Re: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball
While I have coached three levels of Cal Ripken youth baseball over the last seven years, the expectations from parents/players at our park change dramatically when you are involved in coaching at the 'Major' level (age 9-12) of play.
For the month prior to our first game, we essentially practice 1-2 hours per day. We have a total of three days off scheduled in the month of March. Once the season starts in mid-April, you will play at least two games per week through the end of June. There will be a couple of weeks when you have three games, so you will really have to closely monitor the innings pitched for your players. During the season, whenever you are not playing, you are normally practicing. As the days grow longer and summer break starts, it will not be uncommon to practice until after 9pm on a weeknight.
Establish a rule with the parents that you will not discuss their children's playing time, position, etc... while at the park. Always make yourself available to speak with parents after practice/games via phone or email. This allows you to set clear expectations without embarrassing any parents/players who are clearly dillusional about their children. Above everything, do not discipline an unruly parent through their child. In situations where the game's outcome is not in question, try to work the bench players in--but only in positions where they have a chance to succeed. Essentially, don't put the kid in at catcher when he is made of glass.
In addition to your assistant coaches, it is helpful to tap someone else to manage the 'business aspects' of the team. For our team, this includes: circulating schedules, communicating rainouts, ordering uniforms, securing sponsors, organizing fundraisers, concession duties, field prep crews, etc.... This allows you and your coaches to focus on player skill building, game strategy, and basic fundamentals.
If you can organize several tasks for the bench players to perform during the game, it will make for a happier dugout. Four of our non-starter players are responsible for: keeping pitch count chart for both teams, warming up the closest corner outfielder between innings, collecting the three between-inning warmup balls, and wearing catching gear to serve as a bullpen catcher/warmup pitcher between innings.
"Booing on opening day is like telling grandma her house smells like old lady."--WOY