It’s hard for a new coach to understand where to start or what should be taught when they take on the challenge of leading a group of youngsters in a baseball season. The list below is intended to serve as a guide for new coaches and a reminder for experienced coaches of many of the objectives that should be covered over the course of a baseball or softball season. The list is directional and generally comprehensive. As a coach your goal at the end of a season should be to check off as many of these boxes as possible.
Certain leagues may have longer or shorter seasons, and teams may have larger or smaller rosters, so you will need to consider these variables when deciding what to cover. The absolute essentials are bolded, start with those, and move on to the others to make sure your players have the foundation they need to enjoy the season and the desire to continue playing.
First Things First
Before we get to the list below, the #1 thing to impress on the players is that they’re engaging in a game and it’s meant to be FUN! That fact gets lost in the shuffle too often at all levels. The chance to step on the diamond and PLAY a GAME is a great opportunity that should be cherished. Sometimes things will go their way, and sometimes they won’t, but a coach should always strive to keep things in proper perspective for the players. The coach’s prime objective at beginning levels should be to instill an enthusiasm for the sport such that players develop the passion to continue playing and potentially strive to improve.
Shoutout to @CoachYourKids for this reminder!
- Safety first
- Hustle as much as possible
- The 9 (or 10) positions on the field
- Pay attention and know when it’s your turn to hit
- Get in and out of the dugout quickly in between innings
- Pay attention and get ready for every play
- Don’t fight for the ball
- Infielders – get the ball and quickly throw it to first base (most of the time)
- Infielders – get the ball and quickly step on a base to get a force out (sometimes)
- Infielders – get the ball and tag a runner (sometimes)
- Infielders – don’t assume a play is over just because an out is made – stop the lead runner!
- Outfielders – keep the ball in front of you
- Outfielders – back up the infielders
- Outfielders – get the ball and throw it in – don’t run it in!
- Don’t watch the ball when you hit it
- Run as hard as you can to and through first base
- Break down properly after hitting first
- Advance on overthrows
- Look at and listen to your base coaches
- Run as soon as the ball is hit (most of the time)
- Learn the rare times when you don’t have to run
- Swing hard
- Watch the ball all the way to the bat (coach pitch)
- Don’t chop down, try for a level or upper cut swing
- Balanced stance
- Look where you’re throwing
- Correct Footwork
- Correct Arm Action (elbow above shoulder)
- Throw, don’t push the ball
Catching/Fielding a Ball
- Alligator style on grounders
- Two hands on pop-ups
- Get in front of the ball
- Get your glove on the ground
This post is intended to help you as a coach understand what you need to cover over the course of a baseball or softball season when you have a mixed group of new and experienced players who are just learning the game. If you have older or more experienced players, these foundations are still important, but your focus will be on teaching and reviewing more advanced topics under each category.
Good luck to you and have fun out there!