I have written before about my experiences coaching my son’s baseball team. Things got really interesting this past spring when I volunteered to coach both Carter’s 8U team and Seth’s 6U team in the Grassland Baseball League. In addition to the fact that I spent three to four nights a week at the baseball fields as well as three to hour hours each Saturday, I had a great time spending time with my kids.
As I get ready to take on coaching both teams again this fall, I have been readying several resources that I have collected or developed over the past few years. I have spent quite a bit of time scouring the Internet to little avail so I decided to share several resources here.
- Lineup Card (Word) – I keep a score book for each team but this is a lineup card that I give to the opposing coach as well as to my volunteer dugout parent to keep the lineup straight. The league in which we sons play require players to switch positions every two to three innings, which is the reason for the additional columns. This is a common set-up for younger teams.
- Lineup Card – Substitutes (Excel) – As players age, it becomes common for leagues to move to a 9-player format resembling MLB. This lineup card allows for 9 batter and fielders as well as several substitutes.
- Lineup Card – No Substitutes (Excel) – Some leagues allow for all players to bat while limiting the number of fielders to 9. This lineup card allows for up to 11 batters but the additional batters would be listed as “EH” (extra hitters).
- Position Tracker (Excel) – I track each player’s starting position from game-to-game so that I can do my best to equalize playing time in the infield and outfield. As children get older, some simply will not be able to play in the infield but, especially at younger ages, I believe in giving all players the chance to play in the infield at least some of the time.
- Season-Starting Email (Word) – Once our player draft is over, I try to get an email out to my parents as quickly as possible. This is especially important when you only have a few weeks before the start of your regular season and you need to have your first practice a few days later. I have noted the sections of the email you could customize to fit your team and league information.
- Team Hitting Stats (Excel) – I have not yet started tracking many defensive stats for my 8U team because we still rotate players a lot but I have starting tracking hitting stats. This basic spreadsheet tracks hits, at-bats, runs, wins and losses for each player, game and the overall season. The most recent version I used was for an 11-player team and 13-game season but you can add columns and rows to fit the size of your team and length of your season.
- Team Hitting Stats – Advanced (Excel) – As I prepare to take my 8U team to the 10U division (which is kid-pitch with steals) I decided to create a more advanced offensive stat tracker for this season. This spreadsheet tracks games, hits, at-bats, doubles, triples, home runs, strike outs, walks, hit-by-pitch, runs, total bases, times on base, total plate appearances, batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage (OBP), and on-base percentage plus slugging (OPS). UPDATE: I have expanded the spreadsheet to 15 games and added a column to track RBI.
- Baseball Score Cards – Some seasons my league provides a score book but not always. I found this resource that provides free, public-domain score cards in multiple formats. My favorite is the Enhanced Vertical Scorecard.
- Player Evaluation Form (PDF) – A good, concise evaluation form for players based on the fundamental skills needed to play baseball.
- Depth Chart (PDF) – An editable, visual depth chart.
- Pitch Count Tracker (Excel) – Most leagues have mandatory rest rules based on the total number of pitches thrown in a game as well as a maximum number of pitches, typically on a per-game or per-week limit. I created this tracker based on a per-game maximum of 75 pitches, but it could easily be customized to your league rules. There is also a key that leverages conditional formatting in Excel to change colors based on the pitch count range.
- Team Pitching Stats – Advanced (Excel) – This spreadsheet tracks games, innings, pitches, hits, strike outs, walks, hit batsmen, runs, hits per 9 innings, strike outs per 9 innings, walks per 9 innings, and earned run average.
Books, Blogs, Practice Plans, Web Sites, etc.
- Coaching Youth Baseball the Ripken Way – I stumbled upon this book online and have found it to be a great resource. The first several chapters layout a philosophical framework for how to coach youth baseball and the later chapters provide many drills and comprehensive practice plans you can use. All of the drills and plans are rated by age and cover batting, defense and pitching.
- Coachdeck Baseball Training Drill Cards – Packaged as a deck of cards, this is a great quick-reference for baseball drills for players of all ages. Covering multiple topics (defense, batting, pitching, etc.), these can help you jump-start your practices with multiple drills and stations that keep your players moving.
- TeamSnap – TeamSnap provides web-based software to manage teams and leagues but their blog also provides some great real-world content on topics such as being the coaches child and tips for getting parents on board for a successful season.
- All Pro Dad – Family First is the non-profit organization that created this site, which focuses on being a great father with sports references galore. Many of the ideas for dads can be easily translated to apply to coaches.
- CoachUp – While I have never personally used CoachUp (I think it’s a little early to have my 7 and 5 year old sons working with a private coach), this is a good resource to help find a private coach for multiple sports.
- Little League® Bat Rules – They change every year so I always recommend that parents check out the current restrictions and bans on bats on the official Little League® web site.
- The Baseball Drill Book – This is the latest book that I have purchased that includes a number of drills for all ages and positions. It is a compilation of drills from the American Baseball Coaches Association.
- Ripken Baseball YouTube Channel – This public video channel contains videos covering batting, fielding, throwing and more.
- Drills for Catchers – List basic and advanced of drills specifically for catchers of all ages.
- Positive Coaching Alliance – National non-profit developing “Better Athletes, Better People” by working to provide youth and high school athletes a positive, character-building youth sports experience.
- MOJO – Mobile app that leverages technology to help coaches plan better practices.