Your coaches will love their CoachDecks

Feedback we received the other day from a Little League President who ordered CoachDecks which he had just handed out to his managers. He said they all loved the decks and asked if they could have one to give to their coaches. Our handy, little deck of 52 fundamental drills broken into four, color-coded categories is exactly what your coaches and managers need this season since we know they don’t have time for books, manuals or online training sites. They need something they can carry onto the field and use at a moment’s notice while players are getting out of their parents’ cars. Every drill in the deck can be made into a fun and exciting game that kids love so they’ll want to come to every practice.

Another letter from a coach about playing time

We get these from time-to-time and they’re all remarkably similar. Here’s the latest from a flag-football coach, and our response below:

I really enjoyed your article.  I’m in my fourth year as a volunteer flag football coach (Matt Leinart Flag in Newport Beach, California).  We have a good team and have made the playoffs each of the past four seasons.

For the first three seasons, it was a dream.  All of my kids go to the same school, so they are teammates and friends.  The kids have a great time and I got no complaints of any kind.  However, last season two separate parents complained about playing time – one of them during a game.

I dedicate about 10 hours/week to coaching, which includes providing drinks, ice, etc., at practices because so many of my parents don’t send that along with their kids and I don’t want our players to suffer because of lack of planning (by parents).  I realize I’m enabling the situation, but it does get hot and I don’t want to risk the kids’ health.

I wasn’t exactly sure how to handle the complaints, other than I did not bend to them and play the kids more due to the complaints.  The complaints were about playing time, which was a result of their sons not putting in effort in practice, despite being given every opportunity to succeed.  I don’t ask a lot, but I do ask that they hustle and give 100% effort, which is something (as you said) they are in control of.

One of the parents actually “kept time” on the sidelines and then informed me of the exact amount of minutes their son was in the game.

I’d be interested in any advice you can provide on how to handle this, as I suspect more of this may come as the kids get older and as the parents take more liberties expressing themselves (now that we’re in our fourth season together)?

Thanks.  Again, I really enjoyed your article.


Thanks for  your note and for your volunteering to coach these kids. It is a shame that you are being pressured about playing time. There are several approaches you could take and not being there myself to see the situation, I’m not sure which is best. You could just ignore the whole thing and do what you think is best regardless of what the parents say. They can either complain to the league or pull their kids off the team. If you don’t believe that would be the best fix, you can have a conversation with the parents (either just the problem parents or the whole team), and explain that you are not obligated to play everyone equally and that your playing time decisions come as a result of what happens in practice regarding effort and hustle. You could probably do this via email or in person. Finally, you can tell them that unless they attend every practice, you’d appreciate it if they’d let you determine who is playing and how much as you are more aware than they of each player’s capabilities and of who has been trying the most and earning minutes.

Also, I’m not sure if this is the article you read, but in the future, you may want to consider preventative action by sending out a letter such as the one here before the season begins.

I hope this helps. Thank you again for reaching out and if there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know.

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Play the Ball, Not the Other Team!

By Olan Suddeth

Raise your hand if you have ever uttered one of the following phrases in a close or important game:

“This is it… it’s do or die time!”

“The game is on the line!”

“We win now, or we go home.”

“We’ve got to have some runs now!”

“Jimmy, we’ve got to have an out right here.”

Now, the rest of you liars raise your hands.

Yes, we’re all guilty of it – adding artificial pressure to a game situation. We want our players to realize how important this game/inning/at bat is, but we end up instead reducing their chances to perform well, thanks to the added pressure we just placed on them. 

I once read a very enlightening article by Jack Stallings, who at the time of his retirement was the winningest active baseball coach in the NCAA. Coach Stallings spoke about performance in the clutch, and how baseball was a percentage game. If a player performs at regular levels in clutch situation, he is absolutely a clutch player. The key behind this is to remove the outside pressures associated with a clutch situation. After all, the rules don’t change – a batter still has to hit the ball, a pitcher still has to throw strikes, a fielder still has to scoop and throw.

How many times have you heard coaches moan that “if only their team could play as well as they practice”? Did you ever wonder exactly why the team did so poorly in those situations? Sure, the other team has something to do with it, but a team that fields well in practice should still field well in games. A pitcher who throws strikes in warmups should do so in clutch situations. A batter who has a good eye and makes solid contact in laid back situations has the ability to do so when the game is on the line.

The secret is to get your team to not look at the scoreboard, to not think about what is at stake, and to not worry about the other team. Baseball comes down to a distinct set of skills, and in practices, those skills are all you care about. Now, translate this to game situations.

Keep your players loose. Focus your coaching on the technical aspects of the game, just as you do in practice. Don’t get upset or tense – these emotions are conveyed to your team. Reiterate that they are playing the ball, not the other team, not the scoreboard. 

If you can reduce the pressure that kids (and coaches) place on them in “clutch” situations, you will see drastic improvements in their results.

Go forth and follow this advice! I promise that I will try to do the same.

Olan Suddeth is a Little League coach in the Birmingham, Alabama area. His website, Youth Baseball Info, offers free articles, drills, and tips for youth baseball coaches, parents and fans.

Letter from a Volunteer Coach

By Brian Gotta

I’ve coached dozens of teams and hundreds of kids. I’m pretty comfortable being “The Coach.” But today I was thinking about the average volunteer who may only be coaching because no one else was willing to do it. I thought it might be useful if some of the parents who don’t volunteer their time, but are quick to criticize those who do, could see things from the coach’s perspective. So what is written below is a letter to those parents from a volunteer coach who could be anywhere, coaching any sport:

Dear Parents,

Today I heard a comment made about me behind my back. I started to turn around and look, but then decided better of it and kept my eyes on the field. My wife hears things like this more often than I do, because many of you don’t know who she is. She tells me what you say. I have received angry emails, full of “suggestions,” about who should be playing where and how I lost that day’s game for the kids. I thought I’d write an open letter to all of you parents, even though I might never send it. I’ll start it this way: “I am a volunteer.”

I’m the one who answered the call when the league said they didn’t have enough coaches. I understand that you were too busy. I have some news for you. I’m not retired. I’m busy too. I have other children and a job, just like you do. Not only do I not get paid to do this – it costs me money. I see you walk up to the game 15 minutes after it started, still dressed for work. Do you know I’ve already been here over an hour? Imagine if you had to leave work early nearly every day. I’ve never seen you at a practice. I’m sure you’re plugging away at the office. But I’m out here, on the field, trying my best to teach these children how to play a sport they love, while my bank account suffers.

I know. I make mistakes. In fact, maybe I’m not even that great of a coach. But I treat the kids fairly and with respect. I am pretty sure they like coming to my practices and games, and without me or someone like me, there’d be no team for them to play on. I’m part of this community too and it’s no picnic being out here on this stage like this. It’s a lot easier back there with the other parents where no one is second-guessing you.

And I also know you think I give my son or daughter unfair advantages. I try not to. In fact, have you ever considered that maybe I’m harder on him than on the others? I’m sure he hears plenty of criticism at school from classmates, who hear it from you at home, about what a terrible coach I am. And if, even unconsciously, my kids are getting a slight advantage because I know them better and trust their abilities, is that the worst thing in the world, considering the sacrifice I’m making? Trust me, I want to win too. And if your son or daughter could guarantee we’d do that, I’d give them the chance.

After this game is over, I’ll be the last one to leave. I have to break down the field, put away all the equipment and make sure everyone has had a parent arrive to pick them up. There have been evenings when my son and I waited with a player until after dark before someone came to get them. Many nights I’m sure you’ve already had dinner and are relaxing on the couch by the time I finally kick the mud off my shoes and climb into my car, which hasn’t been washed or vacuumed for weeks. Why bother cleaning it during the season? Do you know how nice it would be if, just once, after a game one of you offered to carry the heavy gear bag to my car or help straighten up the field?

If I sound angry, I’m not. I do this because I love it and I love being around the kids. There are plenty of rewards and I remind myself that while you’re at the office working, your kid is saying something that makes us all laugh or brings a tear to my eye. The positives outweigh the negatives. I just wish sometime those who don’t choose to volunteer their time would leave the coaching to the few of us who do.



Author: Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck LLC, (