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  • Steps to coach for a winning season?

    I am new to this forum so I hope my question is not too redundent. My goal is to coach our little league team to a successful season where we win some games and have the kids all get better, of course while having fun.

    What sort of sequence of practices and game strategies should I use to get the most of the kids this season? A couple of ideas I was playing with:

    Start off with a team practice that evaluates each player for hitting, fielding, throwing and baserunning. Asst. Coach taking notes. Have a parents meeting at this point.

    Next practice have 3-4 kids with similar weaknesses or strengths show up for one hour. Spend the hour with them and then have another group show up the next hour and then the next till they have all worked on their skills and I know them each better.

    Next practice. Work with pitchers and catchers while asst. coach works with the rest on drills and team play.

    Next practice. Skill development & team play with pitchers and catchers in game.

    One scrimage game before season starts.

    My question is what strategies have experienced coaches used in putting together a progression of practices to maximize the performance and skills of a little league team?

  • #2
    How old are they?

    Teach them in this order:

    1. Good sportsmanship
    2. Love and respect for the game
    3. How to play the "right way."
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    234,973,893,519. Winning
    See ball, hit ball.

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    • #3
      This is a huge topic.

      I'll just hit on one part of it. Assuming you are not having these practices on consecutive days, you may want to work with the pitchers each practice. Have one helper who is going to handle the pitchers setup camp near a mound and a plate and rotate the pitchers over there the entire practice. When it is pitcher #1's turn he just hops out of the drill you are currently doing and goes over and does what you are having the pitchers do. For the first practice have each of them throw 15 pitches or something similar. As their arms get in shape you can increase that number.

      And are you going to have each kid try to pitch or just a handful? It's difficult to have every kid pitch as each kid doesn't get enough mound time to improve much but the other hand says that at this age you don't really know who can and cannot pitch effectively unless they get an opportunity.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by PhilliesPhan22 View Post
        How old are they?

        Teach them in this order:

        1. Good sportsmanship
        2. Love and respect for the game
        3. How to play the "right way."
        .
        234,973,893,519. Winning
        Agreed. Teach them all that and hopefully you will win some games along the way. Winning is important only in that the kids get excited about it. A few wins here and there is good for them.

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        • #5
          True. My first season we lost every game. But we still had fun
          See ball, hit ball.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by PhilliesPhan22 View Post
            True. My first season we lost every game. But we still had fun
            I'm a horrible soccer coach but somehow I got tagged to coach it anyways when my son was younger. We had a great time. Lost every game of the season but somehow won the first playoff game. The kids, parents, me, etc. were so excited over that one win it made me happy it went that way.

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            • #7
              Coach,

              The key to the kids having fun and getting better is to have good, highly organized practices. Practices with a coach pitching to a kid hitting with the rest of the team shagging balls is one of the reasons many kids quit the game. It's too boring. There are so many other activities kids can do these days, so if you have boring practices, kids will do something else. It's your responsibility to run fun, competitive, organized practices.

              Many leagues are good about training the coaches on how to run these types of practices. I'm a huge fan of practices using stations. If you are unfamiliar or only partially familiar with these types of practices, I highly suggest Dr. Bragg Stockton's Skills and Drills DVD's. His series is still to my knowledge the only training materials endorsed by Little League Baseball, and it has fantastic material about how to teach all aspects of the game, not the least is how to run an organized practice.

              Good luck and have fun!

              -JJA
              The outcome of our children is infinitely more important than the outcome of any game they will ever play

              Comment


              • #8
                And on the thought of winning..... even when my son went to play travelling ball I would tell the parents that I hope to win half of our games, no more and no less and I would make sure we played a combination of teams that would get us there. Learning to win properly is important as is learning to lose properly. Also it leads to a culture of allowing kids to explore some positions without worrying if we were going to fall down in rankings, etc. We always played to win but not at the sacrifice of the things you listed above.

                However my son HAS played on teams where they were competitive and strove to win each game, the tourneys, etc. I allowed him to play on that team because they didn't do it in a cut-throat, jackass way. They played competive, tough ball. Since that was the objective of the team I had no problem with it. What I did see what that other teams we played also were out to win and some didn't do it with grace and sportsmanship. Nasty stuff.

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                • #9
                  I hope I can teach and SHOW them good sportsmanship, love for the game and playing for the fun and enjoyment of it. Very important. I also put a high priority on everyplayer having being part of the team's success.

                  I want to teach all the kids the fundamentals of pitching. So yes I think your advice to work with them at each practice is good. Thanks. All that are interested in pitching in a game, I want to give the experience. But I hope they don't ALL want to pitch!

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                  • #10
                    Yes, I am a big believer in organized, fun practices. In fact, putting together practice plans is my passion. Stations, quick pace drills and I love to throw in competitive drills for rewards.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by baseballdad View Post
                      I am new to this forum so I hope my question is not too redundent. My goal is to coach our little league team to a successful season where we win some games and have the kids all get better, of course while having fun.
                      How do you define success at this level?
                      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


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
                        How do you define success at this level?
                        Jake
                        For me as a coach there are many measures of success at this level- which is LL ages 9-11. First the kids need to have fun and enjoy the experience. One of the reason's I am coaching is too be sure each player feels they are equally involved in the team. Sitting out and playing time will be equally distributed. Each player should get chances to play the infield and outfield. I think these things help a player have fun and develop.

                        Success will be to see each of the players improve over the season. Good practices, as mentioned above, should help here and with them having fun.

                        My question here though was directed at trying to put together a sequence of team and skill building practices that will best result in good team performance over the season. The level of this will depend on the skill level I end up with. But I hope to maximize that performance. Playing hard each inning will be a measure of success. "Good at bats" will be a measure of success. Based on the skill level of our team compared to others I hope to have a goal of number of wins for them to aspire too as well.

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                        • #13
                          There are so many things you can cover before a season starts and sometimes you feel like you didn't cover them adequately, or even at all. And you will be right. Not enough hours in the day, not enough practices, to get them all in. So you have to gloss over some things in such a way that you are getting across the foundation of understanding even if you can't cover specifics right away.

                          For instance defensive movement when the ball is in play. The main consistent theory that I want to get across is to "Try and find a way to be useful during the play, move SOMEWHERE to help out!". Even if you see a ball and play and an outfielder is running all over the place trying his/her best to get involved then you have done that child a world of good. They are concious that they should be moving somewhere to do something, even if they aren't sure where and what. That player should have a big fuss made over them to encourage that. As practices and the season moves along you can teach specifics to the theory. Right away during the first practices we are talking about backing up the person around you (RF backs up CF, 2B and 1B, Second Base backs up etc. etc) but more importantly is the theory of "Try and find a way to be useful during the play, move SOMEWHERE to help out!". When you are doing some live infield hit the ball and yell "STOP!" and ask each player where they think they should be going. Ask them why they think that. If they have an answer that sounds like they were thinking of SOMETHING make sure you tell them "Hey, good thought, but you know what might work better?" and show them. Maybe next time they get closer to what you expect.

                          If you ever have a rainout see if you can get the kids to a chaklboard (or whiteboard) and draw a diamond up there and start having them help show where EACH PLAYER goes in different situations. Make it fun.

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                          • #14
                            I'm coaching the same age group right now, and it sounds like we have similar philosophies. At the first 4 practices I spent a lot of time at the beginning of each practice working on throwing and catching mechanics as they got warmed up. We had several kids on our team that hadn't ever played before. Then I spent the next block of time working in stations to teach the basic fundamentals. After discussing proper mechanics with the team we had stations for hitting off a tee (or soft-toss), taking bare-handed grounders, and catching pop flys. I have two great asst coaches that I trust to instruct the boys correctly which helps a great deal. Then we spent the next block of time we worked on infield/outfield situations. (Double-plays, cut-offs, etc.) Then at the end we spent time on base-running.

                            During one of the first four practices we covered pitching mechanics and I had them all practice on flat ground after warm-ups. Then we had a seperate practice where we just worked with pitchers and catchers and hit live pitching in the batting cage.

                            Each practice we still review the basics so it will become habit, but I also try to add one new thing each time so they're still learning. (e.g. rundowns, bunt defense, etc.)

                            We're 2/3 of the way through our season and the boys are having fun, getting better (as individuals and a team) and they're winning more than they're losing, so I would consider our season to be successful so far.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Also..... if YOU have the time you can have additional and optional practices that focus on one thing. For instance if you find that it is difficult to get all your players mound time you can have a practice that is nothing but pitching practice. At that age we did that and had to bring a mom or dad to catch them. That way they (the pitchers) can be in a line with their catchers at the right distance away. Demonstrate the motion you want them to do and then as they are throwing you can walk the line offering advice.

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