So you’re the coach of a youth baseball team and the day of the game is here. At practices, you got into a routine about the types of things you needed to have a good practice. You probably had a practice plan, your equipment bag including balls, catcher’s equipment and helmets. But now that game day has arrived, there are a variety of things you need to have to be fully prepared.
As a guide, we’ve put together a list of things a coach will need to have to insure that when they get to the field, they’re ready to go. Make sure you plan appropriately by having as many of these items either prepared or with you on game day.
Batting Order and Lineup
In advance, you should have put together your lineup to start the game. This is going to include the batting order as well as the defensive position each player will start the game at. Also, if you plan to move some players around to different positions on the field, it’s helpful if you have that mapped out in advance. Each coach should also have a sheet that includes your full roster of players, whether they are starting or not.
In addition to your starting lineup, you should have a plan for how you will substitute your players as the game moves along. Many youth leagues will require all players to play a certain number of innings or make a plate appearance. Having a substitution pattern set up in advance will help alleviate any game day stress of trying to meet that requirement. It’s also a good way of providing an equal amount of playing time for all players.
No coach should come to a game without at least a basic first aid kit. You shouldn’t expect another coach or parent to provide this. In fact, we would recommend that you make sure you have a fully stocked first aid kit. It should also include ice packs to help reduce swelling if players have been hit by the ball.
Make sure you have a scorebook to keep track of what’s happening in the game. Coaches will need to follow along to make sure they know who’s coming up to bat as well as which players are in or out of the game. They will also use the scorebook to refer to after the game.
Coaches should have a good understanding of the rules used by their particular league, but it’s always a good idea to have a copy of those rules with you. Although you may not refer to it during the game, there could be a time that you’ll need to look at it or have one of your assistants do so.
Teams will normally have some time to take the field and get warmed up prior to the game. It certainly won’t be like a full practice session but players should get a chance to field some grounders or fly balls as well as take a few swings will the bat.
Coaches should bring a tool such as an Accubat or Fungo for hitting some pop ups, fly balls or grounders to their players. The Accubat is recommended for it’s ease of hitting the ball much more accurately.
Also, if the coach has a speed bat to help players with their swings, they should have it with them on game day. This bat is intended to help players increase bat swing speed, improve their contact point and dramatically improve hitting mechanics.
Some teams may also want to practice in the pre-game by having players hit hard plastic whiffle type baseballs made to be hit by aluminum or metal bats. If that’s something you do, make sure to pack some of those plastic balls before you leave for the game.
Make sure you have some extra water available for your players. As we know, baseball is played in some of the warmest months of the year. Add to that a dry and sometimes dusty baseball field, and your team will need some hydration. And after the game, it’s a good idea to make sure there are other types of refreshments available for your players. It helps for coaches to have a schedule in which parents will provide these on a rotating basis.
These are just some of the things that youth baseball coaches should have prepared in advance for game day. This is certainly not al all-inclusive list but should at least provide a starting point for you. So start getting prepared for the game and above all, have fun.