There is a significant difference between playing a sport and coaching it. This is a lesson being learned on pitches all over the country every spring as parents or keen players get roped into helping out with the kids’ team. You may have a lot of enthusiasm but coaching for the first time can be quite a baptism of fire. To help you out, here are seven tips for coaching kids’ baseball.
Understand the Game
This might sound obvious, but it is surprising how many people get roped into helping out when they don’t really understand the rules of the game themselves. Even if you were a keen youth player yourself, if it has been a while since you took to the pitcher’s mound, it is probably a good idea to brush up on the rules of the game yourself before you start trying to teach them.
Patience is a virtue and that is especially true if you are coaching kids. They might not get it the first time or even the 31st time and if you are not patient, you will put them off. Try to be constructive in your criticism and let the kids know what they have done right as well as what they have done wrong if you want to encourage them to keep playing.
Sport is a fantastic way to help kids increase their confidence and learn lessons that they can use off the pitch as well as on it. Many kids are scared of getting hit by the ball and this can put them off their stroke. Using equipment such as L-screens will protect both coaches and players and allow the kids to practice in a safe environment and build their confidence.
Keep Players Moving
Kids that are expected to stand around too much will get bored and not enjoy going to baseball practice. If you give them something to do all the time, they will stay motivated, get fitter, and improve their game. Divide the kids into small groups and give them some fun drills to do when they are not batting or fielding to keep them interested.
Get to Know the Kids
Getting to know the kids as people as well as players can make a world of difference to both players and coaches. Not everyone responds to the same things in the same ways or even understands them. Getting to know the kids will give you a good insight into how their minds work and it will help you to work out how to get the best performance out of them.
Don’t Be Too Vocal
It can be quite off-putting for kids if their coach is constantly shouting from the sidelines, and this can have an adverse effect on their performance. Although you should be instructing the kids, it’s okay to let them learn from their own mistakes sometimes too.
Create a Team
Your players need to work as a team if you want to win matches and part of your job as a coach is to create that team. You can create team drills and encourage friendships between the players off the pitch as well as on it.
You will naturally find it easier to coach some kids as opposed to others, but you should not show it as this will divide your team rather than unite it. Create unity rather than picking favorites if you want your team to pull together on the pitch.
Follow these tips and you will have a more successful, rewarding experience of teaching kids to play baseball.