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Thread: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

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    Member Jpup's Avatar
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    Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

    I have agreed to take on an 11-12 year old Cal Ripken League team this year. Our draft is on Thursday. I am fishing for any advice you guys could throw my way. I have never coached before and I do not know any of the kids in the league. I eat, sleep, and dream baseball so I think I will be able to do ok with that part of it. I grew up playing baseball, but it was Little League sanctioned and then I played Babe Ruth League from 13-15.

    I know the Cal Ripken League is under the Babe Ruth League and has a 50 foot distance from the mound to home plate and 70 feet between bases.

    I talk to the director of the league on 2 occasions over the past 2 days and they are excited to have me especially not having to worry about politics with the parents considering I do not know any of them. I am worried about the draft because of that reason as well. They are going to split up the pitchers and catchers between the 5 teams so everyone has, at least, one of each.

    A few random questions for any of you guys that can help:

    What do I need to buy? I know it depends on what the league provides, but I assume I need a glove, a bucket of balls, probably a bat or two, and a score book. What do you guys use to hit infield/outfield practice? Anything else?

    Are there any good training aids, videos, etc. out there that you might recommend?

    How do I draft in the blind?

    Practice? How many times a week should we practice? I am think about 3 times or so per week until the games start and then 2 times per week during the season. Do I spend the first week or so conditioning or should I just jump into baseball activities?

    I'm excited as I have been wanting to get into coaching for a long time and any advice would be great.
    "My mission is to be the ray of hope, the guy who stands out there on that beautiful field and owns up to his mistakes and lets people know it's never completely hopeless, no matter how bad it seems at the time. I have a platform and a message, and now I go to bed at night, sober and happy, praying I can be a good messenger." -Josh Hamilton

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    Blowing away bad memories Redsfan320's Avatar
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    Re: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

    I don't have much, except to say from a player's perspective, don't spend too much time conditioning, running, etc. That's important, but its a baseball team, and the kids are there to play baseball. I would definitely incorporate mainly baseball activities from the very beginning.

    As for me, I'll be playing my 2nd year of LL (Juniors) this year, as well as assistant coaching my brother's (Minors) team.

    And yeah, 3 a week is probably good until games start, but once they do, you may want to go even lighter than 2 a week depending on the game schedule.

    320
    I'd rather listen to Kelch read the phone book than suffer through Thom Brennaman's attempt to make every instance on the field the most important event since the discovery of manned space flight. -westofyou

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    Member 919191's Avatar
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    Re: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

    Grab as many assistant coaches as you can. If there is a limit grab some "unofficial" coaches. Do not do not do not absolutely do not be shy about asking for help from the parents.

    And at that age the kids will need to know you are the boss.
    I've been to dinner at Jimmy Buffet's house, and I've eaten it at a homeless shelter. And there's great joy and harrowing terror to be found in both places.
    -Todd Snider

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    Plan to be spontaneous Jefferson24's Avatar
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    Re: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

    I coached little league for 8 years and was on the board of directors for 6 years so maybe I can help a little.

    The league should be providing the equipment you need except for your glove. I always had some of my own equipment too because my son played but I would expect them provide most everything. You are volunteering your time you shouldn't have to be funding the team too.

    A blind draft is tough, the other coaches and league officials should be willing to provide you with info on the kids. Most organizations are ran in such a way that they want to have a competitive league, meaning no one team is dominate and any team can have a shot at winning on any given day. They should be willing to help you draft a team that will be competitive with the others.

    Practice - I started every practice with some conditioning, but then went straight into baseball activities. There wasn't enough time to burn a week or more on just conditioning. Bottom line make sure their arms are loose before they throw. Do every thing you can to avoid injuries especially arm related injuries.

    After the season gets started you will cut back on the practices. I would still try to get them cage time once a week and at least one fielding practice.
    Last edited by Jefferson24; 03-15-2011 at 11:47 AM.
    We only live in patches. - H. G. Wells

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    Re: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

    Since you probably know enough about baseball to coach 11-12 year olds, here's my advice...Communicate your expectations for behavior and attitude very clearly at the very first team meeting to both players and parents (but especially parents) and stick to those expecatations. You need to let parents know how and when to communicate issues they have and what issues are appropriate to discuss with you.

    Above all, make sure the kids are having fun. Don't worry about wins and losses. Looking back at my playing days at that age, I can't tell you our win-loss record or my batting average, but I can recall very clearly the camaraderie and friendship with my teammates and how much fun it was to be playing baseball...
    "In our sundown perambulations of late, through the outer parts of Brooklyn, we have observed several parties of youngsters playing 'base', a certain game of ball. Let us go forth awhile, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our close rooms, the game of ball is glorious"
    -Walt Whitman

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    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

    Make sure you get 2 kids who can catch and 1 good pitcher and a couple others who can throw strikes. Communicate how you are going to run your team in a parents meeting before you start practicing. That way there are no surprises. A letter is good, outlining your style and expectations. Make sure that the parents get the kids there on time and are there to pick them up at the end of practice. Start and finish on time. Make sure that you communicate that you are open to questions and concerns, but not before or after a game. Game day is for you and the kids. Make it fun. Have a couple of fathers who will assist you in doing drills during practice and have someone in the dugout during games who is responsible for watching the kids and keeping things under control. Keep the kids busy in practice by using different stations so that nobody is just standing around. Make sure they are stretched and loose before practice. Sometimes a good idea to have them there 15 minutes before practice to stretch. Protect their arms. Find the skill level and coach accordingly. Try to teach 1 new thing every practice and do it at the beginning of practice. Their attention span is limited and they concentrate the best at the beginning of practice. Don't overload them with too much. Information and instruction are best doled out in small pieces. I always tried to have a "kickoff" event where all the parents and kids got together for pizza and got to know each other. Enjoy the time you spend with them and don't get too bogged down in the wins and losses. Try to get them to peak at the end of the season when they have a tournament and try to make a run. Let us know how you do!
    Talent is God Given: be humble.
    Fame is man given: be thankful.
    Conceit is self given: be careful.

    John Wooden

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    Member Jpup's Avatar
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    Re: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

    Thanks for the advice guys.
    "My mission is to be the ray of hope, the guy who stands out there on that beautiful field and owns up to his mistakes and lets people know it's never completely hopeless, no matter how bad it seems at the time. I have a platform and a message, and now I go to bed at night, sober and happy, praying I can be a good messenger." -Josh Hamilton

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    Member Deepred05's Avatar
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    Re: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

    Make sure all the kids play an equal amount of innings. Don't concern yourself with wins and losses, because if you do, your "stars" will log all the innings and someones kid will be left behind. I used to keep a log of the innings that each kid played and if they got shortchanged one game, i would make it up the next.
    One of the leagues I coached actually brought out coaches to coach us on how to teach the kids the proper techniques. I am sure there are many videos out there to help you do this, but the one that was taught to us was the Emanski method I believe. A HUGE benefit to me, as I was able to start from scratch and teach them the right way to throw, catch, and even some were able to hit. This is what I focused on, technique and hustle. Hitting was the most difficult by far. Swing the bat is something I would preach, I did not care if they struck out swinging, just dont stand there.
    Try to put them in situations they can succeed in. I used the kids who couldn't hit to pinch run and let them steal bases for example. A weak pitcher was an excellent time to put the weaker batters in. I let anyone who wanted to pitch a chance to pitch. This was the most rewarding of all. Almost all of them did an excellent job pitching, surprised the heck out of me.
    Years later, a couple of these kids went on to be big stars in their high schools. I would read about them and felt a sense of pride.

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    Member Jpup's Avatar
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    Re: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

    I got the team drafted and I believe it went pretty well. I think I got the best kid in the league and with 2 other kids that catch. I have called all the parents and scheduled the first practice. Everyone seems ready to go.

    The only problem I have is that I have to provide any needed equipment other than the catchers gear and they can't seem to find that either. I didn't really know this was going to cost me a fortune. It certainly wasn't like this where I grew up.

    Anyone know the best bat size for 11-12 year olds? I need to get one that most of the kids can use because the league isn't providing anything.
    "My mission is to be the ray of hope, the guy who stands out there on that beautiful field and owns up to his mistakes and lets people know it's never completely hopeless, no matter how bad it seems at the time. I have a platform and a message, and now I go to bed at night, sober and happy, praying I can be a good messenger." -Josh Hamilton

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    Blowing away bad memories Redsfan320's Avatar
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    Re: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

    Anyone know the best bat size for 11-12 year olds? I need to get one that most of the kids can use because the league isn't providing anything.
    I'd go for about a 30-in. -10 bat, if its legal, which it should be for that age group.

    320
    I'd rather listen to Kelch read the phone book than suffer through Thom Brennaman's attempt to make every instance on the field the most important event since the discovery of manned space flight. -westofyou

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    Member Jpup's Avatar
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    Re: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

    Quote Originally Posted by Redsfan320 View Post
    I'd go for about a 30-in. -10 bat, if its legal, which it should be for that age group.

    320
    I bought a 30" -13 Easton Reflex. I picked it up for 30 dollars last night. Seemed like a good price. That's cheaper than I have seen it online.
    "My mission is to be the ray of hope, the guy who stands out there on that beautiful field and owns up to his mistakes and lets people know it's never completely hopeless, no matter how bad it seems at the time. I have a platform and a message, and now I go to bed at night, sober and happy, praying I can be a good messenger." -Josh Hamilton

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    Blowing away bad memories Redsfan320's Avatar
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    Re: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

    I bought a 30" -13 Easton Reflex. I picked it up for 30 dollars last night. Seemed like a good price. That's cheaper than I have seen it online.
    Wow. That's a light-weight bat. Still, at that age, it should get the job done.

    320
    I'd rather listen to Kelch read the phone book than suffer through Thom Brennaman's attempt to make every instance on the field the most important event since the discovery of manned space flight. -westofyou

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    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

    A lot of the kids will probably have their own bats and helmets.
    Talent is God Given: be humble.
    Fame is man given: be thankful.
    Conceit is self given: be careful.

    John Wooden

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    Member Jpup's Avatar
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    Re: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

    I've decided that this is the most unorganized "organization" that I have ever been involved with. Wow. If not for the kids and the love of the game, I would have already given it up, but I'm not a quitter.
    "My mission is to be the ray of hope, the guy who stands out there on that beautiful field and owns up to his mistakes and lets people know it's never completely hopeless, no matter how bad it seems at the time. I have a platform and a message, and now I go to bed at night, sober and happy, praying I can be a good messenger." -Josh Hamilton

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    Plan to be spontaneous Jefferson24's Avatar
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    Re: Coaching Cal Ripken League Baseball

    Quote Originally Posted by Jpup View Post
    I've decided that this is the most unorganized "organization" that I have ever been involved with. Wow. If not for the kids and the love of the game, I would have already given it up, but I'm not a quitter.
    I have never heard of a league that doesn't provide it's own equipment. You really shouldn't be out anything more than a glove. Are they actually chartered through Cal Ripken League? Do they even carry insurance? It might be worth checking out. I know you want to do right by the kids but you shouldn't be out a bunch of money.
    We only live in patches. - H. G. Wells


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