Possible Little League Coaching Strategies
It is often said that teams win a third of their games and loses a third of them, it is the outcome of the remaining third that is the difference between a winning and losing season. Maybe not completely true at the non-professional levels, but the point is that the difference at the youth levels often comes from the little league baseball coaching strategies employed. Maybe the best news with these little league baseball strategies is that kids play and bat in spots that they may not have, which keeps them and their parents happy.
Little league coaching strategies often differ from upper level approaches because of the wider range of playing abilities. Most little league teams consist of three or four solid players, three or four other good athletes whose main interest lies with other sports and three or four kids not very good and with little knowledge of baseball strategy. Because of that scenario, coaches have to be creative with their coaching in order to give their teams the best opportunity for success.
Coaches may have to experiment with some of these little league coaching strategies to see which best fits their team. Every team is different, so no one strategy fits all. It’s not like coaches should over analyze, but that is one of the most exciting areas of managing a team – figuring out the best little league coaching strategies to win. It is OK to play to win at the youth level as long as perspective is apparent, while avoiding the win at all cost philosophy. Additionally, knowledge of all the little league rules is necessary, so managers do not get called out for not following them, which may lead to forfeited games.
Of course, anytime coaches have an indication of the opposite teams strengths and weaknesses it helps set up their own game plan. Combining the knowledge of the opposing team with the strengths and weaknesses of their team helps develop a good game plan.
7 alternate little league coaching strategies to consider:
- The toughest decision is how to use the team’s best pitcher. Knowing little league pitching limits plays a part in how to use pitchers too. The decision comes down to whether it is best to pitch the best the whole game knowing they will be unavailable for the rest of the week’s games or spread them out and use them a few innings each game. The best scenario may be to use the best pitcher as a closer in all regular season games with the hopes of holding all leads or hoping for a late inning comeback against the oppositions weaker pitching. For the playoffs, it is best to start the best pitcher as each playoff game is crucial to winning.
- Use “small ball” efficiently and wisely. Most kids do not want to bunt very often, but bunting wins a lot of games by forcing teams into handling more balls in play, especially when facing a dominant pitcher. To stress the importance of bunting, having the team’s best hitters bunt early in the season is good for showing the rest of the team that it is not just the bad hitters who have to bunt in games.
- Using the best hitters in the best manner is also important little league baseball coaching plan. At the higher levels of baseball, the best hitters are in the two through five spots in the order, with the best one in the three hole. With little league baseball, it is often wise to place the best batter in the first or second spot and spread the better hitters out more to provide balance. This balanced lineup makes it more difficult for opposing coaches to plan out the pitching rotation, too.
- Defensive strategy also varies from the higher levels of baseball, as players should play multiple positions in little league. It is best to have the weaker players in the field when the pitcher with the most poise on the team pitches. Those type pitchers will not get too rattled when errors occur. Additionally, setting the defense up according to the pitcher’s strengths is good, too. For example, with a fast pitcher coaches can set their best players on the right side of the field with the majority of right handed batters. Additionally, when teams have a strikeout pitcher on the hill, coaches should then play the weaker defensive players, as opposed to when the opposition is more likely to put balls in play against another pitcher.
- Using the best glove player in the best way is also necessary. At the youth level, the first baseman is essential for getting outs as much as any other position, so coaches should have their best first baseman in games with the weaker pitchers on the mound.
- Another good little league coaching strategy is always to take the easiest out, even if it means letting the lead runner advance or one run scoring. Outs are critical at this level to avoid the monster inning that losses most games.
- Aggressive base running is usually best at this level, which puts the pressure on the defense.
Finally, the good and bad thing about youth baseball is that no lead or deficit is too much to hold or overcome, so little league coaching strategies make a difference.