Lessons Learned Coaching Little League

Little League Team

Giving instructions to the Little League team.

It was a big sports weekend. The NHL season ended with the Los Angeles Kings taking home the Stanley Cup. The NBA season ended with the San Antonio Spurs winning the championship. Martin Kaymer won the US Open of golf. The World Cup began (actually, it started Thursday).

And the championship was played in BR’s Little League. Unfortunately, our team lost last week, despite twice coming back from multiple run deficits. So ends BR’s first season of Little League and my first season as a coach.

Originally, it was not my plan to coach, but when the manager of the team, who is a friend of mine, asked me to help, I was intrigued. I asked BR about 10 times if he was okay with it. He said “Yes” each time, so I finally did also.

Over our seven game season (not exactly a grind there), I learned some things.

I Want to Teach – Even before the season started, I was looking forward to working with the boys and helping them become better players. After all, isn’t Little League about becoming a better player? Unfortunately, we only had two practices before the season started. Once the season began, there were no practices. Children these days participate in so many extracurricular activities, that the league does not have practice. I tried to give the boys instruction before and even during the game. However, the boys struggled to really take in the information. Real change only happens with repetition and practice. Therefore, while I saw some improvement in some of the boys, it was only incremental. Ultimately, this teacher wanted to teach.

Parents are Appreciative – We all have heard stories about impassioned parents who act like lunatics on the sidelines. They act as if each game is the World Series or as if their child is being scouted for college or the Majors. Well, I did not find that. While there was one parent of a player on the other team who got out of hand, his concern was related to safety. Anyway, I found that parents were generally appreciative and thankful that I gave of my time. They were supportive and encouraged their children to “listen to the coach.” The league deemphasizes competition and the parents took things in stride.

Coaches pitch in Little League

BR swings. Notice whose pitching? Yep, in this Little League, coaches pitch.

Kids Want to Win – Countless times during the game, boys would ask me the score. In fact, one boy who was playing left field walked towards me as I was standing off the first base line. When I asked him what he wanted, he said, “What’s the score?” I was incredulous. Play continued — luckily, his stroll did not cost us any runs. The boys always kept score and if they were not sure, they asked me. They made comments about our chances, what strategy to follow, and the other team’s players. To be honest, like the boys, I kept score and wanted to win as well. After all, despite deemphasizing competition, the league still kept score and there were winners and losers. And the boys wanted to win. What’s wrong with that?

Little League team

Little League team in the field and ready.

Friendship is More Important Than Sports– You ever watch a professional game and you see guys shaking hands and laughing just seconds after a game is over? I have thought to myself, why do you look so happy? You should be angry. You just lost and you’re shaking hands with the enemy. Well, the boys are the same. They go to the same schools, live in the same neighborhoods, and attend the same camps as the boys on the other team. These boys are friends who happen to be on different teams. As much as they want to win, they do appreciate their competition. In our playoff loss, one boy made two nice catches in left field that saved his team a number of runs. Well, he happens to live in the same neighborhood as three of the boys on our team. As frustrated and disappointed as our players got, they recognized that their friend made a good play. As they say, that’s the way cookie crumbles. The boys have it right – friendship is more important than Little League.

Well, the year has ended. I have learned some things, taught some other things and came out happy. All in all, I’d call that a good year.

See you next Spring.

8 thoughts on “Lessons Learned Coaching Little League

  1. Sounds like you had a good run with some good kids. Those are the kinds of experiences that kids should have. It is good for them and good for the parents too, really something everyone can win at.

  2. This is an encouraging review for me, as my son is 5 and will doubtless be joining the ranks of organized sports before I know it. These are the kinds of bonding and learning experiences I want him involved in!

    • It was good. I would have liked to see him start earlier but he was not interested then. I’m glad I didn’t push. I think it might not have been as positive a experience then. I hope it will work well for your son.

  3. Go You!! That’s awesome that you coached Little League this year, and I love to hear what good sportsmanship is being taught along with how to hit and which way to run! What a great thing to do – do you think you’ll coach again next year?

  4. It’s nice that you gave your time to coach them. The ‘no practices’ thing surprised me. How is one to improve or how does a team get to learn the nuances of each of its members? Too bad kids are so busy with other things. But it sounds like it was a great experience for you. 🙂

    • Well, technically you can practice before the game but again boys are distracted then. In theory, we could hold a practice but never happened.
      Anyway, I did enjoy the experience. More importantly, BR did.
      Thanks for checking in from your summer break. I hope you are enjoying it.

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