I have been fortunate enough to coach my oldest son in the farm league from 6u coach pitch through 9u kid pitch. And now I have been coaching my youngest son from 5U soft toss and about to begin 9U kid pitch. If I knew then what I know now - Well, a first time coach needs to understand that a kid's development of skills is a process. Just as important as developing his skills is your opportunity to shape his character as person and as a ball player.

The baseball seasons for a young kid are a blur - how much do you remember of your first, second or third season of playing baseball? I've seen kids remember the highs and lows - those two things stand out the most. So what do you should do? Don't be hard on them at all during the lows. These are kids, some of which cannot tie their shoes. Encourage them and help them to realize that any fault they have is totally normal and be sure to point out your own faults in front of them. When the kid does something well, celebrate it! Make it a big deal; make him want to repeat that performance or behavior at every opportunity.

Don't yell! There's no reason to yell at a kid unless you want him to begin hating the sport. He needs to be able to trust you and know that you support him. Make them work harder as they get older. They need to feel and understand the sweat-equity in what they do, especially as winning takes more presedence. You can get so much more out of a player at any age by encouraging and teaching than you can by you will look rather foolish in front of a lot of people for not keeping your cool...remember, you are the adult-act like one.

Don't cut a kid from your team. Unless your team is at the top of a Select or Elite league, a coach should not remove a kid from the opportunity of playing. Limit the size of your roster, but once you have a kid on the team, never give up on him. Some of the most memorable moments and most rewarding moments was not winning a t-shirt or trophy, but it was when a young boy with very limited ability finally hit a home run or made a huge play in the field. It did not matter whether we won or lost at that point - the entire team and families celebrated that boy's accomplishment. I have met some of my best friends through TFL. These parents put their trust in you and relationships are built between the families and between the kids. I've seen so many teams fall apart because the coach gets more focused on chasing a trophy rather than develop kids, that the coach would cut kids and dismiss families at nearly any time to switch out a player or two to win a championship. If that is what motivates you, then be prepared to be the one responsible for turning kids and families away from sports. As the kids get older, the competition and level of play will take care of itself.

Teach correct fundamentals and sound strategy. If you have never played the sport you are coaching at a high level, then do research, ask questions, watch other teams, go to clinics so you can learn how to motivate kids. They are very capable of doing things they never thought they could do when you combine the right encouragement, patience and practice ethic. I have some kids who would have no clue if we won or lost a game, but will forever remember the 4 hits he had in one game or the 3 outs in made on defense in one inning!

Set expectations to the families and kids. Communicate to them that it takes time to develop into competitive athletes. By the same token, encourage the kids and families to get in extra work at home. While the coach works hard with the boys a few hours per week, the parents need to take time and work with their child at home just as much.

Pray. The boys need to walk together in learning faith. Pray in front of the boys - lead them in prayer before the game. Pray for injured players...before you know it, your kids will be praying before each game.

Make it fun. Do not do the same drills over and over. Remember, you are working with kids who may still have stuffed animals, but they are beginning to look up to players they see on tv. Make each practice as fun as possible while getting them to work hard. There are dozens of drills and competitions you can do to get in lots of reps while they have a good time.

Lastly, be dependable. Do not take on coaching a team unless you can be there. You being to practice early and staying late if needed is part of the cornerstone you need to be for your team. Each kid looks up to you and will listen if they know you are invested in their improvement.