8 Helpful Tips for New Little League Coaches



8 Helpful Tips for New Little League® Coaches

You stepped up, and volunteered to coach a Little League® team. First, thank you! Without committed volunteers like you, local leagues would not be able to provide kids with the opportunity to have fun with their friends, and play the game they love. Second, if you have little experience in running a youth baseball or softball team, we’re sure you have questions. Below are some simple, yet helpful tips to make sure you understand your role as a manager/coach, as well as ideas that will ensure your coaching experience is the best possible for you and your Little Leaguers®.

Rulebooks

To be a successful Little League coach, you must learn the rules and regulations of the game. Little League makes available Rulebooks for each league for Little League Baseball®, Little League Softball®, and Little League Challenger Division®. Reach out to your Board of Directors to make sure you have a copy. We highly suggest not only reviewing the Rulebook before the season, but throughout, as well. Rulebooks clearly inform coaches of the official regulations and playing rules, which will help you manage your team. From pitch count regulations to mandatory play to definition of terms to safety procedures, Little League Rulebooks provide you what you need to know.

Print versions of the Rulebooks are available through the Little League Online Store. Local Little League programs using their League ID number can purchase hard copy Rulebooks. Rulebooks are also available through the Apple, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble bookstores. The eBook format, optimized for use on all mobile devices, features each program’s complete rules, along with search functionality.

Important rule and regulation updates, as well as information about how to purchase rulebooks is available at LittleLeague.org/Rules.

Player Tryouts

Leagues differ with respect to how they operate player tryouts. No matter what the procedure, however, it’s good practice to carefully study each player, and monitor his or her skillsets. Does the Little Leaguer catch pop-ups well? If so, you could be looking at one of your outfielders. Does the Little Leaguer field ground cleanly? If so, you may have found your shortstop. If there’s a running exercise at the tryout, and a boy or girl shows impressive speed, he or she could be your lead-off hitter.

Make sure you know your league’s player selection method, as well, to be prepared to build your team.

Practice Plans

When your team is formed and the season nears, it’s important to put together practice plans for each practice. Keep in mind, Little League is a developmental program. Be sure to structure each practice to include fundamentals – proper hitting, fielding, base running, etc. Try to structure your practices with little down time in order to keep the players’ attention. And, be sure to have fun and allow for plenty of water breaks. For those volunteering at the Tee Ball or Coach Pitch Baseball levels, Little League has created easy-to-implement curriculum’s.

Parents Meeting

After the first week of practice, schedule a meeting with your team’s parents to better introduce yourself, explain your coaching philosophy, and to share your goals for the team. Be sure to explain that Little League is not a win-at-all-costs program, and that your responsibility is to develop players and for those players to have fun. Also, mention that if there are any concerns during the season to address those with you directly. At the meeting, it’s a good opportunity to remind parents that their role is to show their support from the stands, and to let the coaches coach the team. Alert parents as to your preferred means of communication – phone, text, email, or team website, such as those communications tools available through DICK’S Team Sports HQ powered by Blue Sombrero. Be clear that you’d appreciate knowing if a player cannot attend a game/practice well ahead of time, and communicate the importance of Little Leaguers making as many practices as possible in order to develop and build team camaraderie. Remind parents to provide timely pick-ups after each practice and game, and encourage them to volunteer for a position within the league.

Ask Questions

As your first game approaches, reach out to Board members and fellow coaches to answer any questions you may have. You’ve probably been so focused on practicing and developing your players that you may not have thought about how to fill out and submit a lineup card, what team takes batting practice and when, who’s best to handle the scorebook, when to clear the field when a storm is approaching, and is the home or visiting team responsible for field prep before the game or tidying up post-game.

Team Rules for Games

It’s good practice to put team rules in writing for players and parents. Be sure to list all important subjects so everyone is on the same page. Explain what time you want players at the field pre-game, proper uniform appearance (jerseys tucked in), your philosophy about food in the dugout, and the importance of sportsmanship toward umpires, opposing players, and teammates.

Games

Remember to have fun! Do not get overly caught-up in winning or losing. Your main responsibility is to provide an environment and level of instruction that will develop your Little Leaguers not just on the field, but off the field as well. Recognize solid play, and critique mistakes in a supportive way, while offering ideas on how to improve. Little League has partnered with Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) to provide a framework and tools for local Little League volunteers to develop a culture of positive, character-building competition. Use the PCA information to create a nurturing environment where Little Leaguers can thrive in, learn, and have fun!

Once again, thank you for volunteering to coach! You’ve taken the first step in providing kids in your community an opportunity to build memories that will last a lifetime.

Articles from Little League University, click here to view.

BEING AN ASSISTANT COACH


BEING AN ASSISTANT COACH (Part II)

By Doug Abrams

Nearly every youth sports team has one or more assistant coaches, so the role of these important staff members deserves discussion.  Two weeks ago, I began a two-part column, which I interrupted last week when the New Jersey lawsuit against the Little League catcher hit the headlines.  Part II resumes here.

Two weeks ago, I drew on my own happy experiences, as an assistant coach in some years and a head coach in others.  After discussing the benefits of being an assistant coach, I turned to the seven most common challenges that face assistant coaches and the head coach.  The column ended with the first challenge (Developing mutual respect), and this column resumes with the final six.

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2)                 Maintaining relations with the players. When I began as Wally Livingstone’s assistant in the Nassau County youth hockey program in 1978, I wondered whether the players would react differently to me when I was not a head coach.  I quickly learned that being an assistant coach makes little or no difference.  An assistant coach who earns the players’ respect and affection will enjoy the players’ respect and affection.  It’s as simple as that.  Regardless of a coach’s title, the formula for reaching the players remains the same.   

3)                 Showing loyalty to the head coach.  In the years when I was a head coach, nearly all assistant coaches contributed mightily to the team effort, and to the players’ positive experiences on and off the ice.  Collaborating with committed assistant coaches was an important reward of being the head coach.

In all candor, however, I also had a few assistants who were jealous, overly ambitious, or who otherwise did not understand the supporting role they had been assigned.  They would sometimes overstep their bounds by making and announcing decisions that were the head coach’s, by second-guessing strategy or other decisions privately to parents or players, or by tolerating or even encouraging criticism from team members.  These strains frequently surface when the board of directors, and not the head coach, selects the assistants.   

The coaching staff needs to speak with one voice — the head coach’s.  When assistant coaches have input for the head coach — even a disagreement — the staff needs to talk privately and candidly, without fanning flames among the parents or players.  Anything less demonstrates disloyalty to the head coach and can bring down the team because disagreements and personality conflicts among the staff must be kept from the players. 

4)                 Showing loyalty to the assistants.  Loyalty is a two-way street, and the head coach also owes loyalty to the assistants.  Every cooperative assistant — even one with little hands-on experience in the game — has strengths to offer the team, often strengths that the head coach lacks.  In return for loyal service to the players, assistants earn a genuine stake in the team’s fortunes.  That stake comes, however, only when the head coach feels secure enough to share the limelight with other staff members.

Whenever a local newspaper ran the photo of a team that I served as head coach, for example, I always tried to make sure that the caption identified me as “Coach Doug Abrams,” not as “Head Coach.”  Each assistant was also identified as “Coach.”  Titles did not mean much to me, and I was comfortable with equal identification for all staff members who pitched in with their talents.  The head coach makes the final decisions and sets the team’s direction, but I considered myself as “first among equals” in my personal relationships with the assistants, who also contributed to the luster that accompanies a job well done.     

Loyalty also means that the head coach needs to view the assistant coaches as the “brain trust.”  Candid behind-the-scenes sharing of ideas (including disagreements) can pay rich dividends because head coaches have relatively few people they can turn to for advice about lineups, discipline, strategies and other day-to-day decisions.  Consulting a few parents may be off-limits because consultation might smack of favoritism.  In the years when I was a head coach, I remained thankful for assistant coaches who rescued me from making avoidable mistakes by raising pros and cons as respected colleagues outside the earshot of the players and parents. 

The door to candid discussion remains open only when the head coach keeps it open, beginning during the first preseason staff meeting.  Unless the head coach specifies that candor is welcome and not resented, the assistants may conclude that  approving nods are the safest path, or they may vent their frustrations covertly with one or more parents.  Open discussion among the staff can be a safety valve that enables the coach to avoid squandering valuable opportunities to correct mistakes before they happen.

The best head coaches show loyalty to the staff with humility and openness that views head coaching as an ongoing learning experience rather than an ego boost.  As President Harry S Truman once said, “the only things worth learning are the things you learn after you know it all.”

5)                 Fully involving each assistant coach in practice sessions.  In many communities today, practice time is scarce, expensive or both.  Smart head coaches make full use of every minute by fully involving each assistant coach, but I have also seen head coaches who want to be the “whole show” while their assistants stand by idly, hands folded, and doing little or nothing.  Besides being insulting to the assistants, putting on a one-person show is a likely sign that the head coach feels too insecure or inexperienced to share center stage.   

To use every minute of practice time most efficiently, talented head coaches sometimes split the squad into smaller groups during a portion of the session.  Each group works on a different skill for a few minutes.  When the coach blows the whistle, the groups rotate from one skill to another.  The groups continue rotating until each one has worked on each skill.  Four groups, for example, can quadruple productivity. 

Sometimes an assistant coach joins the staff with a special background as a player.  For example, the assistant coach may have been pitcher in baseball or (as I was) a goalie in hockey.  Pitching coaches or goalie coaches are hard to come by.  I spent rewarding years serving as the goalie coach with head coaches like Wally Livingstone, who were secure enough in their own strengths that they encouraged the assistant to display his.

6)                    Fully involving each assistant coach in games.  The head coach normally makes out the lineup and, depending on the sport’s substitution rules, manages the team throughout the game.  In the heat of the action, however, the head coach may find it difficult to pay close individual attention to a dozen or more players at the same time.  Assistant coaches on the bench can help by keying on individual players, who will appreciate a mentor who shows personal interest with words of encouragement or correction throughout the game.

7)                 Preparing assistants for team leadership.  Emergencies happen. Like the players, the head coach may have to miss a game for sickness, family commitments or other unforeseen circumstances.  When assistant coaches must step suddenly into the lead role, the team will stand the best chance if the head coach has prepared for that contingency by already assuring the assistants a meaningful role in each practice session and game. Grooming the assistants to run the team by themselves can help them adjust more comfortably when circumstances suddenly thrust them in the head role, and can also help the players adjust more comfortably to their leadership. 

* * *

What does all this add up to?  The staff’s greatest challenge is that each player depends on coaches – head and assistants alike – who understand their distinctive

Article from askcoachwolffe.com click here for article

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