A rite of passage for many young Americans, Little League baseball is an excellent way of fostering teamwork and helping our young people to learn more about themselves. Individuals are brought together as a team to work towards a common goal. While one or two kids may excel, there are enough positions on the field for all the kids to join in. Little Leaguers learn a lot of skills and qualities, and are helped in this learning by the coaches.
Too often the portrait of the Little League coach is painted in a bad light. Words like aggressiveness, favoritism, and pressure get thrown around. While every apple has its bad seeds, the majority of Little League coaches are upstanding individuals. They are usually parents who volunteer their time to pass their knowledge of the game on to younger generations. Many coaches are teachers, laborers, or work in offices. They understand the importance of teamwork in daily life and they understand the need for positive influences when young.
Parents don’t really appreciate much of the hard work that a coach and his assistants put in to running a Little League. Coaches have to arrange the schedules for every game and practice session, put together the line-ups for every game and record every single pitch and hit. Many coaches even take the children out for pizza and ice cream after a game, whether the result has been good or bad. Coaches have an important role to play in helping the kids manage their emotions, as well as learning the valuable quality of patience.
Coaching Little League isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. A coach’s relationship with the players and parents can be very profound. The players are provided with structure and the opportunity to meet new friends. For me, many of my closest life-long friends are ones that I met in my Little League years. I look back on those years with happiness. As well as making good friendships, another reason why I enjoyed Little League so much was because I had fantastic coaches who encouraged me to succeed.
Some coaches don’t appreciate the impact that their behavior has on the kids. In one incident I recall, the coach from the opposing team flipped out at the umpire over a bad call. While he launched into a tirade against the unfortunate umpire, with the rest of his team joining in, my team remained calm and waited for the arguing to subside. Our coach had drummed into us that, at the end of the day, it was only a game, and that there were more important things in life. Some people need to remember that.
All a Little League coach needs is a passion for the game and a desire to share that passion with others. Too many people who played Little League in their own childhoods, with big dreams of one day playing in the majors, now restrict their participation in baseball to sitting in the crowd as fans, or occasionally playing for their Beer League softball team. Rather than knocking back the beer, squeezing their out of shape bodies into uniforms, and reveling in past glory, they could be sharing their knowledge and helping children develop their baseball talent. This could really help those children who are naturally gifted in the sport but who don’t have the support to nurture their talent.
I suggest you go out into the community and see how you can get involved. Little Leagues even need announcers and concession stand managers. Maybe you can start out that way before moving on into coaching. Whatever your route, sharing your love of baseball will take you back to why you feel in love with the game in the first place. After all, why else do you shell out forty dollars a ticket to watch professional millionaires do what kids pay to be able to do?