Coaching a high school baseball team can be a daunting task. There’s a lot that goes into the sport and coaching as a whole. Being a coach for a high school student means that you’re their guide, their mentor, and their key to athletic success.
Sometimes, coaching a high school baseball team can be tough. Check out these tips on coaching high school kids so that you can be the mentor these kids will look up to and remember for years.
1. Show patience
There is absolutely nothing more emotionally frustrating to a player that has an impatient coach. Baseball players (especially high school) need a coach that is willing to show them how a play should be performed without expecting them to get it right on their first try. Instead, show the players how something should be performed, watch them attempt it, and constructively criticize them in a positive manner.
Throwing your hat into the dirt and screaming at your players will not make them the best they can be. Compliment them on what they did right and strategically criticize what they did wrong.
By overreacting to minor errors in performance, this shows a rapid decline in player-coach connection and leads to embarrassment for the athlete.
2. Improvise and Adapt
Not all players react to the same style of coaching. Throughout the pre-season and regular season, each year, you’ll develop a new set of relationships that you will have to actively manage with your players. You’ll learn player’s strengths and weaknesses. You’ll also learn how to coach them individually. This is something that will come naturally for most.
Some people are visual learners…some can do just fine with a quick verbal instruction. It’s your job as the coach to assess which player’s react positively to each method of coaching.
3. Accept Constructive Criticism – Even from your Players!
Your high school players are going to be criticized by you on a daily basis – That’s what coaches do! But, when a player opens up to you to let you know what you’re doing might not be helping the athlete in the most direct way, it’s important to listen.
By developing effective paths of communication from the player to the coach, your trust and chemistry grows tremendously. This is extremely powerful for meaningful coaching sessions later on.
4. Coach the Person not the Athlete
By connecting to your players on a personal level, it leads to a much better connection than you had before. By coaching the person behind the glove, you create a pathway that is immeasurable to your coaching success. As mentioned before, by opening up these doors of communication, you reach out to the individual at a deeper level. By doing so, you can effectively coach the athlete at a deeper level than before.
5. Create an Exciting Environment
If you’re a coach, you’ve played baseball in your time. And just like anyone else, you know that practices can be a real drag sometimes. By creating a fun and exciting practice environment, you can keep your athletes engaged.
Don’t be afraid to throw in some fun practice drills every once in a while. It’s important to keep the sport fun for the players. In my time, I have seen so many poor coaches hound their players day in and day out. It leads to an exhaustive state for these high school students.
By creating a stiff environment, you limit your coaching ability. Let the players do what they signed up for — Have fun.
6. Show Faith in Your Players – They Show Faith in You
Plenty of high school coaches make the mistake of not putting faith into their players. It’s extraordinarily important that you do not give up on your players. After all, they have faith in you.
By displaying trust in your athletes, it creates another powerful pathway of trust. This is crucial to your team’s success later down the road. Develop the faith now, reap the rewards later. Your players have been coached well by you, so let them play.
7. Don’t Over Coach
You don’t always need to open your mouth on the field. Sometimes it’s okay to let your athletes swing at a ball in the dirt. You don’t need to hound them for it every time it happens. They know what they did wrong in these kind of situations.
By constantly yelling the entire game, it leads to overthinking, which can degrade performance.
8. Don’t be afraid to say “I Don’t Know.”
Your players trust you as the sole expert on the field. You’re the oldest one out there, and it’s your job to lead these athletes to greatness. However, sometimes you aren’t the sole expert on the field. If a player asks you a question that you have no idea what the answer is, don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know.
It’s much more powerful to say that you don’t know than to lie about an answer. It only hurts both parties involved.
If there is something that you don’t know the answer to, it is your job to own up to it and show up to the next practice with an answer.
9. Keep Injured Players Involved
Throughout my years as a coach, I see many other coaches ignore their injured players. This is a common thing, but it’s not totally hard to understand. After all, these players are of no value at the moment. They take up space on the bench.
But, what happens when the player comes back from their injury? They’re completely isolated from what’s been going on with the team for the past X amount of weeks.
It’s incredibly important to keep every member of the team actively involved with everything going on. This does not mean that I make my injured players field ground balls all practice. But, what I do is ask them to help with soft toss, or other drills that the player can safely help with.
10. Watch Your Body Language
This is a big one. You’ve got to watch your body language. Sometimes, your body can talk louder than your words can. People can pick up on this and so can your athletes.
If your player misses an easy ground ball right between his legs, do not wait for him to come back to the dugout, let him know that he’ll get it next time, and roll your eyes.
Sometimes you don’t know that you’re doing these gestures, but they can be detrimental to your athlete’s future. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
11. Take Time to Learn who Your Athletes Are
This is another huge point that helps create a better relationship between the coach and player. By learning who your high school athletes are outside of the baseball diamond, you can create powerful connections that increase chemistry.
12. Concentrate on the performance not the outcome
Always focus on the performance of your players. Sometimes, a loss is out of your control. There have been several games that my teams have outperformed the other team (at least I thought) and still lost the game. It’s important to keep these factors into account because they help you make valuable coaching decisions down the road.
Were there things that could have been improved? What were they? These are questions that you can ask yourself as you prepare for the high school teams next on-field practice.
13. Last year’s programs produce last year’s results
As a coach, it’s easy to focus on the improvement of player’s skills each and every year to win games. While this is true, coaches have to change too. If your program isn’t up to par, you’re most likely going to create the same outcome that you had last year.
You’ve got to always be getting better. There is no excuse for this one. Far too many times have I seen high school baseball coaches become complacent with their programs. They’re old, they don’t work, and they produce losing seasons. You’ve got to get just a little bit better each and every season.
14. Know the Rules
This one may come as a shock to many, but you’d be surprised at how many coaches don’t know the actual rules of baseball. You’ve got to learn the ins and outs of this game if you want to be a good coach.
15. Don’t be Afraid to Joke Around, When Appropriate
Sometimes, the game of baseball can be stressful. While coaching a high school baseball team, you’ve got to keep in mind that these athletes have lives outside of the baseball diamond. They have homework and social problems just like you had in high school.
Keeping the diamond light hearted with jokes and fun from time to time can be a good way for players to reduce stress. Baseball is meant to be fun, so let’s keep it that way.
16. Sportsmanship is Your #1 Friend
Creating a good baseball player can be dependent on this trait. No body likes a sore loser. They don’t cooperate with their teammates and they’re a distraction to other players.
Teaching your high school athletes, from the start, that good sportsmanship is a necessity if they want to move to the next level and make a break their career. Lead by example and always display solid sportsmanship.
Player’s with poor sportsmanship lack discipline, and this can be attributed to your coaching methods. While not always an effective method of coaching ability, this can undermine your reputation as a high school baseball coach.
17. Don’t Pick Favorites
This is a quick way to get on the bad side of your players — Which you don’t want. Picking the star player to be one of your favorites who you give all of your attention to is detrimental to your team’s season. Giving less attention to the less gifted athletes make them perform worse and minimized their ego.
I’ve seen this happen in high schools year after year. It’s heartbreaking to see a kid with so much potential get pushed aside by their coach for the star player. You’ve got to treat each player equally. It leads to a well-rounded team.
18. Practice with a Purpose
Unorganized practices are a good way to waste time and diminish your team’s potential. Practice time ought to be set out to pinpoint weaknesses with the team’s fundamentals.
Pick 1 or 2 areas to focus on with each practice. You’ve got to find 2 areas in which the team needs to work on at maximum. Any other areas of practice can be distracting. Focus on mistakes your players make in the prior game.
19. Work With Your Assistant Coach
Working with your assistant coach has to be top of your list. This person is your sidekick all season. It’s critical that you and your assistant coach are on the same page. From your practice fundamentals to your coaching philosophy, you’ve got to communicate your vision with the assistant coach.
It’s a good idea to get together with your assistant coach 1-on-1 at least once a week to touch base to discuss areas of weakness on the team that you can pinpoint together.
20. Know Your Coaching Philosophy
Developing a coaching philosophy will make your decision making easier for every time you face adversity. By defining your coaching objectives, you can easily determine what your coaching philosophy is.
Why did you choose to be a coach? Why are my players participating? What do you stand for as a coach?
These questions are critical in understanding your role as the coach on your team. Think about these questions long and hard to determine what your goals are. This will change the way you think about coaching a high school baseball team.
21. Create a Team Cheer and Do it Often
This creates team connectiveness. Some coaches think they’re cheesy, but I think they’re pretty powerful.
22. Face the sun, take a knee and be brief
This is something the head coach told me while I was an assistant coach at the age of 26. I’m 49 now, and this has stuck with me ever since.
When you’re talking to your athletes, get onto their level by taking a knee, so you can literally and figuratively see eye-to-eye. Find the sun, and make sure you’re facing into it so they are not. Then make the most of the 30 to 60 seconds you’ve got their attention. Six 60-second conversations with your players at a practice are much better than two 5-minute conversations.
23. Always Leave on a Positive Note
At the end of practice, or even at the end of a game resulting in a loss, it’s important to leave your players on a positive note. If the game ends in a loss, tell them that there were some good aspects of the game, but there were some things you need to work on – as a team- at practice next week.
If you’re hounding your players after a tough loss, it doesn’t boost morale. I’ve seen much better spikes in performance bouncing back from a tough loss by simply leaving on a positive note.
24. Interact With the Parents
This can be overlooked by many high school baseball coaches. By interacting with the parents, you can help inspire relationships with your athlete’s family. This will help you learn a little bit more about them.
This can also be a powerful tool to assess what home life might be like for the high school student. Is it dangerous? Is it uplifting? These are things that can help you coach your player better.
25. You’re a Human Being – Don’t Be Afraid to Show It
I like ending on this one because I find it to be one of the most difficult aspect for coaches to think about. It’s easy for a coach to think he/she has to be a perfect person. But, It’s important to realize that you’re only human. Mistakes on the field happen, and they’re not something to put yourself down for.