Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter challenges YOU this season
By Greg Bach
Nothing smothers a youth baseball player’s enthusiasm quicker than attending practices filled with tedious and mind-numbing drills.
So if your practices aren’t fun, engaging and action-packed you’ll be a major disappointment to your players.
And the season will be a flop.
“My challenge to coaches at the youth level is to make it fun for the players,” Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter told SportingKid Live. “I always ask coaches ‘Would you want to come to your practice? Would you want to be part of your team? Is it fun?’”
Showalter, winner of more than 1,300 games and a three-time American League Manager of the Year, knows as well as anyone how crucial it is that practices ooze fun and are full of what kids crave: action
Otherwise you risk losing players.
“One year I helped with my son’s high school team some and the coach was asking me for pointers,” Showalter recalled. “I said, 'Look at your practice yesterday. These kids sat around in the outfield for two hours shagging balls in batting practice. No wonder they’re going to football and they’re going to basketball and they’re going to lacrosse. Why would they come do this?'”
One remedy? Involve kids in a variety of positions instead of restricting them to just one position all season long.
“They want to run, they want to catch the ball, they want to throw it, they want to play different positions,” Showalter says. “Let them play shortstop. Have them put the catching gear on. That’s why we’re losing so many players to other sports. I don’t think we take all the good things that baseball has to offer and let them participate in it.”
And get creative. All it takes is a little imagination to put a unique twist on a drill.
“Play intra-squad games where you start with 0-2 counts,” Showalter suggests as just one example of a way to liven up a scrimmage.
Anything that is different grabs kids’ interest. And it simply can’t be stated enough – keep every youngster engaged and on the move.
“Just don’t have them standing around, have them participate and make it somewhat competitive,” Showalter stresses. “Have action and that just takes some imagination from the coach. Put yourself in your players’ shoes and ask yourself, ‘Would I want to do this?’”
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Olympic swimming great Dana Vollmer, winner of five gold medals, challenges coaches of all youth sports to find the most effective ways to motivate all their young athletes