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  • Need some advice for struggling kids...

    As you may know, I am coaching Little League 9-10 age group.

    We have had our first 2 practices and a third is tonight. I have 14 kids on the roster and most are of average talent with maybe 2-3 that are above average. There are 4 kids however that are very much below average. Two of them are eleven that were cut from their age group. They have never played before. The other two are 9 and 10 and have played 1 to 2 years respectively. But they look like they have never played before either.

    Just as an example - These kids are literally hacking at the baseball like my 2 year old does and throwing the balls like a shotput and jumping away from the catches.

    Now, don't get me wrong I am more than happy they are out there playing and I am just fine with them on the team, but I want to make sure that I do not get too advanced with the teachings so that they fall further behind. I have plenty of assistant coaches to help with the more experience kids while I give these four kids a chance to learn and not get overwhelmed.

    Any suggestions on how I should work with these four? Should I take them aside and work more one on one? Or is it still beneficial to them to just get in there and work with the other kids? The thing I am afraid with this is that 1) they get further behind and 2) they get seperated as the weaker players from the other kids (which can still happen if I work one on one with them).

    I guess the bottom line is that I have not had much experience with kids at such a lower level than the others. At this point I am not thinking about the games or just sticking them in left field or anything like that. I want to coach them into being descent players. And hopefully they enjoy it enough to come back next year.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    I will pray for you.


    respectfully yours,


    drill


    PS maybe you could find a HS player to help you out. Mentoring kids shows up well on there college entrance resume. Plus the kids look up to High School baseball players. Ask a HS coach for volunteer(s) for a few evenings after there practice.
    Yogi Berra was asked by a reporter "How do you catch a knuckle ball?" He came right back and said "When it stops rolling"

    Comment


    • #3
      Get them on a tee...

      Work on plate discipline...

      If all else fails, maybe you should try to be the best team at pitching and defense

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by jbolt_2000 View Post
        As you may know, I am coaching Little League 9-10 age group.

        We have had our first 2 practices and a third is tonight. I have 14 kids on the roster and most are of average talent with maybe 2-3 that are above average. There are 4 kids however that are very much below average. Two of them are eleven that were cut from their age group. They have never played before. The other two are 9 and 10 and have played 1 to 2 years respectively. But they look like they have never played before either.

        Just as an example - These kids are literally hacking at the baseball like my 2 year old does and throwing the balls like a shotput and jumping away from the catches.

        Now, don't get me wrong I am more than happy they are out there playing and I am just fine with them on the team, but I want to make sure that I do not get too advanced with the teachings so that they fall further behind. I have plenty of assistant coaches to help with the more experience kids while I give these four kids a chance to learn and not get overwhelmed.

        Any suggestions on how I should work with these four? Should I take them aside and work more one on one? Or is it still beneficial to them to just get in there and work with the other kids? The thing I am afraid with this is that 1) they get further behind and 2) they get seperated as the weaker players from the other kids (which can still happen if I work one on one with them).

        I guess the bottom line is that I have not had much experience with kids at such a lower level than the others. At this point I am not thinking about the games or just sticking them in left field or anything like that. I want to coach them into being descent players. And hopefully they enjoy it enough to come back next year.

        Any help would be greatly appreciated!
        Bolt, What you describe is not unusual. One suggestion that may help is to organize your practices using a rotational format separating the players based on talent level. Set your coaches up so they each have a specific goal for each group. The better hitters for example would have different goals and applied training than those struggling. You may have the better hitters hitting live pitching while those struggling are taking swings into a bag concentrating on upper body rotation.

        Having those struggling taking the same training as those performing well may not be productive for either group. The same would apply to throwing and fielding...
        Make sense?


        Jake
        "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
        - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
        Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

        Comment


        • #5
          Had the same thing last year - two 9's that had never played before - so I feel your pain. I know, in retrospect, that I didn't do enough one on one w/ these boys and I still regret it.

          A couple of options:
          1. Pulll them them aside for some one on one during station work (assuming you're running stations). Then put them back in the group for team activities.
          2. Have them come early or stay late to get some one on one.
          3. Provide parents w/ drills to work on w/ the boys. This, of course, assumes the parents can do this. In my case, this was a no-go for several reasons.

          Re: being separated as weaker players - The rest of the kids aren't dumb, so they'll know these kids aren't that good. At this age, they probably don't care (or at least they shouldn't). I know my team cheered just as loudly when one of these 'weaker' kids got a hit as they did when one of the better kids got a homerun.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
            Bolt, What you describe is not unusual. One suggestion that may help is to organize your practices using a rotational format separating the players based on talent level. Set your coaches up so they each have a specific goal for each group. The better hitters for example would have different goals and applied training than those struggling. You may have the better hitters hitting live pitching while those struggling are taking swings into a bag concentrating on upper body rotation.

            Having those struggling taking the same training as those performing well may not be productive for either group. The same would apply to throwing and fielding...
            Make sense?


            Jake
            Yeah, that makes alot of sense. I was afraid I would be hurting the better players and still not prgressing as I should with the weaker ones. I think I will need to seperate them for a little while, at least.

            Comment


            • #7
              A couple of options:
              1. Pulll them them aside for some one on one during station work (assuming you're running stations). Then put them back in the group for team activities.
              I like this one alot. Give them the individual attention during station work (which is what I do) but include them during team activities (probably during base running, situational drills and fun relay drills).

              2. Have them come early or stay late to get some one on one.
              Unfortunately this is not an option yet. We start practice at 5:00pm (parents can't make it before then) and it gets completely dark at 6:45. In a month or so we should have a solid 2 hours of daylight and I can start doing the early/late stuff, but until then our time is limited.

              3. Provide parents w/ drills to work on w/ the boys. This, of course, assumes the parents can do this. In my case, this was a no-go for several reasons.
              I already planted the seed for this one at our Parent Meeting. I just don't know how committed the parents are to this. I give the kids homework to take back to their parents such as; showing mom/dad what they learned today, or play catch with mom/dad (if possible) for 10 minutes. I really can't enforce this though. Hopefully they take it as incentive to do more at home.

              Re: being separated as weaker players - The rest of the kids aren't dumb, so they'll know these kids aren't that good. At this age, they probably don't care (or at least they shouldn't). I know my team cheered just as loudly when one of these 'weaker' kids got a hit as they did when one of the better kids got a homerun.
              Good point. I'll keep this into consideration.

              Comment


              • #8
                I'd say have stations. If you want, divide them into hitting groups for hitting stations. Put some of the good players in each group. Then, on a tee or something, have everyone coaching each other. Like say to the groups... ok, make sure this player doesn't stop at contact, make sure he follows through (made up some example). Do this for everyone, so the kids help coach each other. This will make a couple of things happen... it will make your job easier. Also, it will give some responsibility to the players. Also, they will be able to help each other get better.

                Also, turn things into a game. Have a competition like, who can get the most hits in a row... or over the line (maybe better for the older kids).

                Also, at that level. Get your pitchers to throw strikes. Get a good defense, have the bottom hitters hit and you'll win.

                Good Luck

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by jbolt_2000 View Post
                  Just as an example - These kids are literally hacking at the baseball like my 2 year old does and throwing the balls like a shotput and jumping away from the catches.

                  Now, don't get me wrong I am more than happy they are out there playing and I am just fine with them on the team, but I want to make sure that I do not get too advanced with the teachings so that they fall further behind. I have plenty of assistant coaches to help with the more experience kids while I give these four kids a chance to learn and not get overwhelmed.

                  Any suggestions on how I should work with these four? Should I take them aside and work more one on one? Or is it still beneficial to them to just get in there and work with the other kids? The thing I am afraid with this is that 1) they get further behind and 2) they get seperated as the weaker players from the other kids (which can still happen if I work one on one with them).

                  I guess the bottom line is that I have not had much experience with kids at such a lower level than the others. At this point I am not thinking about the games or just sticking them in left field or anything like that. I want to coach them into being descent players. And hopefully they enjoy it enough to come back next year.
                  Good luck. I've been there.

                  You or someone has to work with them one on one. They'll develop fears if they play with more advanced kids.

                  In terms of throwing, the most important thing is that they start out sideways to, and not facing, the target. One cue is to point the glove at the target.

                  In terms of catching, they have to let the ball come to the glove (and not bring the glove to the ball) and catch the ball fingers up.

                  In terms of hitting, have them start out with the bat resting against the side of their upper arm (e.g. delt) with their hands back by their back shoulder and have them just rotate from there.

                  You also have to understand that, while this will help some kids greatly, 10% of the time the kid will simply have no talent or be on the wrong side of some major developmental milestone and there's nothing you can do about that.

                  One fun thing about this situation is that it can be INCREDIBLY rewarding (which you seem to get). You can make a kid literally 10 times better in just one year. With a really good kid, it's hard to make them even a little better.
                  Last edited by Chris O'Leary; 02-21-2008, 11:40 AM.
                  Hitting Coordinator for Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis.

                  I also work with the pitchers who are dealing with injury problems.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I too have been in this situation... First off I suggest you talk to all of your kids about their expectations and reasons for being there. Then talk with the parents about their responsibility in helping their son. I think it is also important to explain exactly what you want the parents to do. Also, encourage all of your kids to ask questions whenever they are confused about what you are saying. I often use my own son or kids I have coached for some time to ask questions about things they think their teamates may not have grasped.

                    Finally do not coddle any of your kids... do not single them out in anyway. Teach respect, tell them they can and they will.
                    Coop
                    Coop

                    Don't forget to swing hard, in case you hit the ball. ~Woodie Held

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jbolt_2000 View Post
                      Yeah, that makes alot of sense. I was afraid I would be hurting the better players and still not prgressing as I should with the weaker ones. I think I will need to seperate them for a little while, at least.
                      If you keep ir fun and the players feel like they are learning they won't feel seperated from the better players, especially at that age.
                      "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                      - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                      Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I seem to be in this position almost every year. I've found that the best way to deal with it is to hold separate practices with only the kids that need it invited. The parents generally know their kids are behind and appreciate the extra attention you're giving their kids. I focus on very basic stuff - how to throw a ball, basic fielding, and a very simple breakdown of the swing. Some of the kids will improve dramatically due to the fact that no one else has ever taught them this before. As for the others, well at least they and their parents know you've done your best. Good luck!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The only thing I can say is just don't give up on these kids. Keep working with them, as best you can, doing the best you know how to do, and it will either work out or it won't. Sometimes a kid just needs someone to believe in them. I'd be very interested to see where these kids are at the end of the season. I'm willing to bet they'll be the most improved players on the team.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
                            One fun thing about this situation is that it can be INCREDIBLY rewarding (which you seem to get). You can make a kid literally 10 times better in just one year. With a really good kid, it's hard to make them even a little better.


                            Some of the best advice I read lately,


                            drill

                            PS I had one young guy who never swung a bat last year, big boy with a fire hydrant build for a 11 year old.

                            Taught him the basics, him and his dad went home and worked every night of the week, the young guy even started lifting lite weights (football kid too). By the end of the season he was getting hits.

                            You will remember the kids that you help.

                            I even had one call me up one night out of the blue and thanked me over the phone. He hit his first double. I told him it was all because he applied himself. He swung the bat all I did is tell him what to do.

                            I was picking up my son from baseball optional weight training last night and saw about 40 of the football players out side training and saw one of the boys above doing optional work outs with the team.

                            They grow fast.
                            Yogi Berra was asked by a reporter "How do you catch a knuckle ball?" He came right back and said "When it stops rolling"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have one of those kids too! I have an eleven year old that has never played before and he is almost as tall as me and where's a size 12 shoe!!!

                              The kid is definitely new to the game, but it would be so awesome to see him get his body into a pitch and just rip the cover off the ball.

                              I've been thinking alot about this the last few days and we probably won't have practice again til monday (due to rain) so I am going to come up with some new practice plans for the team. I like the idea of pulling these few kids aside and work on basic fundamentals, while the rest work in their seperate stations. Then when we move to team drills or situation stuff I can incorporate them back into the team.

                              I also like the idea of having a seperate practice altogther. I have already expressed this in a way to all the parents. I explained that I may want an individual picthing/catching day, as this is a first/second year pitching for most. Perhaps I can just make it a mandatory practice and have everyone show up to work on either pitching/catching or fundamentals.

                              Patsox - you're right, I am sure the parents know how their kids are doing. I had one parent come to me and tell me that he knows his son is new to the game and does not expect much in playing time (although they still get their minimum and then some). So it is definitely good to have them understand that and be on my side. I will speak with the others and let them know my expectations as well and hopefully none of them expect their kid to be the star shortstop or pitcher. It will be very difficult coaching the games if one of these parents think their kid is better than they realize and expect him to be the star so to speak.

                              I'm sure it will turn out OK and hopefully in a few months I'll be able to report back to all of you and have some good stories!

                              Comment

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