Coaching youth baseball is a rewarding experience. It gives you the opportunity to teach kids the ins and outs of baseball while having fun. If you have never coached before, you are in the right place. We are here to help you get ready for your first season with helpful tips for new baseball coaches.
Your Mission as a Baseball Coach
Coaching is a great way to develop leadership and organization skills while learning a lot along the way. Every coach has their own unique style and way of doing things, you will be no different. Through practices and games, your own style will begin to develop.
As a baseball coach, it is important to keep a clear perspective of your mission. Winning might seem important but it is not your primary responsibility. You are coaching baseball to teach and develop young athletes. Many coaches lose sight of their mission and they let the thrill of winning cloud their judgment. Try to always keep a clear perspective of what you want to accomplish as a coach and strive to make it happen.
Baseball Coach Responsibilities
As a coach you have a set of expectations, always keep them at the forefront of your mind. Your responsibilities as a coach include:
- Safety is always the first and most important concern for you and your team.
- Setting realistic goals and expectations for the players and team.
- Learning and knowing the rules of the game. Always keep the rules on hand, be aware of revisions, and always be reviewing them for clarity.
- Being kind, polite, and welcoming. Players and parents should feel comfortable asking you questions if they do not understand something. Make sure that you are approachable and welcoming to your team.
- Treating all players equally. Do not play favorites. Everyone should be treated equally.
- Including everyone regardless of their skill level. Inclusion makes players feel like they are part of the team. Even if a player is not a star hitter, they should feel like their presence matters for the team. Including everyone is a surefire way to build camaraderie.
- Understanding that improvement does not happen overnight but little by little, one step at a time.
- Being a role model and someone that the kids can look up to. Always conduct yourself with dignity by dressing like, looking like, and acting as a coach. On and off the field you should always be aware that everything you do could reflect on your coaching ability.
- Having a deep understanding and teaching the fundamentals of baseball.
- Keeping a positive attitude. When mistakes are made or a loss happens, always be the beacon of hope and positivity.
- Being open and honest and owning up to your own mistakes.
- Having an open mind. Coaching youth athletes may involve changing your opinions and thoughts. Be open to new ideas that might be brought to you by players or parents.
- Never raising your voice, losing your temper, or criticizing a child.
- Set rules, follow them, and having accountability.
- Remembering that the game is not just about winning, it is for the kids. The team should be having fun, always.
Learn the Rules of the League
Knowing the rules of the league is essential to coaching. If you have not already, reach out to the board of directors to get a full copy of the rulebook.
You should read and review the rules front to back prior to, and throughout every season. You should know the rules like the back of your hand. Rulebooks often contain vital information for coaches as well as important safety information.
It might be helpful to print out a copy of the rulebook, get a hard copy, or keep an e-book version where you can highlight pertinent details. E-book versions are especially helpful because they often come with a search feature for quickly finding the data you are looking for.
Make a Great First Impression
More than likely, you have a list of players on your team along with their phone numbers. This information is usually provided by your league so check with them if you have not received a list yet.
The first thing you should do is call a team meeting with the players and their parents to introduce yourself. Greet everyone and spend 5 to 10 minutes sharing your hopes and your goals for the team with the players and their parents.
Over the course of the season, you will learn more about each player individually, but this is a great time to let them know a little more about you and your rules and expectations. Making a great first impression with your new players and their parents is the first step to a successful first season as a new coach.
Tips for Dealing with Parents as a Baseball Coach
Making parents aware of your rules should be done on day one. The first meeting is a great time to set some boundaries with the parents. Some points you might want to cover are:
- Any questions, or concerns should be taken up with you directly.
- Make all the parents aware of your preferred means of communication and provide them with a phone number, email, or website for getting in touch. It is vital that concerns be taken up with you outside of practices and games.
- Remind them that their role is to support the kids and the team from the stands. Do not turn away parents that want to help. If they want to sign up as an assistant coach or team mom, welcome them to do so. Encourage them to volunteer with the league if they are looking to get more involved.
- Let them know that you would like a heads up, in advance, if a player cannot make a game or practice. Make them aware of the importance of attending as many practices as possible because it builds team camaraderie. There are only so many practices over a season so each one is important.
- Remind parents that timely pickups after practices and games are expected and appreciated.
Once some general expectations have been clarified, take any questions that the parents may have. Then it is time to take the players aside.
How to Introduce Yourself to the Team
This is a great time to let the players know that you are glad to have them on the team and you are excited about the season. There will be wins and losses, but the most important thing is that we have fun and develop great friendships along the way. Talk to them about what you expect from them throughout the season. Haven’t come up with team rules yet? Here are some example rules for you to tweak and make your own:
- Everyone is expected to listen up and pay attention when they step onto the field. Stay focused and always follow instructions. When the coaching is speaking, everyone should listen.
- Players are expected to show respect to the coaching staff, umpires, and the other players. Use good sportsmanship and represent the team with pride.
- Poor attitudes are not welcome and will be disciplined with laps, pushups, or reduced playing time. Sticking to this rule is important to gain the respect of the players.
- Mistakes are okay as long as players are playing to the best of their ability. Baseball may be fun, but it is not playtime. As a coach, you expect the players to do their part and put their best effort into games and practices.
- Learning is expected. If players do not understand something, they are encouraged to ask questions.
- This is not a win-at-all-costs team. You want players to have fun, build friendships, and enjoy the game of baseball.
Establishing a Team Philosophy
Every team and coach will have a different team philosophy. Your team philosophy will usually include your team rules and expectations. Be sure to put it into writing so that everyone has access to it whenever they need it. A team website is a good place to display the team philosophy.
Helpful Tips for Your First Season as New Baseball Coach
There is one thing that is sure to always get your players fired up about practice and that is fun. Everyone should be having fun on the field including you. Players and coaches should look forward to practices and games. If you are not smiling, chances are the rest of the team will not be either.
Those first few practice sessions essential to develop a rapport with your new team. You should get to know them, and they will get to know you. Your coaching style will develop a lot in those first few practices.
During the first few practices, you will start to get a sense of each player and their own unique skillsets. Consider these first few practices as training tryouts for spots on the team. If you have a player that is good at catching pop-ups, you may have found an outfielder. Does the player field ground balls well? That may be a shortstop. Those first few practices are good for learning and setting up your team.
Making the Most out of Practice
It does not matter how much time you have for practice, you should always be making the most out of each and every practice session. Some coaches only have one hour a week while others may hold practice several times a week. Create a practice schedule with practice plans for each session and stick to it. Each practice should have a plan that includes the fundamentals of baseball including proper hitting, fielding, baserunning, etc.
Every practice session should include warmups and drills with as little downtime as possible so that players stay engaged. Your unique coaching style may include competition, if so, include drills where players can engage in competition with themselves or other teammates. Prefer coaching through real game situations? Try using drills that simulate real game situations. Always have lots of water break in between drills, make sure everyone is included, and that all players are having fun.
Chances are that you are going to have some questions. Write them all down so that you can ask someone with more experience or knowledge. Reach out to fellow coaches or the league to get any questions that you may have answered.
Coaching Baseball Games
Always remember coaching youth athletes is supposed to be fun. Winning is not everything and losing is a good opportunity to teach kids about handling failure.
When you are coaching a game, take notes. Take note of great plays and review mistakes or missed opportunities in a supportive way. Offer ways and ideas to improve. If needed, make a note for later to come up with drills to address specific weak points. Games should be a nurturing environment where players can compete, learn, and have fun.
How to Have a Successful Baseball Coaching Season
At the end of the season, you should ask your self the following questions to determine whether you had a successful season:
- Did my team perform to the best of their abilities?
- Is my team more confident about themselves and their abilities?
- Were the kids having fun?
- Was everyone included and feel like they were part of the team?
- Did the kids learn any new skills?
- Were the players showing good sportsmanship, respect to the coaches, officials, and other players?
- Did the kids learn any life skills to prepare them for life’s challenges?
Write down your answers and use them to establish some goals for the next season.
Always keep in mind why parents sign their kids up for baseball in the first place: We want our children to get some exercise while developing healthy habits. We want them to make new friendships and build camaraderie. We want them to learn about good sportsmanship, how to be good winners and even better losers. We want them to work hard, practice, and develop new skills. We want them to learn how to work together with teammates to achieve a common goal. Lastly, we want them to have fun and hopefully create a lasting love for the game of baseball.
As a coach, you are building memories. Memories that will last a lifetime. If a player were to ever make it to the majors would they look back on their time with you as a coach as a happy memory? Always be striving to make the best possible impression on the kids.
With these things in mind, you are well on your way to having a successful season as a new baseball coach.