Little League Baseball Strategy and Rules
Little League Baseball Strategies
Tip #1 Pitching
A team can't have enough good pitching. Always work on developing pitchers and have as many available pitchers as possible. Teaching your pitcher and catcher to communicate properly is key. A pitcher and catcher should try to recognize patterns in the other team's batters and exploit their weaknesses. A good catcher will learn to call a good game that will include changing location of the target. A good pitcher will learn the ability to change speeds, throw different pitches, and use location to their advantage.
Tip #2 Batting Order
A good batting order can make a difference in a game. Stringing together too many batters that strike out a lot might not be such a good idea. A balanced order will be a productive order. Good base runners with speed can rattle a pitcher and the defense. It might be a good idea to put these types of players at the top of the order ( 1st and 2nd batters) so they can put pressure on an opposing team right from the start. A team's 3,4,and 5 batters are usually power and RBI guys. It's also not a bad idea to put a really good on base guy ( you know that player that just always gets on base anyway they can) in the 9 hole because this player becomes a key to getting back to the top of the order. Creating a batting order that will maximize the team's run production can be a difference maker.
Tip #3 Aggressive Base Running
Aggressive base running can be used to put pressure on the defense of the opposing team. Stretching base hits into doubles and advancing two bases on a hit rather than one can put pressure on outfielders to make accurate throws and make good decisions. Utilizing the stolen base, double steals, and delayed steals can put pressure on an infield to make good decisions. These base running techniques can also have the ability to rattle a pitcher and throw off his timing. Aggressive base running is a situational technique and shouldn't be used to a team's detriment.
Tip #4 Bunting
Bunting in Little League has the same purpose as it does in the pro game. A player can attempt to bunt for a base hit or attempt to sacrifice bunt to advance runners. There is not a true squeeze bunt in Little League due to the difference in the stolen base rule. A Little League style squeeze can be attempted but is a bit more difficult because the Little League base runner can't get the lead off of third base. However, Little Leaguers should be taught to recognize situations in which they can bunt for a base hit such as the "corners" ( first and third basemen) are playing too deep or the first baseman is playing too far off the bag at first base. Also, a 3-0 count is a good time to show the defense a bunt attempt because it could rattle a young pitcher into offering up that important walk the team needs.
Tip #5 Use Strengths To Your Advantage
Overall, the team's strengths should be used in a way to maximize how those strengths can help the team during the game. For example, a team with a lot of good, speedy base runners shouldn't just move base to base the entire game. A team with speed should be attempting more stolen bases and stretching more hits. If power is a team strength then make sure the power hitters can't be pitched around. A power hitter needs a batter behind them in the order to protect them so the pitcher can't just serve up "garbage" to try and neutralize that power. The team's strongest players should be put in defensive positions where they will have the most impact and this may depend on the league. For example, if the league has a lot of late swingers that produce a lot of action to the right side then it might make sense to have stronger defenders on the right side of the field which includes the first basemen, second basemen, and right fielder.
A Little League team will always be a work in progress because the players are still developing mentally and physically. Creating practices that will challenge the players to develop and grow is essential. As the team develops and grows so should the coach. The coach must monitor the team's progress which will allow intelligent decisions to be made about necessary position changes, philosophical changes ( for example, are we a defense first team that doesn't need to worry about pressing to score runs or do we need to press to score runs because our defense isn't so good right now), and changes in or added strategies. The coach should also always be reviewing rules and regulations so that the team's management on and off the field are high quality. Coaching a Little League team may be a bit exhausting at times but at the end of the day when team progress has been made and the kids are happy more often than not then it will all be worth it!
Little League Baseball Rules
Tip #1 Read the Rule Book !
The #1 tip about Little League rules is simply reading the rule book. Little League baseball has several differences from the pros. A new coach who refuses to read up on the rules is setting themselves up for embarrassment and won't be providing their team with their best effort. A new coach must take time to read and understand the rules.
Tip #2 Stealing Bases
One of the biggest differences between the pro game and Little League is the stolen base. A big leaguer can advance on the bases anytime the ball is considered live but a Little Leaguer has base running restrictions that include no leading while the pitcher is setting up to pitch from the rubber and only being able to steal once the ball crosses the plate.
Tip #3 Pitching
There are pitching restrictions at the Little League level designed to protect a young player's developing arm. Pitchers have limitations on innings pitched and also are under a pitch count.
Tip #4 Equipment
There are slight differences in equipment as well at the Little League level. League equipment is usually overseen by a league equipment manager. A league official should be consulted before any personal equipment is purchased to ensure the equipment is Little League regulation. The coach should have open communication with parents about purchasing equipment so they don't make a useless purchase.
Tip #5 League Rules
In addition to the rules in the Little League rule book, the league may also have some additional rules that a coach should be familiar with. Maybe the home team is responsible for lining the field or the league might have a curfew for games that run too late. This why it is important for a new coach to attend meetings and become familiar with the inner workings of the league.