How to Coach Little League
Whether you volunteered because the wife suggested you should spend more time with your kid (as if forgetting a birthday has anything to do with baseball), to show how a real player does things, or because any idiot can coach, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Communicate. Children don’t always pay attention so yell. No need to worry about actual conversation because you can get through the season with these time-tested phrases: The traditional “Keep your eye on the ball,” the hitting alternatives “Good eye” or “Why’d you swing at that?,” the fielding wisdom “Next time catch it, bozo!,” and the universal “What were you thinking?!”
2. Be consistent, clear, or both. Tell your players to do exactly what you say, unless circumstances change during a game, so then think for themselves, but not something stupid after you told them what to do, except sometimes. Otherwise, not.
3. Teach. Teaching is easy. Give instructions and the kids who don’t get it are losers. When a kid strikes out, bellow that he shouldn’t have, which will help him learn. A good teacher keeps up-to-date so listen to sports-radio shows, with their thoughtful analysis and carefully reasoned judgments.
4. Turn mistakes into lessons. Sure, maybe you shouldn’t have given the steal sign but the bonehead must have realized he had no chance to steal home, so here’s another teaching opportunity: Shout that everybody makes mistakes, and he just made a doozy.
5. Instill self-confidence. Remind your players that even a Hall-of-Fame slugger makes outs more than hits, and they won’t get any hits if they don’t get their heads out of their butts. If your worst player comes to bat with the game on the line, yell encouragement that he shouldn’t screw up like last time.
6. Stress teamwork. First, encourage a robust give-and-take (“You’re stupid!” “You suck!”) to find the loudest ones, who are your team leaders. Encourage group solidarity by laughing at the bad players. (Ignore those who get their feelings hurt.) Finally, do not show favoritism, except for your own kid. And the stars. And the children of important parents.
7. Encourage passion. Better a kid committing five errors and stomping around cursing than a quiet player making only one mistake a game. It’s hard to assess improvement but easy to see someone throwing a helmet.
8. Emphasize sportsmanship. You’re a role model, so calmly accept umpires’ calls, except the awful ones. Be sure your players treat the other team with respect, until those bastards get all the breaks. Only yell at the opposing coach if he’s a jerk, and absolutely no pushing, unless he deserves it.
9. Keep things in perspective. Remind your players that winning isn’t everything, unless you have a chance to go undefeated. On the other hand, if you’re saddled with dweebs, regularly remind the parents that society places too much importance on competition.
Remember, it’s not just baseball. You’re teaching the kids about life.