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 > Little League Online > Learn More > Newsletters > Coach's Box Newsletter > 2006 > Coach's Box - Feb 2006 > Little League Sets Example

Little League Sets Example


Volume I, No. 2

   February 2006


Head Coach of USA Baseball’s National Team Says Little League Sets the Right Example
for Players and Coaches

By Chris Downs
Media Relations Manager
Little League International

Tim Corbin

From his humble baseball beginnings as a Little Leaguer in New Hampshire, to his recent appointment as head coach of the 2006 USA Baseball National Team, Tim Corbin remains steadfast in his belief that to learn the fundamentals of baseball you must keep the game fun.

“There is nothing like Little League,” Coach Corbin, head baseball coach at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., said. “Little League is the mainstay of amateur baseball in my opinion, because it is something that young kids and adults identify with.”

In three seasons at Vanderbilt, Coach Corbin has moved the Commodores program into the national spotlight, directing the program to consecutive 30-win seasons, while compiling a 106-68 record.

Coach Corbin grew up in Wolfeboro, N.H., and was a pitcher, catcher and shortstop in the Wolfeboro-Tuftonboro Little League. To this day, he fondly sees those years as a life-shaping experience. He also appreciates the role Little League plays in developing a child physically, mentally and emotionally, but cautions against pushing kids to focus on just one sport.

“I am completely against (specializing),” Coach Corbin, a 1984 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, said. “As a young kid you should play everything to develop physical and mental skills, but you also learn about body control and body awareness. To be specialized means a kid is missing out on other opportunities. To make baseball a 12-month-a-year sport increases the tendency of getting bored with the skills and ups the chances of burnout down the road. A baseball player must always have the desire to be out there (on the field).”

From the recruiting standpoint, Coach Corbin supports travel ball, but quickly points out that it is designed to benefit high school-age players who wish to improve their skills and gain exposure.

“I like travel ball, but I think it is for older kids,” Coach Corbin said. “Too often, parents are pressured by coaches or other parents to put their child on a travel ball team by saying, ‘if your son doesn’t play travel ball he’ll be missing out.’ I think you are hampering a kid’s development by pushing travel ball at an early age.”

Coach Corbin, who has coached college baseball for 21 years, admitted he often thinks back to his Little League days when there was no pressure to play and having fun was the reason for playing.

“I don’t think Little League is too competitive,” Coach Corbin said. “The game is fast enough for kids at that age and is excellent the way it is.

Tim Corbin, at right, is
head coach at
Vanderbilt University

“Kids will be kids and they enjoy the climate of playing Little League and having the dream of playing in the World Series,” Coach Corbin said. “They will look back with long-lasting memories and know that they may never have that feeling again.”

Coach Corbin said Little League’s rules are designed to teach the game, while also protecting and nurturing each generation of player. In his view, the regulations are on target with the intent of the program, and the competitive nature of Little League is on par with everything else a child will do in an athletic format.

Specific Little League rules such as not allowing runners to lead off a base, or attempt to steal a base until the ball reaches the batter, are in place to allow Little Leaguers (for players 12 and below) to pay more attention to learning the basics of the game.

“There is no question Little League is real baseball,” Coach Corbin said. “I think Little League’s rules simplify everything so coaches and players can develop the fundamental skills. For example, the focus of Little League Baseball is on the development of pitchers, which means throwing strikes and learning how to pitch, not holding runners on base. Little League tries to develop the skills needed to play quality baseball.”

For the 2006 season, Little League Baseball has initiated an optional Pitch Count Pilot Program that allows local leagues to use pitches thrown in place of the standard Little League regulations that employ innings pitched to determine a pitcher’s eligibility.

“To maintain a player’s arm strength and health, the number of pitches thrown has to be controlled,” Coach Corbin said. “Every player will want to pitch and compete, but having the ability to use a pitch count helps the young players develop. It also allows other kids to get some work too, because then one player won’t be doing the majority of the pitching.”

This summer will be Coach Corbin’s second tour of duty with USA Baseball, but his first as a head coach. Corbin served as an assistant under Mike Gillespie (University of Southern California) on the 2000 USA Baseball National Team that posted an overall record of 27-3-1. In June, USA Baseball will invite 36 of the nation’s top freshman and sophomore collegiate players to the USA Baseball National Team Trials. After the team is selected, Coach Corbin will direct Team USA in a pair of domestic series – the 35th annual USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series and a Friendship Series vs. Chinese Taipei, before traveling to Cuba for the FISU Championships in August.

The Little League Baseball and Softball organization is a member of USA Baseball, which is the National Governing Body of amateur baseball in the United States. The organization selects and trains the USA Baseball Olympic Team, the USA Baseball National Team (Collegiate), the USA Baseball Junior National Team (18-under), and the USA Baseball Youth National Team (16-under) which participate in various international competitions each year. The USA Baseball headquarters is in Durham, N.C., with future training facilities in Cary, N.C.

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