Will your league invest in coach training?

We know budgets are tight in non-profit, youth sports organizations. But we also know that training your volunteer coaches is an important, shall we say necessary responsibility of every youth baseball, softball, soccer, football and basketball league. Yet asking coaches to visit websites and watch videos and download practice plans just doesn’t work. They’re too busy and they need something they can use “on the fly” when they show up at practice straight from work. That’s where CoachDeck comes in. Our handy deck of 52 cards broken into four color-coded categories each containing a great drill that can be made into a fun game makes it easy to run a tremendous and enjoyable practice. And that’s what volunteer coaches want – easy. Or customers tell us that the better practices their coaches are now running lead to more kids coming back to play and more coaches volunteering to help out again. And isn’t that the sign of a healthy league? And isn’t striving for that health the number one priority of the organization’s leadership?

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Running the best youth baseball practice

If you are coaching a Little League or other youth baseball or softball team, here is another tip to keep in mind for your next practice. Finish every practice with our 4-3-2-1 drill. They won’t like it, but it is great for conditioning, great for base running, excellent to add focus and, most importantly, fosters an environment of “investment” so that every player has put so much into practice throughout the season that they will do nearly anything to make it pay off. And here’s a sub-tip. As a positive reward, throughout practice, reward great efforts, hustle, and heads-up plays by taking one lap off 4-3-2-1. Maybe if they have a good enough practice they won’t even have to do it!

How to run a baseball practice

The inspiration for this post could actually be, “how not to run a baseball practice.” We observed a team on our local field Monday, which we know to be in last place in the league’s AAA division, (one level below Majors) and it was all we could do not to intervene. The entire practice consisted of a kid on the mound pitching to batters, with no catcher behind the plate. There were four infielders, and two dads with gloves in the outfield, and the remaining four players were sitting on the bench twirling their helmets waiting for a turn. A coach stood behind home plate at the backstop to field errant pitches. He got the most practice of anyone. We could write a book on why this practice was so terribly ineffective. Here are a few highlights (or lowlights):

  • Why have a pitcher practice pitching without a catcher? Will that ever happen in a game? You have four kids idle, one of them can get on the gear and be a target.
  • Four kids sitting on the bench at all times, doing nothing? Set up several hitting stations! Hit off the tee into a net, hit the heavy ball off the tee, do soft-toss, there is even a  cage at this facility…unused. The kids should all be taking over 100 cuts at every practice.
  • It was immensely boring. The coaches were trying to simulate a game situation but it was nothing like a game. They were saying things like, “runner on third,” after the ball was hit to the shortstop. But no one remembered from one play to another where the baserunners were supposed to be.

We could go on and on. If you’re struggling with running your practice, why not get a CoachDeck? Inside you’ll find 52 good, fundamental drills broken down into four color-coded categories, (baserunning, hitting, infield and outfield). In its simplest form you can just take one card of each color, run each drill for 20 minutes, and have a fun and effective practice. We have a softball, soccer, football and basketball deck too. Don’t drive kids out of the sport by running practices like the one we saw. I know these coaches are volunteers and don’t want to be too hard on them, but this was hard to watch.