You may have heard the phrase: “Every journey begins with a single step.” Becoming proficient at playing ball is no exception. Baseball and softball players benefit most from effective, age-appropriate training on the fundamentals of the game. To help players and parents alike take those first crucial steps, and continue the road to playing and enjoying the game, coaches need to be trained to properly show them how.
Preparing coaches and managers for the season is about being proactive.
A sound training regiment can lead to fewer player injuries, higher skill development, and a more enjoyable, competitive level of play. The way coaches teach the fundamentals of the game is just as important as the mechanics themselves. Coaches in a league — whether new volunteers or veterans —can benefit from a yearly training clinic. It can take as little as a productive, informational afternoon session. It’s a small investment that can further enrich the game and make it safer for the kids.
What to Focus On
Mechanics of the game—throwing, pitching, catching, fielding, etc.—are the building blocks that make players better. It might seem obvious, but shaping a program appropriate for each age level in your league is important. You wouldn’t expect a young Tee Baller to perform at the level of an older player. Less obvious distinctions can be challenging to recognize as players advance through the programs, but coaches should be trained to understand and be aware of the variance that are present at each level of play.
Operating practices that respect the ages, divisions, and skill level of the players commonly result on faster developmental results and better relationships with the team. It might be tempting to rush, but taking steps like practicing with one ball at a time can help players feel more comfortable with the game. This comfort and natural level of investment will enrich player experiences and lead to more productive practices with fewer accidents.
Training for Training
At a minimum, volunteers should be trained once a year, before the season begins. With previously successful seasons, it might seem tempting to avoid retraining coaches. Still, taking the time to teach the fundamentals of coaching and remind each adult why they have chosen to volunteer can help prevent accidents and improve the Little League® experience. Holding more training sessions for volunteers is never a bad idea.
Preparing coaches and managers for the season is about being proactive. Larger leagues, with multiple teams can easily plan training clinics for coaches from each division of play, while smaller leagues in an area or district can band together and make training into an event. In fact, many leagues already employ this collectivism with great results. It’s a great way to get everyone informed, connected, and energized for the season.
Every season requires a great dealing of planning and action. But training your volunteers to properly teach the fundamentals of the game—at a level appropriate for their division—isn’t something to gloss over. Take the time to train your coaches to be effective communicators and educate them on the rules and regulations. Remember, training can be done in the offseason and during the season, when possible.