Editor’s Note — The following article was written and shared with Baseball Made Fun by former Butler University head coach and director of youth camps, Steve Farley.
Do you spend time coaching and instructing youth league baseball players? Here are a few simple (but important) Little League coaching tips I’ve learned from directing youth camps for the past 25 years:
- Take note of distractions and do your best to avoid them. If you are going to speak to a group of kids, be conscious of what is going on behind you. If you put yourself in front of a plain wall, for instance, kids will focus on you. If there are people behind you who are walking around or carrying on a conversation, the kids will be distracted and lose their focus. Choose your background wisely.
- Take a knee during some of your talks to the team or group. If you’re a kid, it isn’t very comfortable looking up at a grown-up standing directly in front of you. You’ll make a better connection with the kids if you are at their eye level. Kids will appreciate it.
- If you are outside, be conscious of where the sun is. If you are talking to kids and the sun is behind your head, they will be looking directly into the glare and will have to squint to see you. Make an adjustment. By the same token, on a hot summer day, find some shade for your players if you want to meet with them.
- Keep it “short & sweet”. Kids don’t have long attention spans. During drill work, give instructions for a minute or two and then get the kids working. They won’t be able to handle a detailed, 15 minute lecture. Teach the drill, get the kids working and make sure to review it the next day. Kids want to be active.
- Similar to above– avoid kids having to stand in long lines. You may not always have other adults to help you, but do your best to come up with drills & activities where you don’t have a bunch of kids standing around bored, waiting for their turn. Be creative- put the kids with partners or in small groups and arrange your drill stations so that kids are getting the maximum amount of skill repetitions with the least amount of standing around waiting.
- Hot day outside? Turn on a hose or sprinkler for a quick change of pace. Kids will perk up quickly if they are allowed to take a short “timeout” to run through a sprinkler or pour water over their head with a hose. Added bonus: one of the highlights for kids attending my camps is “sliding day” where I take a hose and water down a soft, grassy area to make it wet and slippery. Kids will get muddy, but the campers & parents have been told ahead of time that they need to bring a towel and some dry clothes to change into.
- Break out a stopwatch once in awhile. Kids like to compete. You don’t necessarily need them competing against each other. A kid trying to beat his own personal best works great! Fastest time running from home to first, fastest inside the park home run, quickest time for a catcher throwing down to 2nd base… there are plenty of ideas you can come up with. How about the fastest time for your team helping put all the gear away at the end of a practice?!
I hope these tips will help you as you work with young players. Keep it fun!
For more information about Steve’s camps visit http://www.bulldogbaseballcamps.com.
Steve also works as a consultant, helping high school age players and their parents navigate the challenging college baseball recruiting process. You can contact Coach Farley at firstname.lastname@example.org.