Although 90% of coaching failures are simply lack of knowledge of either the sport or people, some are complete idiots which need weeding out a.s.a.p. However, in my opinion, being an elder statesman, today's baseball/softball coach must contend with distractions which weren't present when I coached. Ipods, cell phones, computer games and satellite television all vie for a kid's attention, we only had Popeye and Mighty Mouse cartoons to contend with.
Worse yet is the Speed everything happens today, reducing the word patience to literally an unknown quality. This is where baseball is beginning to lose it's edge against other forms of sports. Kids demand action, their parents demand action and a poorly run baseball practice can't contend with the action soccer, football, lacrosse and etc. provide.
So let's talk about a few coaching mistakes, made with good intentions in mind, but slows the practice to a snail's pace, and see how to avoid them.
Mistake Number One: This first issue is a catch 22. Having your son or daughter on the team opens up a whole array of problems which must be dealt with, however, if you don't have a personal experience of what kid's like or respond to today, you'll have trouble reaching them. It's best to have your own kid on the team.
Coaches who believe they can reach their players by joking with them, being their friend and never challenging them, because you're here to have Fun, will make a lousy coach.
Kids expect to be challenged and by being so they can achieve recognition for effort, hard practicing, a good feeling of getting better, thriving on competition and learning the feeling of being a teammate. Challenge your team with these obstacles while teaching them the proper method of achieving success and you'll positively influence their lives forever.
Mistake Number Two: People learn in different ways, but I'd venture to say if asked whether the person wanted the skill explained to them, or shown them, 98% would say "Show me."
I once observed a coach yelling at his players every time they made a mistake, but not once did he go out and demonstrate how to properly perform the skill. You can tell me I'm wrong all day long, but until you show me the correct way, I doubt anything is going to change.
Slowly and repetitively demonstrate the actions required to perform the skill. Talk and explain what and why you're doing something. If you're old like me and are teaching the shortstop how to jump over a sliding runner, walk him through it and state "Here's when you jump," but if you're teaching how to put down a tag, put that glove on the ground in front of the base showing how it's done.
Mistake Number Three: Some coaches seem to think they're playing professional ball and everything is a secret which must be hidden. If you have parents interested enough to ask your advise on what they can do to help their kid improve, tell them.
However, do it at the proper time, after practice, not during. Talk in positive terms. Don't say "Your kid's a lousy fielder" rather say "He's got the basics down pat, but if you could work with helping him get in front of the ball it'd be great." Believe it or not I've heard horror stories of coaching being so blunt with parents.
Coaching a little league team is a labor of love and those who do it have my greatest respect. So if there's any little bit of information I may give to help, it's free of charge.
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