Unless this is the first page on our site that you have read, then you probably already know that our league is entirely ran by volunteers. Some local youth sports organizations have offices, employees, someone answering questions by phone, and some even pay their coaches. Not much, but something. We do not have any of this. While it is nice to have people volunteer to help us run the administrative side of the league, it seems we are always short on coaches. This is a problem that every league has and a problem that is getting worse year after year in every local league. Hopefully this article will help persuade you to jump in to the world of youth coaching and help this league continue to be successful.
What Makes a Good Head Coach
Being a good head coach does not mean that you know everything about the game. It does not mean that you can break down hitting, fielding, and throwing mechanics as a baseball analyst on TV. Parents like to see their kids improve during the season, no doubt. But what they really want to see: 1) their kid enjoy themselves playing a sport, 2) their kid showing interest in continuing that sport, and 3) their kid experiencing all of the positives that come along with a team sport, ie, time spent competing with their peers, learning good sportsmanship, being respected by their coaches, etc.
For our youngest divisions, which in baseball are Tee Ball and Rookies, and in softball, Tee Ball and 8U, here’s what we are looking for in a good head coach:
- Someone with an understanding of the general rules of baseball/softball (how to make an out, where to throw the ball if a fielder fields the ball, etc)
- Someone who can be patient with kids of varying personality types and physical abilities.
- Someone who understands this is low level rec sports and kids just need to have fun. The more specific coaching can start when they are older.
- Someone who can communicate to parents through email when and where their kids need to be for practice and games.
As kids get older, we want our coaches to have the ability to guide kids in the right direction on how to throw, hit, and field, as well as coaching the strategic side of the game. But being an expert isn’t always helpful down in the lower divisions. Kids in these divisions don’t really have the physical ability to enact much of what can be taught to them. There is plenty we can fix in a kid’s swing, but will the kid really be able to understand what you are telling them? Rarely. Will they practice enough to retrain muscle memory to swing more efficiently? Probably not. What’s the easiest way to teach a kid to hit a ball? Show them how to hold the bat, show them where to stand, and tell them to swing fast, have fun, and see how far they can hit it. As both the player and the coach gain experience, they will understand more and you will figure out how to better impart your knowledge onto them so they can learn to swing more efficiently or how to pitch more effectively, so on. These kids are improving right along with you. That is a fact and that is an expectation of EBYBS. We do not prepare our kids for higher level baseball or softball in their first year playing or a few years in, it is little by little, year after year.
How We Pick Coaches
Parents register their kids each season and usually volunteer for something. We try to maintain rosters of 1 head coach for every 10-12 players. Once registration is closed, we are often at a ratio of more like 1 to 20 and sometimes we will have over 40 kids registered for a division with 0 volunteers for head coach. What can we do? First, beg people. Second, threaten people. Third, lower our standards in order to fill the positions with someone, anyone. There never is a season, when at the end of registration, we have enough coaches for the players registered in each division. Remember that when you are registering your child next season. We never have enough volunteers for head coach.
Assuming Someone Else Will Do It
This is the most common mistake made by parents. They maybe have a little interest in coaching that stems from some experience playing when they were younger, but then they talk themselves out of it by rationalizing that they are busy with work and someone else will volunteer and they’ll just help them out. But here’s the deal, all of our head coaches have jobs, all of them are busy with work, and generally a good quarter of them were coerced somehow into coaching the team when nobody else would. Often the end result is they realize how much they enjoy coaching youth sports and it becomes a new hobby for them for years to come leaving them wishing they had more years to coach their kid and a little sad that it’s already over.
Stepping Up After A Bad Experience
Well, it is great that you disliked your child’s coach so much that you decided to volunteer the following season. We sincerely appreciate it. But why not skip that step and just volunteer from the beginning? Are you the most knowledgeable and experienced coach available? No? Are you at least more knowledgeable than someone who knows nothing about the game? Yes? You might be the better option then. You should assume you will do well enough that you are at least better than some totally random parent that quite literally may not even know or understand the general rules of the game. We do not have a coach’s training school or parents refining their coaching skills in another league somewhere while waiting to jump in for EBYBS. They learn to coach and refine those skills on the job, for EBYBS, as they work up through the divisions with their child.
Not that many kids play baseball or softball through high school. Generally kids will play up to the age of 12 and move on to other things or other sports. Do not take the chance of wasting a season with a bad coach. Your kid may only have a handful of years playing this great game. If they are saddled with bad coaches, they probably won’t even make it that far.
Not Volunteering Because They Do Not Know Where To Start
We live in the age of information. There are countless sites and YouTube channels that will help you freshen up your knowledge of the game. Click the Coaches link in the navigation menu to browse a few that we recommend. Need practice plans or ideas? Ask the league. Ask another coach. We are all happy to help. East Boise is known for having a quality baseball and softball program with quality coaching. This is not because people just know more about the game on this side of town. It’s because we have a community of current and former coaches and parents that have a vested interest in the long term success of this league and that interest continues to feed itself to create something more than just your average youth baseball and softball league. Be a part of the tradition and help pass it along to coaches new to the league once you have made your way through.
I would recommend this to every parent: If your child is in one of our lower divisions and you have any interest at all in coaching, give it a shot. The league will support you and if parents think they could do better, then they will be so annoyed that they will volunteer the next season. If you are that bad of a coach that you actually spark other more qualified parents to coach teams next season, then what a gift you have given the league by a coercing a better coach to take your spot! 🙂