After a season of coaching Little League Baseball, there were a lot of lessons learned and observations made. Here are 10 tips that will help any Little Leaguer play better.
1) You Will Get Out
The biggest challenges most little leaguers face are striking out, hitting the ball and getting out. The more accepting a player becomes of the possibility of these occurring, the simpler the game will become. On offense, it is the hitter's job to hit the ball. However, it is the defense's job to get the hitter out. Nobody ever wants to strike out or get out, but it is a part of the game.
2) Keep Getting Better
The ultimate goal for the player is to be better at the end of the season than at the beginning. This takes practice, paying attention and putting skills to use. This is all about focusing on the process more so than the results. Aim to hit the ball harder more consistently, throw more strikes, make accurate throws, field and catch the ball, and be in the right positions.
3) Get What You Put In
What type of effort is being put forth? Poor effort will lead to poor results. The more quality exposure to the game a player experiences, the better the performance will be. It's more than just attending practice or swinging the bat. Pay attention to what is happening during practice.
4) Be a Student
Ask questions. Make observations. See what others are doing. Watch videos. Read articles and books. Attend games. Put what is learned to use. These are things that students of the game do consistently to help them become better and better.
5) Warm-up to Throw
Often players and their parents arrive to the field and just start throwing. This sets players up for injury over the long haul. Doing an active warm-up serves three purposes:
- It transitions players from their previous role (student, sibling, son) to that of baseball player.
- It gets the body ready for movement of the game and helps reduce the opportunity for injury to arise.
- It prepares the athletes for the next level.
6) Harder Does Not Mean Better
It's easy to say swing harder and throw harder. How many times has a little leaguer done this and had unsuccessful outcomes? The answer is often. Control is more important than power, strength, or speed. The more players learn to play with control, the better the performance will be. Once control is in place, the power strength, and speed will be even more beneficial.
Many times players heart beats are racing and nobody ever knows. Teammates, coaches, parents, spectators often only look at what's happening on the outside and miss what's happening on the inside. When players learn to relax, the game will slow down.
8) You Will Make Mistakes
Even at the professional level, athletes who get paid millions of dollars and have years of experience make mistakes; pitchers walk hitters, hitters strike out and don't drive in runs, fielders make bad throws and drop the ball. Once this is accepted, it makes the game simpler to play and players are able to see the mistakes as learning opportunities. Instead of dwelling on the mistakes, ask the question "What can I learn from this?"
9) Be a Good Teammate
Although there are a lot of individual efforts, baseball is still a team sport. Encourage others, cheer teammates on and celebrate the success of others.
10) I Got This
When things get tough, this phrase here has helped many players settle down. Saying this three times with deep breathes and a smile will do wonders for the psyche an play of the player.
Whether just starting to play Little League or having more advanced skills, these tips will help any Little Leaguer play the game better. Start putting them to use and see the positive impact they have on the Little League experience.
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