Coaching/Playing Tips

Equal Playing Time for All


The emotional impact on a child who consistently plays 1/4 of a game while the other team members play the entire game. This question raises a broader issue. What is the fundamental purpose of youth sports?

How should this purpose be reflected in practices and games? Granted we are raising somewhat of a philosophical issue here and probably a controversial one at that! The primary purpose of youth sports should be to teach fundamental sports skills in a non-threatening environment. That is, children should have the opportunity to learn new skills and improve previously learned skills and have fun doing it.

Coaches must create an environment both in practices and games where children are not afraid to make mistakes. Using fear of failure as a motivational technique is unacceptable. Mistakes happen as part of the learning process. Children who hope to become better skilled so they can move on to more advanced levels of competition have to be willing to take risks and experiment with more advanced skill techniques and strategies.

They will not do this if they are afraid of making mistakes. All members of any team come to the team expecting equal opportunities. They have the right to expect equal quality and quantity of coaching in practice. They all must be given the same opportunity to try out what they learn in practices in game situations. In fact, games should be considered an extension of practices, another opportunity to learn. An athlete can not learn much by sitting on the bench. Sports involve movement, physical skills. They are best learned by doing, not watching.

Sledging: It is NOT Part of the Game!


It used to be that participating in sports involved performing your skills and executing the plays you had learned. Now it seems that showing off and showing up the opposition has become a big part of sports. It has reached the point that some sports have had to enforce excessive celebration penalties. Other sports have talked about or have included baiting the opponent penalties.

It is hard to say why all of this behaviour has started and why it has become so widespread. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with being happy about your accomplishments on the field, on the court, in the pool, or wherever. It does become a problem when your celebration is designed to make someone else feel bad rather than to make you feel good. Sledging in the vast majority of the cases is done solely to make another athlete feel bad or make them mad. Athletes try to use sledging to try to get the target of the sledging to lose their concentration.

The problem is that the player doing the sledging also is not concentrating on their game. When you resort to sledging to try to defeat someone else you are admitting that you can`t beat them using skills and play execution. You, in essence, are admitting that you are not as good an athlete as they are.

Think about that when someone tries to use sledging against you. Remember that they are telling you that you are better than they are. Instead of getting mad and trying to retaliate with sledging or worse, like fighting, just prove that they are right. Play better than they do. Cursing at your opponents, making negative comments about the colour of their skin, their ethnic origin, or anything similar is totally inappropriate anytime, including sports.

Integrating High Skilled and Less Skilled Athletes


What do you do if you are a softball coach, for example, and have five relatively high skilled players and ten relatively low skilled players on your team?

How do you stress fun for all with such disparate skill levels? This is a very typical problem in youth sports. In fact, it is unusual for all the athletes on a team to have the same level of skill. One of the keys to being successful in this situation is to develop a sense of teamwork. Every member of the team must feel that they are making a meaningful contribution to the success of the team.

This does not happen on the first day of practice. Actually, it evolves throughout the season. You should begin, however, at the first practice, by explaining that not everyone can be a starter and that there are important roles for each member of the team. Good athletic teams are good not because of their best talent, but because every member of the team works hard to improve the team. Each member of the team should try to help other team members improve. The following are some suggestions for enhancing teamwork:

  1. Stress teamwork emphasising the contributions of all members of the team.
  2. Encourage positive verbal feedback among team members.
  3. Watch out for skilled athletes who constantly criticise or make fun of their less skilled team members.
  4. Use individual skill stations, if possible, to lesson peer pressure; Emphasise skill learning as your overall goal for the team.
  5. Use small group drills with one skilled and two less skilled in each group.
  6. Make sure the parents of all your players understand what you are trying to accomplish with your team.
  7. Avoid using the term substitute; name your groups something like Blue Team, Red Team, and Green Team.
  8. Don`t overlook your skilled athletes in your attempts to help the less skilled.
  9. Provide challenging practice situations for all your athletes.
  10. Mix up your starting line-ups; this will encourage the less skilled athletes to work hard and also encourage the better athletes to help their team members improve.




When a fly ball is hit to the outfield it is almost always rotating in a certain direction based on how it was hit. If it were not rotating it would flutter like a butterfly as it travelled and we rarely see that happen. How can an outfielder anticipate the path of a long fly ball and have an idea which way it will move after it hits the ground? \line\line If a right handed batter hits a ball down the right field line it will most likely be rotating in a clockwise direction because of the dynamics of the direction of the pitch interacting with the angle of the bat upon impact. Conversely the left hander hitting to left field will put a counterclockwise rotation on the ball. In both cases the rotation will cause the ball to move toward the foul line as it travels. (Like a curve ball thrown by a pitcher.) \line\line When the right hander pulls the ball down the line to left field or the left hander pulls it to right field, the opposite is usually true so the ball is less likely to curve toward the line. \line\line Outfielders should pay attention to the batter and when the fly ball comes their way, keep this thought in mind. "R to R or L to L, the ball should curve toward the line" so anticipate it and correct your angle to cut it off at the right point.


Last upadted 06/10/2005

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