This is our third part in our Tips for Youth Coaches series. We hope you learned some useful tips. Please let us know what you think. PS-Our favorite is #10.
7. Let the players play.
A trend that has taken over college baseball is the coaches calling pitches from the dugout. This trend is also becoming more popular at the high school level. Do not be the coach that calls pitches like this. Take the opportunity to teach your pitchers and catchers how to call pitches and when it is appropriate to throw changeups and curveballs (I will discuss this in a later post). Let them make their own decisions and if those decisions are wrong, use that as an opportunity to give feedback.
When I coached at Malone University, our freshman catcher's coach called 100% of the pitches in high school. When he arrived at college, Zac had no knowledge of how to call a game or how to recognize hitter’s tendencies. We recognized that he was very smart and he had the willingness to learn how to call a great game for his pitching staff. He started his freshman year and while we called most of the pitches then, we prepared him to take over the pitch calling duties. By his senior year, Zac learned to call an outstanding game himself and he almost acted like a coach on the field. I really enjoyed the process of teaching Zac this skill throughout his time at Malone and we a better team because of it.
8. Teach your team how to deal with winning, and losing.
Baseball provides a great opportunity to teach players how to deal with winning and losing. Coaches can teach both by stressing that players remain even keel. Due to the volume of games, it is hard to play baseball on pure emotion all the time. It is important to stress this point to overly emotional players. Encourage those players to watch their favorite MLB team and to notice their level of emotion. If they do that, the “even keel” concept will make sense.
Teaching players how to deal with losing in baseball is important, due to the fact that even championship teams lose occasionally. As a coach, think about how you want your players to react to losing and be sure to model that behavior in your body language. Over 60% of all communication is non-verbal so it is important to know that your players are likely looking to you for guidance. Teach players no to accept losing. Teach them that hard work and dedication and working together will all help to avoid losing. Also teach them that a loss gets put in the past as soon as the game is over. Do not dwell on it or let it consume you. Teams like “wash it down the drain” or “flush it” are good examples to use. This is easier for a regular season loss. Season ending tournament losses are much, much tougher to let go.
9. Work to improve the skills of all players.
It is easy to spend the majority if your time working with the better players on the team and “going through the motions” with the not so skilled players. This can happen without even realizing it. When I was 13 years old I was an average player at best. I did not make any all-star teams and I did not pitch at the time. The truth is I may have never become a pitcher if it were not for a coach telling me he saw potential in me. l. Upon hearing that, I took it upon myself to work as hard as I could to get better. All one coach had to do was to tell me I had potential and I took over from there. By taking the time to work equally with the least skilled player on the team, you may ignite a spark in that kid that was not there before.
10. Have fun!
If you have fun, your team will have fun. Remember, your team’s emotions and body language will reflect its coach. If you are relaxed and having fun most of the time your team will do the same and they will enjoy the game more and probably play better as well. After a tough day at work or after replying to parents emails about playing time, it can be hard to let all that go and have fun, but if you do your players will appreciate it and they will always remember you as a great coach.
Coach Mike Grady
Coach Grady has 10 years experience working with pitchers of all ages through private and group instruction, including 6 years experience as a college pitching coach. This blog is dedicating to helping pitchers of all ages improve their game.
7530 Tim Ave NW Unit A
North Canton, OH 44720
What others have to say:
"My son is in Grady's VIP program and this was his first time focusing on training to be a pitcher. The program is exactly what you want, there is a movement screening, data driven approach to pitch design, mechanics, velocity , and command, along with strength training. My son has improved his velocity, command, movement and off-speed pitches but most importantly he has improved how he thinks as a pitcher and how to actually pitch, not just throw.
My biggest takeaway from the program is that Mike and his coaches care about helping my son reach his goals and support him. My advice to any parent is to sign your son up for the VIP program and make sure he follows it, you will not be sorry!" - Mike Hampu
"My first and lasting impression of Grady's Pitching School is the enthusiasm Mike and his instructors bring to EVERY lesson. They genuinely interested in your players growth and improvement. Mike isn't trying to make every pitcher throw the same way. He analyzes and experiments with each pitcher, e.g. different release points, different grips, etc. to try and maximize their individual skills. Mike's understanding of pitching and pitch design coupled with the technology is second to none. Mike truly uses the technology to enhance the players' training experience. A lot of young players don't understand or possess the self-awareness to make adjustments. The technology and Mike's analysis with your player allows them to not only see what they are doing, but to see how the adjustments immediately impact the results." -Ian Schechterman