As a returning coach, your past experience provides you with a huge advantage in the area of time management. Even just one season under your belt gives you the basis for improving how you manage your baseball or softball season, how you manage your players’ time during practice, and how you can teach life lessons in time management to players of all ages.
A challenging first step toward improving time management is to find or make the time to sit still long enough to think about how you spend time.
Start with a 15-minute brainstorm, listing on a pad of paper in two columns what you consider effective uses of time in past seasons and what strikes you now as time wasted.
This is just the start, and those 15 minutes will show you the benefit of ending your procrastination, which makes it easier to habitually avoid procrastination and manage your time better this season. If you put off writing that plan, you will end up wasting time during practice as the season progresses.
That first 15-minute brainstorm – and the habit of avoiding procrastination – can trigger you to continue thinking intently about how you use time. You may reach for that pad again and again with new ideas on how to improve your efficiency. The planning that used to seem daunting will come to feel liberating instead. And, if you are ever tempted to backslide, remind yourself that “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
Establish Detailed Practice Plans
Using that initial brainstorm, get into the habit of coming to each practice session your written plan with an allotted number of minutes per activity, players and their parents will see that you put time and forethought into their experience and that you value their time. That reinforces your leadership position and their willingness to follow.
Among the principles that inform a time-efficient practice plan:
Minimal time standing in line waiting for a next rep.
Move players quickly, station to station.
Spread stations far enough apart that running station to station incorporates conditioning and competition so that nobody wastes time and gets bored running laps.
No long lectures. If you can’t explain a skill simply, players won’t learn it, anyway.
Lengthier talk about procedure, team culture or life lessons can happen while stretching at the start of practice, when the team naturally gathers in one place, players are not focusing on execution, and they can use the information you provide throughout the remainder of that practice.
If you’re a new coach, Little League’s Tee Ball Program and Coach Pitch Program can provide those practice plans for you.
When players see you utilize a written schedule out each practice it helps them understand the importance of time management. You can emphasize that life lesson and improve your team’s on-field performance by explicitly getting them to use time wisely. As the season progresses, have them help you create those practice plans, and involve your players in implementing those plans and keeping the team on task.
And, don’t forget to add in some fun. You can have them earn 10 minutes of homerun derby at the end of practice by successfully completing each of five drills in two minutes less than the time allotted on your written schedule. Cultivating that positive approach to time management in Little League may help your players grow into adults who understand the importance of managing their own schedules, whether that’s a to-do list at work or a practice schedule when they become Little League coaches.