YOUTH BASEBALL COACHES
How To Prepare For The Fall Baseball Season
Addison Maruszak, AMP Pro Training
29 August 2016
Fall season should be highly focused on development whether you coach a youth league team, or a travel baseball team. With fewer games being played in the fall, a coach should gain some extra practice time.
Coaching fall baseball in a youth league will test any coach’s patience. It is less competitive and typically comes with players that may be newer to the game. You might find yourself teaching players skills they should have learned a level below where they are currently. You will also have a wide variety of skill levels on the team. We highly recommend using station activities with similarly skilled players placed in small groups. This will help make sure that all the players are being developed regardless of skill level. It might be safe to say that coaching fall baseball is more difficult and time consuming than it is in the spring if you are doing it the right way.
Here are three key tactics we recommend you implement in your fall program:
- Do not play to win. Play to develop.
We will use an example of pitching to give you an idea of what we mean here. We would like coaches to have a plan of using multiple pitchers in a game. Don’t just keep your strongest pitchers in the game to win it. Let some newer, or less skilled pitchers get an opportunity to pitch. They might just surprise you. We recommend throwing these players at the beginning, while saving the more skilled pitchers so you have an option to get out of an inning. The best scenario would be if a pitcher is having trouble and is reaching a pitch count that a coach should be able to “roll an inning.”
Roll the inning means even though you don’t get three outs you switch sides. This keeps the game moving fast, you play more innings, it protects player’s arms, and more players get at-bats. This is done in professional baseball during spring training/instructs. Unfortunately the youth leagues systems that leagues play under do not allow this.
2. Create a plan for each practice that will develop all skill levels on the team.
Using stationed activities will help achieve player objectives when the team has a wide variety of skill level. Making effective practice plans is a great skill for a coach to develop. It mike take some time and effort in the beginning, but as you grow in your coaching career it starts to become second nature. Good coaches always have a plan. With that being said, KEEP IT SIMPLE! Do not over complicate a practice by trying to do too much.
When you are planning, this leads us to our next and final point:
3. Let kids practice/play some different positions.
Don’t be afraid to let kids practice where they would like to. Many coaches don’t give the kids this opportunity, and instead slot them into positions from day one. If a player really wants to try pitching and you never let them try -even at practice- you will most likely lose them for the season. Your choice here could directly affect the level of impact you have on a young player.
Even if a young player doesn’t have a shot at playing short stop (at this moment in time), you could play a HUGE part in their confidence and love for the game. Many times we hear a coach tell a player they can’t play the position because of skill level. Instead of say that, you could say: “If you want to play there, you have to get better and practice there. We will start mixing you in there at practice, but you have to work hard and prove you can play there.” By telling that player this, you have most likely impacted this young person for the rest of their life. You have just taught them that:
If you want it, you have to work for it.
In conclusion, we believe if you take these three steps outlined above, you will have a tremendous impact on your team. A youth baseball coach has the crucial job of using baseball to teach important life lessons in these young players. So, ask yourself before every practice and game: “Will I have a positive or negative impact?”
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