It is fun to watch youth baseball games. I enjoy watching the kid on the team with the least amount of talent “accidentally” catch a fly ball that was hit right to him. Those kids will always remember that time in their life when they were a hero; at least they felt that way for that moment in time. That is what youth baseball is all about.
I will always remember (in great detail) hitting my first homerun over the fence in Little League. I was 10; 23 years ago. I remember where I hit the ball, how far I hit it, how the ball almost hit a green car when it finally landed, who the first base coach was, what he said to me when I reached first base, how the sun was setting just above the mountains, the excitement rounding second when I could barely control myself from leaping all the way home, what my third base coach told me just as I was rounding third, how my teammates surrounded me when I reached home plate and the reward of the hamburger after the game for hitting a homerun. It was tasty! I also remember that was the only game my parents didn’t make it to that year because it was my older sisters High School graduation night. That is the joy of youth baseball!
As parents and coaches we often forget what baseball is all about as we focus on winning more than we do developing players on and off the field. The coaches that have fond memories of playing little league Baseball can be some of the most influential coaches to the youth.
Here are a few things we need to remember when coaching youth baseball pitchers:
Youth Coaching Tip #1 : Youth pitchers have to be taught mechanics with patience and understanding. You shouldn’t be aggressive in your teaching style. Most players respond with a negative attitude and won’t enjoy the learning process regardless of how well you think you teach if you are too intense. Nobody performs well under pressure from coaches when they are overly aggressive constantly yelling or barking at them during games and practices. They are on the field to have fun learning life’s lessons and the fundamentals of the game. Pitching Mechanics take time to learn so parents and coaches need to understand that little league is a developmental league not MLB. I read once that it takes Tiger Woods 18 months to incorporate a new swing to his golf game; be patient with the youth.
Youth Coaching Tip #2 Most of us are visual learners and need to be shown how to do things. Coaches should take the time first to learn what they should teach and then practice it themselves so they can physically show pitchers proper mechanics. If the coach is unable to do that, they should find instructional videos that allow the pitcher to visualize what is being taught.
Youth Coaching Tip #3 : During practice explain why a concept is important in the throwing motion. If the student doesn’t understand why they are supposed to do certain things mechanically they have a difficult time retaining the knowledge. They will continue to do what they have always done.
Youth Coaching Tip # 4 : To ensure you know your players understand what is being taught it is necessary to ask them questions about what they are learning during practice. I always make my students re-teach what I taught them at the end of the lesson, or many times during, to help me know they get it. Taking it a step further, have them physically show you what they have learned and have them repeat it time and time again until the mechanics become a part of their muscle memory. This takes a lot of patience because mechanics take time to develop for any pitcher.