I have been coaching baseball since 1999. I’m just a dad, but I’m also a Computer Scientist so I like things to be presented in a logical fashion. I’m also a huge baseball fan and think its one of the last great things in our country. The real reason I coach is that its just tremendous fun for me. I love teaching, I love the life lessons the kids learn and yeah I love the competition. I love the chess match involved in figuring out the right players to play at the right times, the right thing to do during a game, the drama, the suspense, it’s all just fun.
So I want to make it easier for people to start coaching. At the start, many coaches know baseball, but they often haven’t thought of what to do with a bunch of young kids trying to learn the game. So they look on youtube, talk to their friends, go to a couple of coaching clinics, but nothing really prepares for those first few practices.
I want to make those go as well as possible. What you find out with coaching is that there are lots of ways to do it. Vince Lombardi was successful and fiery and loud. Tom Landry was a tactical engineer. OK, those are football coaches, but you get the idea.
You will run into everything. Dads who are sure the secret is to just play their kid at shortstop and pitcher at all times. Other dads who are sure you know nothing about the game (even if you played at the D1 level). Parents who are too busy to deal with whatever it is that you are e-mailing them about.
Little league adds so much more than coaching — fundraising, parade, picture. You end worrying about stuff like that and not teaching kids the game. This web site is not about how to care about the league parade. As a board member I often voted against the parade because deep down I’m a purist. Before I had kids, I was told that, well if I had kids then I would understand. Now I have two boys and well I still don’t get it. I just want them to learn and play baseball and have fun by doing well at the game.
Too many parents and kids figure out that “oh well baseball isn’t really for them.” The story is that it may not be for everyone, but a lot of kids could benefit from the life lessons. And they will like the game if they do better at it. Most players who quit tended not to have a great season the year before they quit.
Its a tough catch-22 — how many kids are born knowing the game. How many kids just naturally crush every ball. It happens sometimes, but for most kids they need to build up muscle memory and control and co-ordination and practice over and over until they get good at it. But once they do, they will never want to leave the field. So work on mastery of the basic skills.
I’m a fundamentalist. This web site isn’t going to teach you how to turn the double play. Its not going to teach you how to teach kids how to bring the infield in and make snap decisions with 1st and 3rd and one out. All thats for later. Truth is, it doesn’t matter that much in Little League. What matters is the team that does the fundamentals.
The team that makes EVERY routine ground ball, the team that hits the easy pitches hard, the team that knows what to do with the ball when they get it, the team that throws strikes with some decent velocity, the team that doesn’t heave the ball from short stop to right field on a routine grounder – those are the teams that win games — those are the teams that have the most fun. How many games do you have where coaches and parents are screaming BASEBALL READY — GET READY FRANK. Well ole Frank will be ready if he really knows what to do with the ball and he’ll be more ready if he believes his pitcher is really going to throw a strike. So the fundamentals drive everything – – the fun, the speed of the game, everything.
So why baseball instead of something else. LIFE LESSONS. Baseball teaches life lessons you just don’t find anywhere else.
COPING WITH FAILURE:
A player strikes out. When I first started I remember one kid said “hey can I have another” after strike 3. No you don’t get one. He started to cry. I said its OK, go sit down. When you are at home plate and you strike out its tough to blame someone else. It wasn’t someone else who had the bat and decided not to swing. How valuable is that skill –if you can be unphased when a project isn’t doing so well, or a supplier doesn’t supply a part, or a part just dies on you.
COPING WITH SUCCESS:
So you hit a home run. Do you dance around the bases and laugh at the other team. Nope, that’ll just irritat them. I teach my pitchers after a strike out, ASK FOR THE BALL. After a HOME RUN, ASK FOR THE BALL. Always do the same thing.
WORKING AS A TEAM:
So another play drops a fly ball. Do you jump on the guy. Do you let other players jump on him. Or do you just say NEXT PITCH. Do you console him and get in touch with his feelings. No, you just say NEXT PITCH. You are there for the guy — you care about him — but it is what it is. He’s beating himself up over the fly ball — but you are there with him. You say Next Pitch, he says Next Pitch and hey, we are ready to go. This one is the hardest to learn, but boy if a team gets it, its a marvelous thing.
DEALING WITH BAD CALLS
The ump calls you out and you were safe by 20 feet. Happens all the time. Do you scream at him. Do you moan. Nope, you just recognize that life is not fair. Is it fair that some people get caught speeding and others do not. Learning to live with this is a good thing, learning to overcome it is even better.
Anyway, I hope you find the site helpful. The real goal of the site isn’t too make money. I think it’d be cool to recover some of the cost of my time in putting this together through advertising and through sales of the e-book, but that really isn’t my goal. I’m all about just making coaches better so that more kids will play and learn these life lessons that I think are taught very well and somewhat uniquely from having the kids play baseball.
The one story to end with is my son got home a couple of weeks ago after a Math quiz and said he got 24 out of 50 right on a multiplication quiz. You can imagine I wasn’t so thrilled but I asked him what he thought about it. He said, he hadn’t known when it would be and he’d do better with some practice. He also said one kid cried when he did as badly. I asked him if he cried and he looked at me like I was from Mars. I really attribute his ability to handle failure so well to him playing baseball from when he was four until now (he is eight). I hope he decides to keep playing (believe or not I leave it up to him) but even if doesn’t, I’ll know that he has already learned some excellent life lessons that I hope will come in handy.
Oh yeah, he practiced hard for a retest last week (only two weeks later) and got 50/50.