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Little League Baseball

Discussion in 'Open Discussion (Work-safe)' started by KillerNut, Apr 4, 2004.

  1. KillerNut

    KillerNut Banned

    I have been given a team of Little League baseball players to coach. I have no children of my own yet so these will all be someone elses kids.

    I have some quetions however for parents on this board and I just want opinions.

    Number one, I have ABSOLUTELY no intention of being one of those little league baseball coaches that yells, gets in fights, beats up people, or gets beat up. I fully understand that when you are dealing with 9-10 year olds it is suppose to be fun, a learning experience, and not too serious, but here are some dilemas.

    1) In my view, and I would assume in most of my kids view loosing is not fun. Since we want to have fun, I would like to atleast win our share of games. How much would you focus on winning. What I guess I mean is would you do anything within the rules to try and give your team the best chance of winning. (For example bench your worst players as much as possible)

    2) Is it appropriate to tell kids to try and get a walk if they can't hit because it allows them to run the base paths, and maybe feel like they helped the team win more, than if they kept striking out?

    3) Would you allow kids to pick positions that they want to play more than where I need them to play?

    These are just some of the questions. I really want this to be fun, and I want every kid to be successful, however I am too much of a realist to think that each kid being a big success is possible.

    I think I am pretty good at teaching baseball, but this is the first time I have been the head coach, which worries me a bit more.

    Any suggestion, experiences, thoughts, would be appreciated.
     
  2. RAMdrvr1

    RAMdrvr1 All Galaxy '14 NCAA Pick'em Champ

    I have been coaching kid's baseball/football for almost 20 years, and here is my advice:

    WATCH OUT FOR THE PARENTS! If yoy're not able to kiss their butts while still doing the right thing by the kids, you're in big trouble.
    WINNING IS IMPORTANT. Learning the game is more important. If you want the kids to have fun, teach them to turn double plays, hit the cut-off man, and (as far as the kid is concerned) how to make good contact with the ball. If you don't have an ego problem, the winning is important to keep the father's happy. The kid, after he finds out who won, says"Yeah, but did you see me make that catch!", or "Did you see how far I hit that one pitch!".
    LET THE KIDS PLAY THE POSITION THEY WANT, but other positions, too. Sometimes kids ask for the position that their dads want them to play(he played there when he was a kid) or the position their favorite player plays. By rotating positions each inning, you'll find where they are the best at. And so will they. The only position you can't do this with is pitcher. Find three pitchers, and stick with them.
    CONTROL. You need the help of the parents, but you can't lose control of what's going on. DO NOT let a non-parent help, unless you've known that person for years.
    FINAL WARNING! Watch out for the parents.

    If you have any questions, if there is anyway I can help, PM me.
     
  3. buckiprof

    buckiprof 21st Century Buckeye Man Staff Member

    killer - First off, good job in coaching on which you don't have a child.

    I am a parent of two boys and coach two baseball teams. I will try to answer your questions as a parent and as a coach.

    As a coach and a parent, it is more fun when you win. The league my kids are in do not follow little league rules, so I need to ask you a few questions. How long are the games? Is there a time limit? Is there a minimum number of innings that a kid must play or is there a maximum on the number of innings he may sit? Does everyone bat regradless if they are on the field? What are the pitching rules? How many innings per game and how many per week? Sorry for all the questions but I need more data. I can tell you that last year was the first year of kid pitch ball for my oldest boy. He was clearly the best player on the team (I'm saying this not through dad eyes but coach's eyes). Games that I felt he didn't need to pitch for us to win, I didn't have him pitch. I would also sit him an inning or two in those games. (Our league rule was that a boy couldn't sit more than two innings in a game and everyone was in the batting order). However, in tough games he would pitch the maximum number of innings (3) and would be on the field the entire game. The last inning of our games was unlimited scoring (games were 6 innings or 2 hours, whichever came first, and there was a max of 7 runs per inning except the last) and as a result in tough games the last inning invariably saw our "worst" players on the bench. The team won the division and lost in the championship game. I think all the boys had fun and learned more baseball than any other year to date.

    I would never tell a kid to go up looking for a walk. I always wanted them to swing at strikes and let the balls go by. Most of the fun in baseball for most kids is hitting the ball. I had one boy last year who had 37 plate appearances and struck out 25 times! He was HBP 2 times, had 9 walks and only one hit! But that hit drove in the winning run in a game that helped win the division for us. Kids need to be reminded that they can help the team on the field also. So many focus on hitting only.

    I solicited from my players what position was their favorite to play and as you can guess, most picked an infield position. Since it's impossible for everyone to play SS or 2B, you have to play them where they help the team. I rotated kids every 2 innings but I never let the rotation hinder the team's chances of winning. There are some boys who just can't play SS, 2B, or 3B so I would minimize their time "on the dirt". I tried to instill in the boys that every position is important and every position has a job to do when a ball is put into play. When I saw a one of my players who was in RF run over to back up 1B on a ball hit to 3B, and retrieve the bad throw and prevented the runner from advancing to 2B, I yelled much praise out to him. The other boys noticed that.

    My overall advice is to make sure that you have fun also. Teach the boys, all of the boys, the correct fundamentals on hitting, fielding, throwing, and pitching and that's about all anyone can expect. Last year, I would show the boys some hitting drills and pitching drills and give them "homework" where I asked them to practice those drills at home 10 minutes each day. You quickly learn who does their homework! This year will be my 7th year coaching baseball and I really love to help the boys advance their baseball skills because it is so much fun. (Sorry to ramble on killer; believe it or not I am cutting it short)
     
  4. DiHard

    DiHard Guest

    make practice fun....dont just do the typical batting practice, infield drills and fly balls.....throw some fun things in.....

    play glove toss to break the monotony during practice....it teaches them hand-eye-glove skills and is fun for them....

    just be zany after every practice...find something fun to end every single practice with....kids at that age want to have fun.....
     
  5. BuckBackHome

    BuckBackHome Wolverine is largest member of weasel family

    I've never coached baseball, but have coached youth soccer and can echo the thoughts that have been shared.

    * Parents are nutty, no matter the age of the kid. I had a parent mad at me because their FIVE year-old refused to play any position but one. The kid literally would stand there if I put him at another position. You cannot force a five year-old to try something different.

    * Make the kids try different positions. At that age the kids will try different things. Let them pick the position they want to play, but make them try other ones as well. I had a fullback that never tried forward before. After one game he had forward as his position of choice. He figured out his cannon of a leg was useful for more than just sending balls down to the other end of the field.

    * Winning isn't everything, but it sure makes coming to practice and the games more enjoyable. The older the kids are the more important the winning becomes. If you have a team that is struggling and you see a game you can win, you may want to go for it as it really boosts everyone's spirits.

    * Watch out for other coaches. I had two other coaches lecture me one time because I coach during games. They used to stand on the sidelines and not say a word, just let the kids figure out what they were doing. Kids that young need the instruction in a game setting. Oh yeah, my team lost one game that year and it was the one I could not make it to.

    * Add something different and fun. Coach the fundamentals, but add some variety. Also, kids still love to get ice cream after games.
     
  6. BIATCHabutuka

    BIATCHabutuka out of chaos comes playoffs

    a few things.

    winning is very important, it is the way life is, better to learn this now than as an adult loser.

    the draft is the key to the season. grab some tall athletes and teach them up. grab a lefty or two also if possible. draft a hot mom's kid and a family with a nice pool for the post season party.

    the best kids play the most and the worst kids play the minimum. survival of the fittest. use this to teach them about evolution/biology/law of the jungle. if the scrubs want to play more tell them they will have to earn it and then work with them in practice if they are willing to do the work. tell them that nothing good is easy. we always played our worst kids the minimum two innings and one at bat. we led them all off so they got to hit the first inning and then brought in those more deserving to finish off the game, that way we didn't get stuck having to keep them in three innings to get their one at bat in a worst case scenario; otherwise you are being unfair to the kids that deserve the PT. shift the lineup back however many spots you have scrubs leading off. for example if you have three kids that will play the minimum hit them one through three and then have your leadoff hitter hit fourth, and your cleanup hitter eigth and so on.

    find your tallest 4 or 5 guys and teach them all to pitch. if you have a little guy with a gun you may want to work with him too, but his long term ceiling is much lower than the taller kids; the little guy is a middle infielder/outfielder long term and not a pitcher. you will be lucky to have one stud and a couple of other serviceable arms. teach the kids about working off of different sides of the rubber, arm angles, a two seam [that sink] and four seam [that rise] fastball, and a palm ball (gripped with all 5 fingers; the friction reduces ball speed but not arm speed and it is a good changeup for little kids). probably none of your kids will be able to get any motion on a 2 or 4 seamer but they should be learning it for the future by 9 or 10 years old.

    have every kid every practice bunt the ball in play multiple times before allowing him to take a full swing. most kids can't bunt so in case they cant have them stand there without a bat and in the batters box and with their glove on. show them that they can at least catch the ball then tell the kids that it isn't a problem of seeing the ball or hand speed. they are simply nervous about being hit (and if that is the case make sure they get plunked once a practice so they realize it doesn't hurt physically). to teach bunting, have them put their hand behind the bat (so no part of the hand is exposed) and simply 'catch' the ball, only the bat gets in the way. eventually they will learn to control the ball coming off the bat (as well as moving their lead hand down back to where it should be...). some smart ass kid/dad will ask why the hell does everyone need to bunt every practice, it is inevitable. make it a point to answer this question in front of as many people as possible, especially interfering parents. tell them that you gaurantee that every single kid on this team will get a hit this year no matter what and that is why everyone must be able to bunt. besides little league infields have difficulty running in towards the ball and making the turn and throw to first base.

    keep complete stats and go over them with the kids. a favorite stat of mine for little league is strike out percentage. total times you strike out divided by plate appearances. use this as a math lesson.

    teach the kids about choking up and perhaps leaving a finger or two off the bat. tell them it is about bat control / leverage and use this as a physics lesson.

    no parents may have any contact with their players during any practice and any game. none. no parent will teach a kid otherwise what you teach unless they go over it with you first.
     
  7. osugrad21

    osugrad21 Capo Regime Staff Member

    Nut...I respect your endeavour. Everyone had good advice already, but let me throw one particular request at you. Nothing is more frustrating as a coach than to try and break learned bad habits...in particular the poor throwing motion/arm slot. Break down proper throwing mechanics for a stronger and healthier arm in these kids' futures.
     
  8. WoodyWorshiper

    WoodyWorshiper THINK, Before You Speak

    Have fun with this Killer, because this can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. But, if approached in the wrong way can be one of your worst nightmares. I coached Little League baseball from the time I was 17 years old till I was 31, so I've been out of the loop for ten years. My best advice to you would be:

    YOU are at an advantage by NOT having any children of your own on your team. I have seen close friendships, and even family relationships ruined because of the "politics" that are involved in these situations. The "Coach"s Kid" typically pitches and plays shortstop, whether he belongs there or not.

    As far as drafting and evaluating talent goes, the most important thing you want to look for in a kid is a throwing arm. Just about everything else can be taught with practice, a strong arm is a God-given ability.

    Get the kids into the mindset that they are there to have fun, but that winning is more fun than losing. But, being a part of the "team" is the most important thing. Take it upon yourself to teach the kids the game, and make sure that you juggle your lineup so that EVERY kid gets to bat at least 2 times every game.

    Let the kids pick the positions they'd like to play, but be realistic in placing them where their skill level allows. If a kid doesn't like the position you give him, remind him of a great major-leaguer who plays that position.

    Keep practices to a maximum of 1 1/2 hours. Baseball practice can be boring, especially the traditional "9 men in the field while 5 guys wait in line to take batting practice." Keep the kids active. "Pepper" games are great for hand-eye coordination and involve constant movement. If you can set up a station for a "tee" do that also. If the kids complain thart they are Not in T-Ball anymore and pitch a bitch, remind them that the MLB stars to this day hit off a tee to work on their swings.

    As a final idea, and I used this one for many years, offer the kids a surprise from time to time based on the type of practice facility you have. A couple times a year I would bring a football or basketball to practice and THAT was what we would play that day. It's a great way to loosten the atmosphere, especially the day after a loss.

    Be competitive and teach you players healthy competition, by avoid the "win at all costs mentality."

    I must say that coaching Little League gave me some of the best moments of my life. In 1982, the team I coached won the State Championship here in Ohio and advanced to the Central Regional finals in West lafayette. We were the last team eliminated in the USA that year, one game away from going to Williamsport, PA for the World Series. As the Coach of that team I had the honor of Throwing out the "First Pitch" at an Indians game that September, and was honored with a plaque by our then Congressman before the game. That type of stuff sticks with you for a lifetime.

    Again, best of luck, and ENJOY!!
     
  9. MililaniBuckeye

    MililaniBuckeye The satanic soulless freight train that is Ohio St Staff Member Tech Admin

    1. Kids need to learn that not everyone is going to play every game. If you play your best players most of the time, you'll have a better chance of at least building a lead, and then getting a chance to put in the second-stringers. The thing is getting the balance of being competitive (no kid likes to lose all the time) and getting the non-starters in when possible.

    2. Calling for a kid to go for a walk should depend on the situation and not the kid's talent. If you go solely by the kid's talent, you may end up never letting the kid swing the bat if he's s sucky hitter. Plus, coaches that watch a lot of opponents' games will soon learn to "Bobby" on Team A is never allowed to swing and those coaches will tell the pitcher to just throw fast balls down the middle for a 3-pitch strikeout. Poof...wasted at-bat and the batter nevers get a chance to at least get lucky.

    3. Allow the kids to try out for any position they want, but in the end put them where they play the best and/or are needed. Believe me, kids will understand and even feel complimented if you do it the right way.

    As pointed out above, the kids won't be your problem, but rather the parents will be. You need to get all the parents together before the start of the season and set them straight from the git-go. Tell them that not every kid is going to play in every game, but you'll try to get them in when possible. Tell the parents that it won't be a "win at all costs" approach, yet you want to have the team be competitive. Try and get each kid in at least a couple times over the course of the season. IIRC, most LL teams only have 14-15 players, so you have only 5-6 subs to get in every once in a while.
     
  10. KillerNut

    KillerNut Banned

    Thanks for all of the ideas and feedback. It really does help

    I will probably use a lot of it.

    Some things, I didn't get to draft or choose my team, so I am stuck with whatever I got, every kid bats in order reguardless of where they play in the field. Pitcher 3 can pitch up to 3 consecutive innings of a 6 inning game. There is a time limit of 1 hour and 45 minutes. All kids must play 3 innings with two of those innings being played withing the first fout innings (probably incase of rainouts, or time limit games). Two games a week, one game has nothing to do with the next. Since I only have 11 players on my team, likely it will be hard to bury a kid that much, without it being obvious.

    Luckily my Dad, who coached me when I was this age, I have suckered in to be the asst. coach this year. So I don't have to worry about any parents getting in the way this year as far as coaching.

    I am glad that you guys all seem to feel the same way I do about asking a kid to draw a walk. That was somthing my dad was trying to convince me would be in the kids interests, but he is more competitive with these young people sports than I am.

    I expect this to be a good time, and hopefully it will be.

    I am sure that you will all get updates as the season goes on.

    Practice, yes were talking about practices, starts next Tues.
     
  11. ScriptOhio

    ScriptOhio Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.



    Just sayin': I coached a little league team in Gahanna for 10 years (1973 - 1982); I remember one game where an opposing coach had a copy of this:

    [​IMG]

    5-4, bottom of the fifth, one out, and nobody on.........:lol:
     
    Jake, Jaxbuck, brodybuck21 and 2 others like this.
  12. Jake

    Jake it is what it is

    I used to umpire Little League baseball and I can assure you the kids will be the least of your problems - it'll be the parents. Between the dad who never fulfilled his sports dreams and the mom who thinks everyone is out to get her precious little angel, you'll have your hands full in ways you never expected.

    As for the kids, tell them to swing the bat. The ump isn't getting paid a lot of money, and it won't take long before the strike zone expands if the little bastards are waiting for walks while the kid whose pants keep falling down can't get the ball over the plate without it bouncing in front of it.

    Good luck.
     
    Buckeyeskickbuttocks likes this.
  13. Nutriaitch

    Nutriaitch Retired Super Hero

    yep always the parent.

    i’ve been coaching for about 10 years now.

    and usually it’s parents that apparently have never seen a baseball game that didn’t involve their child.

    my wife and my mom overheard parents in stands bitching about my son and where he was lined up defensively.

    he plays 2B. had runners on 2nd and 3rd with a lefty up to bat.
    son was shading slightly closer to 1st than he

    the dad says something like “look (my sons name) isn’t even on his bag holdin the runner. But coach ain’t gonna tell him shit because it’s his son”


    um no i’m not gonna tell him anything. because he’s playing WHERE I TOLD HIM TO PLAY.
    why the hell would i hold a guy on at 2nd (which i almost never do regardless of circumstances)?
    ESPECIALLY with a guy on 3 preventing the runner on 2 from stealing.
    and a lefty at the plate who is likely to pull one through the massive gap that would be created by using my 2B to hold a guy on.
     
  14. Nutriaitch

    Nutriaitch Retired Super Hero

    also had a parent ask me why i don’t ever start a lefty on the mound.

    prolly cause i don’t have a single kid on the entire roster that’s left handed.
     
    Thump, buckeyebri, NJ-Buckeye and 3 others like this.
  15. Zurp

    Zurp I have misplaced my pants.

    I'm no baseball expert, but I've never seen either the second baseman or the shortstop hold the runner on second. Even if third base is open, it just seems like a lousy idea.

    My son is playing in a 9-10 year-old league. He's 9. First year for him to play kid pitch. And the umpire, he's doing the best he can. But he's getting some calls wrong. I was really surprised at how well the players and parents and coaches took it. Mostly for the other team, since our team won. But I saw a kid strike out watching a ball over his head, and another walk on a ball that looked right down the middle. (To be fair, that one may have been outside.)

    Maybe you're in the leagues where "Hey, my son had to try out just to make this team, so he must be pretty good." My son plays in a league where of the players need a cut-off man to throw the ball from third base to first.
     

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