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Play Ball Positive

In Practice, Fresh=Fun!

It's important to keep practice routines fresh. The more you can vary and keep players on their toes, not knowing what's next, the more alert their reactions and responses will be. Including competitive games in a practice plan can help to keep players engaged.

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Cultivating Communication

One of the most daunting challenges for any youth baseball coach is getting players to communicate with each other during game action. Whether you want the shortstop to remind teammates of force opportunities and the need to look unforced runners back to their bases, or whether you want outfielders to call for fly balls, young players are often hesitant to take charge vocally.

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Any player can feel like No. 1 by hitting No. 2

A great way to fill youth players' emotional tanks while helping your team's on-field performance is to bat one of your weaker hitters second. The number-two hitter's job often is moving a runner along, which can be achieved even by a batter who can't get the ball out of the infield but can make contact.

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The Magic Ratio

Rooted in sports and educational psychology research, the Magic Ratio states that coaches can get the most out of youth athletes by providing five specific, truthful praises for every one piece of specific, constructive criticism.

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Keeping Injured Players Involved

One of the most important things coaches can do to help injured players is to redirect the physical and emotional energy that injured players previously brought to practice and games. The key is to keep injured players involved in the team.

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Respecting an Umpire's Call

Even without "arguing balls and strikes" the manager's well-placed whistle or groan can divert fan focus from the players, distract the players themselves, and start to incite a crowd in ways that too often escalate into ugly incidents. Instead, managers and coaches can turn questionable calls into teachable moments for their players.

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Practice Planning for Fun

Make practice fun from the start. Bring some energy to the field, along with jokes and riddles. Be willing to be corny. Smile. Laugh. Encourage and reward your players when they do the same. Just make it genuine. And how could it not be genuinely fun when you get to coach, and they get to play such a great game?

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