Managers & Coaches
The Better the Practice, the Better the Team
By Al Herback
It goes without saying that every practice should be conducted in a safe, caring environment. Safeguarding the health and well being of every child far exceeds anything else that may happen at a practice. Practices should also include a wide variety of fun filled activities and drills. As we all know, fun is the main reason children play any sport.
Athletes should spend most of their time on the practice field. Players who actively participate in focused, well-planned practices usually will transfer many of the skills to game situations.
Well-planned practices allow the coach an opportunity to develop each player and the team to full potential. It is one of the most important aspects of the game and provides a pressure free atmosphere for players to experience personal success.
In an average six inning Little League ball game, there are less than 10 minutes of actual action time. For many players, a defensive inning could be standing in the field with no ball hit in their area, and then sitting on the bench waiting for a turn at bat. There are game situations where players sit out for an inning or two before they ever get a chance to play. Before they even enter the game, they have already missed part of the 10 minutes.
That is why it is so important to run well-planned, activity filled practice sessions. Keeping players rotating through several stations allows for a variety of teaching opportunities and many valuable skill repetitions for each player. To be effective, it would be great if your team had one or two assistant coaches. In this way, each could work with a smaller group when executing a drill. Parent volunteers can help with many drills, thus allowing the coach to not only evaluate players, but also correct a skill that has been taught. Parents could also be available to set up and take down any activity stations that require assembly.
Have your plan well organized before you get to the diamond. Coming from a teaching background, I always make the comparison between a teacher and a coach. You canít go into the classroom without a plan and you canít as a coach go to your classroom, the ball diamond, without a plan.
It is extremely important for players to understand that learning to play this challenging game is not only done at practice, but with extensive work at home with parents, siblings or friends. I often suggest to coaches that if a player is to miss a practice or a game, miss the game. The practice is far more important. This could be addressed at the player/parent introduction meeting. The game will only be a test of how well the coach has taught and the players have learned. We all know that the game is for player enjoyment, but is also a good opportunity for coaches to evaluate and re-teach any problem areas at the next practice.
The Little League Canada Teaching for Tomorrow program can help you run an outstanding practice! It provides comprehensive plans with either the Learning the Game or Playing the Game programs to assist coaches to make the most effective use of the time available for practice.
Contact Little League Canada for more information.