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Common Coaching Mistakes

What are the most common mistakes youth baseball coaches make?

By John Reed

  • Failing to practice sliding at every practice and pre-game warm-up for the first two-thirds of the season.
  • Failing to emphasize baserunning, which is by far the most coachable aspect of baseball.
  • Failure to teach players where to go when the ball is not hit to them and failure to insist that they go there. Pitchers and outfielders, especially, tend to go “off duty” whenever a ball is hit somewhere other than to them.
  • Letting players tag high instead of putting the tag on the ground next to the base.
  • Relying far too much on verbal descriptions of how to do everything. Show is much better than tell when it comes to baseball. While reading UCLA basketball coach John Wooden’s autobiography, They Call Me Coach, I came across a great quote: “Young people need models, not critics.” In youth baseball coaching, “Don’t teach it. Model it.”
  • Trying to control runners at all times rather than letting them make their own, faster, and often better decisions.
  • Wasting practice time on activities where one player gets an occasional repetition while the rest of the team stands around in small groups chatting.
  • Failing to give catchers enough reps of throwing to second base.
  • Practicing two-throw, double-force plays.
  • Failure to practice one-throw, double-force plays and runners-who-did-not-tag-up double plays.
  • Not changing your approach to batting when a batter gets two strikes. Just saying “Ya gotta protect,” is not enough.
  • Failure to give players enough practice bunting and taking pitches outside the strike zone when in a bunt stance.
  • Failing to practice the pitcher-cover-first play.
  • Letting batters use bats that are much too heavy.
  • Being too timid about baserunning. Letting timid runners remain timid.