Welcome back to Part 3 of my series on How NOT To Be A Youth Baseball Coach.
In this article, I want to give you four specific things that a youth baseball coach does not do that he indeed should do in order to be a more effective leader, provide prompt and courteous communication to the parents of his players, and ready his team for live game situations.
The first specific coaching failure is something I always watched in the pregame warmups to see if my team, that was always built around speed, could excel and exploit during the game. A good coach watches every aspect of pregame warmups to find those weaknesses in his opponent. Its not time to finalize your lineup or be warming up your pitcher while the other team is taking infield. You, and your team for that matter, should be glued to the field to see just who it is you are facing.
One thing I always look for is just how good is the arm on my opponents catcher. Does he have a gun? Is he lucky to get it there on one or two hops? Is he on target? Or does he stray miserably throw after throw?
I never quite got the coach that puts together an articulate pregame warmup. Why? Because it always game me a peek at what I can exploit. If you show me in three throws to second base in pregame that your catcher is not consistent at all, then guess what? I am running on you the whole game! Go ahead, tip your hand!
Point here is: don’t be one of those coaches that fails to give your catchers enough throws to second base during practice. I never saw a coach do this growing up. You have got to get your catcher to instinctively make that throw perfect every time.
Don’t they say “practice makes perfect”?
Then practice it.
Secondly, no one practices base running anymore. And, more specifically, sliding into a base. You should always practice sliding at every practice and pregame warmup for the first two-thirds of the season.
To prevent injury, most importantly. I see youngsters all of the time that have never been taught the proper technique of sliding and they either twist or break an ankle, or jam their knees unecessarliy. It’s also an important part of the game that just might win a few for you because the opposing coach has done a poor job of teaching his players of applying the tag, which I see all too often as well.
Teach them the proper technique of sliding consistently for most of the season.
Moving to administrative tasks that aren’t done effectively by most youth baseball coaches, my first complaint is that most don’t hold a parent meeting from the start where you explain all policies on position assignments, batting order, playing time, and so on. Do this up front so you can refer to this meeting the several hundred times during the season that parents want to approach and complain that their player is not getting enough playing time in the position they want them in or in the batting spot they think they should be in. Do it!
Lastly in this part of my series, I don’t know of any coach that uses statistics to assign positions and make up batting orders and pitching rotations. Most I know can’t even keep a book for that matter. It is crucial for the success of your team to be able to statistically quantify performance in order to teach and grow your team.
It’s also a life lesson for them to see you dedicating so much time and work into their success, showing them the fruits of hard work is success.
Please don’t fail to do these things as you begin your journey into coaching youth baseball.
Come back for more in my series on How NOT To Be A Youth Baseball Coach.