What to do NOW for Spring 2020 Baseball Season

What To Do NOW If You Are Coaching This Spring…

  • Your kid’s equipment – Cleats, bat, helmet, protective cup.  You guys ready?
  • Team Equipment – Do you need more cones.  I should sell cones, I recommend them so much.  Cones, cones, cones… I love cones.  An extra $20 batting tee helps batting practice big time.
  • Coaching Philosophy – Do you have a written coaching philosophy?  If so, review and update.  If not, time to get quiet and put the pen to paper:  How are you going to handle when little johnny asks to pitch, but he can’t throw.  When little Ricky asks to play shortstop, but puts his glove on the wrong hand.  And when over-the-top parent hanging on the fence asks “Why the F are you putting him on the bump?” Positions played, playing time,  when to steal / take extra bases,
  • First Practice Plan – Have you thought through what is truly important to communicate practice #1.
    • I recommend systems and operations!  Plan on teaching expectations for how practice will operate – rotations, safety, drill structure.
    • If you plan to rotate stations, I recommend teaching equipment bundles – which is made up of one hand holding a bat, with the other hand holds a helmet. That helmet is loaded with glove, which is loaded with water bottle and batting gloves. Trust me.
    • Have you heard about side-by-side cones to help get a drill started in less than 60-seconds?!?
    • Or the cones used in Three-Step-Hitting to help hitting stations move along. I don’t use red/white/blue anymore by the way, I use two blue cones for where the feet start… and a different color for where the front foot steps.  That way, I can say (repeat over and over and over): “Two toes, blue cones.  Two toes, blue cones.  Two toes, blue cones.” You get the idea.
    • A great recommendation from Coach Deron in the Online Coaching Clinic crew (details below) was a kickball game at the first team meeting.  Introduce everyone, pass out player and coach agreements, and then play a game of kickball – parents included.  Great ice breaker and way to start the season with FUN as the primary goal.
  • Introductory Email – What’s important to you?  Punctuality, attire, parent behavior… hence why that written coaching philosophy is so important.
  • Things we committed to as part of our Online Coaching Crew:
    • Written Practice Plans
    • Small group format – No lines over 5 kids
    • One Off-Field Event per season – Pro game, community service event, bbq / pot luck
    • Field Set Up prior to practice start
    • Mix-It-Up – Practice variation every 4th practice
    • Mix-It-Up – Practice #10 is FULL FUN
    • Manager vs. Coach – IF you commit to manage, then you commit to handle office work (manage effectively and then you get to coach
    • Philosophy
  • Focus is Created
  • Confidence is Earned

 

Another ABCA in the books…

What a blur that weekend was.  I flew from visiting my wife’s family in Seattle to Nashville, on January 1st.  Got in around 1:00am on the first, and then rocked and rolled through Thursday, Friday, and half-day Saturday before flying home to celebrate my son’s Bday party on Sunday.

There were amazing meetings with Babe Ruth, PONY, and Little League… discussing how content (tips, drills, video-on-demand) is the way of the future and their desire to offer more to their communities. Hellllloooooooo, we’ve been over here doing our thing for 3-4 years now! 20K+ strong in a community of like-minded baseball peeps, connecting through a dedication to running great, fun, and effective baseball events, all built around the single greatest collection of youth baseball coaching content online.

There were amazing “social interactions”… such as a single, long night where I shared international baseball love with the amazing people from PlayGlobal as well as updates from an old friend doing God’s work in Kosovo… then caught up with this nut at a mixer/event downtown, only to join in on a conversation with this stud, where I learned that advanced, analytical-infused catching instruction has catchers regularly dropping a knee to the ground – even with runners on base… and then snuck out the back door with Jaeger and shared a ride back to the hotel with a sleep-deprived Uber driver and her two dingo-looking dogs.

And finally, business!  ABCA Committee meetings on Ethics in Coaching as well as Youth, trade show exhibits, and clinic presentations on every topic conceivable across three stages: Main Stage, Youth Side-Stage, and Expo (in the exhibit hall).

Phew!

 

Tied a Bow on Beta / Session #1 of the Online Coaching Clinic last week…

Really fun experience working webinar software for the first time, and building out a new website as we navigated through six sessions of coaching clinic magic: Coaching 101, Hitting, Pitching, Infield, Outfield, and the Mental Game (1o+ hours of video content).  Beta crew also got two bonus webinar sessions on ABCA-Follow Up and Business-In-Baseball.  We held the clinic sessions live, with interactive question and answer sessions following each skill-clinic presentation, and then coaches could access it all online at their convenience.  It was like nothing I’ve ever seen made available, and with the help, guidance, and feedback of the first 50 “graduates” of this program, I am THRILLED to be offering a Session #2 starting next month.  Stay tuned for those details and how we connect more with Dugout Captain.

 

Attended My First Rec League Tryout 

Soooooo that was interesting, humbling, and painful.  Now I truly understand how/why that event changes and tweaks every year – what a grind of a day. Fountain Valley Pony killed it though – great job guys.  Smooth, punctual, and fair.  And I’m so very thankful to our team’s fearless leader, Coach Josh, for his efforts in making it through the entire day.  Draft night for our league is Friday night – enjoy that Josh 🙂

 

My Biggest Concerns for 2020 as a Baseball Dad

My own kid. Can barely catch. Struggles to hit wiffle ball strikes. And is barely into it. Tells me he doesn’t want to play, but then again he doesn’t want to do Tae Kwan Do, after-school chess club, basketball, or go to Church.  But then when he does do any of those activities, that we continue to sign him up for, he loves them. This is dangerous though, as I’ve heard all the stories for all these years of families making the transition to kid-pitch and either getting hit with the ball or effectively struggling their way out of the game.

I hereby and sincerely state, “I’m curious to see how this goes. And I’m curious to see how I handle it now that it’s my kid.” So far, I’ve been trying to practice with Kobe with simple, “Hey, you wanna hit or play catch?” ques. Those really haven’t worked, as his answer is always no. Now that I am concerned for safety and see that practice is two weeks away, I’ve mixed up my approach. “Wanna see if you can catch 20 balls to get a +1.” A +1 is our current “Good Decision” chart, where if our kids reach 10 points on the list, they get to go to frozen yogurt (or the equivalent prize – special baked kale chips?!?!?!). This tweaked approach started yesterday, and I’m 1-for-1… so I’m hopeful I can get 250-300 receiving repetitions, and the same number of swings, prior to the first practice.

As far as team play goes, I’m most concerned to see the worst in people come out as competition steps up. Yes, we’ll have to coach up pitchers and catchers. But I like my/our chances with that 🙂 As the comments below this post showed us, there are lots of different approaches towards coaching the running game and philosophies towards winning and losing, positions played, and playing time. I’ve heard so many stories over these last 20 years in youth baseball and know that this year will be my first true taste of ‘all of that’.

In the spirit of my new professional life / career / business coaching certification earned in December through Optimize.me… I say to these challenges:

BRING IT ON!

Play hard, have fun!

~ DK

P.S. I’m actively seeking 3 more coaching clients to work in a 1-on-1 professional capacity. If that interests you, drop me a line.

3 thoughts on “What to do NOW for Spring 2020 Baseball Season

  1. I am in charge of our league’s “tryout” day or “draft” day, whatever you want to call it. I attended ours last year and wasn’t impressed with how it went. Any pointers?

    1. Hi Scott,
      I really don’t have any good pointers but love the request. This is exactly why we added bulletin boards, although they aren’t active as of yet. I can only speak to what I saw this year at our league. Which was groups of 10 athletes working through three stations: Fly balls (with throw to athlete receiver at second base). Ground balls (from SS with throw to athlete receiver at 2B). And hitting (5 swings plus home-to-first baserunning). Coaches were in right / center field with clipboards taking notes / scores. Seemed to work fine, but nothing terribly unique or impressive?!?

      1. Ok, problem for us here in Missouri is we have to hold this inside a gym as the weather this time of the year normally doesn’t work for playing outside. Another issue I will have is the number of players, which could reach upwards of 50 players per session (4 total sessions). It’s hard to not have a lot of players standing around, but also to allow the coaches a good look at each because my drills are very limited with space.

        BTW – really looking forward to the coaching clinic on the 27th (which I’ve already purchased!)

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