Baseball Coaching Tips for Good Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship is a big part of youth baseball. A coach’s job is not only to teach the game of baseball but also to teach youth to be better people. Sportsmanship comes in so many different forms in the game of baseball that a new coach might need a score card. Let’s take a look at some Baseball Coaching Tips for Good Sportsmanship that will help the team on the field and off.

#1 Expectations for the Coach & the Coaching Staff

Good sportsmanship starts with the coach and the coaching staff. It is a huge problem if the adults are engaging in activities at the field that the players should not be. The players will want to be like their coaches and will copy behaviors. For example, if coaches use poor language then eventually so will the players. The adults representing the team must act like adults and set good examples for their young players.

#2 Poor Language & Verbal Abuse

Players and coaches should not be using poor language and should not be subjecting anyone to verbal abuse. This should go without saying.

#3 Songs and Chants

One of my favorite things about being in a youth baseball dugout were the songs and chants that the players would come up with to help life up their spirits. “First,second, third, and home. Around the bases we shall rome.” and other little tunes would ring in my ears as the game progressed. Unfortunately, there were also some songs and chants that weren’t so nice or appropriate. Songs or chants that are inappropriate and/or are directed at the opposing team should not be allowed.

#4 Aggressive Play vs Dirty Play

There is a huge difference between aggressive play and dirty play. There is nothing wrong with a player who always hustles, slides hard, and occasionally makes incidental contact with opposing players. There is a problem with a player who is always aggressively making contact with opposing players on purpose. A player that is recklessly attempting to hurt or injure other players needs to be addressed immediately about the issue. A coach should never condone or encourage dirty play. Additionally, a youth baseball pitcher should not be instructed to throw “brush back” pitches or instructed to “drill” an opposing batter on purpose. It is ok for a pitcher to aim for the inside corner or pitch a bit inside as “using all of the plate” and locating pitches ( sometimes out of the strike zone) is a basic pitching strategy. “Purpose”, “message”, or “retaliation” pitches should not be happening at the youth baseball level.

#5 Running Up the Score

There is actually responsibility that comes with coaching a team that has jumped out to a big lead. At the youth baseball level of play, all teams and their volunteers should be working together to provide the players with as much instruction and enjoyment as possible. With that said, it is a youth baseball coach’s duty to not embarrass the opposition. There are small things a coach can do to not let the game become overly embarrassing. Stop stealing bases, stop bunting, and attempting to hold base runners from taking extra bases are common ways of trying to keep the game from getting “out of control”. However, asking players to strikeout on purpose or asking them to get put out on the bases on purpose is not acceptable because that can be just as embarrassing as running up the score.

#6 Umpires

Umpires should be treated with the utmost respect. Coaches should be teaching players that umpires will make mistakes from time to time and human error is a part of the game. It is wrong for a coach to tell players that umpires cheat, umpires “cost us the game”, and umpires are lousy. Despite the opinion of a given umpire, a coach must be respectful to ensure the players will not learn bad sportsmanship.

#7 The Opposition

The opposing team – players and coaches- should be treated with respect. If the respect is not given back, it is not ok to be disrespectful in retaliation. The opposing team should be viewed as the competition and not viewed as the enemy.

#8 Parents/Fans

I think it is awesome when family and friends come to a game to support players. What I don’t approve of is when they are inappropriate in showing their support. “Fans” should not be using poor language and should not be ridiculing anyone else’s children ( I’ve unfortunately seen “fans” verbally attack players on the same team they are supporting). A coach should never encourage “fans” to act poorly and should in fact address those “fans” who are being verbally abusive. A “fan”, despite what they may think, does not have the right to verbally abuse anyone ( coaches, players, umpires, etc.) at a youth baseball game and especially not a child.

#9 Delaying the Game

A coach should not be delaying the game to gain a competitive advantage. If there are time limits on games or darkness curfews, coaches should not be trying to manipulate the situations in an attempt to gain a win. This is not teaching good sportsmanship and can also make a mockery of the game. A coach who repeatedly tries to delay a game should be ejected from the game by the umpire.

#10 Sportsmanship Line

When a youth baseball game concludes, the two teams line up to “high five” each other. This should happen after every game no matter what and without issues. The team must be on its best behavior during this friendly ritual. After all , the sportsmanship line signifies that at the end of the day a youth baseball game is just a friendly game between neighborhood kids.

Final Thoughts

Good sportsmanship by all those involved in a youth baseball game will make a much more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. It is especially important to create an appropriate and positive environment for the youth who are participating. It is the duty of the adults to ensure that the youth baseball experience is one that a child can later in life reflect on as some of the best years of their lives.

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