Is Baseball Boring? How to Keep Kids Interested

By Doug Bernier

Baseball is boring!

We’ve all heard that said.

Baseball is a game with slower tempo than football, basketball, and hockey. It has less of an adrenaline rush than the X games.  Some people tag baseball as “boring” and not fun to watch or play.

In my experience, people who think that way are usually missing out on one VERY important aspect of the game.

I was reading The Matheny Manifesto during Spring Training of this year. Mike Matheny is the very respected Manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. He was a big league catcher for 13 years and has tremendous baseball knowledge. A particular section of the book stood out to me as he was explaining some of his methods for being a little league coach. After every practice he would teach the players their responsibility during a given play.

Teaching strategy.  In Little League.  Mind blown.

For example, he said that most players didn’t realize that during a ground ball to 3rd base everyone on the field has a responsibility and a place to be. He found that once kids (and even parents) realized this, that the game became less boring.

Playing outfield (which can seem boring, especially in youth leagues) can be more interactive and fun as you are thinking through scenarios of where to be on any ball that is put in play.

The game can slow down at times such as when coach visits the mound, or when the pitcher is having trouble throwing strikes, or maybe even when the pitcher is striking everyone out. But I know that for me, when I am thinking through the game and different situations it makes the game more challenging and fun.

I take this approach even when I am watching games. This helps me to keep learning and makes the game more enjoyable.  My hope is that Pro Baseball Insider can be a tool to help some folks to understand the game a little better, a tool to help those of us who love the game of baseball show others who think baseball is boring that there is more to the game than first meets the eye.

So, is baseball boring?  How to keep kids interested in baseball?   Once kids learn the strategy involved, they will be involved in every play -even if they don’t touch the baseball on that particular play.

So, even at a young age,  learning how to think along with the game can turn baseball from a boring to a strategic often exciting game.

Your turn.  Now here’s the question for you all.  What do you think is the best age to begin teaching baseball strategy?  Certainly there is a LOT to learn in baseball.  Do you know a creative way to make teaching the finer points of baseball strategy and positioning fun to learn?

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 13 years. Most recently, Doug signed with the Minnesota Twins in 2013, where he logged time at every infield position except 1st base in 33 Major League games. Currently Doug is with the Twins’ AAA team in Rochester, NY. Originally published at http://probaseballinsider.com/baseball-instruction/fundamentals-of-hitting/baseball-situations-and-hitting/

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.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s OnDeck Newsletter

The February issue is full of terrific articles, ideas, tips and offers. If you’re not on the list to receive OnDeck, its easy and free!

Read the August ’15 OnDeck Newsletters

This month’s issues of our popular OnDeck Newsletter are must-reads! In our baseball edition, we bring you a great article from new contributor and MLB World Champion, Mike Epstein. And our soccer newsletter is packed with great information and offers. We hope or, rather, know you’ll enjoy them!

Mid-season report

In many areas of the country, believe it or not, we’re already passed the midway part of the spring baseball and soccer seasons. Hopefully your league has run smoothly with a minimum of strife. There will always be parent complaints, arguments with officials, coaches who either bend the rules or are overly-aggressive. We’ve heard from some of you with questions seeking advice in these and other matters. Over the last eight years we’ve accumulated a database of knowledge pertaining to volunteer-run youth sports and we’d love to share some of that insight with you. Send us your questions or comments to info@coachdeck.com. And most importantly, enjoy the season!

I can’t get my T-ball player to pay attention

This is an email we received:

Hello. I have read several of your articles and they are very helpful. I wonder if you might help me with a problem I am having. I am coaching Little League, Tee Ball, and it is very difficult to get my players to pay attention. They are 5 and 6 years old and I know they have short attention spans but I also feel like it is my job to teach them the fundamentals of baseball, like how to field a ground ball properly. But when I put them out in positions and hit balls to them most of them can’t stand still long enough to wait their turn. Any advice you have would be appreciated.”

Our response:

Thank you for your note and for volunteering to coach a team in your league. Coaching players at that age it can be very challenging, but also very rewarding. I’d recommend keeping two things in mind, the first of which will probably take care of the second. Number one, at this age, these kids don’t care about improving, about proper technique or fundamentals. They only want to have fun. So a good coach will simply make sure that every practice is a blast, but within a baseball context. A great coach will be able to actually teach fundamentals and make the kids better players, but while making practice something fun and that they look forward to. Our CoachDeck is a deck of cards containing 52 good, fundamental drills, many of which are appropriate even at the T-ball level. Each one contains a “Make it a Game” feature that turns an ordinary drill into a fun and exciting competition kids love. Take a look at Cap Buttons and Triangle Drill, for instance. Around the Horn could be modified to roll the ball instead of throwing it. These and many more are exercises you can do with your players that they’ll enjoy, but will also make them better. Kind of like sneaking vegetables onto a plate of food they love!

And the second thing to keep in mind? Your number one job this year is to make sure that every kid wants to come back and play again next season. If you accomplish nothing else, you’ve done great. And by making every practice fun and filling them with games and competition, you can be sure that not only will your players want to come back to each practice, but they’ll want to return again next year.

Again, thank you for writing and for giving your time to these kids. I promise you, you’ll be glad you did.

Detail in CoachDeck Drills

We had customer provide us with some feedback on our baseball drills deck of cards. We thought we would pass it along, as well our response which we feels explains fairly well the essential value of CoachDeck and why our product is so popular in the youth sports community:

I really liked it!  I think its a awesome resource for coaches to have in their “back pocket”.  As a baseball guy the one thing that Id offer is that many of the drills are pretty basic. I was hoping for some clever ways to teach situations or hitting instruction, ect….Really like it though!!
Our response:
While we certainly did intend to address situations and hitting, (there is even a drill entitled “Live Situations”) we understand that he is looking for something more detailed. The balance we had to walk was that we wanted the deck to be something that could be used by all coaches from T-ball to Majors, regardless of experience. Plus, as he can imagine, we cannot put too much detail (verbiage) on a playing card. We tried to design the deck for a rookie coach to be able to run fun hitting, baserunning, infield and outfield drills with the kids instead of showing up and just throwing 90 minutes of BP because he didn’t know what else to do. For the more veteran coaches we wanted it to be a handy reminder of some drills they may have once known but forgotten, and some new ones they hadn’t heard of before. The idea is that they can use any of these drills as a starting point and then add as much additional instruction as they’d like within its framework.”
There are as many ways to teach hitting as there are stances and swings. We did not feel it would be our job to adopt a particular hitting philosophy and use our cards as a forum to instill that method. Plus, coaches of younger players should not be teaching that much intricacy anyway. However, if your players are ready for in-depth hitting instruction and you have the knowledge to impart it, any of our drills are the perfect medium to get that done.
We always appreciate your comments/input/suggestions. Please keep them coming and enjoy your CoachDecks!