It’s your job as a baseball coach to help your kids develop a strong baseball foundation for them to be successful at the higher levels. After many years of coaching kids from 5-18 years of age, Coach Mark Pottie has put together his top 5 coaching tips for little league and pee wee coaches.
1. Athletic development – athletic development in these kids is hugely important. Their bodies are growing and they don’t know how to move well on the baseball field yet. it’s your job as a coach to make sure your baseball players know how to move quickly, move with agility and have good balance. Make every one of your practices include an athletic development component.
2. Throw the ball hard, throw the ball long – when it comes to throwing practice or pitching practice, you want to encourage within these kids their desire to throw the ball fast. You want them to throw the ball hard, and throw with velocity. The sooner they start embracing throwing the ball hard, and moving their arm fast to do so, the better. Too many times the focus becomes about accuracy. The accuracy will come with repetition and experience.
3. Swing hard – encourage your batters to swing with speed and strength. The kids are going to worry about missing, but that’s what kids do. I want you to make sure you re-frame that success, into “did you swing hard?” And yes, they are going to miss sometimes, but please encourage good bat speed, and encourage hitting the ball far — I like to say to my baseball players that I coach, “Swing hard in case you hit it.” Make it okay for them to miss, so when they do hit it, and they hit it far, it’s going to feel real good.
4. Situational game play – from kids 5 years old all the way to 13, we want our players to understand:
– where to be in the field
– how to run the bases
– understand what it is they are suppose to do when the ball is hit
That way when they get to the high school level, they don’t have to think about it, they just feel it. But if they don’t get the opportunity at your level to learn it, they won’t. Give them situational game plays in your practice, let them do it wrong, stop and correct in the moment and then encourage them to do it right the next time. It’s really important to develop this skill in your baseball players to help take their game to the next level.
5. Apply pressure – ask these kids to do things that have consequences for themselves, as well as their teammates. The sooner they get this, the better. I’ve seen a lot of little league kids break down crying after striking out – not my favourite thing to witness, but if you get them working under pressure in practice, then the game pressure will seem a lot less impactful to them. Applying pressure during practice is only going to help build their mental toughness.