Each year, more than 2.5 million kids take part in Little League Baseball. What’s great about youth baseball is in a time when more children than ever before are struggling with obesity, this sport gives kids an opportunity to get outside and burn calories while having a lot of fun. In addition to staying physically fit, youth baseball provides many other benefits, including decreasing the likelihood of kids abusing drugs or alcohol, skipping class or dropping out of school. Being part of a team also builds self-esteem, teaches sportsmanship and gives kids an opportunity to learn how to deal with adversity.
While the list of benefits that come from playing youth baseball is quite long, that doesn’t mean they spring out of nowhere. Giving kids the opportunity to reap those benefits starts with great coaches. Over the course of a season, a coach will have the biggest influence on how much kids get out of being part of the team. If you like the idea of being in a position to impact kids’ futures in a positive way, here’s what you need to know in order to succeed as a youth baseball coach:
Kids are Always Watching You
While actors and musicians commonly try to excuse their bad behavior by saying that they didn’t sign up to be a role model, making the decision to coach a baseball team means that you’re explicitly agreeing to act as a role model. So while it’s definitely important that you put plenty of thought into what you say to the kids on your team, it’s just as important (if not more) that you’re aware of how you react to different situations.
When it comes to the game of baseball, there are a lot of factors that are outside of your control. But your attitude and reactions to difficult situations are things you do have the ability to control. So even though there are inevitably going to be times when you feel extremely frustrated or downright angry, never forget that even a momentary reaction can have a lasting impact.
Emphasize the Effort
Having a desire to win is completely normal. In fact, it’s good for kids to learn the value of healthy competition. But that doesn’t mean winning should be emphasized over every other aspect of baseball. It’s important to teach your team that what counts most is the effort they put into every single practice. The lesson you want to focus on instilling is by always giving it their all and avoiding the temptation to slack off or take shortcuts, they will always be able to feel proud of their performance regardless of how individual games may turn out.
Focus on the Basics
When it comes to the technical aspects of coaching, new coaches often wonder what they should do in terms of structuring their practices. Since it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll change your approach as you learn more over time, there’s nothing wrong with starting off solely focused on the basics. In fact, utilizing quality baseball training equipment to help kids hone their basic skills is the best way to significantly improve them as players.
Every Situation Can Teach a Lesson
It’s not easy for people of any age to deal with situations like a losing streak. But even though it’s normal to wish you didn’t have to face this type of issue, the silver lining is there’s always something valuable you can teach your team. For example, with the losing streak example, you need to make it clear to your team that regardless of the adversity they’re facing, it’s important to stay positive and continue working hard. Then when a bad streak finally snaps, you can remind your team that their turn of good fortune is the result of their perseverance.
While there’s no question that it’s very fulfilling, making the decision to coach a youth baseball team is also a significant responsibility. And although you may even feel a little intimidated or overwhelmed at first, as long as you make positivity your top priority, all the other coaching components we covered will begin to fall into place.