Just because your squad didn't qualify for this year's Little League® World Series doesn't mean you can't make your reservation for next year.
Here are seven tips to help your team get prepared for a successful run in the postseason--and possibly a trip to Williamsport.
More: History of the Little League World Series
More: Perfect Practice Plan
- Meet with the parents before the season starts. I know. It's not every coach's idea of a good time to talk to parents if you don't have to. But by setting up a parent's meeting before the season you can go over things such as team rules, playing time, expectations and whatever else you want to cover. By being clear up front about what's expected you'll hopefully avoid future issues and create an environment for productive and positive team play.
- Recruit quality coaches. As a manager you can't do everything. By finding good volunteer coaches to serve on your staff you'll ensure everybody on the team gets individual instruction and it will also free you up to come up with creative ways to teach the fundamentals. (And many veteran youth Little League® coaches will tell you it's in the postseason that assistant coaches can really make a huge impact.)
More: Parent's Guide to Little League All Stars
- Devise the "perfect" practice. Feel like your practices are bit unfocused? Not sure you're getting through to the team? Follow this step-by-step guide to designing a practice to make sure your players are learning the fundamentals--and having fun in the process. Hint: Keep them moving.
- Focus on process, not results. How do you keep your squad from putting too much pressure on themselves? Have them focus on getting better--not worrying about whether they get a hit or a strikeout. If the regular habits are sound, and they're able to weather some adversity, good results will come.
- Keep your pitchers healthy. Everybody knows how important pitch counts are but that's just a part of the equation. Learn everything you can about arm injury prevention--and subsequent remedies--so you keep your young hurlers healthy and ready for a possible postseason berth.
- Prepare for the curveball. One of the biggest differences between regular season and postseason is the prevalence of off-speed pitches that young hitters see. Teach your team how to hit the curveball now and they'll be way ahead of the game come playoff time.
More: Brian Sipe on Playing in the LLWS
- Travel in style. If you make it past all-stars and into a regional tournament then you'll need be doing serious travel with your team. This can either be a great experience or an organizational nightmare. Follow these nine tips for team travel to make sure that things go smoothly off the field so your team is ready on the field.
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