9 Lessons Learned in My First Season Coaching Youth Baseball

Zac Campbell
8 min readDec 20, 2020
Photo by Mike Bowman on Unsplash

My first season of coaching youth baseball came to an end a few weeks ago. I volunteered as an assistant coach for a local little league team with 13–15-year-olds on the roster. My goal was to get my feet wet as I look into future coaching opportunities.

I’m not a father, so I had to go out during tryouts and convince one of the managers to help them for the upcoming season. A few of the managers were dads, and you could tell they had their system in place for what they set out to accomplish. They wouldn’t come out with it, but they weren’t interested in some random guy off the street cramping their coaching style (see observation #1).

I attempted to explain my background and experience as a personal trainer, but the managers didn’t care to hear my sales pitch. One by one, they passed me off to the next guy, hoping I’d leave them alone. The last manager, someone closer to my age (30), wasn’t a dad. This guy had been volunteering as a coach out there for years. He asked about my availability and listened to what I had to offer. We agreed to take on the team he drafted together, and that was it. Below are just a few of the lessons I learned throughout the season.

#1 Politics are still alive and well

The season was between a handful of teams. I wasn’t apart of the draft process; however, with any little league draft, the goal is for teams to have a sense of balance in terms of potential talent. Sadly the draft fell well short of providing balance. One of the managers decided to hold players he knew from tryouts and added them to his team before practices took place as free agents. It was a backdoor move that netted that particular team some older, experienced players. You hear about coaches with the wrong intentions; this was a real-life example for me. Seeing a grown adult take advantage of a system to assemble a stacked little league team was comical and frustrating at the same time.

#2 Travel Ball has impacted Little League

I don’t mean to paint with a broad brush with this observation, but the community I live in is baseball crazy. In general, youth sports are a big hit here, and I played at this little league complex myself. I would argue that…