Becoming a leader of men

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In terms of leadership, I’ve done some hard things.  Building teams, reorganizing a company, dealing with failure (and success), letting people go, navigating competition, etc.

But I suspect all of that will pale in comparison to what’s up next: this weekend I begin my career as a little league coach.  Starting Sunday, I’ll be leading a troupe of 5, 6 and 7 year-olds (including my son) on a journey to understand and enjoy the game of baseball.

I’ve been thinking a lot about all the coaches I had growing up, especially when I was really little. (I didn’t start playing baseball until I was 8, which is pretty different than 5, so I don’t have any direct comparisons to go on for this).  The more I think about it, the more I respect the coaches I had as a kid.  In particular the volunteer dad coaches (including my own) who had never done it before, and probably had no idea what they were doing either.

I’m really excited and also nervous.  As much as I played baseball as a kid, I honestly never really thought about it from the coach’s perspective.  From fundamental things like “hmm, what actually happens in a baseball practice” and “what are you actually supposed to teach 6-year-olds about baseball” to more subtle things like “how do build a good ‘bench culture’ that is lively and supportive”.  So there is a lot to figure out.

Not to beat a dead horse about the Internet being awesome, but already I’ve started to find some help online.  For instance, as Theo and I have been watching more baseball recently I’m realizing how actually complicated it is, and one question in particular has been tough to explain: force outs.  So I googled “how to teach kids force outs vs tag outs” and lo and behold I came across an excellent post on teaching the difference between a force out and a tag out, from a blog on teaching baseball to kids (with the tagline “Read how I fail so you don’t have to”).  Thank you Internet!

So, off I go.  If anyone has any tips on being a good coach and building a good/fun team — in general or for tiny person baseball in particular — I would love to hear them.

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