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Candrea on Player Development

Youth coaches often fall into the trap of trying to teach too much at once.

Baseball and softball are simple games. In general, the teams that throw, catch, and hit the best are the ones that are the most successful. It isn't just about wins and losses. If the experience is enjoyable for the kids and they learn something, as coaches we should feel very good about it. 

It is imperative that you set goals for your teams and that you celebrate all of the successes - small or large. You can set general goals that cut across all age levels, and you can set age-specific goals.

Goals for all ages:

All coaches should strive to accomplish some fundamental goals. As a coach, continually ask yourself these questions to help determine whether you are on the right track:

Are the Kids Improving?  One of the most rewarding things about coaching is getting to see the players improve. The skills you emphasize should not be too difficult to master. Kids have an innate desire to learn and improve. When they are successful and their successes are celebrated, the thirst to learn more increases.
 

Are the Kids Learning? It is important to make sure that your players are learning something in addition to having fun. Learning and fun go hand in hand. By keeping the kids active and being creative we can make sure they learn while having fun. When coaching, especially when dealing with skills that build upon one another, it is important to review and make sure the players have grasped the initial lessons before you introduce something more complex.


Are the Kids Having Fun? Baseball and softball are games and should be fun.  Kids are not hard to read. If they are having fun, keep doing what you are doing. If they appear lethargic, sluggish, bored or unhappy, take a look at what you are doing and make some adjustments. Kids of all ages have limited attention spans. Keep them in small groups. Keep them active. Provide them with a variety of activities. Turn drills into contests. Create a rotation in which every player gets to play every position. (At the youngest levels, this is important so that players can develop all of the fundamental skills they need to play the game. As kids get older, it is to their benefit to be able to play several positions.) Enjoy yourself!