Preseason Baseball Sets Stage for a Smooth Season
The preseason baseball time of year seems to begin earlier each year, and I am not talking about major league baseball. The offseason for youth baseball leagues has diminished over time to where preseason baseball training starts even before the major league teams do. That may be unfortunate, but it is what it is, and everyone must prepare for the upcoming spring training and baseball season.
There was a time not too long ago when coaches, players, and parents did not have to prepare much for the season. Coaches announced when the first day of baseball practice was in late spring, mom or dad got the young, excited ballplayers there and the season was off and running. Oh for those simple days again. Now, coaches and players have much more planning to do if they expect to have a smooth season to come. The preseason begins almost when fall baseball ends and the important “must dos” for next year begin almost right away.
Baseball coaches, especially those who are coaching for the first time, have the most important role before the first practices begin. Failing to do many of the below things will lead to headaches the season long – guaranteed. Below are some key essentials that coaches should do.
Coach’s Preseason Baseball Tips
- Have a preseason baseball meeting with the team parents only. At this adult get together, everyone should discuss the following. Notice that I said discuss. Coaches who only lay the law down on the way they will run things will run into trouble later on, even if the parents seem to understand at the beginning. Coaches must allow parents to voice their opinions on certain things. Along with this back and forth input, coaches should have a note taker so that they can have proof of decisions for later in the season.
At this meeting, here are some suggestions to be addressed and agreed upon by all:
- How baseball positions are chosen – coaches should ask parents to have kids come with a list of the three places on the diamond their sons or daughter like to play. At the first practice or two, players audition at those spots. Coaches than decide as a group who looked best where.
- Whether equal playing time is mandatory or not. I believe it should be for all youth teams before the age of thirteen but it must be decided early on.
- Explain the no harassment rule – players will not be allowed to disrespect another and parents are responsible for giving that message to their kids.
- Find out who has personal coaches. That will help coaches know how to work with players.
- How missed practices for non- illness or injury will be handled – penalized with losing playing time or not? Fairness is a tricky area with regard to this.
- The financial situation with the following questions answered. Who is in charge of the team’s money? Is it necessary to have two signatures required before checks can be sent out? Are monthly accounting statements necessary? What optional things do parents want to pay for like team jackets, bags, and a team website? What do parents want to do about extra possible costs that could occur later if teams advance further than expected in tournaments and season-ending travel is necessary?
- How and when coaches can be approached about concerns during the season. Coaches must emphasize that they are willing to talk to parents at the appropriate times and the importance of coming to them first without creating issues with other parents.
- Explain the in-game conduct you expect from players and fans.
- Express the importance of the coaches making the in-game decisions without second guessing from the parents
- Get out of the gate with the best Coaches must be prepared to inspire players at the beginning with productive and fun practices. This preparation should include interesting talks, useful drills, and competitive workouts. Failing to captivate kids from the beginning can lead to a long season ahead. Getting players enthused about going to practices, not just games, is the key to effective coaching.
- Remember the three keys to coaching excellence.
Caring – working so that each player improves and feels as a vital member of the team.
B. Patience – knowing the game of baseball is difficult and players will improve at different rates.
C. Enthusiasm – coaches have to “bring it to get it” from the players.
Parents also have some preseason baseball responsibilities. They must commit to the following things
Parent’s Preseason Baseball Tips
- Give their kids responsibilities. Parents should not do everything for players. They should have the young ones gather and be responsible for bringing their gear, knowing when practices are and talk to coaches themselves about minor playing issues. Letting them know that you expect them to look forward to practices, give their best in games and appreciate their coaches is also important.
- Appreciate the coaching staff’s commitment, too. Parents should not second guess the coach’s moves. They should do their best to getting kids there on time and giving low-key support during games by never bringing the attention to the stands.
- Prepare mentally for the following things that will happen. Being unprepared for these and other unfortunate things that occur during the season may lead to impulsive, regrettable actions.
The opposition team’s coach or fans acting unsportsmanlike
B. Poor umpiring
C. Their kids are slumping.
Serious baseball players have things they can do for preseason baseball. Of course, doing some early physical training is a good first start. The things below must originate from adults, as young athletes cannot be expected just to do them on their own. Following are some player tips.
Preseason Baseball Tips for Players
- Ask their parents about setting up a net in the basement or house, so players have a safe place to hit off a batting tee and throw balls. At home practice not only helps players improve their skills, it also soothes parents’ minds to see their child’s level of interest.
- Players should watch videos online of the big league players hitting, fielding and pitching. Putting positive imagery in their heads of the correct ways to do things is vital for learning and mimicking them.
- The preseason baseball time of year is when players must develop that mental toughness to get them through all the ups and downs that will come. A big part of that is setting their goals, of which the main one being a daily work ethic to improve.
Finally, when any of the above, coaches, players or parents fail to prepare in the baseball preseason, they will not behave during the season like they wished they had.
Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 27 years. His playing, coaching and parenting stories create better experiences for athletes and parents. Jack has written over a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth sports. Jack is the author of “The Making of a Hitter” now $5 and “Raising an Athlete.” His third book “Creating a Season to Remember” is in the works. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also find Jack Perconte on YouTube with over 80 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos.