It is no coincidence that our "first edition" of Coaches Tips deals with 10 Health Tips a Youth Baseball Coach Should Know.
10 Health Tips a Youth Baseball Coach Should Know (provided by Temple University Hospital)
If you're a Little League coach there are 10 tips you should know to help keep your players healthy.
"The number one tip coaches should remember is that children are not miniature adults and shouldn't be treated as such," says Jim Rogers, a certified athletic trainer in Temple University Hospital's sports Medicine Center.
"This may seem obvious, but many adults don't realize children's bodies can't take the same amount of physical stress adult bodies can take. That's because children are still growing and therefore are more susceptible to injury."
Rogers offers coaches these other tips to prevent injury:
Stretching the muscles related to the activity is very important. For example, if a child is pitching, he should concentrate on stretching his arm and back muscles. If a child is catching, the focus should be on the legs and back.
A good warm-tip is just as important as stretching. A warm-up can involve light calisthenics or a short jog. This helps raise the core body temperature and prepares all the body's muscles for physical activity.
Children should not be encouraged to "play through pain." Pain is a warning sign of injury. Ignoring it can lead to greater injury.
Swelling with pain and limitation of motion are two signs that are especially significant in children -- don't ignore them. They may mean the child has a more serious injury than initially suspected.
Rest is by far the most powerful therapy in youth sports injuries. Nothing helps an injury heal faster than rest.
Children who play on more than one team are especially at risk for overuse injuries. Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive stress put on the same part of the body over and over again.
Injuries that look like sprains in adults can be fractures in children. Children are more susceptible to fractures, because their bones are still growing.
Children's growth spurts can make for increased risk of injury. A particularly sensitive area in a child's body during a growth spurt is the growth plate -- the area of growth in the bone. Growth plates are weak spots in a child's body and can be the source of injury if the child is pushed beyond his limit athletically.
Ice is a universal first-aid treatment for minor sports injuries. Regular ice packs -- not chemical packs -- should be available at all games and practices. Ice controls the pain and swelling caused by common injuries such as sprains, strains and contusions.
Each Player whether he is 12 years old or it's his first time in Little League has to know the proper technique for throwing the baseball. This will keep to a minimum things like sore arms, beaned parents in the stands, etc.
Start with all players no matter what their ability paired off at about 15-20 feet apart.
The player throwing the ball should square his back foot like he is putting it against the pitching rubber as a pitcher would when pitching from the stretch.
The throwing arm should be fully extended behind the player.
He should grip the baseball with the thumb down and the index and middle finger on top forming a "V".
The player should be able to look back and see the top two fingers forming the "V" if the arm is fully extended.
The throwing motion should be as over hand as possible. Never let the player tuck the ball behind his ear before throwing.
Coinciding with the throw the player should step directly at his target with his lead leg. This is the left leg with right hand players and the reverse with lefties.
The target should always be at the chest of the other player. This works whether the distance is 6 feet or 60 feet. The ball can be handled by the receiving player much easier if thrown at the chest.
After the ball is thrown the follow through of the throwing arm is across the chest. I exaggerate this by telling the player when his throwing motion is complete he should be able to touch the ground out side of his left shoe(for right handed players) with the inside of the index and middle fingers of the throwing hand.(This works especially well with pitchers)
Under no circumstances allow the players to throw any ball that requires the snapping of the wrist.(curves, etc.) At their age the muscle development is not complete.
A few years ago, Little League retained two research firms to help determine why kids play baseball and softball, and why a child might quit playing.
After numerous interviews with players and parents from a number of different states, one aspect of the research showed there are three different levels of players on the typical Little League team.
The Level 1 players have the highest skill and usually play the entire game. The Level 2 players are those players with average skill and play a little less than the Level 1 players. The Level 3 players are those players with less skill and usually are relegated to right field and play the minimum.
While the Level 1 and 2 players typically continue to participate, the Level 3 players struggle, not only with the skills, but also with the risk of being teased and ridiculed by teammates. Because of these factors, the Level 3 players can become discouraged and quit.
Now that we know why some players don't play, what are some of things managers coaches can do to keep them playing?
Start by creating an atmosphere that is fun and non-threatening. No one likes to be teased. The manager and coaches can eliminate this behavior with team rules and policies that focus on respect for every other player – on and off the field.
In practices, Level 3 players usually bat last, and less often, than other players. A recommendation from the research was to provide more individual skill development opportunities for players.
Begin including them more in practice sessions, and spend a few minutes of one-on-one time with them at each practice. They will be more willing to accept coaching this way, it will make them feel more welcome, and it will result in your team becoming better overall.
Besides individual attention at practice, get the parents involved, too. Share drills with parents and ask them to spend a few minutes at home with the players.
Remember, the best way to evaluate a manager or coach is not the team’s wins and losses. Instead, whether or not the least talented player on the team enjoyed the season is most important.