Coaching a Little League baseball team carries responsibilities, including player safety, teaching the skills of the game and making sure players are happy. While the thrust of the game at the youth level is teaching, you also have to use strategy to attempt to win; success will help players learn the lessons you want to teach.
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Setting the Batting Order
One of the ways to make a lineup in youth baseball is to put the bulk of your top hitters in the third through seventh spots in the lineup. Many coaches will put the team's struggling hitters in the first and second and the eighth and ninth spots. The idea is that if you can get through the first two hitters in the lineup, you have a chance to put together a rally because you have five strong hitters coming up behind them. This can give your team a chance to put together several big innings.
Who's On First?
When coaching players who are 10 or younger, you may want to put your best defensive players at catcher, first base, second base and center field. You want a catcher who can protect himself and catch the ball dependably as it crosses home plate. The first baseman is involved with every ground-ball out, and the center fielder has the most ground to cover in the outfield. When players get older, the best defensive player on the team usually plays shortstop, but in Little League baseball, it's easier to make the play from second. By putting one of your best defensive players there, you don't give outs away. Nearly every ball the good-fielding second baseman gets to turns into an out.
You Need a Closer
When you put your pitchers on the mound, you need all of them to come through for you. No team can afford to have a pitcher walk batter after batter, because that can lead to a huge rally. But many coaches like to start the game by using their second-best pitcher for the first two innings and their best pitcher for the last two. In between, the coach will try to get by in innings three and four with a number of pitchers, just hoping to survive.
Aggressiveness at the Plate
As players get older and more experienced, coaches ask them to be selective at the plate and wait until pitchers throw a hittable pitch before they attack the ball. In Little League, you want players to take the bat off of their shoulders and swing. Many young players are afraid to fail and end up freezing at the plate and taking three strikes. Encourage your players to swing at any pitch that's over the plate. Some coaches want players to swing at pitches that are even close, because umpires at the Little League level will call strikes on pitches that are one ball-width inside or outside the strike zone. Teaching players to be aggressive at the plate will help make them much better hitters.