Keys to coaching youth baseball

Are you coaching a Little League, PONY, Cal Ripken or other youth baseball (or softball) team? Over the next several days we’ll bring you some pointers on running good practices and successfully managing games.

Today’s tip: Ensure 100% attendance at practices. Easier said than done, you say? Well, there are two ways to accomplish this. First, at higher levels where we are keeping score and playing to win, playing time can be limited for poor attendance. Even if it is a couple of your better players who are absent, if they start the next game on the bench and only get the minimum-mandated play time, they’ll get the message and show up next time. But the best way to encourage attendance is not through punishment, but reward. Make your practices FUN! You can still have exceptionally effective training while making the practice enjoyable. Turn drills and even conditioning into games. Joke with your players, let them know you’re the boss but you’re also human and you like to have fun. Smile and encourage your kids to let their personalities out. Give everyone a nickname at the beginning of the season and see how many stick. When practice is over, if your players get in their parents car and say, “That was fun!” they’ll not only be back for your next practice, they’ll be back to play again next year.

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