Falling prey to Bad Coaching traps is a danger both new and experienced coaches are subject to wake up and realize they’ve fallen into. The best way to avoid these traps is to identify them and define why they are coaching failures waiting to happen.
Coaching Traps-One: Operating Practice the Same Way Every Time.
There is a lot to be said about learning the basic skills of the game, which repetition is a huge factor. However, a practice of warming up, infielders fielding ground balls, outfielders fly balls, everyone take BP then go home, may be fine the first couple of practices, as you need to assess your players’ skill levels. It shouldn’t take longer than 2 practices to form an opinion on where your players rank and from that point on, practices should always vary.
I don’t mean forget hitting infield grounders. I mean hit infielder grounders which vary, incorporating throwing home or turning a double play, not only field and throw to first base. Mix it up.
Trap Two: Coach Trying to Make the Team?
When hitting practice balls, outfield flies and/or infield grounders, don’t hit screaming balls the player must make a great play on in order to field the ball. That point of training will come, but much later.
The purpose of fielding drills is to present the circumstances to learn. A player should be learning to focus on the ball, read hops, circling the ball, staying in proper fielding position and etc. They shouldn’t be chasing balls into the outfield they couldn’t reach.
Concentrate on teaching and resist the temptation of trying to create super-stars by hitting rockets. Mastering the basics create super-stars.
Bad Coaching Traps
Trap Three: Cancelling Practices.
There are times when community functions, such as a graduation, a Boy Scout event or something similar, will mean half the team will not be at practice. Don’t let this situation provoke you to cancel practice.
Instead, use it as an opportune time for some one on one coaching. Instead of hitting 5 ground balls to each of the 12 - 14 player roster, hit 25 balls to the 6 or 7 players who are there.
Trap Four: Running a Dictatorship.
Learning to run bases is every bit as an important as other aspects of the game, but some coaches will Not allow runners to run unless they are given the OK from the coach. How are players suppose to learn the tactics of stealing, sliding and taking the extra base by instinctive running when they are programmed to be robots.
Teach your players everything you can about running the base paths, then let them loose. That’s the only way to see how well they learned the lessons.
Bad Coaching Trap Five: Calling Pitches.
This one drives me insane. Major league pitchers have control of two - two & a half pitches at most. They may throw 4 or 5 different types of pitches, but only really control two, from which they create 10-12 variations of the 2 by changing speeds and location. Now, what makes you think a little league pitcher has 3 or 4 pitches at his command? Most likely the opposing coach knows better.
Concentrate on working with your pitchers and catchers on location control of the fastball. As their control improves insert
Trap Six: Over-Coaching at Third Base.
In little league baseball the manager usually coaches third base, but a trusted coach can also be assigned the responsibility. The trap either fall into is creating too much drama and over-coaching. Why give a 10 year old batter 10-12 signals, most of which mean nothing?
Do you think there’s a person in the stands reading signs through binoculars and relaying them? There is a time for signs and teaching the practice of the batter glancing down to the coach is appropriate.
However, flashing a dozen signs, giving verbal orders of “Choke-up”, “Step into the pitch,” “Keep the Hands Back” are nothing but a distraction. Hitting a baseball is difficult enough at all age levels without unneeded things bouncing around inside their heads. “Silence Can Be Golden.”
the change-up into their repertoire, I don’t think curve-balls should be introduced until at least 15 and then only used sparingly.
Let your players play. The only thing you should be required to do during the game is possibly go to the mound and calm a pitcher in trouble. Let them concentrate on throwing strikes, not stroking your ego.
Bad Coaching Traps - move players around
Trap Seven: Teaching Trick Plays.
I’ll try to address this quickly. How many times have you seen major league teams use a Trick Play?
That’s right … Never. So why would you try to teach any?
Trap Eight: Not Moving Players Around.
It’s unfair to the players and actually a slap to your coaching skills, if players are assigned a certain position which they always play. Young players change and develop over a season, much alone year to year. They have no real idea of what they are capable of accomplishing, nor do you. To relegate them to 1 or 2 positions based on pre-season practices is silly and unprofessional.
Move your players around allowing them to gain experience at many positions which helps them and offers you the flexibility of changing your defense, rotation and replacing Johnny who’s on vacation.
Trap Nine: Not Changing Batter Order:
Avoiding Bad Coaching Traps--
Identical to the danger of not moving players around on defense, making and maintaining a rigid batting order makes little sense. Now that doesn’t mean to place an over-weight poor hitter, leading off. It means shuffling the top half of the lineup to different spots, repeating for the back half, then fine tuning.
It gives the players the opportunity to learn the pressures and duties of different batting positions and offers you the chance to discover a diamond in the rough. Major league managers do it … why don’t you?
Bad Coaching Traps
Trap Ten: The Worse Trap
I left this trap for last, because although all the prior traps can lead to coaching failures … this trap can lead to the destruction of the team.
I’ll say it again … Equal Discipline.
I don’t mean suspending a player or cutting off his treat after the game. I mean correct all players the same. If one player, super-star, coach’s kid or girlfriend’s kid, is treated better, or differently, than all the other players, the team will not survive.
Kids are little grown ups and they are quick to detect if anyone is getting privileged treatment, and no different than adults, they don’t like it and in their own way will rebel.
Everyone takes their turn sitting the bench, positively corrected the same way, positively praised the same way. Part of your job is to build a Team and playing favorites is the fastest path to failure.