Our first coaches clinic for this fall and winter focused on building
The main theme that was brought up in the discussion was the importance of practice. It seems the current climate of youth baseball has shifted to a heavy dose of games with minimal practices. Teams will very commonly play six to 10 tournaments throughout the course of a summer playing three to six games per tournament, while only having one practice per week - sometimes none. We believe that this emphasis on games has hurt the development of young baseball players because they’ve taken precedence over practice time. While games do offer valuable lessons for development, they do not give kids the time or reps they need to improve their skills. Kids simply can’t develop off three ground balls and three at-bats per game - they need time to practice outside of their games.
It was unfortunate for us to hear how coaches in the central PA area were struggling to get practice time together for their kids. Not only were they having organizational constraints, but many kids were missing out on practices due to involvement
As a result, organizations lose players because they’re not playing as much or where they expect they should be. Instead of treating the team with respect, kids treat teams like a buffet picking and choosing what suits
To give an example of how
Too often, we get caught up in selling out for tournaments trophies, performing in meaningless showcases, and prioritizing other opportunities to play games that just don’t matter in the long run. Kids play in summer tournaments, fall tournaments, and even winter tournaments that cost parents thousands of dollars. They’re rushed back from injuries and accumulate bullets on the mound that outweigh their ones in training. When the training/games scale is tipped towards games, the long term development of kids is put at serious risk.
As a result, we as coaches must plan for the long term with all of our athletes. We must put a premium on practice and make time during the week to get kids the reps they need to develop skills. We need to give kids opportunities to showcase their skills in games and let them play multiple positions. When they make mistakes, we need to use them as teaching points - not ceilings on their future development. We need to build confidence and give kids strategies to handle
The environment we create as a coach is imperative to the future development of our kids. This includes the things we emphasize and model, how we respond when they make mistakes, our ability to communicate, design engaging drills, challenge kids, and make them understand how much we care about them as humans. While this seems like a lot, coaching shouldn’t be overcomplicated. If anything, most of us try to coach too much. Instead of giving kids room to experiment and fail, we become overbearing and strip the freedom out of their game. Instead of developing competitors with instincts, we develop robots that operate by an instruction manual. Instruction manuals are great for concrete procedures, but they’re a horrible idea for complex activities that require constant adjustments (i.e. games).
If you want to develop gamers with instincts, the best thing you can do as a coach
Off the field, the best thing you can do as a coach
We will be going
Feel free to reach out with any questions, concerns, or thoughts. Keep learning and growing.