Jamie Joy Feature
Volume 5, No. 2 - March 2010
Coaching For Fun
With the 2010 season upon us, I wanted to put the focus back on to the real reason we do this, the kids.
Keep this in mind when you hold your first practice, team meeting or play the first game of the season. If you are a tee ball, minor or major league coach the emphasis should be on having fun, educating and developing your players in to a total package.
Remember this, it’s Little League, and not an audition for a professional or collegiate coaching job.
The keys to a successful season are: Develop a relationship with each player on the team. From a player’s perspective, a coach you can trust is a coach that you will learn from. Each player learns differently, what might work for one doesn't work for others. Some players need to have their hands held and others just need an encouraging word. Ten years from now these players won’t remember each individual game but they will remember the coach. For better or worse, they will remember you, for how you treated them. The instruction will stick as long as the message is conveyed while treating the players with respect. Make it a point to remember one thing about each player and talk to them about this throughout practices and games. This does two things, one it gives you a common point of interest other than baseball, and it will make your players feel more at ease.
Get to know each players strengths and weaknesses. Remember this is only baseball, but many of the skills between the lines also translate to the game of life. Don't miss opportunities to be instructing the players on and off the field. This past season, I was coaching a player that didn't have a hit. He was 0-for-the season. Before a game, I was throwing batting practice. He was the next-to-last player and he didn't hit any during batting practice, but he was always right around the ball. This was normal for him during the season. The next player up didn't have their bat so they used his. The last batter arrived late and ran over to the cage. This player was a good hitter and always made contact. He struggled to even make contact. He missed 8-10 when he normally hit 8-10. I looked at the bat and he was swinging a 29-21 bat. He normally used a 27-14. Right then a light bulb went off in my head, the previous hitter was using a bat that was too heavy.
During the game, I had the struggling hitter use a 27-17 bat. In the game, he delivered his first hit of the season. The emotion and excitement that came from this player was priceless. He had the biggest smile while on first base. I would not trade that experience for anything. This player did a 180-degree change and what was an unfocused player turned into a determined individual wanting to get better at the game of baseball.
Get to know your team, know what equipment they should be using. Don’t make the same mistake I did in not discovering this until the end of the season. Stay positive, stay focused, stay committed, have fun and make a difference in someone’s life.