The #1 question I get from coaches who teach young players has very little to do with the actual game of baseball: How do I keep the players engaged?
Most of the time it isn't what we are sayingbut how we are saying it. Players hear your tone first and see your body language second. It is only after that do they hear the message.
Take the sunglasses off. Players need to see your eyes.
Learn the names of your players. The greatest sound to a young player is the sound of his or her name. It is also the easiest way to get their attention.
You can't correct until they know you care.
Reward what you want repeated.
Strive for 5 positives to every negative. 5:1 ratio. It works!
Substitute the word "but" with "and."
Use "if/then" statements. "IF you keep your head down THEN you will see the ball longer."
Catch them being good. It's easy to see the negative. A great coach sees a + and says something +.
Do you want to right or effective? Criticize in private and praise in public.
Excite the players by fostering a creative, fun environment. The field should look fun before a practice!
Talk with players upon arrival. They are a person first and a player a distant second. How was school? What are your plans for the weekend? Get them excited and make them comfortable.
State rules at the beginning of every practice. This way you can hold each player accountable for the responsibilities that you outline.
Player(s) acting up? Is the plan boring? Rather than blaming the players, look inward. Kids have short attention spans and if your plan or outline of class is boring then they are far more apt to act out.
Praise the player’s effort and not the result. Effort is a controllable, results often are not.
Foster a sense of fair play and competition.
Create a dialogue and get the player’s input. Not a monologue. Give them ownership of their development.
Stress what it means to be a good teammate; it starts with listening and not disrupting practice.
Speak with a sense of excitement and sense of urgency! If you speak in long boring diatribes, then the sound of your voice is going to cause players to tune you out and turn their attention to something else.
Start with a bang, end with a bang. A great opening and a dynamic closing to your practice is what people remember.
Present a topic in under a minute.
Competitions are great; however, don’t dwell on the actual winner. This creates animosity and tears (depends on the age).
Speak loudly (at times). If they can’t hear you…they won’t listen to you.
Speak softly (at times). Occasionally changing the flexion of your voice or its level will cause the players to stop what they are doing and listen. “Wow, he must be saying something really important.”
Give honest, specific and sincere appreciation.
Become genuinely interested in other people.
Be a good listener. Encourage other to talk about themselves.
Talk in terms of the interests of others.
Make the players on your team feel important; and do it sincerely.
The only way to get the best out of an argument is to avoid it.
Show respect for the other person's opinions and perspective.
If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
Begin conversations in a friendly way.
Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
Represent your league in a professional manner at all times.