Your Little League® tournament team managers and coaches are entrusted with representing the league. They are often the most important and visible leaders within the league, so careful selection is important. Some leagues simplify the process by awarding the tournament teams to those who win their divisions, pending Board approval. Other leagues let players, managers, coaches, and Board members cast votes.
Tournament team managers and coaches may not be officially named until May 15.
Whether your league uses one of the methods above, or a hybrid, or takes a completely different direction, here are some considerations in selecting your tournament managers and coaches.
- It is important that your league’s leadership make the selection criteria clear from the beginning, ideally before your regular season starts. Communicate that to all players, parents, volunteers, managers, and coaches and post it on your league’s website. This helps avoid controversy later on in the season. While you want a clear policy, you also should be careful not to paint yourself into a corner. As you’ll see below, it may be important to have flexibility to bring in certain coaches to accommodate player personality types or to establish the right balance of bombastic support and quiet strength within your coaching staff.
- You want managers and coaches who fit the model of the Little League Double-Goal Coach®, who pursues wins in addition to the more important goal of teaching life lessons through sports. Yes, tournament season means upping the ante competitively, but that does not necessarily mean your winningest regular-season managers and coaches should automatically take the reins. In fact, regular season performance or team record does not have to part of the selection process. After all, they won with different teams, not with the players they will be coaching in tournament season. Additionally, in the higher-pressure tournament season, managers and coaches who can best keep their cool should be at a premium.
- Consider the talents and personalities of the players on the team. The manager and coaches to be considered need to exhibit the demeanor that can create a bond with the players based on fun and respect for each other, and their opponents. Similarly, some players just respond better to certain coaches. If some of your players have a great relationship with a past coach who is still in your league, consider adding that coach to your staff to help those players feel more comfortable. That can also make them more productive.
As always, the bottom line should be to center your selections for managers and coaches on the development – as players and as people – of the youth your league serves.