Baseball team parent checklist

This checklist is modified from one we found on the Morgan Hill Pony website. Some or all may apply to your league.

Prepare Player Roster
Names/phone numbers of players  and parents
Email distribution list of all parents

Assist in Assigning Volunteers
Scorekeeper
Snack Shack shifts

Snack Schedule
Prepare snack schedule for your team
Promote use of the Snack Shack for snacks.

Opening Day Support
Assemble your team for parade
Volunteer hours available

Support League Activities
Hand out fundraiser packets (if applicable)
Phone call/email reminders for your team’s picture day

Communicate
Keep current on league activities and keep parents updated
Take your team’s views to appropriate board members
Encourage parent attendance at open board meetings

Coordinate Team Activities
End of season team party  (if desired)
Order trophies (as needed)
Manager / Coach’s gifts (if desired)

Inform your Parents of Potential Costs (if desired)
Banner
Lettering for shirts and hats
Uniform accessories  (i.e. belts, ¾ sleeve undershirt, socks)
Trophies
End of season party and Manager / Coach appreciation gifts

How to play winning baseball: Divide the season into thirds

By Chance Reynolds, Former Professional Baseball Player

In order for your club to “peak” at the right time, you, as a Coach, need to look at the season as a process or an “evolution” of thirds.

The first third of your season should be a time where everyone plays, everyone gets an opportunity, and everyone has a chance to show what they can do.  If you have a young kid you would like to try in a certain situation, this is the time to do it.  If you have a lineup in mind, but aren’t quite sure whether it will be the right combination or not, this is the time to try it out.  If you need to learn if a kid is better in a starting role or in relief on the mound, again, this is the time to run him out there.  Do not emphasize winning as much in this time period, because it is more important that everyone is given a chance to show what they can (or can’t) do (which will serve you well later when you have to explain to “little Johnny’s parents” why he doesn’t play as much as he used to.)

The second third is when you, as a Coach, begin “tightening the bolts”.  You now know who can run, who can handle the bat, and unfortunately, who is a liability in the lineup and on the field.  Your defense should be set and everyone should understand their position and role in the lineup.  You now know who can throw strikes, who can’t, and more importantly, how everyone on the team fits into the plans to make it to the Championship.  Be it as a pinch-runner, someone who bunts well, or as a left handed relief specialist, you have to find a way for everyone to contribute (even if it’s just coaching first), and this is the time to do that.

The third third is when winning is emphasized.  Each and every player should know exactly what is expected of them, and your team should be prepared for every situation.  You should know if and when the hit and run will work, who can come through in the clutch, and who can get that much needed strikeout with a runner at third with one out.  You should now be able to relax and enjoy the harvest of your hard work; A championship team who is peaking at the right time and “rolling” into the playoffs ready to win a ring!

Former Professional Baseball Player, Chance Reynolds, is the Inventor of the Pitcher’s Nightmare Swing Trainer.  Endorsed by 1991 N.L. M.V.P. and current Atlanta Braves Hitting Coach, Terry Pendleton, the Pitcher’s Nightmare Swing Trainer not only increases your bat speed, but teaches proper hitting fundamentals as well. Follow Chance’s blog at (www.pitchersnightmare.com).

In order for your club to “peak” at the right time, you, as a Coach, need to look at the season as a process or an “evolution” of thirds.

 

The first third of your season should be a time where everyone plays, everyone gets an opportunity, and everyone has a chance to show what they can do.  If you have a young kid you would like to try in a certain situation, this is the time to do it.  If you have a lineup in mind, but aren’t quite sure whether it will be the right combination or not, this is the time to try it out.  If you need to learn if a kid is better in a starting role or in relief on the mound, again, this is the time to run him out there.  Do not emphasize winning as much in this time period, because it is more important that everyone is given a chance to show what they can (or can’t) do (which will serve you well later when you have to explain to “little Johnny’s parents” why he doesn’t play as much as he used to.)

 

The second third is when you, as a Coach, begin “tightening the bolts”.  You now know who can run, who can handle the bat, and unfortunately, who is a liability in the lineup and on the field.  Your defense should be set and everyone should understand their position and role in the lineup.  You now know who can throw strikes, who can’t, and more importantly, how everyone on the team fits into the plans to make it to the Championship.  Be it as a pinch-runner, someone who bunts well, or as a left handed relief specialist, you have to find a way for everyone to contribute (even if it’s just coaching first), and this is the time to do that.

 

The third third is when winning is emphasized.  Each and every player should know exactly what is expected of them, and your team should be prepared for every situation.  You should know if and when the hit and run will work, who can come through in the clutch, and who can get that much needed strikeout with a runner at third with one out.  You should now be able to relax and enjoy the harvest of your hard work; A championship team who is peaking at the right time and “rolling” into the playoffs ready to win a ring!

 

Hitting mechanics fallacies

By Dan Gazaway

I’ve picked two parts of the baseball swing mechanics I hear taught frequently that are incorrect. I’ll explain why in a bit of detail, but don’t just take my word for it, however, ask around to some of the hitting mechanics gurus you know and trust.

It’s always great to get other perspectives. The best thing you can do is to build your own baseball swing knowledge base. Baseball instruction is a funny thing. You can find information and hitting “experts” everywhere. However, please for your own sake make certain that you are qualifying your sources of information first before you accept and apply it to your game. If you don’t, you’ll end up spending a lot of money, and changing your batting philosophy often.

Two Mechanical Fallacies:

1. Keeping your back elbow up is NECESSARY for a proper and important.

I come across this advice mostly in the younger ages, such as Little League. To be straight to the point, there is no physical advantage or benefit for a hitter to keep his back elbow up high as he prepares to hit. I’m uncertain as to the origination of this idea, but I do know it spreads like wildfire through Little League parks everywhere. It’s like the cure all for a poor baseball swing I guess.  When it doubt, it must be the back elbow!  You’’ve all heard a fan or parent yelling the advice, “Keep your back elbow up” all too often.

Keeping the back elbow up for younger hitters is often a source of a sluggish and long swing. When the bat head travels into the zone, the elbow of the top arm on the bat is down and relaxed close to the hitter’s body (when performed correctly). Because of this, it makes no sense for a younger hitter to move his back elbow from a stiff  and upright position in the stance to a relaxed  position into the hitting zone. The extra moving parts during a baseball swing simply means less consistency. As a hitter gets older and gains knowledge and understanding of proper swing mechanics, his preference may be of a back elbow that is raised.  However, at this point he can make the adjustments as necessary as he begins his swing.

So how do you fix it?

Hitters should be comfortable when in their batting stance.  Arms should remain close to the body and relaxed.  In this position, most every hitter will find the back elbow is in fact poiting slightly down.

2. Rolling the wrists as your bat comes through the zone is essential for creating bat speed.

I bite my tongue (quite hard actually) whenever I hear the above advice being offered for baseball instruction. While the back elbow up philosophy can be dismissed somewhat as a youth baseball strategy that does relatively minimal damage, this wrists rolling theory cannot be ignored or tolerated if one is going to create a fundamentally sound approach to hitting a baseball.

What “wrist rollers” can’t do:

A.    Hit line drives with back spin consistently (these are the ones that carry deep into a gap in the outfield).

B.     Hit an outside fastball with any consistency to the opposite field with power (left field as a lefty and right field as a righty).

C.   Hit inside fastballs to the pull side (right field as a lefty and left field as a righty).

I make those statements so confidently for the following reason. In order to roll the wrists through a baseball swing, your arms must be nearly straight at the elbows when contact is made with the baseball. Youth hitters can get away with this and escape many time undetected because the velocity of the pitch is not overpowering. Add 10-15 mph to the pitch and those inside pitches will not be hit hard by a hitter (or if they do, it will sting like crazy). Outside pitches will also be difficult because the barrel of the bat will only cover the outer portion of the plate a fraction of the time necessary as the bat is sweeping through the zone.

So how do you fix it?

Teach hitters when swinging at a baseball to have their palm facing up on their top hand as they come in contact with the baseball. As the hands stay close to the body through the swing, the hitter should extend his arms fully only after contact is made with the ball. Creating proper extension is extremely valuable and important for generating good bat speed and maintaining good plate coverage.

Dan Gazaway is Owner and Founder of The Pitching Academy. He has instructed over 2,000 pitchers in the last seven years and received a Bachelor’s Degree as a Health Education Specialist at Utah State University. He is a motivational speaker for topics ranging from attitude, goal-setting and leadership and be contacted at contact@thepitchingacademy.net. Get tons of tips and information from Dan here.

Introducing fitness to a youth soccer practice

A lot of people in the United States still look upon soccer as a relatively new sport, but considering the first organized soccer league out of the United Kingdom was set up in Newark, NJ, back in 1884, it probably could not be further from the truth. With over 18 million registered players in the US covering all ages and all levels it is still seen as a Non-American pastime nor can it compete against the likes of baseball, football or basketball for television rights and much more.

All of us involved with the game hope that the current 18 million registered players involved will grow. More players are becoming involved at the youth level and those that have played are giving back to the game by coaching the younger generations. This is good news for the growth of the game, but the line has to be drawn in the sand in making sure that we keep increasing these numbers and keeping the young players in the game involved by helping them fall in love with it instead of physically and mentally running them into the ground.

Soccer is a great sport for children to be involved in helping with their personal fitness. It’s physical demands can be separated from other sports because it not only requires speed, but agility, strength power and endurance. During the short time you are allocated to work with these young players it is your responsibility to try and improve their fitness level as a soccer player, not as a marathon runner or an athlete whom is competing in a triathlon.

As a coach you will occasionally imitate the coach whom taught you in which ever sport you played as a youth. I recall back to my weekly practice session’s as a youth player and being made to run laps for a warm-up and do sprints to prepare for the game. Looking back these intense training session were not fun, and although may have helped with my endurance and speed work, training would have been more fun if it involved the regular use of the ball. This will not have only helped with the development of specific muscles involved in match play, but also focused on the technical and tactical skills necessary for improvement.

All of your practice sessions and activities should include a ball and merge the four pillars of the game together (technical, tactical, fitness & psychological). Having a ball involved will pick up the players interest and work-rate. The coach can also add more demands to make a practice more intense. Intensity can be simply defined by how hard a player trains. Too much fitness work can lead to injury and fatigue whereas too little will not have enough of an effect on match conditioning. Elite players can train longer and harder than players at a lower level. Intensity is often based on the number of repetitions and how many exercises/sets done.

I witness youth soccer coach’s doing fitness work as a tool to measure a players ability, because they went through testing themselves at college or high school. It should not be a shock to many people that majority of children and adolescents playing soccer throughout the world are probably not as technically gifted as what they should be because they don’t touch the ball enough during their own time.

Technique is the first building block in player development and usually the first aspect of a players game to deteriorate when they become fatigued in a game. So put the stop watch away for timing sprints and just have the players go for a one minute period and tell the players that they have to get a certain number of touches
in within that one minute period. The measuring stick can be moved up as they become more fit and technical efficient.

It continuously frustrates me that we treat the youth soccer player as adults and run them into the ground because we want to make sure that we are the fittest, fastest, strongest team playing in fear of losing. Although this may work for a season or two because we are creating athletes we are not creating technically gifted players which have built their fitness from playing the game.

By over coaching and not making activities realistic to game conditions you will find that 90 percent of your practice time is wasted. All players need to be actively involved in the activities at the same time and activities need to replicate some aspect of game-like conditions. Running laps and timing sprints does not create soccer players. Let the players play and develop their technical, tactical and fitness levels by using a soccer ball in soccer related activities as a result you will see a much greater improvement in their overall development as a soccer player.

Adrian Parrish is the Director of Coach & Player Development for the Kentucky Youth Soccer Association. He is responsible for the Coaching Education Program and the management of the Olympic Development Program. A native of Louth, England, Parish currently possesses a USSF “A” License, UEFA “A” License (Pending), and the US Youth Soccer National Youth License. He can be reached at adrianparrish@kysoccer.net

Canadian soccer league says winning by more then five means you lose

In an effort to encourage sportsmanship, a Canadian soccer league has come under fire for implementing a rule that causes any team that wins by more than five goals to automatically forfeit their game. Critics of the rule say that there are lessons, even in large blowout losses, and that learning from defeats of this sort is part of life. You can read the full story here. Is this a good idea, or is this taking the idea of sportsmanship too far?

A real hero for March

Amidst all of the “March Madness,” a real hero emerged in an unlikely situation. Want a true, “Cinderella Story”? How about this article, written by the LA Times’ Bill Plaschke, about a 90 year-old stable employee saving a 6 year-old girl from being trampled by a horse?

Preventing soccer and baseball injuries

Our partners at Stop Sports Injuries.org have published two very informative sheets on the prevention of injuries in baseball and soccer. These are valuable reads for new and veteran coaches taking the helm of teams this spring. Click on the links to download the free tip sheets.

What if my child doesn’t like his coach?

Spring is the time for new beginnings. As winter recedes and our local parks and fields thaw, new soccer, baseball and softball teams are forming in communities everywhere, which means coaches are meeting new players, and kids are meeting new coaches. What should we do if our child comes home from practice complaining that they don’t like their coach?

Whether we are talking about the high school level, or community youth recreational sports coached by volunteers, adult coaches have a significant influence on the lives of our children. And, unfortunately, there was only one John Wooden and the rest of us fall somewhere short of the standard he set. But that doesn’t mean that if your child says he doesn’t like the coach, that it is necessarily because the coach is bad. I had two sons who had the same high school coach back-to-back seasons and one loved him, the other wasn’t a big fan. Did the coach change from one season to the next? I doubt it. Some people just get along better with others and that applies to kids and coaches too.

So how can we help our children through a tough situation, especially if they say they want to quit because the don’t like the coach? First, it might be useful to examine the reasons for the friction and discuss them.

Is it possible that the issues your son or daughter are having are playing-time or position related? In other words, would they like the coach a lot better if they were playing more and at a different spot? If so, maybe it is time to examine why the coach is putting them on the bench and not immediately assume it is because he favors others or doesn’t like your child. Encouraging them to work harder and correct mistakes they’re making in practice would be more appropriate than trying to influence the coach by pressuring him or sending emails to his superiors.

If playing time isn’t the issue, then what is? Does your child complain that the coach yells too much? It is important to teach your child to listen to the intent behind the yelling. Sometimes coaches have to yell to get a point across, either because they want everyone to hear, or because they are hoping to get players’ attention. Different coaches are more vocal than others and good ones know when to use raising their voice as a motivational tool, and when it is more appropriate to speak conversationally. However, if the message is positive and encouraging, (“Keep hustling!” “Great play!”), yelling probably won’t bother a child, but if it is demeaning, (“That’s terrible! “How could you let that happen?”), then it wouldn’t really matter whether it was yelled or whispered, would it? It would probably make sense to attend a practice or two, and some games, and listen objectively to what the coach is saying and how he is saying it. Is all of his criticism directed squarely at your child, or does he pass it around equally? If you hear a coach say things such as, “You can do better than that,” or “You got to try harder,” parents and children can easily get offended. However, if your child could perform at a higher level, could try harder, isn’t it the coach’s job to point that out?

Clearly, if a coach ever gets physical with a player, he is crossing the line. However what we’re discussing here are more nuances and are subject to interpretation. There are two things to keep in mind when your child is upset and doesn’t like the coach.
1. The coach’s job is not to make everyone like him. And depending on what level of sports your son or daughter plays, (i.e. travel vs. rec; age level, etc.), he may not even be as concerned about everyone having a blast at each practice and game as he is with trying to improve every player. Obviously, if we’re talking about pre-teen recreational sports the emphasis should be on having fun.
2. The rest of your child’s life they will experience interpersonal relationships and will not always adore every teacher, co-worker, boss or associate. Learning to cope and deal with different coaches and their personalities at a young age will be helpful down the road. They won’t always have you to rush in and rescue them.

When our children experience anguish it is in our nature to want to do anything and everything in our power to make it all better. However letting them learn coping skills and providing them with the tools to be able to fend for themselves will often produce more valuable results – in the long term.

Excelling on and off the court

It apparently can be done. Athletes who reach the pinnacle of their profession can still be considerate of others – can still have manners. In a story every aspiring sports star should read, Bill Dwyre relates an experience he had with world No. 1 in tennis, Rafael Nadal, proving that nice guys don’t always finish last.

What helped you the most?

My first job out of college was with a large sales organization and I was fortunate enough to be working in the same division as a truly remarkable, venerable icon of the company who became a mentor and lifelong friend to me. When he would visit our branch and run sales meetings, he always concluded them by asking various attendees, “What helped you the most?” While to some, this may seem like a tactic to ask for pats on the back, when I moved into management and was running meetings of my own, I realized that this was a fantastic way to reinforce the most important items we’d just covered. The feedback given served as a recap of what we’d gone over and allowed me to reiterate the points I’d made while they were still fresh in everyone’s mind, but do so in a way that was participatory. In other words, the audience was engaged and more attentive than they would have been had I simply subjected them to a verbal summation of everything I’d said.

When I began coaching kids in sports I learned that this technique had the same beneficial effect as it did with adults in the business world. When we’d conclude practice and have all of the kids take a knee, I’d ask a few of them, “What did you learn today?” Usually I’d get responses that would allow me to further extend what we’d just taught, while also ensuring that everyone “got it.”  If you try this out you might find it to be a very useful tool to help the kids help you coach them.