Experience will teach a catcher whether to agree with the umpire or his pitcher.
Stay behind home plate when throwing in infield practice.
Chase foul balls on the ground as the ball should sometimes be kept foul, and also, the pitcher might like to use that same ball again.
Have his weight slightly forward and evenly distributed on both feet, from either the sitting or crouch position.
Keep himself out of the sitting position when receiving the ball. Move right or left foot.
By receiving the ball from a well-balanced crouch he can position himself to throw, field bunts and handle all receiving chores alertly.
Keep himself as close to the hitter as practical. He will then keep the pitch closer to the strike zone, and the foul tips won't bounce off his glove.
Have someone at times watch him to make sure he is not pumping signs or moving up on the curve ball and back on the fastball.
Check his equipment. Poor equipment can cause serious injury and retard progress.
Always keep elbows outside of knees to work corner pitches.
Always keep low so as not to block umpires. This also enables him to catch low pitches with the glove up.
Practice catching short hops or low pitches—drop to both knees and block these type balls.The ball may go over or around the catcher but it should not go through him.
Always keep the ball in front—this keeps the runner from advancing another base. The ball a catcher has to retrieve behind him is the toughest ball for him to get and then make a good throw to the base.

Anticipate a bad pitch. Then he will be ready to catch or block pitches well out of the strike zone. The strike is easy to catch.
There is no set way for a catcher to throw. He should throw in a manner that is natural to him. If his progress is slow and a change necessary, the overhand throw is most desirable.

A comfortable stance with good balance is a prerequisite for proper receiving, shifting and throwing.

Sign position: Place feet shoulder width apart and squat down. Turn heels outward to bring knees to a position to block signs from base coaches.
Catching or throwing position: Either stand and move feet a bit wider apart or sit and do the same thing. Make sure to get the right foot ever so slightly behind the left. Pick up the tail up slightly to allow weight to shift to the balls of the feet and allow for quick reaction behind the plate.

Tips for special situations
Double steal
The manager has a sign with the catcher specifying whether he is allowed to throw through to second base if he wishes or whether he must not throw through. Sometimes a catcher can come up and throw directly to third base and catch the runner off the bag—this comes with experience. There are other times the catcher will throw back to the pitcher. The situation determines this—catcher's arm, base runner, score, etc.
Catcher must always figure speed of base runners.
Catcher should always look at runner on third base before making his throw to second base on a double-steal situation. Exception: if a play would be one that you were going to throw directly back to the pitcher then the runner on third would make his move toward home more freely and quickly.
If pitcher is a poor fielder, it is not a good idea to throw back to him with the runner stealing on the double steal.
The second baseman should take throw at second on the double steal whenever possible.
Timid catchers
Let a timid catcher wear a mask at the plate on plays at the plate—sometimes this is necessary anyway, particularly in a squeeze situation or possibly on a ball hit to the third baseman when the runner at third has a big lead.

The complete pitcher

A good pitcher is constantly learning.
A good pitcher must:
Have good control and pitch strikes.
Know how to field his position.
Analyze the hitter's strength and weaknesses.
Have confidence.
Keep his body active, especially the legs.

Form good pitching habits.
Concentrate: pick out a spot and throw to it.
Communicate with his catcher. They must understand each other.
Pitch a ball game. Don't just be a thrower.
Above all have command, of pitches and of himself.
Have a clear mind and pitch strikes.

Position on rubber
A right-handed pitcher pitches from the right corner of the rubber, his foot angled slightly to take the sign.
A left-handed pitcher pitches from the left corner of the rubber, his foot angled slightly to take the sign. This is done to allow the pitcher to deliver the ball from behind the hitter and to be more effective with correct balance.
When a right-handed pitcher faces a left-handed hitter, he may want to move a little more toward the center. He should not stand directly in the center because this will cut down on the angle. A left-hander may do the same thing when throwing to a right-handed hitter.

Fielding position
When a pitcher releases the ball he is no longer a pitcher but another infielder and should be alert and ready to make all plays.
On all balls hit to the left of the pitcher, he immediately breaks for the first-base bag. If necessary, he covers first base. If not, he keeps out of play. The pitcher should take all possible bunts and listen to the catcher to determine what base to throw to.
When runners are advancing, make certain when a play is going to be made at either third base or home plate that the pitcher runs halfway between the two bases and then determines what base he must back up as the runners advance and the throw comes in.

Fielding bunts
Break hard going in (shove off back leg and bounce off mound.)
Make sure you see the ball go into your glove before looking at target.
Depending upon the chosen defense with a man on first and second, with a bunt in order:
the pitcher covers the third-base side and the third baseman stays back;
the pitcher covers first-base side and the first baseman covers bag.
Fielding balls bunted down first-base line and throwing to first base

A right-handed pitcher has time, as he does not have to turn as a left-hander does. Get to the ball quickly and make a good, firm throw to the first baseman on the inside of the bag.
A left-handed pitcher must pivot to his right and do a half turn. Be to have something on the throw and keep inside of the diamond so that sure the throw will not hit the runner in his back.
Fielding ball bunted straight at pitcher and throwing to first base

Field the ball, then bring the ball and glove together. Take a short crow hop and throw with something on it.

Fielding ball bunted down third base line and throwing to first base
A right-handed pitcher goes to his right side, plants his right foot and comes up throwing.
A left-handed pitcher fields the ball in his glove, pivots to his right on a half turn while fielding the ball and comes up throwing in two counts.
Fielding bunts and throwing to second base

Know who is covering and listen for the catcher to call the play.
Make sure your body is controlled. Don't throw off-balance.
A right-handed pitcher, on a ball bunted to his left: fields the ball, plants his right foot and makes a half pivot, directs his front shoulder to second and throws with something on it.
A right-handed pitcher on a ball bunted to his right: fields ball, does a complete pivot throwing off right leg and makes sure to have something on the throw.
A left-handed pitcher on a ball bunted to his left: fields the ball, does a half pivot, planting his left foot, then throws with something on it—all in one motion.
A left-handed pitcher, with a ball bunted to his right: fields the ball, plants his left leg, directs his front shoulder to second base and throws to second base with something on it.

Fielding bunts and throwing to third base
A right-handed pitcher when fielding ball to his right: fields ball and does a pivot to his left, directs his front shoulder to third base and throws to third base.
A right-handed pitcher when fielding ball to his left: does a complete turn, plants his back leg and throws in a hurry. (This is a difficult play and usually is made to first base.)
A left-handed pitcher on ball to his left: charges the line, fields the ball, does a half pivot, plants his foot and throws.
A left-handed pitcher on ball to his right: fields ball, directs his front shoulder to third and makes an accurate, firm throw to third.
Remember the third baseman has to catch the throw. Don't handcuff him.

Covering first base
Break hard for the bag, and then slow down when approaching it. Take the throw about 5 feet from bag; staying inside and touching the bag with right foot, turn in so that you keep out of the runner's way.
After tagging the bag, turn in toward the diamond so that the runner won't step or run into you.
Also, should there be men on the other bases, turn in to prepare yourself for a throw to third or possibly home. Be alert.
A pitcher should not snatch at the ball. Don't fight it. Be relaxed when fielding this tossed ball. Put your glove up and out in front for a target.
When the first baseman boots a ground ball, go to the bag in the same fashion but when ball is kicked stay at the bag. Do not run by. Put one foot on bag then stretch out when necessary as a first baseman would.

Throwing to second base for double play
Always know who is covering the bag so, as a pitcher, you can lead correctly. Most times it will be the shortstop as he is correcting toward the bag; it's easier for pitcher to throw to him and for him to execute the double play.
The pitcher should lead throw to shortstop.
If the second baseman is covering bag, your throw should be a lead throw.
The pitcher's job is to catch the ball, take his time, crow hop and make a good throw for the purpose of forcing the runner at second base. The shortstop and second baseman's job is to complete the double play.

Pitchers must:
Try to stay ahead of the hitter.
Have the hitter hit his pitch.
Know his best pitch on given day and use this when in trouble.
Have confidence.
Know his own weaknesses and try to correct them.
Know the outs and score.
Know the importance of the outs and the runners on base; know the tying and winning run.
Know who is covering each base.
Know the speed of his own infielders.
Never show temper and fight umpires. They will only get even.
Keep control of himself when errors are made behind him.
Pick up the target before making a pitch.
Be the boss when on the mound. Be aggressive.
Things to look for when a pitcher is having problems

High with pitches: Pitcher's front shoulder is too high, or he is dropping his arm. He should reach up for higher delivery with his arm.
Low in dirt, later in game: tiredness.
All over/ wild: Lack of concentration. Failure to pick up target. Head flying. Just throwing without a purpose.
Main cause of pitching problems: Pitcher tries to throw too hard and, as a result, then loses composure and correct mechanics of delivering a pitch.
A nice, smooth, rhythmic windup, keeping eyes, head and front shoulder on target will allow any pitcher to have control and be able to throw strikes. Bringing the head to the knee rather than the knee to the head will allow a pitcher to be in the best delivery position. Bringing the knee to the head only causes a pitcher to get in a rared-back position, making him high with pitches; it also causes overthrowing. STRIKES are the name of the pitching game.

The fastball, curve ball and change-up are the only pitches needed to be successful. However, control of these is most important; all should be thrown for strikes.

The complete hitter

One of the oldest beliefs in baseball is that hitters are born, not made. However, as Cal Ripken, Sr. points out, the player with fearless determination and desire can improve with correct practice and good instruction.
Hitting is probably the most difficult part of the game. However, it is also the most enjoyable and satisfying part, as we all love to hit a baseball. It's difficult because the pitcher throws the ball hard, or not so hard, or makes it curve or sink, and we do not know what is coming to home plate until he releases the ball... we only know if we watch the flight of the ball. Like all parts of the game there are basic fundamentals that can help make us better hitters.

To be good hitters we want to select a bat that is comfortable and one that we can handle and swing. Then we want to get a stance that is comfortable. Usually that would be a stance just as if we were standing and talking. There are many stances—closed stances, open stances, modified stances, etc. The most important part of the stance is that we stand at home plate so as to be able to cover the plate with the good part of the bat. The grip of the bat should be in the fingers and not jammed back to the rear of the hand. For example, when we pick up a golf club we pick it up in our fingers. We should be able to align the middle knuckles of both hands.

The placement of the bat on or off the shoulder is something that should be comfortable for the individual. The approach to the ball should be with a short stride and a quick short swing. We hit with our hands and bat. The body takes over after the contact with the ball for the follow-through.

The correct idea is to hit the ball hard someplace. With this idea in mind, we should try to hit a line drive either at the pitcher's chest or at an infielder's chest. We really are not trying to pull the ball consistently, thus making it easier to hit pitches that are on the outside half of the plate. As a result of this type of approach to the ball, we will be stepping to the pitch to hit and will not fall into bad habits such as pulling the head and pulling off the ball. The main idea of hitting is to hit the ball well or hit the ball hard each time we go to plate. Home runs and extra-base hits take care of themselves if our objective is to make solid, hard contact.

I like to use the words "solid, hard contact" because just the word "contact" is really not correct. We can go to home plate and make contact and hit the ball softly and the infielders and outfielders can converge and make the play and throw us out at first base or catch a little soft pop fly. By approaching the ball correctly both mentally and physically allows us to hit for a good average. We want to watch the ball coming to the plate and we want to hit the ball out in front of the body and the plate. By hitting the ball out in front we can see it and then, too, we are able to get the bat in the position for maximum bat speed and power. By watching the ball and keeping the eyes on the ball we tell the brain the truth about the position of the ball and then the hands swing the bat in the correct position. For example, if the ball is on the inner half of the plate and we watch and see the ball, the brain will tell the hands to be a little quicker and as a result we will

automatically get the bat out front quicker and pull that particular pitch. Now that we have these basics, let's analyze what I think are the ingredients of the ideal hitter.

The ideal hitter
The ideal hitter would probably have a combination of these qualities: strength, determination, coordination, confidence, vision, rhythm, style, body control, quick hands, and the will to learn and to take advice. He would have a relaxed body and a loose, natural arm action. He would blend the important parts of hitting—bat and grip, stance, step or stride, swing and follow-through—into a smooth, graceful motion. While waiting for the pitch, he would be perfectly relaxed with his feet spread comfortably and body turned toward the plate. Eyes, hips and shoulders would be level, and the weight of his body would be distributed almost evenly on both feet. His bat is back and ready. He would watch the ball until it hits the bat. His swing would be a clean, free, crisp swing, and the ball would be struck out in front of the plate one to one and one half feet in front of his body with the full power of the shifting weight behind it. The body follows through in the direction the ball is hit, and the bat continues under its own momentum to the rear of the body. At no stage of the swing does the batter's head jerk out of line. He follows the course of the ball from the moment it leaves the pitcher's hand until it has hit the bat and is on its way.

Perhaps the most controversial of all baseball fundamentals as well as the most mysterious is what goes into the making of a good hitter. As each player is equipped differently, physically and mentally, it is extremely difficult to determine what procedure is best for an individual player. Following is a list of ideas that can help anyone become a better hitter:

Select a bat you can handle.
Keep your head still
Concentrate on solid, hard contact.
Hit strikes. Learn the strike zone.
Keep front shoulder and chin tucked in.
Keep your hands back.
Turn your head so that both eyes are on the pitcher; don't look around your nose.
Lay the bat on your shoulder while waiting for the pitcher to get ready. Don't hold the bat in an erect position for any length of time. This only takes the strength out of your hands and arms and detracts from a free, fluid swing.
Learn to hit your strength. Every hitter has a strength just as every hitter has a weakness. Hit your pitch. When you get it, don't let it get away.
Stay on the balls of your feet. Keep off your heels.
Start the bat to create some type of hand action and bat speed. In order to get the bat started, just move your hands back slightly as the pitcher is getting ready to release the ball. If you like the pitch, go ahead and hit it. If you don't like the pitch, then hold up your swing.
Take a short step and stride—a long stride will only throw you off balance.
Make the pitcher come to you. Don't be anxious in going out after him.
Keep your hands relaxed. As contact is made your hands will tighten.

If you're having trouble controlling the bat don't be afraid to choke up. Bat control is very important.
Don't change your stance and style until soundly convinced you can't hit with your present stance.
Stay on top. A slight downward swing allows this and is a good way to keep from upper cutting. Keeping the front shoulder in and down also allows a hitter to get the bat head out in front and prevents dropping the back shoulder.

Coaching little league baseball: hitting

It is very important for kids to learn the proper fundamentals when playing baseball. Often when they first begin to play baseball they will pick up some bad habits. The longer that they continue to hit with poor fundamentals the harder it will be to correct.
They are:
(1) Watch the ball all of the way to the bat.
(2) A proper stride with good balance during the swing.
(3) Start the swing with the hands at the top of the strike zone.
This holds true for boys or girls whether playing little league baseball or youth softball.
The first one that I will discuss and one of the most common faults is to pull their head which will not allow them see the ball all the way to the bat. To hit a baseball consistently they must see it. Often little leaguers will watch the ball as it is pitched but as they swing they will pull their head causing them to lose eye contact with the baseball and not actually see the bat make contact with the baseball. When in their stance at the plate they will look over their front shoulder or the one closest to the pitcher. As the baseball nears the plate, they will start to swing and often their head and chin will stay with the front shoulder as if it is glued to the shoulder. As the front shoulder opens the head will turn away from the baseball and the eyes will no longer have contact with the baseball. The proper technique and easiest way for them to understand how to watch the baseball longer is to teach them to start with their head and chin on their front shoulder and as they swing their chin should end up on their back shoulder. When contact is made they should be looking down towards the position where the baseball bat and baseball will make contact and this will ensure that they watch the baseball for a longer period of time.
Now that they are seeing the baseball longer we need to ensure that they have the proper stride. There is not a certain length that their stride should be. Some players will take a small stride while others take a longer stride. There is also not a certain position that the feet should be in before they stride. The most important thing is that they have good balance throughout their swing. One common fault that many little leaguers have is that they tend to overstride. Overstriding can cause several bad things to happen. First if they tend to overstride they often will not step in the proper direction. They should stride towards the pitcher but often when they overstride they will stride away from home plate causing them to have trouble hitting the pitch on the outer half of the plate. Another problem overstriding can cause is swinging late. The swing takes place after the stride. The longer the stride then the longer before the hands can begin the swing. A shorter stride can allow the swing to begin sooner. Also a longer stride will cause the head to move farther. Now you have the baseball moving in one direction and the head moving in the opposite direction and somewhere in between contact must be made. A shorter stride will allow the head to be stable which should aid the batter to see the baseball better.
The third fundamental is keeping the hands up above the pitch. Often little leaguers will tend to drop their hands before they swing or start their swing from too low of a position. This will often cause them to swing up at the baseball or have trouble hitting baseballs pitched at the top of the strike zone. Generally they can hit the pitch above their hands if it is not pitched with a lot of velocity. So, if they tend to drop their hands as they begin playing baseball they may be able to hit it at first. But, as they get older and the pitching becomes faster they will find that they can no longer catch up to the baseball above their hands. If they hold their hands down in the middle of the strike zone then all of the strikes thrown in the top half of the strike zone with be hard for them to hit. However, if they will learn to hold their hands at the top of the strike zone, they will have a better chance of catching up to any baseball that is thrown in the strike zone. The longer that they hold their hands too low the harder it will be for them to adjust as they get older and play in more competitive leagues.
One thing that often contributes to youth league players to drop their hands is using a bat that is too heavy. Kids are very impressionable and often will do things for odd reasons. Every little league team tends to have a kid that is an early developer. He is much larger then the other kids and therefor can use a heavier baseball bat then the other kids. Because of his size he hits the ball further then everyone else. The other kids see him hit the baseball to the fence or over it and they want to hit like that too. Often, they don't realize that he hits the ball further because he is bigger, not because of the bat. So, now they try to use his bat which is too heavy for them due to their smaller size. As they begin to take batting practice with the heavy bat they may hold it up in the proper position at first but as they take more and more swings it becomes heavier and heavier and before long their hands will drop to a position that is too low. If they continue to use a bat that is too heavy it will lead to poor fundamentals in their swing.
Now you understand 3 of the basic fundamentals in hitting a baseball. It is never too early to teach you kids the proper fundamentals when hitting. If they pick up bad habits when they first begin they will have trouble changing when they are older. Remember to teach them to watch the baseball all the way to bat by starting with the head and chin resting on the front should and end with it on the back shoulder. To take a comfortable stride and always maintain good balance while starting their swing with the hands above the ball.

Author's name omitted by request

Title: Coaching little league baseball: hitting
Description: Coach your youth little league and softball players and teach them the proper way to hit. They will be more succesfull if they learn the proper fundamentals.

The eteamz tips & drills section is full of usefull drills, tips, games and more for coaches, players, and parents.

Ten Commandments of Parental Behavior
Ten Commandments of Parental Behavior

By Rick Wolff

Ten or 20 years ago, watching a youth game was fairly simple. Parents would bring the kids, hang around the field and chitchat with other Moms and Dads. Then, when the game ended, the kids would hop back into their parents’ cars, and off they’d go for an ice cream cone.

These days, however, life at youth league games is no longer so pristine and pure.

And it’s the parents, not the kids who are the main reason so many problems and concerns are cropping up. Moms and Dads too often are losing perspective not only of what’s important at these games, but also of what’s appropriate sideline behavior. So, parents, here’s a quick reminder of how grownups should behave at kids’ games.

   1.Talk about the other kids on the team-indeed, on both teams in the same manner you would want other parents to talk about your child. This is the golden rule applied to sports. Watching kids’ sports tends to be a social affair. When you’re making conversation on the sidelines with your friends and neighbors think about what you’re saying before you actually say it. To always be on the safe side, only voice praise for the other children. That way, you’ll never go wrong.
   2.It’s nice to give the coach a pat on the back when he or she wins. It’s even nicer when you give the coach a pat on the back after a loss. Remember that the vast majority of coaches are volunteers who are sacrificing their own time to help your kid. So give them a well-deserved salute, especially when their team hasn’t fared well that day.
   3.Don’t hesitate to give the ref, a pat on the back either. As you might have guessed, refs are people too. They like when parent’s and fans acknowledge their on-field efforts as well. Why don’t you lead the way?
   4.Remind your child that it’s the effort that counts. We know all the kids want to win. That’s a given. But we also know that for every winning team, there’s also a loser. Be prepared to cushion your child’s disappointment after a loss by pointing out that he or she played hard and put forth a tremendous effort.
   5.Avoid P.G.A. the Postgame Analysis. When the game is over and your child climbs into your car avoid at all costs the detailed excruciating postgame analysis of everything she did right or wrong. Just let your child chill out, savor the fun of having played, and relax. The absolute worst time for friendly criticism is immediately after the game.
   6.Smile a lot! Kids sports are about having fun and because kids take their behavior cues from you try at least to look like you’re enjoying yourself.
   7.If you aren’t a "good sport" at the games, the kids won’t be either. This should be self-evident. If you set a pattern of being a sideline loudmouth who likes to yell and scream at your ref, coach or opposing team, don’t be surprised when your kids start copying your behavior. You will have only yourself to blame.
   8.Take the time to learn the rules of the game. A lot of kids these days are playing sports you may not be familiar with. So, if you don’t know the rules of the game, why don’t you and your child learn them together? Besides, it’s a good idea to read the rulebook. It just might help win a dispute.
   9.If your must make noise at the games, shout only praise and encouragement. If you’re a screamer and yeller, make certain that when you open your mouth; you’re only pouring forth cheerful encouragement for your child’s team. There’s never any place for derogatory, snide or sarcastic comments at kid’ games.
10.Above all, be there for your children. Support then, praise them, and let them know you can always be counted on for unconditional love, regardless of the final score.

2001 Theme


SourcePR NEWSWIRE ForumsHealth, Safety, Nutrition and Kids Related Articles CPSC Releases Study of Protective Equipment for Baseball CPSC: Recall of Baseball Catchers' Helmet Faceguard Information and news releases furnished by the members of PR Newswire, who are responsible for their fact and content.         PHILADELPHIA, March 11, 1996 -- It s almost Little League season again, and if you're a coach, there are 10 tips you should know to help keep your players healthy."The number one tip coaches should remember is that children are not miniature adults and shouldn't be treated as such," says Jim Rogers, a certified athletic trainer in Temple University Hospital's sports Medicine Center."This may seem obvious, but many adults don't realize children's bodies can't take the same amount of physical stress adult bodies can take. That's because children are still growing and therefore are more susceptible to injury."Rogers offers coaches these other tips to prevent injury:·        Stretching the muscles related to the activity is very important. For example, if a child is pitching, he should concentrate on stretching his arm and back muscles. If a child is catching, the focus should be on the legs and back. ·        A good warm-tip is just as important as stretching. A warm-up can involve light calisthenics or a short jog. This helps raise the core body temperature and prepares all the body's muscles for physical activity.·        Children should not be encouraged to "play through pain." Pain is a warning sign of injury. Ignoring it can lead to greater injury.·        Swelling with pain and limitation of motion are two signs that are especially significant in children -- don't ignore them. They may mean the child has a more serious injury than initially suspected.·        Rest is by far the most powerful therapy in youth sports injuries. Nothing helps an injury heal faster than rest.·        Children who play on more than one team are especially at risk for overuse injuries. Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive stress put on the same part of the body over and over again.·        Injuries that look like sprains in adults can be fractures in children. Children are more susceptible to fractures, because their bones are still growing.·        Children's growth spurts can make for increased risk of injury. A particularly sensitive area in a child's body during a growth spurt is the growth plate -- the area of growth in the bone. Growth plates are weak spots in a child's body and can be the source of injury if the child is pushed beyond his limit athletically.·        Ice is a universal first-aid treatment for minor sports injuries. Regular ice packs -- not chemical packs -- should be available at all games and practices. Ice controls the pain and swelling caused by common injuries such as sprains, strains and contusions.Temple University Health Science Center news releases can be accessed on-line through CompuServe in the SciNews-MedNews library of the Journalism Forum under file extension ".TMM"CONTACT: Andrew Smith of Temple University Health Sciences Center, 215-707-4039, or Juggledrew@AOL.com


Work with your child. There really is little more satisfying than going out at least a few evenings a week and playing ball with your kids. This gives quality time, and helps your child improve his/her skills (and, trust me, the better your child can play, the more she/he will enjoy the Little League experience!). Some day, your child will look back on the summer evenings spent playing catch with mom and dad.

Get involved in your local league. Most leagues are run on a volunteer basis, and they can use all the help they can get. Anything you can do to pitch in will make the league run more smoothly, and will help all the kids -- from helping out at tryouts, to scorekeeping or field preparation, to umpiring. If your son or daughter sees that their league is that important to you, he/she will learn that it is important to the kids, too. For years I have helped out by field prep, scorekeeping, and umpiring; in addition to making it a satisfying experience for me, I'm able to share in something that's very important to my son. And, the leagues provide all of the training anyone needs. Some people worry that they are not qualified--I say if you make a mistake, you can offer to give back the money you earned that day (remember--it's volunteer work!!). Besides, even coaches and players make mistakes...the point is to learn and to have fun, and to teach kids that you care!!!

As parents, we've learned to be patient with our kids. Be patient with their coaches, too. Different coaches have different philosophies. Some believe in having players play all positions, some want players to become good at one. Some coaches place more emphasis on winning, and some place all emphasis on learning. Each coach is different, and last year's coach probably did things differently than this year's coach will. It is IMPORTANT to remember that your child's coach is not being paid; he or she is working for the love of the game and the kids. Let them be the coach! Don't argue and criticize if you think your child is being treated unfairly (as parents, it is natural to be very protective, but most coaches aren't discriminating). If you think there is a problem, discuss it calmly with the coach AWAY from the ball field; chances are that you will see his point of view. The important thing is not to make an issue in front of the players; along with baseball, they are learning to work as a team and to respect authority and experience...work not to ruin this teaching.

For heaven's sake, show up for the games AND the practices. In today's busy world it is sometimes hard to juggle schedules, but this is your child! I cannot begin to tell stories of kids I've seen who never tried to excel at baseball, and invariably these kids were dropped off at practices and picked up afterwards, without the parent(s) ever watching a single practice. It's only a couple of times a week, a couple of months out of the year! The most irritating are the parents who don't ever watch practice (and, therefore, never understand the coaches' philosophy), but will question (yell!) at a coach's decision during the game. Most people wouldn't dare to not show up for work and still tell the boss what's wrong with the company, but they will turn around and do just that with their childs' coach.

Respect the rules! This is what the kids should be learning. If you don't agree with an umpire's call, keep it to yourself. If there is a team rule that bothers you, well, its their team...not yours. If you think there is a serious problem, take it up with the coach or a league official on your own time, not your child's. Rule of thumb: during practice or games, don't speak unless spoken to (except, of course, to cheer on ALL the kids). This is not to say that you can't have a fan's opinion, or try to stick up for your kids; just realize that if you yell at an umpire in an unsportsmanlike way, kids will be watching, listening, and learning. If you must make a comment, try to keep it polite, upbeat, and humorous.

Don't create pressure. Just about every father dreams of his son becoming a major league star, but they are only children. Don't expect more than they can deliver. Give positive encouragement, and be there when they need you. Besides, often a child in early years will lack certain skills, and blossom later on. Don't fight nature, or the kids. the one thing that will make me cringe the most, at a game, is to see a player strike out, or make a mistake, only to have a parent up in the stands yelling at him/her. Praising them for their effort, even in failure, will go a lot farther, and make the drive home much more pleasant.

Ice Cream!!! No one likes to lose, but the nature of a team sport is that one team will always lose. Teach your child that he/she didn't lose, the team lost. And they lost to a team that just happened to play better that day. There is always next time, and the important thing is to learn from the defeats. It's okay to analyze why someone lost, and how they can do better next time. It's never okay to place blame! Then, go out and have an ice cream cone.

Have Fun!!!!! Youth sports should be a positive experience for everyone: kids, coaches, support staff, and parents. Winning is nice, but losing is inevitable. Being a star is fun, but being a bench player is just as important. Take the opportunity to enjoy your childs' childhood, and to teach some important life lessons!!

(This suggestion is from a Mom) Although baseball is considered a 'non-contact' sport, there are occassions when players collide, or non-contact injuries occur. We are all concerned about our children's safety, but if your child suffers an injury, remember: kids are able to sustain a lot more than adults; and, coaches are trained in dealing with injuries. Let the coach handle the situation...he doesn't need a panicked parent to deal with. It isn't bad to move closer to the area, but jumping a fence and moving people out of the way just adds to the confusion. Give the coach a chance to assess the situation and take any steps necessary to provide for the safety of the player. If anything is serious, he will let you know and ask for your help immediately.

I can't stress this enough: VOLUNTEER...they need you. One of the biggest irritants I see is those who will not give their time, but are quick to criticize. If you can't be part of the solution, don't be part of the problem. If you think that something needs to be changed, get involved so that you can change it.

(This suggestion is from a manager) One of the most frustrating things for a manager is to have a parent come up after the season and say,"great season, but you kept doing something that bothered me..." A manager/coach cannot change problems if they don't know the problems exist. Most managers/coaches welcome input.

Handling the youth sport atmosphere
Some coaches also have a difficult time handling the youth sport atmosphere, and some may underestimate their importance to their players.

"The No. 1 reason why kids come back is positive coaching," Burnett said. "Coaches must grasp the idea that their role is important. When I talked to the coaches and we define a successful coach, it isn't determined by [their] win-loss [record]. The coach has to keep the kids involved."

According to Burnett, there are four needs a coach must establish for a child to keep him or her returning to youth sports.

The first need is a sense of belonging. If the children cannot find a group to come to them, they'll go to the group. The coach can add to that sense of belonging by making the child feel like part of the team. This point leads to the second need, which is to feel worthwhile. If the coach relates to the kid as a person and as a member of the team, it will add to the value of youth sports. The third need is a sense of dignity. The coach's job is to treat the
children with respect, and let them know they will be treated with respect simply for coming out and playing. The fourth need is a sense of control. The coach lets the children know they are in control of their own destiny, and
lets them work their way into a role on the team.

The other job of the coach is to control the parents to prevent a situation from getting out of hand. The first step is to define unruly behavior.

"If you're going to deal with unruly parents, you've got to have it all spelled out before the season begins," Burnett advised, noting a preseason meeting with the parents can help prevent any unwanted situation. Coaches need to tell parents that offensive language, and the berating of players, coaches and officials are unacceptable. The coach also must provide consequences for any action considered inappropriate.

"If there is a situation, the first step is to remain calm, otherwise you can feed the fire," Burnett continued.

When a situation occurs, the coach has to have some way of dealing with it. One way is to have other parents who participated in the preseason meeting, talk to the offending parent to try to calm him or her down. After the event
occurs, the coach must become the teacher, so the parent understands what he or she did wrong, and why it was considered unacceptable. The coach has to look for the positives in every situation.