Coaching Discipline Comes in Many Forms

Is discipline necessary or out of place for today's youth athletes? As we have stated before, discipline is absolutely necessary. When kids first start youth programs they are appropriately scared. Usually it is their first experience in organized activities and they don't know what to expect. Coaching discipline is found in many forms: direction, teaching, promoting team bonding, setting team and program goals, and doling out non-demeaning punishment for breaking the team code.

Kids crave direction and leadership from coaches. They look up to coaches immediately, so it is the coaches' responsibility to live up to that trust and show them the way, from the most efficient practice plans, to teaching them how to practice correctly and how to accomplish team and individual goals. Understanding skill techniques, applying them to each player, and making them repeat techniques until they succeed are absolutes for every coach. Kids want to improve and contribute to their team. It keeps them interested in continuing on in their designating sport or activity.

Team bonding is achieved by doing everything as a team—drills, warmups, water-breaks, etc—which helps players understand a “we” mentality. Off the field there should be organized group functions to demonstrate and emphasize togetherness.

Setting team goals should always be stressed. It is about developing the athletes physically and emotionally, not about winning youth games. Coaches must use their imagination and coaching talent to also make every player's personal goal within reach.

Lastly, punishment should be enforced if team rules are broken or ignored. It should be made clear by coaches what team and league rules are before practices begin, and express that any deviations will be dealt with. Youth punishments are usually in the form of running or calisthenics, but if there are serious infractions parents should be immediately notified.

Preparation Will Help Pitchers Maintain Velocity

After observing Justin Verlander the past several years throw harder in the last part of a game than at the start, how do youth and high school coaches teach their pitchers to maintain their velocity throughout a game? Coaches can only develop the talent pitchers were born with. It’s what we call their sports DNA. What they do have control over is maximizing velocity and command of the strike zone through preparation.

Preparation involves conditioning, core and power training, pitching strategy, and teaching pitching mechanics correctly according to the individual. This program will help pitchers control the four quadrants, and with continued diligence and repetition, pitchers can correct mechanics and increase velocity.

Youth and high school pitchers can have success if they work at these facets of pitching and continue to accept coaching, no matter the body type or talent level.

Coaching D.E.P.T.H.

Any great youth baseball program follows the D.E.P.T.H. program--an acronym for discipline, execution, preparation, teamwork, and hustle. Discipline: Convincing players to trust what you have taught them and to keep believing it despite wanting to do it their own way in the heat of the game, which usually results in failure.

Execution: Executing plays, strategies, and skills by proven methods, through repetition of instruction without deviation.

Preparation: Getting your players ready for any type of situation or team.

Teamwork: Teaching every player their role within a team framework, and telling them to root for each other. As a coach, you need to make it known to parents and players from the first day of practice that team play is the only way.

Hustle: Making all players understand that they must go all-out on every play and letting them know that a less than 100% effort is unacceptable to everyone involved with the team.

If coaches preach D.E.P.T.H., the eventual result will be both team and individual success.