Coach Certification Guide

Explain the Six (6) Qualities of the Best Fielders

 

  1. Strong Legs
  2. Quick Feet
  3. Soft Hands
  4. Quick Hands
  5. Quick Mind
  6. Glide
Explain the Keys to Fielding

 

  1. Never lose sight of your glove
  2. Get into Perfect Fielding Position on time, every time

 

1.Teach Perfect Fielding Position (PFP)Place players in perfect fielding position by having them perform the following actions (shown in photo at right) and repeat the following terms:

 

  • Glove foot forward
  • Toe to heel (place throwing foot toe behind glove foot heel)
  • Twice the width (spread glove foot to side, twice shoulders width, remaining toe to heel)
  • Slip (slip elbows off knees)
  • Slide (slide glove hand and throwing hand out front -this gets back flat)

The glove should be on the ground with palm facing to the sky.The throwing hand should be slightly above and to the side of the glove, with the thumb of the throwing hand pointed to the sky. Explain to players that they should be in Perfect Fielding Position when the ball is between 12-15 feet away.

Drills

  1. Knee – PFPPlace players on one knee. Command “PFP” and have them get into Perfect Fielding Position as quickly as possible. Repeat several times.

 

2. Teach Cover-Cradle-Separate

Place players in PFP. No ball is used until the short hop drill is performed. On the command “cover,” players cover an imaginary ball in their glove with the throwing hand. Repeat this several times,making sure players have glove on the ground and are catching the ball in front of their bodies rather than underneath them.Next, command “cradle” and have players bring their glove and throwing hand in toward their body (about 5-6 inches away)with their fingers pointed toward the center. Players should not raise up,except to raise their head slightly. Command “separate” and have players separate their hands only, about 3-4 inches apart, with their palms facing down. The elbows should still be pointing down, and should not raise or move from their position after the player had cradled. After players have covered, cradled and separated, you may command “pop” and have them pop to their throwing stance, turning their glove shoulder toward the instructor as if they were going to throw the ball to him.


Drills

  1. Cover-Cradle-Separate (Standing, without ball)
  2. Cover-Cradle-Separate (in PFP, without ball)
  3. Short Hop Drill (see photo below) Place players 12-15 feet apart, facing partner, Command “PFP” (both players get to PFP). Next, command “skip” (for younger players, use “roll”). Have players freeze after covering ball. Repeat this several times before allowing them to also cradle and separate after catching the ball. Eventually, command “cover” – “cradle” – “separate” – “pop” and have players pop to throwing stance, as if they were going to throw to their partner. On the last few times, have players cover, cradle, separate and pop after they catch the ball, without waiting for your commands.


3. Teach 1-2 Field
Explain to players that the only large steps they take when fielding a ground ball are the last two steps.These last two steps slow the fielder down and put him/her into Perfect Fielding Position. Demonstrate to players the first step in 1-2 Field. As in the photo below,the fielder has approached the ball off of his glove-hand side and taken a step with his throwing-hand foot straight ahead. The fielder’s chest goes down toward his thigh, with the glove remaining extended, palm to sky. On this step, it is important that the back starts to get flat, and the chest going to the thigh accomplishes this. Once players are in this position, command “Two” and have them step with their glove-hand foot out to the side, twice shoulder width,with feet aligned toe-to-heel (as shown below at right). On this step, the glove should hit the ground and they should now be in PFP. Repeat several times, with players starting in Step “One” and command “Two” to get them into PFP.

After players have performed the above several times, place them in running position, with feet shoulder-width apart and the glove-foot slightly forward. Make sure players have their glove extended with the palm to the sky. Command “One” and have them take the first step in 1-2 Field, landing on the ball of the foot with the glove still extended, and the chest going to the thigh. After a slight pause, command “Two” and have players take the second step in 1-2 Field, out to the side, placing them in Perfect Fielding Position.

 


Drills

  1. 1-2 Field (without ball – players start in running position)
  2. Short Roll – Place players 12-15 feet apart, facing partner. Command “Running Position” and player without ball assumes running position, with feet shoulder-width apart and glove foot slightly forward. Next, command “Roll.” Player with ball rolls ball to partner, who immediately performs 1-2 Field. First few times, have players freeze after covering ball. Then command “Cradle” – “Separate” – “Pop” and repeat several times. Finally, have players perform 1-2 Field and move through ball, shuffling to throw (but not actually throwing).
4. Teach Ready Position Place players in athletic position, with feet spread twice shoulder width, flexed at ankles and knees, slightly bent at waist with weight on balls of feet. Glove is extended somewhere between letters and belt, palm to sky. Players rock weight from ball of (left) foot to ball of (right) foot continuously to create momentum in preparation to move to either right or left. Place players on knee. Command “Ready Position” and players get into ready position. With players in ready position, command “Run in Place” and have players run in place. With players running in place, command “Go” and have players perform 1-2 Field.

Drills

  1. Ready – Run – 1-2 Field
  2. Long Roll – Place players 60-90 feet apart (depending on age). Each set of partners has a baseball. Command “Ready” and partner without ball assumes ready position. Command “Roll” and partner with ball rolls it toward partner. Partner without ball approaches ball using short, choppy steps, keeping feet underneath body, until last two steps (1-2 Field). On the first few times, have players freeze after covering the ball. This will show if the player is getting into PFP on time. If player is not fielding ball in front in PFP, either glove is not extended, they are not performing 1-2 Field properly, or they are waiting too long to perform their 1-2 Field.
2. Teach Lower Half FinishPlace players in throwing stance before placing them in throwing finish (finish shown in photo at left)

 

Commands:

  • Stance
  • Arms Crossed
  • Finish


Players should finish with the throwing-hand foot in front of the glove-hand foot, twice shoulder width in line with the target, with their chest facing the opposite direction from which they started. Eyes remain on target. Back should be flat.

It is important to remind players that the finish is the result of proper hip explosion, and that the back shoulder replaces the front shoulder before the back leg replaces the front leg. The first time your players do this drill, many will not explode their hips and will “walk” into the throw with their back leg coming through at the same time as the throwing arm.

 

3. Teach Upper Half StancePlace players in proper lower half stance as outlined in #1 above. Next, place them in the proper Upper Half Stance by having them repeat the following terms and make the necessary corrections:

 

  • Hands together (bring hands together with fingers toward middle – elbows stay in front of torso)
  • Palms down (separate hands palms down)
  • High Five (throwing hand goes to high five position with elbow approximately at shoulder height)

 

4. Teach Throwing ObjectivePlace players in throwing stance before placing them in throwing objective (shown at left). Have players keep their head still and push their front hip toward the target. 80% of the players’ weight should be on their front foot, with 20% of their weight on the throwing-hand foot instep. The glove arm should be boxed in front of the body with the palm to the target. Have players repeat the following terms and make the necessary corrections:

 

  • Head still (head remains back)
  • Front hip to target (front hip is pushed to target)
  • Box glove arm (palm is pointed toward target)
  • Weight 80/20 (80% on front foot, 20% on throwing foot instep)

Commands:

  • Stance
  • Head Still
  • Front hip to target
  • Weight 80/20
6. Teach Throwing Motion & Proper Arm ActionIn teaching the throwing motion, you will put together the above instruction, emphasizing the following points:

 

  • Get to throwing objective with head still, front hip to target
  • Throwing arm goes through before back leg

Command the following:

  • Stance
  • Head still
  • Front hip to target
  • Weight 80/20
  • Throw & Finish

7. Teach Shuffle

Place players in throwing stance, then command “hands together.” This will place them in the position of having just caught a ball as they prepare to throw. The shuffle is important in creating momentum to throw and helps players align with their target. Before having players shuffle at full speed, break the shuffle movement into parts. Once players are in throwing stance with hands together, command the following:

  • Step Together & Separate Hands (players step toward target with throwing hand foot, maintaining flex and body posture – hands separate palms down – don’t raise up!)
  • Step Apart, High Five (players step toward target with glove hand foot, maintaining flex and body posture – throwing hand goes to high five – don’t raise up!)

Once players have completed a few repetitions, give your commands more quickly to speed up the action. Finally, have players perform several repetitions at full speed, commanding:

  • Throwing Stance
  • Hands Together
  • Shuffle

8. Teach Grip

  • 4-Seam grip with middle 2 fingers across horseshoe seams, thumb underneath splitting the two fingers above
  • Ball is held out in fingertips

9. Teach Full Throwing Sequence
Place players in throwing stance, then command the following:

  • Stance
  • Hands Together
  • Begin

Players should separate their hands as they are shuffling. Remind them to freeze on their finish so you can check their position and body posture.

The key to hitting is balance. Without good balance, your players will not be able to maximize the explosive power of the lower half (hips) and will have difficulty controlling their body and the bat as they are swinging. Every time your players swing a bat (outside of game situations) they should freeze – on balance -and hold their finish for three seconds. This will help create muscle memory and outstanding balance.1. Teach Finish
Place players in their hitting finish as shown at right by having them take a slow-motion swing and freeze. Have them repeat the following terms while holding their finish:

 

  • Front foot closed (front foot remains closed)
  • Back foot pivot (back foot pivots 90 degrees as result of hip explosion
  • Shoulder full turn (back shoulder is fully turned)
  • Eyes at contact (eyes remain focused at point of contact)

While repeating terms, players make necessary corrections.

2. Teach Objective (Contact Position)
Place players in objective/contact position as shown at left and have them repeat the following terms:

 

  • Front foot closed
  • Back foot pivot
  • Belly button to pitcher (belly button pointed toward pitcher)
  • Hands extended (hands extended toward pitcher from belly button)
  • Bat barrel above hands (bat barrel held above hands)
  • Eyes at contact

While repeating terms, players make necessary corrections.

3. Teach Trigger from Objective (Preparation to Swing)
Explain the trigger. It is a slow rotation slightly inward and away from the pitcher which never stops and allows the hips to load in preparation to start the swing at any time. The purposes of the trigger are to time the pitch and to break inertia to get started. There are four hinges to the trigger: front ankle, front knee, front hip and front shoulder. The trigger starts with the hitter raising the front heel slightly and turning the front ankle and knee slightly inward. It is important to emphasize to your players that the trigger is a rotation, and not a swaying of the weight backward.Place players in the objective/contact position and command the following:

 

  • Hands in – players bring hands in toward belly button about 4-5 inches away from body
  • Back foot down – players “un-pivot” back foot
  • Triiiiiggggerrr – players slowly return to stance and slightly beyond

Obviously, your players will not start in their objective during a game, but will instead trigger from their stance. You will teach them to trigger from their stance after you have taught the stance.

4. Teach Stance
Place players in the objective/contact position and command the following:

 

  • Hands in
  • Back foot down
  • Triiiiiiggggerrrr
  • Freeze – players freeze after triggering

After freezing upon completion of the trigger, have players point their front shoulder toward the pitcher. The proper stance is shown at left. Have players repeat the following terms for the stance:

  • Toes (toes pointed straight toward home plate)
  • Spread (feet spread twice shoulders width for optimum balance)
  • Flex (flexed at ankles and knees with weight on balls of feet)
  • Waist (slightly bent toward home plate – gets weight on balls of feet)
  • Shoulder (front shoulder at pitcher, slightly lower than back shoulder)
  • Eyes (level and focused on pitcher)
  • Grip (door knocking knuckles lined up, with hands):
    • UP – hands at top of strike zone
    • IN – hands 4-5 inches away from body (too far away creates arm swing)
    • BACK – hands back – even or slightly beyond back shoulder
  • Elbows down (elbows pointed down but comfortably away from body)
  • Bat angle 45 (bat barrel at 45-degree angle over shoulder)
  • 60/40 (60 % of weight on back foot, 40% on front foot)

While repeating terms, players make necessary corrections.

Other than being a positive role model, the most important job you have as a coach is to help the youngsters on your team develop their playing skills. Improved playing skills lead to increased confidence and improved performance, and your team’s winning percentage should rise without having to place too much emphasis on winning.Skills should be taught in a progression, from less difficult to more advanced, and you should never ask your players to perform something in a game which you have not taught in practice. For example, don’t expect a player to slide properly and safely if he/she has not been given the information and steps to do so.
Your Teaching Sequence

 

Teach the finish first, then work back to the start .

Place your players in the “ultimate” position which you expect them to perform. For example, if you want your hitters to finish on balance with a firm front side, place them in the position shown at right and give them “keywords” or “terms” like those accompanying the photo at right. This will help them create the muscle memory needed to have balance and a firm front side at the finish of their swing.

Once your players have a good grasp of the result they are trying to achieve, work your way back in steps toward the beginning of the action. For instance, once your players have learned the finish, the next position they must learn is the objective, or position they must be in when they make contact. After teaching and drilling the objective, move on to the trigger (preparation to swing), and then on to the initial stance.

Have your players perform plenty of drills to reinforce muscle memory.

Simply showing your players the positions and actions they must perform does not ensure that they will learn them and be able to perform them in practice and/or game situations. It is crucial that you have your players regularly perform drills to reinforce the skills they have learned, and also to allow them to have success in a low-pressure environment. A game situation is not a low-pressure environment, and failures in game situations often lead to decreased confidence.

  • Safety Point:
    Explain that the head-first slide is the most dangerous, leaving the player vulnerable to hand, head and neck injuries. The bent-leg pop-up slide is the safest and the easiest to learn, and the headfirst slide is illegal in most leagues anyway.
     
  • Baserunning mind-set:
    Explain that the runner should always think 2 bases when running. The bent-leg pop-up slide allows the runner to get up for the chance to advance to the next base much more quickly than does the head-first slide.

 

 

Teach Bent-Leg Pop-Up SlidePlace players in a sitting position with both legs extended. Demonstrate and command the following, and have players mimic your actions.

 

  • Bend leg – bend one leg, placing the ankle of the bent leg underneath the knee of the extended leg
  • Relax extended knee – extended leg should be bent; heel should be slightly off ground
  • Back straight – don’t allow players to lean back
  • Hands above shoulders – make the #4, then cover thumbs with fingers

On a properly executed slide, both butt cheeks and the shin of the bent knee will get dirty.

Causes of Injury When Sliding:

 

  1. Slow to slide (runners stops running full speed), causes strawberries on knees
  2. Leaning to either side (causes strawberries on sides of leg, potential knee injuries)
  3. Sliding too late (slide should start when runner is two body lengths away from base)
  4. Once committed, the runner must not change his mind (knee and ankle injuries)
WHEN IN DOUBT, SLIDE!

Drills:

  1. Sliding Position
    Demonstrate drill. Place players in seated position with both legs extended. On command “Slide,” they move into sliding position.
  2. 4-Point Stance
    Demonstrate drill. Place players in football 4-point stance. On command “Slide,” players swing feet to side and move into sliding position. Practice sliding with both legs.

Quality 1 – Coach vs. Teacher

 

  1. You are a teacher first, and a coach second
  2. Teach proper techniques
  3. Discipline is of utmost importance
  4. Game: teacher becomes a coach

Quality 2 – You are motivated to help the kids

  1. Any coach can be the best in the world – only limited by your EGO
  2. Coach is not there to show he/she is the best
  3. Determine an appropriate definition of success

Quality 3 – Striving to win is more important than winning

  1. Stress & require effort
  2. Teach overcoming weaknesses

Quality 4 – Emphasis that the game is FUN

  1. Make practice FUN
  2. Promote camaraderie on the team
  3. Only one way to have FUN – improvement breeds success – success is fun

Quality 5 – Transform negatives into positives

  1. Baseball/Softball are games of failure
  2. Look for improvement in each player
  3. Worst thing a coach can do is YELL

Quality 6 – Coach is a student of the game

  1. No one knows everything about the game
  2. Increase your knowledge in any way possible

Quality 7 – Establish rules and enforce them

  1. Know the definition of authority
    1. Protection
    2. Direction
    3. Correction
      1. Players must be on time
      2. Players must listen
      3. Players are not to engage in dangerous conduct
      4. Players must display sportsmanship
      5. Players must be alert and follow signs and signals
      6. Players must give their best effort
  2. Make sure discipline is fair and equal for all players

Quality 8 – Be even-handed with all players, even your own child

Quality 9 – Good Organizer

  1. Have written practice & game plans
  2. Kids don’t care how much you know; they want to know how much you care

Quality 10 – Be a positive example

  1. You have volunteered to be a role model
  2. Teach the GAME OF LIFE

Safety Responsibilities

General Policy: The effectiveness of safety and accident prevention relies on the sincerity of purpose of the coaches and leaders of an organization. Responsibility: The responsibility for a sound safety and accident prevention program rests with everyone in the organization. Specific Safety Issues: The coach should remember he/she always has the final say in whether or not a facility is safe for his/her players, even if this may initially require him/her to forfeit a game.

 

  1. Develop a plan to effectively deal with emergencies should they arise.
  2. After an injury, do not return an athlete to participation until they are truly ready.
  3. Allocate sufficient time before practice to check the facilities for unsafe conditions and all playing equipment for defects.
  4. Develop a plan for every practice and inform assistants of what their duties are during practice. The lesson plan should include:
    1. Loosening-up drills at the beginning of practices and games.
    2. Pairing players by similar skills.
    3. Teach fundamentals in a progression.
    4. Provide as many repetitions of basic skills as possible.
    5. Minimize listening and lecture time.
    6. Keep players active.
    7. Use positive reinforcement generously.
    8. Be patient, persistent, flexible and maintain a sense of humor.
  5. Take action to ensure unsafe practices are corrected during practice.
  6. Ensure that an emergency first aid kit is readily available.
  7. Ensure that the parents of each player complete an “Authorization for Emergency Treatment” form and ensure that the form is immediately available at each practice or game.
  8. Make plans to have adequate supplies of water or other fluids available.
  9. Inspect field/facilities before every practice/game to eliminate/correct dangerous situations.
  10. Make sure each assistant coach knows his or her responsibilities in the event a player is injured.

Legal Issues Associated with Coaching Youth Sport

  1. Be Prepared to Answer Two Questions Concerning Injuries
    1. Did I do all that could be expected to prevent the injury from occurring before it occurred?
    2. Did I do all that should have been done to minimize the impact of the injury?
  2. To Be Safe from Litigation, You Must Be Able to Prove:
    1. That you did all that could be expected to prevent the injury from occurring.
    2. That you did all that could be expect to render the appropriate care after the injury occurred.
    3. That you did not do more than a person with your training should do when providing first aid.

    REMEMBER: If you are not qualified to deal with an injury, DON’T! Get medical assistance immediately.

  3. Take an Aggressive Approach to Preventing Injuries & Follow Regulations.
    1. Comply with all established rules and regulations.
    2. Teach proper techniques.
  4. Musts
    1. Have each player and parent complete and sign an authorization for emergency treatment.
    2. Always have these forms at all times and during all activities.
    3. Develop a plan to quickly and effectively deal with emergencies, which should cover the following:
      1. How to contact help immediately if needed.
      2. Provide an outline of what each player, coach and parent will do.
      3. How to contact parents.
      4. Always tape enough change inside of the medical kit or carry a cell phone in case an emergency phone call is requried. Identify where change is located.
      5. Identify which parents attending practices and games carry cell phones.
      6. Have key emergency phone numbers & location of nearest phone.
      7. Outline procedures to deal with typical onfield emergencies.
  5. Protection from Litigation
    1. You must constantly be aware so you can correct or terminate any situation or activity that poses a potential for injury.
    2. You must be able to answer affirmatively such questions as “did you comply with all established rules and regulations and did you do all that was possible to minimize the potential for injury?”
    3. If your league has developed safety policies and procedures or has developed other guidelines for coaches, have you reviewed them and planned for compliance?

OPERATIONS:

  1. Log practices by date.
  2. List items covered in each section of schedule.
  3. Prior to each practice, outline/review items being taught.
    1. Review old material
    2. Add new material
  4. Prepare to use entire coaching staff.

IMPORTANT TEACHING POINTS:

  1. Safety first – make sure all activities are safe
  2. Minimize lecture time
  3. Keep players active
  4. Make effective use of assistant coaches
  5. Teach skills in a progression
  6. Provide plenty of drill repetitions

TOPICS TO BE COVERED IN 20-MINUTE SESSIONS:
(for younger players, 15-minute sessions may be more appropriate)

HITTING
Balance/Perfect Finish
Objective
Stance
Trigger
Hips
Hand Action
THROWING
Grip of ball
Stance
Objective
Shuffle & Separate
Finish
80/20
Throwing Motion
FIELDING
Perfect Fielding Position
Ready Position
Cover/Cradle
1-2 Field
Footwork to throw
Slow rollers & pop-ups
PITCHING
Sign position
Set Position
Balance Point
Delivery
Finish
CATCHING
Sign position
Receiving position (nobody on)
Receiving position (runners on)
Blocking
Bunt coverage & pop-ups
TEAM ACTIVITIES
Bunting
Sliding
Cut-offs & relays
Baserunning
Situations
Competitions/Games

PRE-SEASON/EARLY SEASON DAILY PRACTICE SCHEDULE

  • 10 Minutes – Stretch & ReviewStretch and review items previously taught. Example: Last practice we learned the basics of a good stance (go through a quick review with the entire team). We also learned Perfect Fielding Position (review PFP).
  • 10 Minutes – Hitting5-7 minutes teaching
    13-15 minutes drills & competition

     

    Example: teach stance. Finish by dividing into teams and seeing which group has the best stance during competition. Give them a few chances to quickly get into a good stance.

  • 20 Minutes – Fielding/Catching5-7 minutes teaching
    13-15 minutes drills & competition
  • 20 Minutes – Throwing/Pitching5-7 minutes teaching
    13-15 minutes drills & competition
  • 20 Minutes – Team Activity

IN-SEASON DAILY PRACTICE SCHEDULE

  • 10 Minutes – Stretch & ReviewStretch & review items previously taught.
  • 20 Minutes – Fielding/Catching5-7 minutes teaching
    13-15 minutes drills & competition
  • 20 Minutes – Throwing & Pitching5-7 minutes teaching
    13-15 minutes drills & competition
  • 30 Minutes – Hitting (Batting Practice)2 groups of six players each
    – 1 group hitting for 15 minutes
    – 1 group in instruction for 15 minutes

     

    After 15 minutes, groups switch

  • 10 Minutes – Conduct a Team Activity