3 Hours


If you’re like most typical volunteer coaches, you will get the kid’s attention for about 3 hours per week. That equates to 2 hours of practice and 1 game. So how do you make great players in 3 hours per week? You don’t. You introduce skills in simple, memorable lessons and then HOPE they practice some on their own. At the end of every practice, during your team talk, you should give the players some ‘homework’ to complete until the next practice.

An example: Repeat the new skill learned today at least twice before the next practice. Have the player review the rules of the game (simplified for younger players) with a parent. Do the warm-up exercises every day before school for a week. These ‘assignments’ could involve the family as well. For instance: Instead of watching TV for an hour, have the player teach the family your warm-up exercises. Take a family walk. Jog in place during every commercial of a TV show.

Encourage the players to request their parents take them to a serious game.

For younger players, present the ‘assignment’ on a note-card or flash card in simple words they can read. At the beginning of the next practice at your Team Talk, then see how many of them accomplished their goals. Questions about the rules and abilities will confirm their completion. And a reward of some kind, AFTER PRACTICE, can be very helpful in getting them to complete the assignment.

Parent or Coach


For those of you that have your own children on your team, you’ll have a tough time ahead of you, as it is difficult to distinguish (for you and your child) between your roles as coach and parent. In our experience we have found the following to be true: It is difficult to not be a parent first, which means you discipline or require greater achievement of your own child more than the other players. Because you CAN, I might add.

It can be very confusing for your child, because they are generally the center of attention around you, and this will and should not be the case on the field .

So how do you differentiate between the two roles? Here are some guidelines…

Do not ‘parent’ your child on the field. But remember that you are always their parent, and will need, at times not to be their coach ( this is only in extreme situations)

Develop and maintain a separate ‘coaching-attitude’ and don’t bring it home after practice or games.

Explain to your child / children why you want to be a coach for their team. This will help them understand your motivation and be more understanding of your instructions to them during games and practices. Explain to them you will have a ‘coaching’ demeanor or attitude, that is intended to benefit the entire team, not just themselves.

Be yourself with your kids when not on the field. Don’t ‘coach’ them at home. It’s okay to practice, just be sure you’re being Mom or Dad, not Coach Dad.

One coach suggested that your son/daughter call you ‘Coach’ on the field instead of Mom/Dad to eliminate any favoritism the rest of the team might feel you give your own kid.

After many years of coaching all three of my kids I must and will say this, it is not only possible to be a great coach and a great father. Not only is it possible, it is tremendous fun, but the two MUST stay apart. Things NOT to do – DO NOT place more pressure on your kid, because they are yours and an example. DO NOT place less pressure on your kid, FOR EXACTLY THE SAME REASON.

Enjoy the blessing of coaching your own kids – but help them be being technically sound with what you teach them as well.



Before you walk onto the practice field, you should have a well-defined plan of your goals and objectives for the practice and be mentally prepared for dealing with a large group of kids. Prepare your plan either mentally or on paper, although the later is preferred. If you prepare a Practice Plan on paper, then an assistant coach or another volunteer could continue the team development in case of your absence.

This plan should include:

Provide objectives that should be accomplished during the practice. This can include both subjective and non-subjective goals.

Outline the goals and requirements of the basic activities and the amount of time you would like to devote to each.

Prepare a list of the equipment required. This helps ensure you only take what you need and makes sure you get what you need if you should be in a hurry.

The Practice Plan form gives you an area to take notes as to what aspects of the practice went well, what didn’t, or maybe ideas you had to make the skill development simpler for the players. You can also take notes about the players’ responses during your Team Talk regarding the next practice. Keep these forms for a reminder next year

Stretch & Warm Up (15minutes). This is especially important in developing long-term physical fitness awareness for your players and greatly reduces the risk of injury to your players. If your team is like most, the kids will ‘wander’ onto the practice field. Do low impact ‘games’ with them while waiting for everyone to show. When the warm-up ‘officially’ begins, first demonstrate the exercise and then begin the exercise. Be sure to explain the exercise in words the players can understand. Sometimes you will have to teach them new words for this to work. Be sure that you participate with them, because the players will learn quickest by example. And if you can, get the parents to participate as well!

Team Talk (2 minutes, 1 minute to get them quiet!) Have a brief Team Talk with them and let them know what you want to accomplish today and what you expect of them today. Keep it simple and in words they can understand.

Skill Development (25 minutes). Begin skill development drills and exercises. Spend the first 10 minutes improving skills taught in previous practices. You will need to focus on the less-talented players at this time to help them improve at a quicker pace. Consider providing these players a ‘mentor’, another player that can show them good execution of the skill. This mentoring approach also keeps more players busy and ‘engaged’ providing more fun and participation.

After the review, begin introducing a new skill ‘game’ or regimen. You should strive to introduce one new skill, or a variation or refinement of a skill at every practice session. This may require a brief Team Talk with the players to provide a foundation of words or expectations. First explain the skill, then with other assistants, if necessary, demonstrate the skill using proper technique. Then turn the players loose to try it themselves.

Once they begin the skill development exercise, try to keep further instruction and refinement to a minimum, and spend your time one-on-one with the players. Having other volunteers and coaches manage the ‘team’ allows you to spend some ‘quality time’ with each player while they are striving to learn. If you have an exceptional player or two, place them in a mentoring position

What to teach


The challenges of coaching change dramatically depending on the age of your team, but the information here should be appropriate to all but the oldest and most competitive teams. Because you will have kids that are chronologically the same age, but not necessarily biologically the same, coaching requires more than just skills and drills. It requires sensitivity, discipline, respect, communication and above all a good sense of humor. Here are some basic goals to strive for when coaching your team.

For teams less than 12 years old, focus on teaching the basic skills. Introduce ‘finesse’ skills slowly and one at a time, all the while ensuring that the basic skill is still being performed correctly.

Encourage and praise the performance of the team and the individual players, not so much on winning and losing. Many younger teams won’t even know what the score was, so why remind them? A “Team Talk” after every practice and game is a great way to communicate with the team AND individual players.

Respect every child, and they will develop respect for you.

Challenge yourself to have every kid experience some level of success at every practice and game. Let them know that you are proud of them for their effort, accomplishment, concentration, discipline etc…

Try to use skill development exercises and drills that foster teamwork and cooperation, not competition amongst the players. You’ll have enough trouble with this without encouraging it further.

Talk to the parents. They can do wonders to UNDO everything you try to teach if you don’t communicate your expectations of the team and their child with them.

Six Fundamentals of Coaching


Fun! Since when was a baseball game supposed to be fun? If your players aren’t making 2 million a year, then why do they play? For 4 to 8 year olds, they play completely for fun. For players 10 to 12 years olds, they play for competitive fun, and beyond that, it is mostly for the competition and camaraderie.

Fitness. It is your charge to instill among your players a lifetime appreciation of cardiovascular exercise and fitness. This goes way beyond hard pec’s and pumped calves. It means developing a fit mind, spirit and body. Always include warm-up and conditioning exercises in your practice sessions, and NEVER use running laps, sit-ups, push-ups or any other physical activity as punishment. The player will begin to associate punishment with exercise. And this is bad.

Teamwork. Young players are very egotistical or ‘me’ oriented and have very little awareness of the team or ‘us’. So try to balance your team by equalizing skills, sizes and abilities. Having strong players ‘mentor’ less skilled players can help the less-skilled player greatly, and you never know, you might just have introduced life-long friends! And always discuss skill-development one-on-one with each player, not in front of the other players. This keeps the kids from comparing themselves to each other and fostering even more competition.

Skills. Depending on the age of your team, you will have to modify the information you teach. For instance, force-out can be really tough for some T-Ball players to understand. Be sure to prepare your sessions in advance. Practice and review previously taught skills, then introduce and practice new skills. Encourage other skills in your “Team Talks”, such as communication and decision-making skills.

Diversity. Your team will most likely have good players, OK players and a novice player or two. You’ll have players from high-income families and players from low-income families. You may have White players, Black players, Hispanic players, Indian players, etc…. You’ll have some Catholics, Baptist, Methodists, etc… But it doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter. If it does matter to you, you may want to think about your desire to coach. You must treat every kid as an equal, regardless of any of these other factors. And you’ll teach your kids the same, something they may not get from their family life.

Respect. Your leadership and example will instill most of these points. For them to respect themselves, they must feel good about themselves. So, a little praise for minor or major accomplishments goes a long way, and guarantees their respect for you.

  • Respect for the game.
  • Respect for themselves. This encourages them to take responsibility for their behavior.
  • Respect for you, the coach. You will foster this by listening and respecting them.
  • Respect for the other players and other teams. Encourage and praise players that unselfishly contribute to the whole team.
  • Respect for the Rules. Life is full of rules, so it’s easier to learn this sooner than later.
  • Respect for the Officials. I know, I know, this depends on the officials. If you have a disagreement with an official, talk about it after the game, or out of sight of the player.

Academy Philosophies


The fundamental difference between TBA and most clubs in an amateur environment is our attitude and approach to coaching and development of players. We develop and invest in the individual and that in turn helps the team. We also believe that Injuries last longer than trophies do, so we will never overplay a player or any such thing.

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