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Bloomington-Normal Baseball Association

Dick's Shopping Event

Bloomington Normal Baseball Association

20% OFF SHOP EVENTS

Friday, Feb 24th   – Monday, Feb 27th      

Hosted at all Bloomington, IL Location

 

Save the date! Our partner, DICK’S Sporting Goods, is offering you a 20% off discount throughout the store to help you gear up for the season!  Be sure to use the coupon linked below, as this is specific to our organization.

The coupon is valid in-store on the dates above and should be shown at the register during checkout.

CLICK HERE FOR EVENT COUPON

Coaches Corner

Registration for the 2023 season began on October 1st,2022, and will continue until April 15th,2023. If you are interested in coaching, please register as a Head Coach or Assistant Coach on the website when you register your child(ren). Anyone who has regular direct contact with BNBA participants must be registered as a Head Coach, or Assistant Coach.

If you are like most youth league coaches, you have probably been recruited from the ranks of concerned parents, sport enthusiasts, or community volunteers. Like many rookie and veteran coaches, you probably have had little formal instruction on how to coach. But when the call went out for coaches to assist with the local youth baseball program, you answered because you like children and enjoy baseball, and perhaps because you wanted to be involved in a worthwhile community activity.

Your initial coaching assignment may be difficult. Like many volunteers, you may not know everything there is to know about baseball or about how to work with children. Coaching Youth Baseball presents the basics of coaching baseball effectively. To start, we look at your responsibilities and what's involved in being a coach. We also talk about what to do when your own child is on the team you coach, and we examine five tools for being an effective coach.

YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS A COACH

Coaching at all levels involves much more than making out the lineup, hitting fungoes, or coaching third base. Coaching involves accepting the tremendous responsibility you face when parents put their children into your care. As a baseball coach, you'll be called on to do the following:

1. Provide a safe physical environment.

Playing baseball holds inherent risks, but as a coach you're responsible for regularly inspecting the fields and equipment used for practice and competition (see "Facilities and Equipment Checklist" in appendix A on page 154).

2. Communicate in a positive way.

As you can already see, you have a lot to communicate. You'll communicate not only with your players and their parents, but also with the coaching staff, umpires, administrators, and others. Communicate in a way that is positive and that demonstrates that you have the best interests of the players at heart (see chapter 2 for more information).

3. Teach the fundamental skills of baseball.

When teaching the fundamental skills of baseball, keep in mind that baseball is a game, and therefore, you want to be sure that your players have fun. We ask that you help all players be the best they can be by creating a fun, yet productive, practice environment. To help you do this, we'll show you an innovative "games approach" to teaching and practicing the skills young players need to know-an approach that kids thoroughly enjoy (see chapter 5 for more information). Additionally, to help your players improve their skills, you need to have a sound understanding of offensive and defensive skills. We'll provide information to assist you in gaining that understanding (see chapters 7 and 8 for more information).

4. Teach the rules of baseball.

Introduce the rules of baseball and incorporate them into individual instruction (see chapter 3 for more information). Many rules can be taught in practice, including offensive rules (such as the definition of the strike zone, rules related to the baseline, and when sliding is mandatory) as well as defensive rules (such as the force play, the balk rule, and obstruction). You should plan to review the rules any time an opportunity naturally arises in practices.

5. Direct players in competition.

Your responsibilities include determining starting lineups and a substitution plan, relating appropriately to umpires and to opposing coaches and players, and making sound tactical decisions during games (see chapter 9 for more information on coaching during games). Remember that the focus is not on winning at all costs, but on coaching your kids to compete well, do their best, improve their baseball skills, and strive to win within the rules.

6. Help your players become fit and value fitness for a lifetime.

We want you to help your players be fit so they can play baseball safely and successfully. We also want your players to learn to become fit on their own, understand the value of fitness, and enjoy training. Thus, we ask you not to make them do push-ups or run laps for punishment. Make it fun to get fit for baseball, and make it fun to play baseball so that they'll stay fit for a lifetime.

7. Help young people develop character.

Character development includes learning, caring, being honest and respectful, and taking responsibility. These intangible qualities are no less important to teach than the skill of hitting the baseball. We ask you to teach these values to players by demonstrating and encouraging behaviors that express these values at all times. For example, in teaching good team defense, stress to young players the importance of learning their assignments, helping their teammates, playing within the rules, showing respect for their opponents, and understanding that they are responsible for having a role in every play-even though they may not be recognized individually for their efforts.

These are your responsibilities as a coach. Remember that every player is an individual. You must provide a wholesome environment in which every player has the opportunity to learn how to play the game without fear while having fun and enjoying the overall baseball experience.



Any Head Coach that acquires a sponsor can receive a full discount of their child's registration costs, and any Assistant Coach can receive a
discount of half their child's registration costs. If you wish to take advantage of this discount, it will not be processed until the Sponsor
pays the sponsor fee. The Sponsor can find information and the Sponsor form on the website under the Team Sponsors tab. If you register
your child before BNBA receives the Sponsor funds, the discount will be given as a refund.


                                                                                                                           Coaches Meetings   

                                                                              T-Ball (Alternative): 
10am-12pm Saturday April 22, 2023
                                                                         Rookie (Coach Pitch): 12pm-2pm Saturday April 22, 2023
                                                                         Prospect: 2pm-4pm Saturday April 22, 2023
                                                                         Minor: 1pm-3pm Sunday April 23, 2023
                                                                         Major: 3pm-5pm Sunday April 23, 2023



Words of Wisdom!


                                         
                                                                       A Letter to Coaches and Parents

Dear Youth Baseball Parents and Coaches,

Imagine with me for a minute.  You’re 14 years old, in the 8th grade.  You’ve been around sports your whole life and have become a pretty decent two-sport athlete for your age.  For the past couple years you’ve tried to figure out a way to earn some money in the summer.  You’ve been cutting lawns for neighbors, and now this year you’re old enough to begin umpiring baseball games.  You love baseball, and so you plan to attend the training meeting for the local league’s umpires.

This is the situation my youngest son is in as he looks ahead to the next few months.  He is eager to get to work, but if I’m honest, I’ve got some reservations about him becoming an umpire.  Years ago, each of my three older boys gave umpiring a try.  These sons of mine are smart, reliable kids who have a solid background in sports.  They were as qualified as any teenager was going to be to do the job, and yet, after a season or two each of them decided he’d had enough. Their experiences were nearly identical – after a couple years of having parents and coaches yelling at them, each of the three was ready to step away permanently.  

My question is this: will my fourth son’s experience be any different?  Has the treatment of officials at youth games over the past four years changed for the better?  I don’t think it has, not from what I’ve seen.  There’s a whole lot we could say about that, the way officials are harassed at games played by our children.  Just yesterday I got an email from the National Federation for High School Athletics about a consortium that has been assembled to strategize about the national shortage of officials, as over 50,000 have quit over the past three years.  I emailed the NFHS and told them there was no need for a consortium, and that the only needed solution is for schools and youth organizations to adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward the berating of officials.  Nothing else will fix this problem.  But I’m done talking about the way we treat officials in general.  That’s not the point of this letter.

The point of this letter is to help you, the parents and coaches of those young children playing baseball, to realize that my 14-year-old umpire is also being placed in your care.  He is not a grown man.  He is not an experienced umpire.  I’m fairly certain that over the course of a season he’s going to get a few tough calls wrong because he’s human.  I’m also fairly certain that he’ll get some close ones right, but you won’t agree because you’re human too.  So how about we make a deal…when the call is questionable, you keep your voice down?  Parents, imagine if I came to the game, watched your 9-year-old strike out, and began yelling at him about what a terrible job he did at the plate.  A stranger with no connection to that child, and I decide that it’s OK for me to verbally let him have it.  You’d be outraged, and rightly so.  That behavior is objectively unacceptable.  Well, it’s not that different for those parents who choose to get loud with a teenager working in his first season as an umpire. 

Coaches, you have a different role and a different opportunity.  In a situation when my son makes a call you disagree with or know is incorrect, you have a chance to show him how an adult who’s been trusted to help young people grow and develop handles a dispute.  Please don’t put my child in a spot where he is required to stand up to you as a peer.  He’s in middle school, and a middle schooler is not qualified or equipped to do that.  When he makes a mistake – talk to him about it after the game, or if absolutely necessary, between innings.  Help him.  Coach him.  That’s your role.  That’s part of the privilege of being called Coach.  And if the team parents are in need of a reminder of their role and how they should treat the children on the field, you’re well within your rights to provide that reminder as well.  You owe it to the kids, players and umpires alike.  

I understand that there’s a certain percentage of people, hopefully a small one, who will take issue with these ideas about the treatment of teen umpires.  They’ll talk about how kids nowadays are “soft” or “being coddled” and hearken back to some notion of how for decades this is how things have been.  They’ll talk about the need for umpires to grow “thicker skin” and bring up the ways that being loudly called out can build character.  This point of view is tragic.  Where else in our society is it possibly OK for a stranger to berate a child for the job they are learning how to do?  Absolutely nowhere.  And it’s absolutely unacceptable at a ballgame as well.  These games should be characterized by joy.  When adults are harassing other people’s children, joy is absent.


So, as we begin this 2023 baseball season, let’s remember that the children on the field are our collective responsibility – not only the players, but the umpires as well.



Letter From a Youth Baseball Coach:

Today I heard a comment made about me behind my back. I started to turn around and look, but then decided better of it and kept my eyes on the field. My wife hears things like this more often than I do, because many of you don’t know who she is. She tells me what you say. I have received angry emails, full of “suggestions,” about who should be playing where and how I… lost that day’s game for the kids. I thought I’d write an open letter to all of you parents, even though I might never send it. I’ll start it this way: “I am a volunteer.”

I’m the one who answered the call when the league said they didn’t have enough coaches. I understand that you were too busy. I have some news for you. I’m not retired. I’m busy too. I have other children and a job, just like you do. Not only do I not get paid to do this – it costs me money. I see you walk up to the game 15 minutes after it started, still dressed for work. Do you know I’ve already been here over an hour? Imagine if you had to leave work early nearly every day. I’ve never seen you at a practice. I’m sure you’re plugging away at the office. But I’m out here, on the field, trying my best to teach these children how to play a sport they love, while my bank account suffers.

I know. I make mistakes. In fact, maybe I’m not even that great of a coach. But I treat the kids fairly and with respect. I am pretty sure they like coming to my practices and games, and without me or someone like me, there’d be no team for them to play on. I’m part of this community too and it’s no picnic being out here on this stage like this. It’s a lot easier back there with the other parents where no one is second-guessing you.

And I also know you think I give my son or daughter unfair advantages. I try not to. In fact, have you ever considered that maybe I’m harder on him than on the others? I’m sure he hears plenty of criticism at school from classmates, who hear it from you at home, about what a lame coach I am. And if, even unconsciously, my kids are getting a slight advantage because I know them better and trust their abilities, is that the worst thing in the world, considering the sacrifice I’m making? Trust me, I want to win too. And if your son or daughter could guarantee we’d do that, I’d give them the chance.

After this game is over, I’ll be the last one to leave. I have to break down the field, put away all the equipment and make sure everyone has had a parent arrive to pick them up. There have been evenings when my son and I waited with a player until after dark before someone came to get them. Many nights I’m sure you’ve already had dinner and are relaxing on the couch by the time I finally kick the mud off my shoes and climb into my car, which hasn’t been washed or vacuumed for weeks. Why bother cleaning it during the season? Do you know how nice it would be if, just once, after a game one of you offered to carry the heavy gear bag to my car or help straighten up the field?

If I sound angry, I’m not. I do this because I love it and I love being around the kids. There are plenty of rewards and I remind myself that while you’re at the office working, your kid is saying something that makes us all laugh or brings a tear to my eye. The positives outweigh the negatives. I just wish sometimes those who don’t choose to volunteer their time would leave the coaching to the few of us who do.




Dear Youth Coaches Everywhere, 

First, before I say anything else, let me say this: Thank you. Thank you for your time, for your energy, for your heart, and for your patience. It’s one thing to have the energy as a parent to sign your child(ren) up for sports, and an entirely different thing altogether to volunteer your time to actually coach those children while the rest of us sit back and watch. Very few people willingly subject themselves to the rowdiness, the craziness, and the ups and downs that come with coaching a group of kids, but you do, and that alone deserves massive praise.

Now that we have a few years and quite a few different coaches under our belts, it’s become increasingly obvious what a BIG job you have. Organized sports are a place where kids learn and grow so much. They learn to win, and they learn to lose. They learn what it feels like to be significantly more talented than another team, they learn what it feels like to pale in comparison to another team, and they learn how to humble themselves in the process.  

As the coach, these children look up to you. Whether you eagerly signed up to coach or were “voluntold” to your position (my friends’ way of describing the art of volunteering someone else for something), you have taken on a job that holds great power. You have the power to build up or tear down and the power to teach kids how to play together or against each other. You have the power to create good sports or sore losers. You have the power to instill a love of the game and build a foundation of fun and enjoyment. You have the power to make it fun and the power to take the fun away. This power is truly endless, and when you realize the scope of your influence, you will realize that your job is way more significant than you ever imagined. 

I know you may feel like you are just there to manage the chaos and keep the children from getting hurt, but there are a lot of eyes on you. There are eyes watching when things get rough. They see the way you respond to aggressive players and poor calls. When you begin to yell and let a few curse words slip, they store that away in their subconscious and see it as an acceptable way to respond to adversity. When you coach your players through it instead, giving them tips on how to handle a crummy situation and look beyond the adversity, they tuck that little lesson away too. These little eyes see the way you handle successful games too. They see you shake the coach’s hand, thank the umpire/referee for his or her service, and compliment the other players on a game well played. They see you bench players for making a mistake, they see you focus your efforts on the best players, and they notice when you play the kids who struggle the most and encourage them as they fumble through the game. The way you talk and the way you act will extend far beyond the fences of the field. 

In today’s day and age, youth sports have gotten more and more competitive at younger and younger ages. I’ve watched coaches bench players as young as six years old for making a mistake, and I’ve seen coaches drive up the score into double digits just because they could. I totally understand the inherent desire to win, but I beg you to consider the possibility that there is so much more to youth sports than the final score. Consider the possibility this is when kids decide whether they are athletic or not (even though many kids don’t find their niche sport until they are in junior high). When you start and bench the same seven year olds at every game, they realize you have already decided who is good and who is not. Not only do they begin to internalize that winning is the most important thing, but they also potentially miss out on the fun, the camaraderie, and the true joy of being part of a team. 

My son did not begin to play baseball until he was eight, which is considered a “late start” by many, and he looked a bit like a wobbly baby giraffe those first practices and games. However, he had a coach who believed in creating athletes, not just improving those who exhibit natural talent, and by the end of the season, you would have never known it was my son’s first. Every player, even the ones who looked like they did not care a lick about being on the field, received equal playing time and equal coaching. His coach cared more about teaching the game, building confidence, and allowing his players to have fun more than he did about winning, and the smiles on ALL of their faces were enough to make me realize what an incredible coach he was.

So, coaches, as you can see, you are a big a deal. You have taken on a huge task — one that most of us won’t even consider — and your influence is far-reaching. What you are doing out there on that field isn’t about the trophy, it isn’t about being the best team, and it honestly isn’t even about the sport. Your job is about one thing and one thing only: the children. Do your job well, and all of those other things will take care of themselves. 

With much gratitude and respect, 

A Little League Mom

BNBA Rules and Guidelines 2

Coach Expectations

Coaching Tips

It’s no easy task being the coach of a youth team. Whether you’ve volunteered to coach for the first time or been there before, looking to better your team, there will always be ways to improve yourself. Ultimately, there are many responsibilities when leading a team.

It’s best to simplify it, and just as you tell your players, get back to the basics yourself. You might not always know what’s best for the team, but these tips will be here to help you build a solid foundation for the team. Regardless of your experience, if you’re looking to improve, here’s how you can make this season the best possible experience for you and your players.

Set Rules at the Beginning of the Season

The first few meetings with players or parents will set the stage for your interactions for the rest of the season. It’s important to establish boundaries and rules from the start, otherwise you may encounter tough situations down the road. For parents, you should set boundaries on when they can discuss issues, otherwise you might have parents coming up to the dugout in the middle of the game asking about playing time for their kid. Tell parents that email is the best way to air any grievances or offer suggestions.

Get to Know Your Players and Their Learning Style

To coach your team to the best of your ability, you must know your players’ personalities, habits, skill sets, and even limitations. Every player reacts to feedback differently. Some need positive reinforcement, and others might need more stern feedback. An easy way to do this is by getting to know each athlete individually and scheduling activities outside of practice and games that provide bonding time. Whether you plan a team barbecue or fundraiser (among many others), spending time with your team will undoubtedly help build chemistry. 

 “Players need to know that you care, before they care what you know”

Give Players A Chance at Different Positions

Arguably, one of the most important tips here is to allow every player a chance to play each position. Kids are just beginning their involvement and development in the sport at a young age. Find out what they love and what motivates them to stay on the field. A positional rotation will help keep things fair between all players and allow them to determine which position is the best fit for them as they progress.

Structure and Prepare Practices

Ensure you keep the players engaged throughout a full practice. This can be difficult in youth sports, with shorter attention spans the younger the athletes are. A steady practice plan will keep players focused and motivated to maintain structure and avoid distractions. Remember to include competitive drills with fun at the forefront. Healthy competition is a great way to speed up development and build winning habits even at a young age. If you’re looking for a few drills to include in your plan.

Build a Love of the Game

Baseball is tough, and every success is preceded by a number of failures. Some say that baseball is the only occupation where you can fail 7 out of 10 times and be considered great. In other sports, such as soccer, the spotlight is on the full team. In baseball, when you get up to hit, the spotlight is only on you. This is daunting for many young players, so it’s important for coaches to help them understand that failure is a key component of the road to success. You can still give honest feedback and hold players accountable but remind them that every player will have setbacks while improving.

Be a Role Model

There’s no hiding that your players will feed off your energy. They pay attention to how you talk to coaches, parents, umpires, and the team. If a team sees you talking down to another individual, odds are they’ll be inclined to do the same. Remember to lead by example and treat everyone with respect at all times. Play the game the right way, and show your players a role model they want to emulate when they’re older.

Keep Things Simple

To develop players properly, it’s critical to simplify your drills to start and stick to the fundamentals. Building a proper foundation is key to any promising young career, so there’s no need to jump into highly complicated drills with any rush. A common phrase in baseball is that even the best players in the world are failing 70% of the time, so get back to the basics when things may be difficult, or you don’t see a lot of success.

Coaches have an extremely powerful role in helping players develop their talents, but coaches also shape the players into the person they become later in life. The lessons and work ethic learned in youth sports will have ongoing impacts for athletes. In short, this means that coaches have a huge power to affect the lives of kids. With power comes responsibility. Hopefully, some of these lessons above will help you with that mission.

 


Contact

Bloomington-Normal Baseball Association

P.O. Box 3324 
Bloomington, Illinois 61702

Phone: 309-829-2129
Email: [email protected]

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