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CySeymour
03-23-2010, 12:50 PM
This week starts my first week as a head coach of a youth baseball team. My middle child, a 9 year old boy, is on my team. He had been asking me for a couple of years to coach one of his teams, so I went ahead and signed up this season.

Does anyone have any sound advice from experience? I'm very excited, but also a bit nervous.

BLEEDS
03-23-2010, 01:50 PM
I coached my daughter's softball teams (YMCA, not ultra-competitive) a couple times, once as assistant, once as head coach.

The only advice I'll give - since you didn't specifically say what kind of advice you are looking for - is make sure you make it FUN first and foremost, stick to the basics since at that age, they can't really remember all the stuff you might want to tell/teach them, and finally make sure you are "toughest" on your own kid.

Unfortunately we've all seen/heard about the "coaches kid" who always got the benefit of the doubt, extra attention, somehow became the #1 pitcher, etc... you don't want to be "that guy". SO, ensure you are toughest on your own, but also talk to your son about it so he knows in advance that he's not getting any special treatment, and in fact it's going to be expected that he be the example and that you will be extra hard on him so that nobody thinks he's getting any breaks.

Anything else you're looking for, let me know and I'll try to give you my perspective.

PEACE

-BLEEDS

CySeymour
03-23-2010, 02:08 PM
Thanks, Bleeds. Actually, as far as the my own son, he actually won't be one of the stars, so I will have that going for me. The team is made up of 9 and 10 year olds, and it will be the first year of kid pitch for the 9 year olds. One of the parents is a former college pitcher, and he has volunteered to help me out with the pitchers.

But I totally agree. Ya gotta keep it fun. And I don't want to get too fancy with what gets taught. I think you can tend to confuse them if you go too far.

BigJohn
03-23-2010, 03:08 PM
Move kids around so they all get a chance to play different positions. Who cares if you win? It is instructional league. Let every kid play first that wants to. Do not let you best pitcher pitch every game he is allowed by rule. Let them all have a turn at pitcher, catcher and the hot spots. Shake up your batting order every game. Don't worry about who is the Cleanup batter, it is not a big deal. Go catcher, pitcher, first etc one game and then reverse it the next game. Make them know the batting order every game, not just know who they follow every game.
This is HOW you make it fun. Everyone says, make it fun but no one tells you how to make it fun. Kids want to try to play short or third, let them.

winks
03-23-2010, 06:04 PM
I agree with bleeds have fun. Also one thing i did once the fundamentals are established, in practice when the kids are hitting play "situation" you let all the kids know what situation is on ex runner on 1st 1 out and then when the hitter hits the ball the fielders do what they would do in a game. makes practice more fun and teaches everyone what to do with the ball if hit to them.

defender
03-23-2010, 06:48 PM
repetition and confidence are very important. In batting practice, go through the lineup giving each kid 10 pitches. At first, coaches should be pitching to make sure the kids hit the ball. Let kids practice at all positions, but there is no point having a kid play a position he can not handle in games. Hit fly balls to the kids who will play outfield, they won't get enough during batting practice.

GIDP
03-23-2010, 07:34 PM
I always thought when I start coaching about asking the team to maybe look up something like what was Ted Williams highest batting average before the next practice just to see them get more interested in the history of the game. I have no idea if that would work but I plan on giving it a shot.

Also it would probably help you get to know the kids a little better.

UPRedsFan
03-23-2010, 08:13 PM
I coached that same age group last year for the first time.

One good thing to do in initial practices is base running drills.

Teach them to run thru the bag at first (i.e. don't stop on the base)

Teach them to round the bag if the ball's in the outfield and to listen to the coach.

Teach them to hold on a ball in the air with less than 2 outs. We had them line up at first and a coach either threw a ball up in the air and they had to stay or he threw it on the ground and they had to go.

Teach them to run first to third and watch the 3rd base coach.

Have your college pitcher or another coach throw BP for awhile first so the kids get batting practice with pitches they can hit. When you get closer to the games let the kids pitch to each other.

Above all make sure the kids are having fun and move the kids around some to different positions. Stick your best players in the outfield for at least one inning so others get a chance to play infield.

One more important thing to teach with this age group is how to be a good team mate. Pull for your team mate, don't criticize. And how to be a good sport with the other team - win or lose.

Griffey012
03-23-2010, 08:52 PM
I am only 23 and don't have coaching experience, but it wasn't that long ago I was playing in little league. The advice I have to give is make it fun as they have already said, but always be Energetic and Positive to the kids. If they screw up badly make them feel better and them teach them and make sure they learn from the mistake.

I think kids at these ages want to win. Now I agree with posters in that you don't do everything possible to win, and you make sure and get everyone plenty of playing time no matter how good or bad, and move them around to positions, but kids do also want to win. If one of the mediocre or far less talented kids wins a trophy, they will be ecstatic, and its priceless to see.

And don't allow other kids to be cocky, or talk down to other players, parents, or coaches. It seems rare today that you see humble youth.

chettt
03-23-2010, 09:26 PM
First of all Good Luck & enjoy yourself. Make sure the kids have fun. When I coached, I had 6 starters (best bats) & 6 subs ( everyone started at least every other game). My story - the short version. I have a brother 17 years younger. When he started playing, I started coaching. I , then, coached my nephews. Then, I coached my son. Then, came my daughter, I switched to softball. 30 years later, 30 consecutive years from that first team, I stopped coaching to watch my daughter play her senior year in high school. By the way, her team won the state title. So, Big Klu, hold on tight & enjoy the ride.

bounty37h
03-24-2010, 10:02 AM
You got great advise to start here, everyone did a great job sharing expereinces and thoughts for him! The key word I saw over and over, fun, which is what it is all supposed to be about, at any level. please keep us updated on how it goes.
I helped our local high schol team a few years back, their catching coach "got called up" to be the catching coach at UNC, so I talked to the coach and agreed to help out his catchers for the first few weeks of theseason (all I coudldotime wise). It was a great experience for me, and hope I passed along somethign to someone else. It was awesome as they are a new rival to my old high school, so was fun to see that, and they topped it off by winning the state title that season!

BigJohn
03-24-2010, 10:22 AM
Not everyone defines FUN the same way. Most people think kids see winning as #1, They do not. They would rather play and get beat than help their team win by sitting on the bench. At the first year kid pitch level a coach has to come to grips with that. Every kid needs a chance to bat cleanup and you have to make it clear that walks are not ok. Swing the bat and hit the ball and run. Walks should be banned in kid pitch games.

CySeymour
03-24-2010, 10:44 AM
Great advice everyone. And I totally agree, you gotta make it fun but you also need to teach the game. I plan of focusing on the fundamentals, especially early. I will move the kids around as much as I can, but there will be some kids that at least early on, will not be able to handle certain positions. For example, some kids just can't catch a ball thrown at them yet, so to at least start the season, you can't put them at first. It's also a safety issue.


Not everyone defines FUN the same way. Most people think kids see winning as #1, They do not. They would rather play and get beat than help their team win by sitting on the bench. At the first year kid pitch level a coach has to come to grips with that. Every kid needs a chance to bat cleanup and you have to make it clear that walks are not ok. Swing the bat and hit the ball and run. Walks should be banned in kid pitch games.

Well, you are right about one thing, I think the kids want to play more than anything. The way the league is set up, each kid plays the whole game. You have a max of 12 players on each team, with 10 allowed in the field at a time, but all 12 get to hit. So 2 kids have to sit out each defensive inning. Sure, I could just sit the weakest fielder each inning, but I feel each parent payed the same amount of money for their kid to play. What I would like to do, is if a kid didn't start the game pitching, then have him sit out the inning before I put him in to pitch, to start getting his arm loose. Plus I will also like to use it some to rest my catchers. My goal is if I have all 12 players a game, then each kid will sit out at least one inning on defense.

Now, as far as walks, uh, no. Walks are a part of the game and the kids need to learn the strike zone.

BigJohn
03-24-2010, 11:12 AM
Wait till you see how many kids won't swing the bat because they are waiting for a walk. It is not what instructional baseball should be teaching, make hitters out of them.

CySeymour
03-24-2010, 11:17 AM
Wait till you see how many kids won't swing the bat because they are waiting for a walk. It is not what instructional baseball should be teaching, make hitters out of them.

My other son went through the same league, so I am well aware of what the league is like. But having them going up and swing just for the sake of swinging doesn't help them, either.

BigJohn
03-24-2010, 11:19 AM
I disagree. :)

http://www.eybaseball.org/eyb_divisions.htm

CySeymour
03-24-2010, 12:09 PM
I disagree. :)

http://www.eybaseball.org/eyb_divisions.htm

Hey, no prob, you're free to disagree.


But the league I am coaching is the equivalent to what is called the Minor Division in the link you sent, which also has strikeouts and walks.

BigJohn
03-24-2010, 12:19 PM
It is the first year of kid pitch, no? Your league needs a competitive farm league like the link I posted then. The first year of kid pitch should be no walks.

Competitive Farm Division: If you feel your child is ready for a more competitive style of baseball, try our Competitive Farm Division for 8 year olds or players who have played one year in our Farm Division. In this division, players will pitch with a no walk and no stealing rule. Scores and standings will be kept and the games are played with a real baseball. Players are expected to confidently catch and throw a baseball in this Division.

CySeymour
03-24-2010, 01:31 PM
It is the first year of kid pitch, no? Your league needs a competitive farm league like the link I posted then. The first year of kid pitch should be no walks.

This is the league that is available to us and the rules allow for walks, not much I can do about it.

Biff Pocoroba
03-24-2010, 01:40 PM
I echo the "have fun" sentiment. That is first and foremost. Of course, part of what makes it fun for the kids is having the confidence to go out and play and not be worried about making mistakes or striking out all the time. That means that coaching the fundamentals is important. Also keep in mind that you are not actually coaching baseball at this age - you are coaching something that looks similar to baseball.

It is important to let kids know when they are doing something wrong but try as much as possible to keep it constructive and positive. "hey, that was great the way you got to the ball. Next time, remember to get you glove all the way down and then I think you've got it."

Also, working with the parents is key. Get them together before the first game and nicely lay down some rules. For instance, tell them that when the game is on, you and your coaches need to be the instructional voice the kids hear. "Try to keep your comments positive; be a cheerleader, not a coach." It's distracting and confusing for the kids when their parents are telling them one thing and the coach is telling them something else. And as much as possible, parents need to not be in the dugout or letting their kids hang with them instead of their teammates between innings.

When it comes to practice, though, try to get as many parents involved as possible. That way you can break the kids into small groups and rotate quickly through various stations (batting, grounders, pop flys, throwing). All kids love to bat - so try to work that aspect in early during the practice.

PS: The first year of kid pitch is as hard if not harder on the batters. They are so used to coaches lobbing in pitches where they like them that it is quite an adjustment. They have no idea where that kid on the mound is going to throw it and they get nervous. It's hard to keep most of the kids from being too tentative at the plate.

BigJohn
03-24-2010, 01:41 PM
Sure there is, you choose not to. Encourage your kids to swing the bat, act like walks aren't a bad thing but, encourage them to hit the ball!

CySeymour
03-24-2010, 01:49 PM
Sure there is, you choose not to. Encourage your kids to swing the bat, act like walks aren't a bad thing but, encourage them to hit the ball!

I do, if the ball is over the plate, otherwise I don't want them to. Why should I encourage the kids to swing at bad pitches?

BigJohn
03-24-2010, 02:01 PM
I have seen many coaches have kids that they know can't hit, take pitches, lots of pitches instead of trying to get a hit. That is what I am saying. Don't say, a walks as good as a hit. We want to swing the bat, encourage them to swing even if they strike out. That is all I am getting at. When you have bases loaded and bottom of the last inning you still want them up there taking their cuts!

That is what I am saying. I still think walks should be banned the first year kids play kid pitch. Talk to your league about it, you just might get them to go along with it!

Biff Pocoroba
03-24-2010, 02:30 PM
The goal isn't to encourage kids to swing at bad pitches. Rather, it's to encourage them to be more aggressive with borderline pitches. The first year that my older son did kid pitch, you'd see so many instances where the kids would look at strike one and then strike two, and then would hack at a bad pitch.

My philosophy is "If the pitcher is going to give you a walk, by all means take it. But don't go up there with that as your plan."

Caveman Techie
03-24-2010, 02:46 PM
I coached for several years, and the advice of keep it fun is key!

One thing I always did was take the last 10 minutes of practice and let the kids play wiffle ball with the biggest bam bam bat that I could find (teaches to be aggressive with the bat). We would move the bases in about half the distance of normal and then divide the kids in to two teams and the team in the field did not get to use gloves (teaches to use two hands). I would pitch for both and each batter got 3 pitches, if they didn't put the ball in to play they were out.

We called it BubbaBall, but the key to it was to end it after only one inning, or 10 minutes whichever came first (make sure all kids get a chance to bat though). The philosophy was always end practice with them not wanting it to end. :) One time during practice the kids were being inattentive and wasting alot of time, so when it came time to play BubbaBall I told them that we weren't going to, since I had to make up all the time that they wasted durring practice. You better believe those kids were perfect little angels the next practice.

Griffey012
03-24-2010, 05:25 PM
Basically the kids should go up to the plate with the mentality of Brandon Phillips, if the pitch is in the zone he is hacking. You just don't want them taking 2 strikes in an at bat. I agree you don't want to have them swinging at bad pitched just to swing.

defender
03-24-2010, 06:38 PM
Kids need to learn to hit before they can learn the stirke zone. That is why they need to take a lot of batting practice off coaches, so they learn to hit strikes. At this age, you should always pitch down to a kids level, so he can learn to hit. Once a kid has confidence in his knowlledge of what pitches he can hit, he will learn how to take a walk.

UPRedsFan
03-24-2010, 08:41 PM
Best thing I did to teach hitting (to the kids who struggled making contact) is the toss drill where the coach crouches to the side of the batter and tosses a ball up in front of them and you have the kid hit it into a fence or net. I had a kid who just wouldn't swing in games and another who swung but never made contact. I did this with them both and had instant success the next game.

BigJohn
03-25-2010, 10:04 AM
http://coaching-youth-baseball.com/article63.html

CySeymour
03-25-2010, 10:40 AM
The first practice is in the books, and things went very well. The kid who is supposed to be my top pitcher wasn't there, which I knew ahead of time, because of school commitments, but things couldn't have went smoother.

I had my assistant take the kids 3 at a time to the batting cage and take 3 turns each hitting about 10 pitches and also hitting off the tee. I handled the infield practice and base running. One of my parents who is a former college pitcher, took each kid one at a time off to the side and worked with them pitching. One of the parents very kindly offered to catch, and caught every single kid. I hope his knees are ok today :)

Base running I worked with each kid sprinting through the bag at first, and then we worked on listening to the firstbase coach by either sprinting through the bag, taking a turn, or going to second. I'm a big believer in working on baserunning.

Next practice, myself and the assistant will switch duties. I'll work with the hitters, and he'll look at the fielders so we can both get a good look at everyone.

bounty37h
03-25-2010, 10:48 AM
Klu, sounds like you have it down pat man, dont need us, great job, hope you enjoy it and have as much fun as the kids!!!

CySeymour
04-19-2010, 11:12 AM
Thought I would provide an update on my team. Our first game was over the weekend, and the kids won 9-2. It was a somewhat typical first game of the season. Our team won largely due to the fact our pitchers were able to throw more strikes and walk a lot less people. I was pretty proud of the team. Still a lot to work on, not the least being hitting.