09 June 2013
1. Teeball coaching is more about keeping the players entertained and preventing them from killing each other with bats and balls than playing baseball. You can’t do it alone. Get the maximum number of assistant coaches allowed. I recommend a minimum of 3 assistants.
2. Get the parents involved. By the third practice most of the parents are sick of teeball. Break the monotony and get them out on the field. Setting up a kids vs. parents game is a good way to do that. Make sure you coordinate with the parents beforehand so that they can bring a glove and wear the right shoes.
3. Buy some wiffleballs and kids tennis balls. One hardball-to-the-face and a kid becomes a flinching, dodging mess when it comes to fielding.
4. It is difficult to teach kids this age the mechanics of catching and hitting. When the rules of the game get layered on top of these, things get even more interesting (hilarious). One big issue is where to throw the ball once you get it. The kids need a queue, and no, screaming “FIRST BASE!!!!” before and during the play doesn’t work. Get four clip-boards. Paint the back of them white with a big black arrow pointing down. Each coach gets one of these clip boards, one at first base, one at second, one at third, and one at home. The object is to hold them up over the base where the ball should/could be thrown. At first you should only hold up the arrows during the play where the ball should be thrown. Once the kids are more advanced you could hold up multiple arrows where there are force outs. Coordination between coaches with this method is vital.
5. Your first practice might be stressful, especially if you don’t really know what you are doing. Beware of kids showing up that aren’t on your team. After you greet the kid and shake hands with the parent, check the roster to make sure their really on your team.
6. Prepare a short talk for the parents at the first practice. Don’t talk for more than 5 minutes. Limit it to only the most important items. Make sure you cover how you plan to communicate with them in the event that a practice or game is cancelled (you may or may not be planning to call everyone. You may plan to send an e-mail or text, etc). Cover your expectations, coaching philosophy, and goals for the season. Cover how you expect parents to behave during games. Cover any equipment and uniform issues.
7. Hand out a hard copy of the practice/game schedule with your contact information and the contact information for your assistants. Also include information on the leagues automated alert system if one exists.
8. Buy some stickers. Hand them out to kids who demonstrate positive traits like sportsmanship, honesty, perseverance, etc.
9. Get the team a mascot. A stuffed animal works great. Bring it to the games, include it in the post-game high-fives and team cheers, have them hold it for good luck. When the season is over, present it to the MVP.
10. Remember that teeball is about learning, growing, and fun. Its not about winning. Coaching little kids is very rewarding. Dealing with parents may not be. If a parent gives you a hard time offer to make them the head coach. They will quickly fall in-line.