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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Youth Baseball Coaching Challenge - Developing a Coaching Philosophy

By Larry Miljas

Developing a coaching philosophy is an often overlooked yet very important aspect of coaching. Many youth baseball coaches have an idea of their philosophy, but never take the time to write it down or convey it to their parents and players. By doing so you will be helping your team understand you and your expectation and believe me, this will make your job A LOT easier.

Your philosophy is a collection of principles that you will use to run your team. The principles that you have will guide you in creating your team policies and these policies will guide your coaching decisions throughout the year. If parents and baseball players know what your philosophy is, what your policies are and what you expect from them, you will be ahead of about 90% of all youth coaches in heading off potential disasters. However, let me make one thing clear. If your philosophy and policies should change during the season, you MUST communicate this as early as possible.

It's not as complicated as it may seem. To break it down -- Your coaching philosophy is made up of your principles, your principles will drive your policies and your policies will drive your decisions. As stated earlier, all coaches have an idea of what their philosophy, principles and policies are, but by organizing, clarifying and communicating them, you will increase your coaching effectiveness.

Step 1 -- Organize. Think about what is important to you as a baseball coach and write it down. Create a spreadsheet or word document of what you feel is important for you as a coach to do for your players. Make a list.

Step 2 -- Clarify. Once your list is finished, go through and make sure you didn't miss anything. Also, look for things that appear contradictory. If you find some, think about what the differences are between the two and then remove one, or clarify it if need be. Once you get a clear understanding of what is important to you as a coach, you should have a good list of principles to use to develop your policies.

Step 3 -- Communicate. Clean up and edit your document and then use it as a handout at your first practice, or attach it to your introductory letter. At your parent meeting (yes you should have one of these), go over it with parents and let them ask questions. This should put everyone on the same page. By communicating your philosophy and policies at the beginning of the season, you will save yourself headaches and distractions later on.

In closing, here are some sample principles that I have heard other coaches incorporate into their philosophy.

* Doing your best is more important than success.
* Coaches, Players and Parents should be positive at all times.
* Good sportsmanship is mandatory.
* Players and Coaches should have fun.
* Players and Coaches should be disciplined.
* Players and Coaches should be enthusiastic.
* Always keep a good attitude.

There are probably hundreds or thousands more, but this should give you a good start. I wish you success in your youth baseball coaching endeavors. Make it a great season!

Larry Miljas believes that coaching youth is very important as it gives us a chance to influence tomorrow's leaders. He is a martial arts instructor and little league baseball coach that wants to provide baseball tips, drills, and information on techniques for hitting, pitching, coaching, and training through his website at

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick