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Coaching New High School Baseball Players
I recently wrote about what young baseball players should do to prepare for tryouts and the practices associated with them. Obviously working on baseball drills like throwing, catching and base running should be worked on but players should also explore exercises outside of the typical baseball ones we all know about.
The school my son goes to is a fairly small one with only a few hundred students enrolled. With such a small enrollment the school only has one baseball team, one basketball team and one soccer team that features freshman thru seniors. We love the close environment the school allows, because of the smaller teacher to student ratios, but it also presents some challenges; like getting enough bodies to field a full baseball team. The team did not have a minimum of nine players until one day before their first game, a fact that played into the result of the first game.
With my son just playing in his first high school baseball game and, being an assistant coach on the team, I saw a few things that are very easily over looked by young players but are incredibly important as well.
Our team has three players that have never played organized baseball; they have always played basketball. They are literally learning from scratch on how to throw a ball or even hold a bat correctly. They struggled in the field during the game and looked over-matched against our opponent’s pitcher, who made all league last year as a sophomore.
As coaches we can work on the fundamentals as long as the players show some desire to learn which these young men did during the game. While we all know the fundamentals will take some time for them to be comfortable with there are things that inexperienced players can do, right now, to positively contribute to their clubs.
Communication should be a very easy thing for players to do on the field. The more experienced players can take charge on the field by positioning them and providing verbal direction and assurance. The newer players can ask questions and request feedback from others on situations that occurred during the game. Just remember it is in everyone’s best interest for the newer players to improve so the team can be the best it can on the field.
The newer players should always hustle and give everything they can on the field. Effort is free and all players should be able to display tons of it on a field. The last thing these rookie players should be doing is standing in their position with their arms crossed and not really looking like they want to be out there. Also remember the ball will not just go to you all of the time, you usually have to physically move your body to go get the ball.
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With our first game out of the way we definitely have some bugs to work out. Some of the players are performing fairly respectably this early in the season while others are still slowed by off-season rust. I’m happy to say my son was up for the challenge getting a base hit in his second plate appearances and actually pitching the two first innings of the game; even though our defense was less than kind to him and his pitch count.
We are very proud of what he has done so far, especially since he is a freshman. He recognizes the experience issues the team has and has kind of embraced the possibility that he will need to get more vocally involved with the newer players on the team. Sometimes this is the best possible resolution because players can only hear so much from another adult. A more experienced veteran player can get through to someone while a coach may not.
As long as a player wants to learn, there will be a coach standing there waiting for the opportunity to work with them. Staying positive, being open to suggestions and the improvement will come, probably sooner than you think.