By Nick Pezzuto
1. BE ORGANIZED A good coach must have practice plans, and be thinking in advance as to what is to be accomplished and learned for that days practice. Kids will pick up on an unorganized coach and he will lose respect and focus from his players. Plan a week in advance of each practice and modify each plan according to what you need to get done.
2. DISCIPLINE No matter who breaks your rules, even your best player, you as the coach must act upon your preset punishment, and reprimand that player accordingly. Play no favorites, as hard as that may seem and you will win the respect and admiration of your team.
3. P.M.A. (POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE) Situations in baseball can get pretty bad, you're not hitting, your pitcher can't throw a strike etc. but you as the coach must remember to find a positive and rally around that point. Maybe your defense is outstanding or you're running the bases well, players need encouragement. Mistakes will undoubtedly happen; it's what you do as a coach during this time that will define your coaching ability. Take a negative, work on it, and put it to your team's advantage.
4. WINNING, IT'S NOT EVERYTHING Be a teacher of baseball first, then winning will take care of itself if you have prepared the team to play hard and always give their best efforts.
5. TEACH, LEARN & COMMUNICATE Players at all levels learn by listening and doing. Remember, telling a player to do something, he will forget, but TEACH a player by showing and they remember. When a player does something on their own with your instruction they have a tendency to do it better and remember much more. Here is a simple four word phrase that I and several other coaches use: TEACH, SHOW and DO. Teach them in theory, Show them on the field, have them Do it themselves. Communicating to a player and parent is also key. I have developed and used The Coaches Communication Plan. It is a step by step approach to assist the coach, the parent and the player in better communication and understanding.
6. IMPROVEMENT Emphasize your teaching and instruction by challenging all your players at any level to improve on their skills. Players want to improve, so as a coach, plan appropriately to accommodate them. This may require you to work on different drills for different players or stay later after a practice is finished. Be prepared to give of yourself and your time for overall team and individual success.
7. BE CARING Nobody likes the mean and grumpy coach that sits in the corner of the dugout barking out orders. Show the players that you care about them as individuals and that you believe each one is important to the team. Let them know what their roles and responsibilities are to the team. Take time as the coach to talk to players individually, ask them what is going on. Remember coaches, be human. You're not a good coach unless you can relate and understand your players, both on and off the field.
8. BE A GOOD SPORT Yes winning brings high fives and smiles, but instill in your players how to accept winning as well as losing. Your coaching of baseball will reflect on your players and if they show poor sportsmanship, what does that say about you, their coach!
9. DEALING WITH PARENTS I included parents in my top ten best baseball coaching tips because they are un-avoidable and setting a precedent early with them will help you as a coach. First, send home a congratulatory letter letting them know their son or daughter made the team. Explain your rules, philosophies, what is expected of them and their kids, put in practice and game schedules and put in a contact number so they can contact you if needed. Unfortunately, nothing will prevent a disgruntled parent from wanting to talk or yell at you for not playing their kid, but at least the letter will let them know first off, where you stand.
10. HAVE FUN Sometimes as coaches and parents we forget the whole reason we play this great game of baseball: To have fun. Coaches, you don't have to be a Drill Sergeant to teach baseball. Create a practice environment that is structured, varied and enjoyable. If you're having fun and so are the players, chances are they will learn more, quicker and with less complaints to you or their parents. I am not saying to create a circus atmosphere, but add variety to your regular drills ad stations to keep the level of excitement and fun.
Nick Pezzuto or Coach Pezzu as his kids call him is a 16 year veteran baseball coach and a high school business and technology teacher.