Congratulations! You’ve just been named the head honcho, the big cheese, the manager. Now, your fellow coaches, your players and their parents are looking to you for a plan…every single practice.
Don’t worry: we’ve got you covered. Even though every practice will be just a little bit different, you can be sure you’ll be ready for every one of them just by having the “Three P’s.”
What are the Three P’s, you might ask? Purpose, Plan & Patience.
The First P: Purpose
As a coach, your first job is to ensure that every practice and game fulfills two purposes: to improve your players as athletes and to improve your players as people. This is your year-long target, and every activity with your team should target at least one of these goals. But, these activities will constantly change throughout the year, depending on your team’s needs.
Each practice should also address a specific, baseball-centered purpose. If your team struck out ten times last week, we’re going to spend some extra time in the cages. Did a bunch of errors cost you the game? Get ready for some extra infield practice. Were your guys winded in the last inning? A little extra conditioning will help.
After you determine the purpose of that day’s practice, it’s up to you to figure out how to successfully address it. You’re looking for the “second P,” or the Plan.
The Second P: Plan
Any old coach can identify what his team is doing wrong, but only the best coaches can construct game plans to correct the problem.
Some coaches go way too aggressive, and their plan turns into a yelling match and a track meet. Some coaches don’t shift their gameplans enough, relying on the same practice schedule that failed them the week before.
Remember, these are kids you’re coaching, and while routine is nice, so is excitement. Every practice is going to involve hitting, fielding, and running- so it’s up to you to adjust the percentages of each of these fundamentals.
I’ve constructed an hour and a half practice plan for a team that’s struggling in the field below. Check it out, and let me know what you think in the comments.
Team Redbirds || Practice #2 || Last Game: Struggled With Errors
- 00:00-00:20 – Stretch and Warm-Up
- 00:22-00:45 – Infield Practice (Group 1) Batting Practice (Cages) (Group 2)
- 00:47-01:07 – Batting Practice (Cages) (Group 1) Outfield Practice (Group 2)
- 01:10-01:25 – Infield/Outfield Practice
- 01:25-01:30 – Encouragement and Notes
Notice that we didn’t run the bases or spend an hour on advanced batting techniques. That’s not because those two things aren’t important- they are- but getting better at those things wasn’t the purpose of today’s practice. We planned to get better in the field, and we did.
The Third P: Patience
For youth baseball coaches, this is the most important of the three P’s- Patience. Look, there’s going to be kids with bad attitudes, parents with bad attitudes, and kids who are just plain bad at sports.
The real value of a coach isn’t measured by his ability to plan, identify the purpose of a practice, or even improve the abilities of his players- it’s his ability to patiently plan for a purpose. At the end of the day, that skill doesn’t come from practice or skill; it comes from a determination to fulfill your purpose as a coach – to improve your players as athletes and to improve your players as people.
We know that patience isn’t always going to come easy, and we know that sometimes, your players won’t even deserve it. But, we also know that coaches with patience have the biggest impact on athletes both on and off the field.
So what now?
You’re the coach…you tell us! Are you going to take these tips to each and every practice and help your team improve? Are you going to settle for being a good coach become a great one?
Do everything with purpose. Plan for success. Have patience.