Getting kids involved in sports at a young age helps them develop skills that will lead to successful, healthy lives for years to come.
Team sports in particular, such a Little League, teach boys and girls the communications skills and teamwork necessary for a group to succeed. But, being the coach is not always as simple as keeping sliced oranges in the dugout, picking out the best baseball caps and giving your star player an attaboy. These tips will help this be your most successful coaching season yet.
Say No to the Jedi Light Saber Duel
Make sure to establish your rules early. What type of rules? Consider: bats should not be used as swords, boys must wear cups and batters and base runners must wear helmets.
Keep Practice Fun – But Useful
While you may secretly hope for an entire roster of players who want to work like pros and pay attention for hours at a time, your kids probably have another agenda. Some may think using their baseball caps as mitts is the best thing since Ichiro. Others may only have patience for batting. And some may just not be that interested. Adding a level of friendly competition to skill drills at practice is a way to keep your little leaguers engaged.
Lead by Example
You’re down 8-9 in the seventh inning and the ump completely blows a call. What do you do? Do you throw your baseball cap on the ground and stomp over to them, kicking up dust as you go? You just might find a troop of small copycats throwing their baseball caps and stomping, too. While Comedy Central might get a kick out this, consider a more tactful course of action. After the game, gather your players and talk to them about what a hard loss it was. Point out how the ump was outside of their control and ask them what parts of the game were within their control. Engaging them in this way helps them (and maybe you) process the difficult situation and learn from it.
Get Some Help
Being the loan duck in charge can be difficult. Recruit assistants to help. An extra pair (or two) of hands at practice might mean more players are able to participate in drills at the same time. Another set of eyes in the dugout could help you see something you missed, such as a player who’s under the weather or someone who’s really starting to catch on and could benefit from a new position.