Baseball is America's pastime. During the summer, young players are eager to gather their bats and balls and hit the baseball diamonds. Little League and other organized youth leaguesare an opportunity for youngsters to learn the sport and have fun as well. Coaches must be able to communicate, provide direction, and demonstrate the fundamentals of the game. Coaching can be a fun experience, but comes with many responsibilities.
At the start of the season, it's only natural for 9 and 10-year old players to be nervous. First impressions can go a long way to making kids feel at ease. To help ease nervousness, treat players with respect. This can be done by looking at them at eye level. Since coaches are taller than their players, they can gain respect by sitting on the ground with their team or bending one knee while talking with them. There is something subconscious about looking at players at their level that will help coaches be more patient and communicate better. So many coaches are so anxious to get out on the field and start teaching stuff, they forget to enfold the kids' hearts and and minds first, says Kenneth Bean, author of "Bean's About Baseball."
Young players are motivated by rewards. Coaches can get a lot of effort out of their players through friendly team competitions. Players who demonstrate the most hustle during a practice can be given a team captain cap. The cap can be worn during a game to demonstrate the player has shown he has stood out. After the game, the cap can be returned to the coach and competition begins at the next practice for who is deserving of the special cap. Likewise, after a game a player can be awarded a game ball for demonstrating the ability to make the most key plays or to demonstrate good sportsmanship.
Teamwork is an important part of baseball. Teams win or lose together. A way to stress solidarity is through negative reinforcement. If a player makes a crucial error that comes from lack of hustle or not paying attention, have all the players run a lap or do pushups. This demonstrates that what one player does affects the whole team.
Signs, an indication to execute a specific action, are an important part of baseball. Nine and 10-year old players are at an age where they can begin to learn this baseball strategy. Coaches should keep signs simple and not overload players with too many of them. Signs should be limited to basic actions such as bunting, stealing, or taking a pitch. The signals should be something that players will easily recognize and remember, such as a coach pulling on his ear, touching his hat, or tapping his arms. Coaches may also implement basic signs for pitching. Signs should also be kept simple, such as using a certain number of fingers for a location or certain type of pitch.
- Photo Credit young baseball catcher image by pixelcarpenter from Fotolia.com
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