Monday, July 11, 2011

Coaching Kids - New Column Today

"You're killing me, Smalls!"
The official youth baseball season has ended and along with it ends my coaching stint for this year. Our team had our ups and downs, wins and losses, sunshine and rain, but there are some constants that remain true. Constants that are not in the rule books but hold true to coaching kids. Here's my latest newspaper column full of advice for grown-ups who coach kids. (Take it for what it's worth, and with a grain of salt, of course.)

Here's the original column on the newspaper's site.
Coaching baseball is more than creating a line-up, standing in the dugout, and offering the occasional word of encouragement or correction.

But coaching Little League baseball?

Sure, you got your line-ups, dugouts, and positive words, but working with kids brings a whole 'nother dimension.

The Little League coaching recipe starts with instruction. Add a handful of inspiration and a dash of imagination. Allow for imperfection and inattention. Use imitation as desired.

And hope it doesn’t end with indigestion.

The 2011 Edition of Official Baseball Rules is 130 pages and over 50,000 words. I checked at MLB.com. The Official Little League Rule Book comes in at a total of 125 pages.

Yet these are incomplete documents. Coaches flipping through these books can find their fill of instruction, but the remaining coaching ingredients are severely lacking within their pages.

So I’m offering an unofficial rule book addendum -- not rules necessarily -- but guidelines. It's information needed by grown-ups to successfully coach kids, all conveniently concentrated to 1 page and 500 words, and all available free. With my compliments.

Guideline #1: All equipment besides a player’s hat, glove, and cup is provided by the team and available in the dugout, yet batters will occasionally enter the on-deck circle without a helmet or bat.

Guideline #2: Players can lose their hat and glove in less than half an inning.

Guideline #3: Players never lose their cup. This is due to its proximity to other valuable possessions and the tendency for players to repeatedly demonstrate their cup’s effectiveness with their knuckles.

Guideline #4: The outfield is little more than a prairie. Prairies have grass, weeds, holes, crickets, moths, and the occasional squirrel. In this environment baseballs will drop from the sky unnoticed.

Guideline #5: Nobody understands the infield fly rule, and simple misdirection will help you avoid explaining it to an inquisitive youngster. Try replying “How many outs are there?” or “Have you seen your hat?”

Guideline #6: A squibber that travels halfway to first and barely stays fair can be more significant than a screaming line drive to the gap. It all depends on the player who hits it.

Guideline #7: Never be comfortable when your pitcher has an 0-2 count on the hitter. Balls are like parade candy -- readily available and freely given.

Guideline #8: Any player who hits a weak ground ball to shortstop, is safe at first and advances to second on an overthrow, takes third when the pitcher drops the ball, and races for home when the pitcher’s throw to third goes into the dugout, will claim to have hit a home run. Mark it accordingly in the score book.

Guideline #9: Support the concession stand. The money is needed for extra hats.

Guideline #10: Sunflower seeds are not only a cheek-filling, spit-inducing, baseball snack, but make great rapid-fire artillery to launch at unsuspecting teammates in the dugout. It’s best to just stay out of range.

Guideline #11: All’s well that ends well. As long as there’s ice cream. And everyone leaves with their hat.

2 comments:

Portia said...

I loved this post. It made me laugh out loud and even created a couple tears of laughter. As a mother of two Little Leaguers and a coach's wife, I could relate to all of it. Thank you for a good laugh at the end of a very long Little League season.

Brian said...

Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad to hear that other leagues are the same as the one I coached in and that other parents and coaches share the same experiences.

Thanks also for stopping by the site. Hopefully the upcoming posts are just as entertaining and/or informative.

Until then, keep your glove on the ground, your eye on the ball, your hat within view, and your cup ... ah, never mind.

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