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Fall Baseball – A Great Time To Really Coach

Fall Baseball – A Great Time To Really Coach!

A few random thoughts on making Fall Ball a bit better experience!
*You may want to read the note at the end of this article

I believe that your ability to communicate will always make your life and your team a better experience. Nothing new so far, right?

Fall baseball is the time when teaching and learning, hopefully in a fun environment, may fight the demons of your competitive side. We like to say that it is fall ball so we are not going to win at all costs, BUT… it is hard not trotting out your stud pitchers at every opportunity… especially if you have history with some of your competition! The risk of looking like a weenie or your team getting crushed can be overwhelming!

Well coach, here’s a few thoughts to keep you on the straight and narrow and possibly allow you to retain some of your dignity (and your won-loss record).

1st – You Need To Have The Come To Jesus Meeting!
You have dads in the stands (and players, dependant on age) who are just as competitive as you. Your goals for this fall season must be outlined in an initial meeting with parents and players (this is two separate meetings for some teams).

You must be abundantly clear regarding your thoughts on winning, which I always encourage, but that playing well and marked improvement from beginning to end of this season are the real barometers.

IF THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE TO ANY PARENT, they don’t get it and should be best advised to find another team.

2nd – You are The Man
You, coach, are the guy who is giving your time and doing your best to help an entire team of other people’s kids to do their best. And trust me on this one, if the kids aren’t having fun, you had better change your ways fast… or you are missing the reason you should be doing this in the first place! So, in general…keep it fun!

And to a player, what could be more fun than to finally have a coach who gave them a chance to earn the position they have dreamed about. Learn to pick your spots, be honest with the younger kids who you know may be in harms way, and be aware of when you can and can’t do this. If your heart is in the right place…you will know!

We talk about how kids simply don’t play games anymore…by themselves, without adults. Well, one of the great things about the pick up games we used to play was that kids eventually got to play most or all the positions. Today, without fall ball…when and how are they going to learn these positions?
We Play Baseball – We don’t work baseball!

3rd - More On Having Fun
If it isn’t fun, why would any kid want to do this? They are kids! No matter what the age and skill level, especially as they get older, they have a lot of choices. Keep ‘em in the game!

Face it… most of the world doesn’t think baseball with autumn in the air. It’s football, back to school, etc. So, any kid who is on a baseball field in September is telling you…I REALLY LIKE (or love) THIS GAME! Don’t you chase them away!

No matter what their present skill level, those skills may change... and fast!
I cannot tell you how many kids I have had in the Fall who grow and get stronger by Spring. What a shame it would be if I was the one who discouraged a kid just as we was finally able to physically do what he couldn’t just a few short months ago!

So, again, play ‘em where they think they can play, along with where you already know they can play. If they stink, don’t worry,

they will know it before you do.

Always remember… Players get better. Help them make it happen!

Tough Tip – Bench your kid in game one and maybe other games too
Many amateur coaches have their own son, their “favorite player” on the team. If you simply keep your son on the bench for the first innings of your first game, it will display to all that you are indeed sticking to your guns about playing time, new position opportunities, etc.

Hint – Consider making your son your bench coach to show him that this is not punishment- you certainly can make this a pact between he and you alone. Sit him right next to you in the dugout and give him a real duty such as watching and helping position your defenses or maybe giving you a few quick tips on upcoming batters he may know – get creative. Show him you trust and need him! – Build a memory along with a team.

You can even hold out another of your better players too. Refrain from also placing your frontline players in the positions they always play in the first inning.

Your lesser players will play for you and maybe pay huge dividends come spring! The fact is that you may not be able to make all-stars out of all-stars. They will do most of that by themselves. But you sure can turn the lousy player into an average player, the average player into a very good player. This even happens in pro ball, just check out Marcus Giles, a former 53rd round draft pick, who is now an all-star second baseman for the Atlanta Braves.

Finally, remember that almost every World Series winner has one guy who unexpectedly made a difference. Team guys who were not all-stars or superstars! Remember the names Bucky Dent, Craig Counsell, Gene Tenace, Aaron Boone, Mark Lemke, David Eckstein, and Jim Leyritz?

So, take the high road, even if and when others do not. It is their loss...and their players are who ultimately pay the price with a lack of improvement or leaving the game prematurely. It’s not “daddyball”, it’s just smart fall ball!

Take some risks, show some courage, park your ego, then kick some butt on the scoreboard! You may end up getting more out of this experience than your players!

*Note: This article is aimed and read by many coaches and players of many age and skill levels. If your fall schedule is a win-at-all-cost league, some of this article is not for you. With that said, enter these leagues knowing that your players may be missing some very important instructional time for the long term, possibly even contributing to their premature departure from this greatest of games. After all, when do you allow a player to try a new position or switch hit or break out a new pitch…if not in the fall?
Exceptions – If you are coaching a group of prospects looking to the coming year’s pro draft and/or college ball, your goals are obviously different. Much of the above still applies, however you certainly will play these players at their positions of greatest potential.

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About the Author
Coach John Peter, presently aged 50 something, is a lifelong student of the
greatest game on earth.
After being asked to find a more suitable occupation at age 26, many seasons
after donning his first uni at age 7, he has transcended his skills into the
much more important role of coach and especially as an instructor! He prides
himself as never having charged any player or coach for a single lesson!

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