Expectations of a Coach
The easiest way to predict whether a Little League team is going to have a positive and successful season is to listen to the expectations of the coach.
Coaches, it is critical to set goals and expectations that are reachable and focused on the developing your players and the team.
When you are talking to your team be careful not to use “I” statements. Here are a few I have heard; “I want to win the league this year.” ...or… “I have always had a winning season, and I expect you to give me another one.” …or… “I expect you to win today and so do your parents…don’t let me down.” …or… “I can’t believe you are not blowing these guys away today…you are embarrassing me out there.”
You see, coaching a Little League team is not supposed to be about you. You can’t go out on the diamond to field a ball, pitch or step up to the plate to hit, so how can you get credit for a win? I have never seen wins and losses recorded next to a coach’s name in the league standings and I hope I never do. Winning and losing is what teams do and as you know there are so many things that influence the outcome of a game and most are completely out of your control.
The longer you coach the more you realize winning looks after itself, so just step up and support your team on game day and enjoy watching your players compete.
Here is how I set and shared my expectations with the Little League teams that I worked with:
First, you don’t have to tell your players that one of your goals is to win. The players already have that one covered, they want to win every game and the championship.
Each pre-season I would work with my assistant coaches and assess the talent and experience on our team. Then we would estimate the number of wins we believed the team could achieve during the season and set our expectations accordingly. Here are a couple of typical scenarios coaches will experience:
Scenario #1 - Setting expectations for a team with average talent and experience
We have a look at the team and predict we should end up in the middle of the pack and win about eight games in a 16-game schedule. Knowing this, we would set expectations at a level we are pretty sure the team will reach. I would tell the players; “Given our experience…and how solid the other teams are in the league… “I am going to be excited and proud you guys when we win our fourth game”. If you pick a goal that is well within reach you take the pressure off the players. In this case your team will probably meet your goal of winning four games early in the season. When that happens, I let them know how excited I am and we have a little mid-season celebration. Of course you have bigger goals and so do the players (and their parents) but approaching team goals this way builds confidence and momentum early on and will likely spur them on to several more victories during the balance of the season.
Scenario #2 - Setting expectations for a team with lots of talent and experience
The toughest team to coach, by far, is the team that is favored to win the league championship. I use the same approach and set expectations at a level that I know the team would reach. If I had a team with lots of experience, several of the best players in the league, with solid pitching and hitting I would set my expectations at winning eight games of a 16-game schedule. In this case we should be able to celebrate the eighth win as a team well before the end of the season and then go out and get more wins and build some momentum for the playoffs.
Over the years, I have learned, it is a big mistake to set expectations too high, especially when you think you have a great team. If the team performs below the coach’s expectations everyone gets frustrated. The coach, players and parents and it is no fun for anyone. In Scenario #2, coaches often fall into the trap of saying things like; “This is our year to win the championship.” Players interpret anything short of winning the championship as a total failure, and it shouldn’t be. A team could go 16-0 and lose a close playoff game on an unlucky bounce or when they run into a hot team and they feel like losers. Going 17-1 is a tremendous year and goes way beyond the expectation of 8-8. Of course players are always disappointed when they lose but should be very proud of their accomplishment.
Coaches, remember players are very motivated to reach your expectations as long as they are within reach and at the same time are never limited by them.
Baseball tips for coaches and players
Provided by Jeff Waggoner, Assistant Coach for NC State Baseball
March 14, 2006
These are a few basic guidelines which you can use to make your team mentally sharp and fundamentally sound.
Setting up phone tree or other form of communication branch helps keep your parents informed of any changes in practice or games schedules. One option is a team message center. You can create your own for your team.
Each year, Villa Park Little League coordinates clinics for coaches of all levels. The clinics cover the development of players on both mental and physical levels. For information on this year's clinics - go to the League Info page.
Practice time is when skills, knowledge and sportsmanship are taught. Young players are limited in their mental bandwidth, so practices should be well planned and efficient. Break practices up into individual drill stations versus conducting a one hour scrimmage. Limit stations to small, manageable groups and rotate stations every 8-10 minutes.
- It's all in the hands: Teams that win know how to handle the baseball. Practice catching and throwing on a consistent basis.
- Don't worry about the numbers: Here at NC State we preach quality at-bats--don't get hung up on numbers. If you go up and hit the ball hard, that's all you can do. You've done your job. You can't control the results.
- I gotta be me: Coaches--Be careful not to clone players! Each player has a style all their own. It's your job to work within that style to make them the best player possible.
- When the going gets tough: One of the best ways to help you get out of a slump is to practice tracking the baseball in live bullpens. Keep your head still and keep it simple.
Managing a Little League team requires organization. Field practices, batting cage time, and game preparation are all part of delivering a quality experience to the kids. Below are some resources that may help you in managing or coaching your VPLL team.
- Sample Practice Schedule
- Sample Field Roster
Tips and Drills
Player's skills develop more rapidly by repetitions of 'good' actions. Ensure each player is receiving an adequate number of repetitions each practice. Following are some tips and drills to help.
- Fielding Drills
- Fielding A Ground Ball
- Swing Finish Tip
- Pitching Tip