CoachingYouthBaseball.com was officially established in 2015, but I have been coaching since 1999. I even had a website for my team in 1999 but it was on some long-forgotten server.
The world is full of baseball experts – former players – baseball schools – full of detailed baseball instruction.
Then there are teams with regular old dads who are coaches. Often the dads are busy and have multiple kids under the age of 12. They have a job, house, kids, pets and baseball is a thing they usually love, but what they don’t have is time.
So they show up to practice, the league sends them some training materials and by and large they run a generic practice. Either they set up a simulated game where they pitch and the kids all field and a few kids form a “team” to hit and they sort of let the game teach itself. Hey to get good at scrabble or ping pong you don’t break down mechanics frame by frame, you just play. So they play and kids improve and everyone is happy.
If they don’t run a game for most of the practice, they set up 3 stations, usually a ground ball station, a fly ball station and a hitting station.
So what’s the problem – why do we need to do it any differently? Well, when I started coaching I realized that just because I knew how to throw a ball didn’t mean that kids could throw a ball. You can give a kid a bucket of balls and say FIGURE IT OUT and some will, but I found that the difference between today and when I grew up is that kids aren’t sitting around playing wiffle ball every night until dark. So the number of reps they get is a LOT smaller than what I got. So no coach showed me anything but it didn’t matter as I got to practice throwing one million times at home. Who cared about the two-three hours of baseball practice a week? If kids don’t get those extra reps, I found that they weren’t improving. If kids didn’t improve, they dropped out of the league.
So whose kids improve? Usually coach’s kids. The coach takes the kids in the back yard and works them outside of practice so they improve. But what about everyone else? I know baseball and the story is that you can have some great ball players, but you won’t win if you have a few kids who drop every ball, can’t hit a pitch and can’t throw.
So I started breaking down mechanics and looking for drills to teach kids in fewer reps. I have been on a quest to do that since 1999 and I have seen kids improve. The ones who don’t have a dad who will play with them until dark.
My web site is all about drills to do and mechanics to talk about so that kids will learn with fewer reps. Does it work for everyone? No. No method works for everyone. So I try to include LOTS of methods. What if this doesn’t work? What if that doesn’t work?
My philosophy is to break down mechanics, teach them in a way that encourages good muscle memory (swinging a bat the wrong way over and over is worse than not ever swinging correctly) and come up with as many drills as possible that focus on good mechanics. On top of that, try to keep it fun as no one practices a thing if its incredibly boring.
What does my practice look like? Seven or eight stations. That’s right. Not 3. Why? I don’t want kids standing around. I don’t want them waiting for a turn–or I want to minimize the waiting as much as possible. Do I need a lot of assistants? Yes, one per station. Most teams you sort of have to beg to get three. I talk to the parents about the need for assistants and I get them. Truth is most parents would rather be on the field enjoying a sunny day than just watching from the sideline. They often are not welcomed or shown what to do.
Send comments – if you hate this and just want to keep running practices the way you always do, I still think you are a great person because you are a baseball coach and you are teaching life lessons that cannot be learned in any other sport. People can disagree on the way forward and this is just my opinion on a nice way to go. I’ve had some success and trust me my teams don’t win every game and all my kids don’t go on to play in the major leagues.
So far I have one former player who has been drafted (yes in 20 years) and a few others that have gone on to play D1. I usually try to win more games than I lose, but my number one goal isn’t winning – it’s making it so they play next year. So I don’t pitch the same kid all game – I put players in positions that are tough for them. Maybe my first baseman can’t catch that well, but I do it anyway so it forces them to improve their game. I also think it’s a journey. I am always looking for new drills, new insights on mechanics and learning more about childhood development. I have coached for 20 years and I think the most fortunate thing that could happen to me is to be lucky enough to coach for 20 more years. Read on and remember this site has no ads, sells nothing but just my own coaching book (and I hope books) with the express goal of trying to pay for itself. I hope you can see, it’s a labor of love, not a business.