Read an Excerpt
The Baffled Parent's Guide To Coaching Tee Ball
By Bing Broido
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2003Ragged Mountain Press
All rights reserved.
Creating an Atmosphere of Good Habits
The perception of you as a competent and experienced coach can mask the reality of your "rookie" status if you project an image of confidence, authority, and control right from the beginning of your coaching career. It's essential that your role be clearly understood by the players and parents, and that they know what you expect from them in return. Establish positive relationships and maintain announced procedures. After the first team meeting and several practice sessions, your capabilities and skills will develop, as will your personal style of instruction.
Establish Your Identity as Coach
First impressions count: Be sure that you look the part of a coach. Chino slacks or shorts and collared polo shirts are better for your image than jeans and T-shirts. Use a clipboard for your Practice Session Worksheet (see pages 52–53) and game-time notes. Wear a whistle. Use a small chalkboard; school-age children respond well and remember visual images. Tell the kids (including your own), the parents of your players, and all persons involved with your team to call you "Coach."
Be a Good Communicator
You'll have to deal with the reality of short attention spans and lapses of interest that are common among children of tee ball age. Try to keep your instructions clear, simple, and uncomplicated. Tee ball is, after all, child's play. Avoid complex or multitask directions. Your coaching tactics may need to be adapted for different learning abilities.
It's essential that the players' parents know how the game is played. A summary of the basic rules is included in chapter 2 for their reference. Most players want to know the rules, too. A kid-friendly listing is on page 26. You can adapt these tools to conform with your league's regulations and playing procedures.
Youngsters excel when the goal is something they believe they can achieve. Every child needs to know what you envision for the team and what you expect from the players as individuals. At the beginning of the season, it's important to establish achievable objectives: learning new skills; trying their best; developing teamwork; exhibiting good behavior; practicing at home; respecting teammates, coaches, umpires, and other teams; presenting a positive attitude; showing concern for safety; demonstrating enthusiasm; and having fun. Reaching for, meeting, or exceeding your stated goals will generate self-esteem, pride, and a lasting sense of accomplishment in the kids. You'll feel pretty good, too.
You'll discover that youngsters respond better when they have a good sense of what tee ball activities each practice will involve. Establish a routine for practices (for more on practices, see chapters 5 and 6). Try to maintain the same schedule throughout the season. Leave room for flexibility within the overall plan; the team will quickly let you know which drills are more fun, and you can switch to these drills if players seem to be losing interest or when a change of pace is needed. Your league may not identify a winner and a loser; most don't for the youngest players. Nevertheless, on game day there will be two teams playing—each one trying to make hits and get on base and trying to prevent the other team from doing so. There's always an undercurrent of competition. The parents may express it more directly than the kids. Have your players focus on doing well, using their new skills, playing fair and as a team, and having fun. Their sense of competition can be minimized until such time as they play under rules where runs count and scores are kept.
Effective coaching is built on the blending of many elements, including the following "P-words."
Preparation. If you haven't done your homework, your team can't progress. You need to get ready for meetings with your team and their parents, work out in advance the components of each practice session, ensure that your assistants and volunteers are available and understand their assignments, check with the team manager or responsible adult on matters regarding the field of play and equipment, resolve any outstanding problems before the next practice or game, and try to anticipate the unexpected.
Patience. Some kids require a great deal of repetition before they master a sports skill. You need to have the staying power to endure the time spent describing, demonstrating, and correcting the actions required for children to hit and field with some degree of competence. It takes time for youngsters and a team to build self-esteem and confidence in their ability to learn and play the game. Patience is the foundation for skill development and motivation. Your patience will be rewarded.
Poise. Self-composure is essential. Suppress any frustrations; yelling is not effective and seldom brings long-term results. If your physical and verbal conduct remain calm in times of stress, your team will see you as "cool," the ultimate designation from their age group. Your relationship with other parents will likely involve diplomacy and consideration. During games, remember that mistakes happen. Be fair and cooperate with the umpires.
Praise. When a player or the team earns your approval, this should be publicly recognized. There's no more effective way to motivate than a few spontaneous or planned words of congratulation. Make sure the parents hear your comments directly or learn about any compliments their child received. Praise is not limited to actions fully accomplished. Calling out "Good try!" immediately recognizes effort, rewards the individual player, and inspires the entire team.
Pep talk. A short meeting with the team before a game is important. The players will already be excited (and apprehensive) about playing another team in front of family and strangers. Your brief speech should be directed to the entire group, not to specific individuals. Tell them to remember what they've practiced, to do their best, to play as a team, and to have fun. Minipep talks can be held during the game while the team is on the bench just prior to their turns at bat. Only positive comments should be made at this time.
Practice. This is where and when the good habits you've instilled are first tested. You'll add other components to your teaching style as your involvement in the sport increases and you get more coaching experience. The patterns and routines you develop will provide confidence and the framework for success for yourself and your team.
Build trust with the players and their families. Your relationship with them will measure your capability and effectiveness as a coach more than big hits and great fielding plays. Most important, enjoy the full tee ball experience.CHAPTER 2
Before Hitting the Field: Tee Ball in a Nutshell
This chapter introduces you to the basics of tee ball, including important rules, player positioning, and what can happen when the game begins. More specific advice and strategy will come in later chapters, but this should get you started in the right direction.
Recommended Basic Rules and Positioning
Tee ball is the only sport where the ball is put into play by the offense and then only handled by the defense. The number of defensive players on the field at any one time often exceeds the traditional nine in baseball and soft-ball (see diagram page 14).
The Tee Ball Field
The game does not require a conventional setting; many lea
Excerpted from The Baffled Parent's Guide To Coaching Tee Ball by Bing Broido. Copyright © 2003 by Ragged Mountain Press. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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