Author Archive: Ida Allen

Coaching Little League Baseball

Coaching Little League Baseball can be one of the most rewarding, and at the same time most challenging, coaching jobs in all of sports. A well-seasoned and effective coach working with players who are still in their formative years, can provide a foundation for future success in baseball. On the other hand, dealing with inattentiveness , short attention spans and lack of focus on the part of players at this age can be frustrating for a coach.

Also, one can never forget the challenges to come with dealing with the parents of Little League ball players. Any given team will have one or two sets of parents that overestimate or overstate the talent of their child. That is not to say that there are not some good or even great ball players at this age, but parents should be aware that coaching should be left to the coach. This is one of the first things a coach should impart to his team and to the team parents.

Coaching a player in the Little League system requires patience and understanding of where the children are at developmentally. Older players in the system usually have this mastered, but younger players will struggle with the ability to pay attention to coach throughout the entire practice.

Coaching this age is also extremely rewarding. Correcting minor flaws in a player’s swing or throwing motion can have a lifelong effect on their ability to play baseball competitively. The lower end of the Little League age group is also learning the basic fundamentals of the game. Teaching them proper fundamentals is essential to future success in competitive baseball. Some players take to the game immediately while others learn with very little direct supervision and then there is a group who need a lot more Hands-On coaching. This last group is the group that the coach can have the most impact on. Patience can go a long way and can affect whether a player continues to play competitive baseball. And inpatient coach can negatively affect the players self-esteem or desire to play. Younger players are very impressionable and can easily be turned away from the game at this age.

Some players also take to the game like a fish to water. They already know the fundamentals from playing pick up games with their friends. They’ve already established themselves as good players and have learned fundamentals through trial and error, or with the help of their parents or older siblings. This type of player one require too much direct attention.

Baseball is the sport in which the better players come with an abundance of natural talent. It’s the Little League coach’s job to hone that talent. Players without that Raw Talent can still be shaped into productive players. This is where the little league coach can shine. He must be a patient and focus on the player’s needs.

Little League coaching can certainly be a challenge but it is worth the time and effort required.

A Coach Who Taught from Experience

Gene Guarilia was my high school gym teacher. He also taught health classes at the school and had been the basketball coach for many years before I arrived at the high school. He was enormous. Six feet five inches, although he looked a hell of a lot bigger than that. He was known by many names. Whether it was Big Gene, the name all students called him behind his back, Pecos, the name his friends used, or simply Coach, as he was known by the legion of young men he led onto the hardcourt, everyone spoke of him with respect. Gene carried with him a history that was known by many but rarely spoken of. Especially by him.

Gene was born in the coal regions of Pennsylvania, in a small town famous for its pizza, Old Forge. September of 1937 was the beginning of Big Gene’s story. It was a story that would span many miles and many days.

From the very beginning Gene loved the game of basketball. As a young boy, and later a young man, he could most often be found on the playground, ball in hand, shooting foul shots. His dedication and commitment to the game pay dividends. He became a star in high school. As a matter of fact, in 1953 he said a state record for most points scored by a freshman, 595.

His many talents in the basketball court enabled him to attend George Washington University on a scholarship. 30 point college basketball, at one point averaging over 17 points a game and reaching the top ten in the NCAA in rebounding.

For all the students of my generation knew, Gene was a musician when he got out of college. In our era, he was the bass player for a very popular band. We had seen him play many of the local fireman’s picnics and most of us thought that that was where his true passion lie. It turns out of his true passion was coaching. Hear the first successful run as her local high school coach.

What many of us were unaware of the fact that Gene was an NBA player after college. His knowledge of the game when he was coaching was evident and most players couldn’t understand how their coach had come by such a deep and total understanding of the game.
The fact of the matter was, Gene played for the Boston Celtics. Gene played with the Celtics from 1959 until 1963 and during that era

Boston was a dominant team. In a brief span of four years, Gene was a member of four NBA world championship teams.

Gene once told me that he left the Celtics after four years because he wanted to take a job that led to a more stable home environment. That job was teaching and coaching. Gene said he left the NBA because the local high school had offered him $2,100 to be a coach and a teacher. Which was more money than this four-time NBA champion was making playing basketball.

Personal Story: The Coach

The boy was six years old when he first started playing for the coach.  It was the summer between first and second grade and the boy still remembers it to this day. The coach was in his fifties and in his thirty fifthyear ofcoaching young men in the fine art of how to play basketball. But the boy would tell you that being a coach was only a disguise, one of many he wore.

He had a knack for talking to kids. He put them at ease from the first word, even though he was six feet two inches tall, broad-shouldered, two-hundred twenty pounds. He was an imposing figure but the children flocked to him.

He had been a three-sport athlete in high school: basketball, football and baseball. He probably could have played in college but he went to war right after high school. When he came back from overseas he plied the trade he had learned in the Army, working in electrical construction. This was another persona. He was the lineman for the electric company. The guy who took the neighborhood kids for rides in his bucket truck. The same bucket truck he used to hang a backboard and basket on a telephone pole.

While raising a family, he began to mentor some of the neighborhood kids. He started coaching, first baseball, then basketball. He had nine children of his own, six boys and three girls. He often joked he could field his own baseball team.

The neighbors respected the coach. They knew that not only were their kids safe with him, they were also learning. And not just learning a game. They were learningvalues andbuilding character. Sportsmanship, teamwork, handling tour emotions and dealing with a loss were all subjects the coachdelved into on a daily basis. And the kids ate it up. They responded to his teaching and developed a brand of basketball that is rarely seen: A truly unselfish team.

In 35 years of coaching Catholic League basketball, the coach won thirty-two league titles. He took his young men to the state finals a whopping twelve times, winning eight. More importantly, all but four of his student athletes graduated high school. Most went on to college and a few even played Division One basketball.

It turns out that he wasn’t just a coach. He could be a mentor, a teacher, a philosopher and a poet. He could be your bigbrother, your crazy uncle or your stern father, depending on what you needed at the time.

Watching the boys, now men, return for his funeral was very emotional. There were different eulogies, but allin all, there was very little talk of sports. Odd for the funeral of a man with his pedigree. Instead there were words like love, family, character and commitment. Words that were to be the real lesson taught by the coach. I know because I saw him with his disguise off. He was my father.

Coaching High School Sports

Coaching sports requires many talents. Coach must be a teacher, a mentor, a disciplinarian, highly organized, competitive and motivating.

A high school sports coach manages the many different aspects of a team. As the coach you’re expected to be a role model for your players. You must teach positive spirit and encourage sportsmanship. You’ll have to teach your players respect and how to keep your composure. The best way a coach can teach his players these things is by modeling them himself.

There are many difficult aspects of being a high school sports coach, most of which don’t have anything to do with the game. Coaches must handle difficult parents and unruly fans. Coaches sometimes have to cut players from a team. This is probably the most difficult aspect of being a coach. Sometimes student-athletes have their heart set on being a member of a team and a coach must break it to them that they haven’t made it. Telling a student that they haven’t made the team requires tact and compassion. Occasionally, following a cut, coaches must deal with the parents of students who haven’t made the team. Coaches must also spend a large amount of time coaching. They must attend trainings, practices and games. Most high school coaches have another job, so coaching causes them to spend a large amount of time away from their families.

On a more positive note, coaches can have a huge impact on the development of the student-athlete. Imparting the values of sportsmanship and teamwork can have a lasting impact on the character of the student-athlete. This is where coaching High School sports versus coaching athletes of other ages differs greatly. Student-athletes are still in the developmental stage and lessons learned are very important.

Coaches also must manage a huge variety of factors that require a tremendous amount of organizational skills. There are statistics, schedules, rosters, injury protocols, academic ineligibility, just to name just a few aspects of coaching that require attention to detail.

Then of course, there is the game. Coaches must learn the tendencies of the opposing player as well as the tendencies of their own players. They must select the players they believe to be the best at each position, they must set up an offense and a defense and make adjustments on the fly. A good coach will be very good at time management and learn the proper time to make key substitutions. They must deal with the officials in a respectful and calm manner, again, modeling for their athletes.

Coaching at the high school level is an essentially thankless position. Coaches take all the blame when their team is losing and receive very little credit when their team is winning. Parents and fans are generally unaware of the teaching moments that student-athletes experience with their coaches. To be a high school coach you must be willing to constantly give of yourself for very little reward. Except, of course, the reward of successfully mentoring young men or women.

What makes a great basketball coach?

What makes a great basketball coach? The list of answers to this question can be extensive, as you can well imagine. So, let’s try and find some traits and characteristics that some of the best basketball coaches in the world share.

One of the characteristics that can be found at or near the top of everyone’s list is integrity. Coaches must be trustworthy and honest.  From Elementary and Middle School coaches watching over your son or daughter to NBA coaches working with multimillion-dollar per year professional athletes, coaches must be honest and forthright in their dealings with the players. Parents won’t let their kids play for a coach that they can trust and likewise, professional athletes won’t perform as well for a coach they can’t put their faith in.

Perhaps the second most important characteristic of a successful coach is x’s and o’s. Coaches must know the game inside and out, upside and down. They have to adapt on the fly to changing game situations, manage offenses and defenses and quickly adjust player personnel. Basketball is an extremely fast-paced game and the successful coach must be prepared for any eventuality. The amount of variables in what makes up a winning basketball team make a coaches job extremely difficult. And because of the number of variables, the coach must become a master of delegation to his or her assistant coaches. Selecting assistant coaches that they can trust is one of the more important decisions a coach can make.

Analysis and the ability to recognize tendencies are other attributesthat the most successful basketball coaches share. Coaches spend countless hours breaking down film, trying to determine what opposing players do in any given situation. They also use game film to analyze the tendencies of their own players in an effort to correct flaws or enhance certain aspects of the game. Learning the tendencies of all players on the court provides a distinct advantage. Knowing what a player may do in a certain situation can help you to either defend him or get him the ball.

A successful coach must also decide on what aspect of the game to focus most of their attention. Insome games you may need more rebounds, in others you may need more three-point shots. In some you may need more defense, in others you may need more fast-break points. Knowing which facet of the game will provide you the biggest opportunity for an advantage could mean the difference between a win and a loss.

Getting to know players personally can lead to success on the basketball court. Prayers recognize when the coach is personally invested in them and tend to perform much better in that setting. The players will consider the coach an integral part of the team if he can demonstrate that he truly cares for each and every one of them.

Get to know your prayers, get to know your opponent’s, exploit weaknesses and maximize strengths. Most of all, be prepared for any eventualities.