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  • New 9-10 Boys Coach/Need Help BAD

    First off I'm a mother! That should say enough. I need all kinds of help to coach these 9-10 year old boys properly. I've coached every common sport but baseball - and I've not even played softball in a few years, so I'm kinda foggy. I got asked to do this by the director, because he's familiar with me coaching & he knows I won't say no! (Kids not getting to play bothers me!)

    These kids will be playing all the regular positions, many just movng up from machine pitch, so the pitcher will be a new position all will want to try out for. What do I look for in each position that needs to be filled? What drills shall I run? What else should I be asking to keep these kids on the right track to a good season?

    I am a competitive person, but not when it comes to coaching - I want to make sure my players learn everything they need to learn properly. Unfortunately this is their first competitive league around here, and I don't know how to choose players for positions, batting order, or anything.

    I NEED ALL KINDS OF HELP WITH EVERYTHING THAT IS 9-10 YEAR OLD BASEBALL !!!!!!!!!!! If you think of anything I need to know, should know, or oought to know - please inform me because I don't.

  • #2
    First have everyone fill out a sheet about 2 postions they like to play. Then during practice let them play there postions and whoever does the best at there postion should play that postion most of the time. Drill wise just hit balls to infield postions,make them throw it to first who throws it home and then flips it to you..simple stuff like that and after the first few practices run a scrimmage amoung your own team if you can. Batting order put the guys who can get on base in the one and two hole and the big bats in the 3,4 and 5 holes and then just fill in from there.Hope I could help.But the number one rule is to let them have fun.(everyone says that but not alot of people live up to it, Little league was one of the best moments of my life and my team was in dead last for 3 years!)GOOD LUCK!Hope I could help.

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    • #3
      Well, ma'am, I admire your spunk and your humility, but you've got your work cut out for you. I started to say that I wouldn't know where to begin, but that isn't the problem. The problem is that if I began, I wouldn't know where to stop.

      There are books out there on coaching youth baseball and practice organization (for example http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/073...lance&n=283155 and http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/087...lance&n=283155). If you were to buy and read one, you'd probably be better at it than most of the guys coaching at your level. If I remember right, Tom Emansky and Bragg Stockton both have an instructional tape on practice organization in their video tape series. If my memory serves me correctly, Stockton's isn't bad. If you're not up on the basics of baseball, Joe Morgan's Baseball for Dummies is a pretty good general introduction. He even discusses defensive coverage for balls hit to the outfield. If you need something a little more advanced, several Major League teams have published manuals, and Ron Polk has authored a classic coach's manual(http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/188...lance&n=283155). If you read, digest and implement that, you'll be the best youth coach in the state.

      Here's a book by Stockton that apparently goes along with his Skills & Drills video series: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/158...lance&n=283155

      I just noticed that the edition of Polk's book that I linked to above is not available from Amazon, but you ought to be able to buy it somewhere. it is a classic among HS and college coaches.
      Last edited by fungo22; 03-31-2006, 08:49 PM.

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      • #4
        Hopefully you will have a few parents that are willing to get out and help you. The video series that FUNGO mentioned is excellent - Bragg Stockton's Skills & Drills. That will get you going in the right direction. One place you can find it along with other things to help out is tipsfromthecoach dot com.

        We like to break our team up into groups of 3-4 and run them through stations. Just because they are facing pitchers, hitting off a T is something that even pros do - make a T station. Work on their fielding fundamentals, from there you should be able to determine who is capable of playing certain infield/outfield positions. You may have to try and pitch all of them to see who has the desire and consistency to throw strikes. Catcher is also a hard position to fill. You will want one who is a leader, can throw hard, good glove, good feet and not afraid to get a little dirty.

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        • #5
          You may also want to PM Jake Patterson (that's his ID on this site), he has a nice book out as well.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by tadlock11
            You may also want to PM Jake Patterson (that's his ID on this site), he has a nice book out as well.
            What's his name when he isn't on this site? Jake Patterson? What's the title of his book?

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            • #7
              You've coached before so some of what I write will be familiar as it is general and not baseball specific.

              I don't know what level of skill you have but that would be my first thing to find out if I were you (and I am, coaching my 8 year niece in her first season of softball this year.) Since you are starting with them young, I would say that catching and throwing are where you can make a huge difference in how they do this year and the rest of their playing career. If your team throws strikes and can field you will win 10 year old ball games. Since you are coaching baseball you get the overhand throw to do both (whereas I get to teach a completely new skill just for the pitchers.) Do not be afraid to let them throw it around. They may spend half a season throwing it into the parking lot but you will wind up with players that can get people out. My pet peeve is the 'just slow down and throw strikes/ just make contact/ don't throw it away' school of coaching that leaves you with 14 year olds who cannot play the game, but hey, they won a few when they were nine.

              On offense, get them a good stance and let them hit the ball hard. Again, better a swinger at bad pitches than a watcher of strikes, if they are going to eventually be hitters, although not swinging will win a lot of 10-year-old games. Timidness is hard to get rid of later. Lots of info on rotational mechanics here, though sifting to find it is hard, still: knees bent, body tilted, butt out, hands somewhere just over their back shoulder, turn the body and smack the ball hard. I am not the person on this forum to speak to regarding batting mechanics.

              A lot of the nuances of running and positioning will come to them as you play. For me throwing, catching and hitting are the basic building blocks of a ball player.

              Practices. Have them, sometimes people don't. You likely will not get your whole team to each, work with who you get. You have little guys and thus you can divide your space and use small groups without them interfering with each other. You can have some taking ground balls in the infield, some shagging flies in right field, some others batting in left field and pitchers practicing in foul territory near third, all at the same time without conflict. You will have some parents, maybe not every parent, but some, at your practices. Recruit them to help. At that age almost any parent can manage a grounder, fly ball or batting practice pitch. Have the players doing something. In an average game each might see the ball a handful of times, practice is where they are going to get hundreds of chances to catch, throw and hit over the course of the year.

              Every year I see this practice: Little Timmy goes to the mound and throws dozens of balls (as opposed to strikes) at a batter, while the team stands in the field. After a half-hour of this, with the batter having taken a couple of swings at the three or four strikes he saw and hitting one ground ball, the batters get switched. Eventually, the batters either get switched through for a couple of pitches each, or some never get to hit at all. Boring, and useless, especially for the fielders.

              When it comes to practice, math is your friend. If you have 10 players and 30 minutes to conduct batting practice, you have 3 minutes per person. You say machine-pitch, which means you have machines you might be able to use, batting tees, whiffle balls, back stops and outfield fences can be used as screens to hit soft toss into. Try stuff, some will work, some won't.

              Read books, get videos, look up drills on the internet. Watch other peoples practices. Libraries might have books and videos, as might your association.

              Hopefully some ideas that will help. Good luck and have fun.
              Last edited by wilson68; 03-31-2006, 09:55 PM.

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              • #8
                Good post, good advice all around from Wilson68, in my opinion.

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                • #9
                  Yes, you absolutely, positively want to get Jake's book. (His real name's Joe, but Jake is his pen name as well.)

                  It's called How To Coach Little League Baseball: A Short Easy To Follow Guide On How To Begin Your Little League Coaching Career and is available either as an immediate downloadable Ebook (for $8.95) or in loosebound format for $14.95. You can get it here:

                  http://booklocker.com/books/1534.html

                  I've got the looseleaf. It's really a soup to nuts description of what to do, including lots of topics that you may not think about and aren't addressed in other books, but will come up -- like how to deal with various types of problem parents and how to allocate playing time. (Jake is a zealot for making sure all kids at that level get an honest chance to play.) For your level of experience and your level of kids, it's perfect. And, as noted, Jake is active in Baseball-Fever and very open to dispensing good, common sense advice. (I'd say he'd be happy to explain anything you might not understand in the book, but it's very clearly written so that's not likely to happen.)

                  Ditto on what Wilson said. 'nuff said.

                  As far as picking kids for positions, try to honor their desires within reason, but watch out for the Dad who declares, "Jimmy is the best shortstop in third grade and should be playing there every inning." Generally, your three best players will play most of the time at shortstop, pitcher and catcher. But, move everyone else around a little. Your mantra should be, "Everyone gets a chance, but I don't want to put a kid in a position where he's doomed to fail or earn the wrath of his teammates." But -- challenge kids to get good enough to play there. Tell 'em -- "if you go out and field twenty ground balls and get fifteen of 'em, I'll give you a chance to play [X infield position]."

                  Your more skilled kids will play more infield. Make sure every kid has at least one infield position he can play; but kids who can't make the throw to first well will probably play mostly second base when they're in the infield. (Secret -- when you have a fast pitcher on the mound and the other team is near the weak spot in their order, you can bring some of the weaker fielder in to play third base, as righties aren't likely to hit there; this doesn't mean you don't want the kid to field a ball, but it'll give him a chance to at least get used to being there during game conditions until his arm catches up with the position.)

                  Your best two players will probably do most of the catching, or there may be one kid who's slow but a good catcher of balls who can do it a lot. (That's how I became a catcher.)

                  As for pitchers (and I'm assuming there's no leads and steals), let anyone who wants to try throw on the side and see if they can find the plate at least 40% of the time. If so, give 'em an inning in a practice game. Some kids will rise to the challenge; others won't be ready (often because they're afraid of hitting batters and throw everything outside). That's how you'll find out. And if they're close, find 'em at least one other inning during a game -- again, challenge 'em during the season to keep working on their pitching so they'll be ready. Often, having that one inning of pitching (but warn Dad so he can have his camcorder ready) will make his season.

                  As far as attitudes on hitting, Wilson is dead on; instill in them the joy of making good contact. BUT, for technique, hitting is a thorny issue, just because so many Dads who think they know hitting will be relying on old, outdated theories -- "George Brett hit this way....!" I'll PM you with some thoughts on resources.

                  Good luck. And dont' be intimidated by the "experienced" coaches you're up against. They're often chosen because they're a buddy of a league official and couldn't teach their way out of a paper bag. Most important -- make sure the kids are having fun. Second most important -- make sure the kids are having fun. As long as there's pizza after the game, a loss won't stick with them very long.
                  Last edited by Ursa Major; 03-31-2006, 10:57 PM.
                  sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thank you everyone for all the info you have given me, and please keep giving me info... it helps & I do take it serious. I will keep checking this often to learn more from the experienced.

                    But note to everyone: I'm not the best of readers, when it comes down to reading an actual book. Nor do I have much time with 3 boys of my own. However, I do respond great to interaction & conversation such as this. So again, thank you for responding.

                    I don't have any problems making this fun for the kids, it's making sure that they're learning the right fundamentals so that they don't develop any bad habbits from me. Some of these kids I have already coached in basketball, soccer, or football. None of which we excelled at competively but skill wise we blew them out of the water (but size definately comes in to play in those sports & I had all the small kids, or the kids who spoke little to no english).

                    Funny remark about the pizza thing - that's where I work, so naturally they're getting pizza for their party.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I second what Wilson68 and Ursa said and second the recommendation of Jake's book. Unfortunately for me, I didn't discover many of these resources until I had been coaching a few years.

                      In my experience the greatest killer of practices is kids standing around. It seems like many years I have one ADHD kid on the team. I've figured out that if they are active enough that they don't get too distracted, I'm doing a good job of keeping all the kids busy.

                      I recommend teaching all the kids to pitch. You'll discover some diamonds in the rough.

                      I don't know if you will have this problem with 9-10's, but I coach 9-12's and have had a few kids over the years who developmentally just do not have the reaction time to be on the infield against some of the big hitters we face. I always explain this to the parents and haven't had a problem yet. The one time I violated my own rule resulted in one of the very few beanings I've had. Fortunately, he just had a bump on the head, but sometimes those experiences are hard to overcome.

                      Good luck, it sounds like you have a great attitude for the job.

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                      • #12
                        I use tennis balls and a tennis racquet to hit fly balls with this age group. They learn to have soft hands and fear of the ball is not a problem. Plus it's much easier on the coach. I can hit perfect pop flies every time with a tennis racquet, but not with a bat and I can get many more reps in this way. You can also work on basic footwork - crossover steps and drop steps.

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                        • #13
                          LittleLady said: But note to everyone: I'm not the best of readers, when it comes down to reading an actual book. Nor do I have much time with 3 boys of my own. However, I do respond great to interaction & conversation such as this. So again, thank you for responding.
                          Frankly, that's one of the beauties of Jake's book. It's well organized, good table of contents, big illustrations, and it keeps suggestions down to two or three ideas for each area it covers, so it doesn't overwhelm you. Plus, being looseleaf and with a plastic cover, you can throw it in your equipment bag and open it on the bench for reference without worrying about ruining it.

                          Boy, there's some great advice in this thread, with the most important (as you may have guessed) being to make sure kids aren't standing around. I can't believe how often that rule is violated by supposedly good coaches. Pete's idea about the tennis balls is good to help kids get used to judging the ball, but tennis balls can be a little frustrating because they tend to pop out of gloves because they're so light. (On the other hand, this encourages kids to catch the ball with two hands.) So, I'd mix those drills in with practice with real balls, and tell kids not to worry too much if the tennis balls don't stay in their gloves. A related drill is to have kids take grounders using either tennis balls or soft "Tball" or "Softstrike" balls -- but without using their gloves; the only way they can catch those grounders is to get in front of the ball and use two hands, the way they should. Plus it's fun and goofy for the kids.
                          LittleLady said: I don't have any problems making this fun for the kids, it's making sure that they're learning the right fundamentals so that they don't develop any bad habbits from me. Some of these kids I have already coached in basketball, soccer, or football.
                          I think Jake's book will help, and your instincts will probably be close on most of the defensive issues. For fielding, there is a ton of cross-over between other sports and baseball. The "ready" position is pretty much the same, and good footwork is important, but often neglected. And, at this level, the "accepted wisdom" for pitching, baserunning and fielding hasn't really changed much over the past fifty years, so you can rely on Dads to help instruct on those issues. Trust me; they'll love it. And it is important to get parents involved on the field. In a very few short years, the boys will turn into teenagers and want little to do with their parents in public; this time together is golden for them.

                          The real risk is kids throwing too much or trying to throw curves and hurting their arms. Your league probably has limits on how much kids can pitch, so that's a good guideline. But, if a kid complains of elbow pain, shut him down and tell his parents to check with an orthopedist. (Shoulder aches are also common, but less likely to be serious unless the pain is sharp.)

                          As to hitting, I've sent you a private message. (Check in the upper right hand corner of this screen where it says "Private Messages: Unread 1, Total x" or the like. Left Click where it says Private Messages: and it'll bring up your Private Message inbox.)
                          LittleLady said: None of which we excelled at competively but skill wise we blew them out of the water (but size definately comes in to play in those sports & I had all the small kids, or the kids who spoke little to no english).
                          This is what I love about baseball. If you're willing to work hard at it and get decent instruction, you can be a good ballplayer at this level. My son's 11-12 y/o team has several kids (including him) who aren't big or fast and in most sports are among the last to be picked, but, on the baseball field, they are kings because they've worked hard and they know and respect the game. It does wonders for their self-esteem.

                          Ursa Major
                          Last edited by Ursa Major; 04-01-2006, 11:55 AM.
                          sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hi Little Lady,
                            I sent you a PM. Send me your address at [email protected] and I will send you a copy. Don't worry about the read time - it was written to read in a night. I would be more than happy to help any way I can. Good luck!
                            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.

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                            • #15
                              My problem with the 8 year old niece is that she is really new and does not have the glove thing down. She can catch it fairly consistently out to the side but I don't want to throw it right at her until I am confident that she will catch it. But she'll never learn to catch it until someone throws it right at her. I did not like the tennis ball idea because it pops out, but, as was mentioned above, to catch a tennis ball in a glove requires the development of soft hands, to give with the ball. I like the tennis ball idea better now. I've also had her (once, we still have snow on our diamond) throwing the tennis ball at the garage door. I thought it worked because it let her fling the ball, many times, without the negative result of someone not catching it at the other end. Also, in order to get it to come back to her, she had to throw it hard. She is still really raw.

                              I like the field with no glove idea, I have done that in the past and was planning on it again this year. I was thinking of soft tossing balls to her without a glove and then having her transfer and throw them into a screen, both to get used to taking it with both hands in the middle of her body and to try to get some flow to her catching and throwing as a motion. (Perhaps also with the glove to get her used to the correct way to hold it with the fingers up, she likes to catch with the fingers down.) I am trying to get it from a mechanical idea in her head (stand on back leg, point glove, cock arm, throw) to a unthinking action as quickly as I can. Its been about twenty years since I had an 8 year old to work with and I am trying to use what I think I know now to improve upon what I did then (with her now 28 year aunt.)

                              Another skill, which I have never taught I am embarrassed to say, and which I do poorly myself, but I think is perfect for the young ones, is sliding. I am strictly a softball coach. That's what I played, what my father pitched and what was done in the village that I grew up in. This has led me to coach a lot of teenage girls over the years that are scared to slide, and I vowed that if I ever had little ones again that I would teach them. Because once they are good at it they will do it, but telling a 16 year old to run and then fall down intentionally, especially on some of the surfaces we play on, is crazy, because they will not do it. But little kids fall down better than older ones. They're closer to the ground and they bounce better. Also, many of the sliding teaching methods that I have read involve water and/or mud and I think that you could convince 9 year olds to do that one afternoon (the parents, maybe not.) This may not be a problem for you, in my experience boys slide more readily than girls, but still, there is a technique (which I do not possess) which makes it safer and less painful if done properly.

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