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Vital Baseball Coaching Strategies

Coaching kids baseball. Former MLB Mark Eichorn pitching for Salinas Packers sidearm style.

Creating baseball coaching strategies for high school and youth baseball is simple. Develop youth baseball players to someday have an opportunity to play for your local high school baseball team.

All the youth league baseball teams are your local minor league development system. Your farm system for youth baseball.

The local high school team is the major league team. This is how you approach your local youth baseball development system.

From AAA to the Big Leaguer

Once the players reach high school they would enter AAA level baseball. The freshman and Junior Varsity teams are the AAA team to have players ready for the Varsity when needed.

This is the last step before moving up the ‘SHOW’ as they say in the movie Bull Durham. The ‘SHOW’ in this case is the varsity baseball team.

A Chance to Play on the Varsity

I had a freshmen 9th grade player one year that almost quit on me. I had to play my trump card to talk him to staying. This kid was a pretty good player that I could project as someone who could be a starter on the varsity in his junior and senior year.

He got in a tizzy over something dumb one day at freshman team practice and said he wasn’t going to play anymore. His family was first generation immigrants and worked hard in the lawn maintenance business.

Alex put the minimum effort in his school work and his family let him play baseball but would have rather had him work in the family business after school. I knew I had one shot at talking him into sticking with high school baseball.

Playing in the Local Big Leagues

I asked my athletic director if he would ask the principal if he would take a few minutes to talk to Alex. I needed to play my trump card and bring in a heavy hitter.

They both agreed so I took Alex over to the principal. The principal sat Alex down and explained how much he would be giving up if he quit now. He told him, “You will be playing out there in the ‘big field’ under the lights in a couple years and you don’t want to miss out on that.

The principal even laid it out in a little Spanish as they both spoke fluent Spanish. My trump card worked and Alex stuck it out and four years later was our leadoff hitter, extra pitcher and starting right fielder on our championship ballclub. I had to ride him pretty good to stay eligible in the classroom but it turned out good for everyone.

Now, if Alex was a bad kid, lazy or not really into baseball I would have just let him disappear his freshman year and let him ride a lawnmower for his dad. Alex was worth keeping on our baseball team for four years and I’m thankful that Principal Henry was able to see it the same way I did.

The message that Alex heard was, “How can you give up the chance to play in the ‘high school major leagues?” This is the baseball coaching strategy I used to keep Alex around baseball.

Local Major League Baseball

My baseball coaching strategy is to let all the youth league and high school players that the local varsity team is the local major league baseball team.

Now the players are obviously not pros or even college players—I am just making a comparison that in a small way on the local neighborhood level that the local high school team is the neighborhood major league team. That is what the local kids should be shooting for.

That is the target for baseball parents, youth league officials and local players. Unfortunately reality is that only around 10% of youth level baseball players will reach the high school level. Knowing this it is still one of the top baseball coaching strategies to put in place in your local youth baseball leagues.

Playing to Win is Okay

Once we reach the high school varsity we can really focus more on winning baseball games. Not that you ever quit developing, but this is a level where we play to win.

The best kids will play the most. Trying to win the league title and make the post season playoffs is a worthy goal and tradition to build on. All youth baseball teams below the varsity level will focus mainly on player development first—winning is secondary.

How to Deal With Playing Time

Often playing time can get very touchy at the varsity baseball level. You commonly will see a senior player think they have paid their dues and deserve to play most of the time since they are ‘seniors’.

Yet an underclassman is might be a better player. This can become very embarrassing and humiliating for some kids to sit on the bench and let a younger player get the playing time. Some seniors will lash out, pout and often quit rather than go through the embarrassment.

Plus, mom and dad are barking and complaining behind your back and at home thinking the same thing that their little child senior player should automatically get playing time because of seniority.

What baseball coaching strategies does a coach use? Communication will be your only chance to work it out. Pull the player aside and try to sell them on the reality of limited playing time. You want them to know they are still valuable in how they lead and stay positive around the younger players.

Push their value to the ballclub as a leader. This might work and might not. Egos are tough to keep tamed down at times. Be honest and let them know that we are going to try to win some games and play the best players. We will get you in the line-up when we can but you are really going to have to battle for playing time.

These are baseball coaching strategies that are proven to work or at least make managing players run a little smoother.

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