Tips for Coaching Youth Baseball
Looking for some tips on coaching youth baseball players this year?
Coaching a youth baseball team for the first time or the tenth time can be a stressful situation. Young players tend to be very excited about playing ball and so are their parents.
No matter what age you are coaching, these tips will help make your first practice go as well as the last one!
What's Included on this page:
Welcome the Team and Organize a Meeting
One of the very first things you should do is send out a welcome email to the families of the children on your team.
By doing this, you will be able to spend the majority of the first practice actually practicing rather than talking about yourself and your expectations for the season.
Your email should include your contact information, the schedule, and a little note about your. It is also helpful to include links for online scoring apps or calendars so everyone has easy access. Be sure to give your email a name that will make it easy for parents to search for it.
At the meeting
Most experienced coaches have learned that holding a parent meeting is extremely helpful.
The parent meeting should be at a convenient time and place, often prior to or just after the first practice. These items should be covered:
- required equipment (like bats, gloves, etc.)
- expectations for arriving at games and practices
- expectations from parents and children during games (like not yelling at the umpires)
- concerns about medical issues like food allergies
It can be helpful to have a parent serve as a contact for snacks, transportation, and other information. Some coaches will have parents sign contracts understanding what is expected of them and their children.
Many coaches will also set expectations for playing time and player development.
Depending on the age of the children, there will be children who get more playing time simply because of the positions they play, like the pitcher and catcher.
There are also some children who will get more at-bats, simply because they are better suited to leading off.
Depending on skill levels, some children will not get to play some positions. Coaches will do themselves a favor by setting up a time for parents to talk about playing time prior to the start of the season.
Be Prepared for the First Practice
When the time for the first practice arrives, it is better to be over-prepared than underprepared.
Bring along a case of water, a first-aid kit, and enough gear for the team – especially if you are coaching a very young group of players.
The first practice is a good time for the team to introduce each other. Make it fun by asking players to not only say their first names, but to add something interesting, like favorite food, baseball player, cartoon character, video game, etc. You and your assistant coaches should do the same thing and tell kids what they should call you.
Even though you will most likely have to repeat it during the season, share the rules – but do it quickly. Players will need to know if they can lead off, slide, steal, etc. Then, as needed, talk to players about their responsibilities at their bases or positions.
Develop a Routine at the Beginning of Each Practice
You should start every practice with stretching and you should end every practice with stretching.
Young athletes often suffer from overuse injuries, which happens when they do not get enough stretching or variety in their athletics events. Make the stretching fun and let different kids take the lead once they understand the stretching routine.
Once stretching is over, tell the kids exactly what they will doing during practice. Let your coaches know, too. After the stretching and information session, get the players running the bases or doing calisthenics to warm up their bodies.
Break Into Groups
The best practices have players working in groups.
Hopefully, you have two or three assistant coaches or parents who can help with practices.
After everyone plays catch for a few minutes, break the kids up into infield, outfield, pitchers and catchers, and batting groups. This way, no one has to wait for a long time to get a chance to catch a pop-up, practice hitting, or field a ground ball.
This also allows children to get the gist of the different positions as coaches can share advice for good game play while the players are in small groups.
It is also fun to set up different drills at the stations. There are plenty of drill ideas available online so you can constantly add variety or adjust drills to develop the weaknesses on your team.
Have Time for Live Play
The last part of practice should be live game play. All too often, young baseball players never get to play a practice game!
If you have enough players, they can rotate through the positions and through the offense. You could also arrange to practice at a location that has several fields so your team and another team can practice at the same time, then meet for a scrimmage. This practice is priceless because children get to experience the real pace of the game.
Then, when the practice is over, meet as a team in the outfield. Go over the events of the practice and what you want the team to work on at home.