Quality baseball coaching is few and far between, which is why seeking multiple sources when you want your kid to get good information is imperative. When it is time to get on the field and if you’re going to pay the fees, might as well know the signs of what’s good and what’s bad when it comes to training.
If your kid comes home with an aching arm three weeks in a row and the manager or the coach acts like it’s your fault, this is a red flag. You are entrusting your young player with these people, if they don’t have enough sense to put your kid on the field safely, you’ve got a problem. If you catch shade from them and not an open, honest discussion about what’s happening at practice, pull your kid out right away and find another training program.
Drills, drills, and more drills – they are the cornerstone of training. Proper hitting, catching, throwing, running, every role on and off the field is unique and has its own rules and traditions. Maybe the training staff is not the best, but mechanics are mission critical, there’s just no way around it. If what’s being taught is your coach’s personal pitching strategy from the late 80s then get out of there! Negligence and greed are horrible teachers. Ask the staff if they are showing video analysis to the players, and what they’ve been reading. If they don’t know what “arm lag”is, you are getting some pretty bad coaching.
Practices are Far from Perfect
Doing repetitive drills over and over again can feel stagnant, and it takes good training to make it feel like something other than a hamster wheel. Assistant coaches and managers should work with the coach to obliterate any stagnation when it comes to practices, the whole thing needs to be a well-oiled machine. Practices need to start on time, run like clockwork and end on time. Under NO circumstances (emergencies are obviously okay) should a coach ever leave practice early, this is a no-no and another red flag, showing that the kids and the game don’t have priority.
Willingness to Change
You should see your kid learning stuff that’s new and interesting about the game every week. Training should involve multiple strategies for game play, finding new ways to do old things, that’s part of the fun of baseball! You’re looking for flexibility and understanding, not rigid boring practices that feel about as fun as washing dishes or sweeping the floor. Training is about honing and helping skills blossom into full blown talent. A good training program consists of staff that knows how important they are to this development. The best kinds of teachers are the ones who know that they also have room to learn, that they are also capable of being taught, even by those they teach. Are your coaches willing to learn and to change?
You should have to attend meetings and sign clear concise contracts with the coach and the league. If you’re confused about where you need to be, what you need to do and what you need to pay for practices, training, gear and other expenses, and you’ve asked more than once, this is unacceptable. Tasks need to be delegated to parents and volunteers, practices and meetings need to start on time, and everyone needs to be held accountable, this is one of the hallmarks of a good training program.
What’s the Word?
Sure, kids are going to complain about practices, that’s the good ol’work ethic in place that baseball teaches. But are they complaining because their coach is tough (yet brilliant) or is their coach actually pretty crappy? Do you see a slow but steady list of good people and businesses affiliated with this team? There’s a difference between motivating kids with tough words and being outright abusive. Shop around and find training staff that has the respect of your community, they will know what you’re getting into and can give you great advice.
Parents and staff alike, as well as players, can make a cesspool out of game politics. Training for young athletes should have NO distractions from gossip such as who thinks what about whom, who are the fair-weather parents, who stole the new baseball glove, who missed two practices without warning, or which jealous fans are again accusing the coach of playing favorites. None of this has anything to do with the game, so any kind of baseball training that lets any of this stuff in is not a good training program.
The best training is not just the batting practices and routines before games. It should cover strength and conditioning activities that can be done throughout the whole year, not just around the baseball season. Typically good baseball coaches are very conscious of which part of the body must be developed more, for what reason, and how. Major league even includes meditation programs for their players for the mental awareness training. So look for the full program. Granted that is a lot to ask for at youth baseball level, but guess what, it takes a lot to be the best!