Anyone who has coached youth baseball can tell you it’s a LOT harder than it looks.
From the top of the bleachers, sure it looks simple enough. Sub in kids. Give them some beginner-level advice. Maybe yell at the umpire "a few times".
But what you don’t see from the bleachers is 90% of what it takes to run a youth baseball team. You don’t see the administration, the dealing with parents, the practice planning, the dealing with parents, the offseason workouts, or the dealing with parents.
Okay, dealing with the parents isn’t THAT bad (ignorance is such sweet, sweet bliss).
For those of you either currently involved or anticipating involvement as a youth baseball coach, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you not only survive, but excel with your kids this season.
Whether you’re a fresh-faced newbie or a seasoned veteran, you’ll find something of value in this guide, as we cover every single facet of running a youth baseball team. Scroll down to start at the beginning or skip to a chapter of your choice using the table of contents menu in the navigation bar.
Every link in this guide is to freely available content, but since there are some incredible resources out there for less than $50, we made sure to link you to a few premium options we highly recommend as well – for those looking to dig even deeper.
Some people choose to be youth baseball coaches. Others have that responsibility thrust upon them. Either way, your first thought after the team is officially placed in your hands is probably something along the lines of... HELP ME!
There is so much to do before the season even starts, from creating practice plans to setting player expectations. Perhaps you even need to learn the official rules of your specific baseball league. Every little detail is important.
And what about volunteers? You’ll almost definitely want some official parent help along the way. How do you make that happen?
There’s a lot that goes into administering a youth baseball team. Here are a set of ready-to-go resources that break the whole process down, step by step.
So you’ve survived the admin and parents (thus far) and it’s finally time for your first practice!
Nothing is better than that first day out in the sun, finally practicing the sport itself. That is... if you know what you’re doing.
A great baseball practice really just comes down to understanding where your team is at and what they need to work on. Depending on the age group, you’ll also want to keep it as fun as possible while still helping the athletes improve their skills.
Finding the right mix between disciplined skills development and simple fun is the goal for any youth practice. With a bit of practice and an unavoidable bit of trial-and-error, you’ll figure it out, no problem. These resources will help you get there as quickly as possible.
Like any modern sport, you need some equipment to play baseball. And you need some extra equipment for certain practice drills as well.
Hopefully, you aren’t starting from scratch in this department, but if you are, we have you covered. We’ve even thrown in some fundraising tips (we got your back dawg).
But even if you have a wide selection of equipment already available, it’s good to be knowledgeable on what you’re using, what needs to be replaced, and what everything is for.
And for the love of all that is good and lovely, we hope your uniform style comes pre-selected for your team. You do NOT want control over that, trust us.
You. Do. Not. Want. That. Power.
But if it is forced upon you by the hand of fate, see the "How To Handle Parents" guide in Chapter #1.
It’s said that championship teams are built in the offseason. While this won’t apply to teams at every level, for older, more competitive teams, offseason workouts are an integral part of in-season performance.
We’ve included some great resources for both in-season and offseason workouts in this section. Always remember that safety is your number one concern, especially when working with young athletes.
It’s also important that young athletes aren’t pushed too hard until they are both physically and emotionally mature enough to handle it.
Injuries are the worst part of sports. At higher levels, they are somewhat unavoidable, even with proper care, but at the youth sports level, most injuries can be avoided with a solid pre-game warmup routine.
Warmups and cool downs help athletes keep their muscles in optimal condition. If done correctly, they can also be an enjoyable part of your kids’ game-day routine. Create a collection of warmup exercises your team will love using the following resources.
At the end of the day, coaching is all about helping kids improve their game. And that means helping them master the essential baseball skills.
Batting is one of the primary skills every young player needs, and the best way to help them improve is through teaching proper batting technique and running them through effective batting drills.
Batting is a full-body movement. From head to toe, every muscle contributes to a successful swing. These resources will help you teach your kids to drastically improve their batting game and maybe even master the art of the swing.
Pitching, like hitting, requires good technique, practice and body control. It’s important that you, as the coach, teach your kids the correct way to pitch and the correct way to rest the arm after pitching.
It’s also good to keep in mind that pitching is one of the more difficult skills for young athletes to learn, which is why tee-ball is preferred for younger ages. Be patient and prioritize proper form over immediate results.
For youth baseball, fielding is the most important part of your team’s defensive effort. If your kids can’t field the ball, your team won’t go anywhere. The single best way to coach up a winning youth baseball team is to minimize errors on game-day.
Like batting and pitching, training your kids to field well consists of demonstrating the proper technique and then drills, drills, drills, drills, and more drills!
Teach fielding to your team first and practice it as often as possible. You can use any of the fantastic drills and strategies outlined in the below resources. Whatever you do, trust us when we say that it’s impossible to over-practice fielding.
It all comes down to this. You’ve practiced. You’ve prepared. You’ve maybe even cried a little (this is a judgement-free zone).
It’s GAME DAY!
As head coach, you are responsible for managing every aspect of this game, from pre-game warmups to post-game snacks. Whatever you do, DON’T FORGET THE SNACKS!
You’re in charge of an entire team. The key is to stay organized and have fun. Simply understanding the basic framework is half the battle, and if you completely screw up game #1, you’ll be a seasoned veteran by game #2.