How to be a Good little League Baseball Coach
What I know about baseball could fit into a coach’s pinky, but what I know about the attributes of a good coach was taught to me through two separate incidences. The first incident was when my son was in little league on the 6-7 year old team. He had a teammate who was slow, not only mentally but physically. The coach only allowed encouragement for this teammate and absolutely no name-calling or meanness towards this child.
Towards the end of the season when the kid still hadn’t made even one hit, the coach decided he couldn’t let the season end this way. So he made a deal with the coach from the other team one Saturday morning. When the kid came up to bat, the coach himself went out to pitch to him. He didn’t stand on the pitchers mound, but got up a little closer to give the kid an extra edge. The coach made the first pitch and the kid swung way too late. The second pitch came and went without the kid even swinging. On the third pitch, the kid swung too late again. Without batting an eye, the coach got ready for a fourth pitch, and, knowing the coach, he probably would have thrown 100 pitches if that is what it took. The kids on both teams were cheering and hollering encouragement. The parents were on the edge of their seats, crossing their fingers and praying that the bat would just connect with the ball. That’s why choosing the right bat is an important part as well. On the fourth pitch, the coach moved just a little closer and the bat connected! Parents on both sides jumped to their feet and yelled for the kid to run to first base FAST! The ball didn’t go far, but the other team took their sweet time getting it to first base. The kid did get on first base safely only to have our entire team run out of the dugout, pat him on the back and congratulate him.
Once order was restored, the game continued. The inning ended before the kid got home, but that did nothing to dim the smile on the kids face. He was grinning from ear to ear. And when the game was over, parents, umpires and coaches shook the kids hand and congratulated him on the hit. It didn’t matter what team won it mattered that a child achieved a personal goal.
Another incident occurred when our team showed up, but didn’t have enough players to play the game. The other team had extra players, so they loaned us players and the game went on. I’m sure we officially forfeited that game, but it was more important to the coaches to play the game and encourage teamwork.
In summary, here are the actions on what makes a good coach: Coaches can be pushy on the kids to do better, but the best coaches know how to use encouragement and praise to achieve their goals.
The best coaches rotate the players for the goal of teaching children more about all aspects of baseball. Even if a child is not a good pitcher, placing that child on the pitchers mound for just two or three batters gets a well-rounded player without undue pressure on the child to “win the game!”
Lastly, the coach rotates who sits on the bench. This is not just to rotate the players among the positions, but also to use that bench time to teach the child more about the game from a holistic perspective. When a child sits out an inning, but does so sitting next to the coach as the coach talks about the plays in the game, the child can learn more about the game of baseball.
The best little league coaches focus on education instead of winning or the final score. However, what’s interesting is that by not focusing on winning, that’s usually what happens. This is because the coach has more knowledgeable players, more versatile players and more enthusiastic players.