How to Start a Youth Baseball Team
Starting a youth baseball team is a great opportunity to play against teams that have rosters with very talented players, make your own decisions as to how your team is run and build relationships with your players and parents alike. The kids who play on these teams are looking to increase their skills in a variety of areas that they could not achieve playing in a local recreational baseball league. Starting and subsequently running a baseball team will consume much of your time but the effort will be well worth it when your team takes the field for its first game.
Contact the baseball association or associations in your region. They will provide rules and regulations for their league as well as other helpful information. There are typically annual fees charged by a baseball association. You may also consider joining a national association such as AAU. These associations provide certain benefits to member teams such as entry into large, national tournaments and insurance offerings tailored for baseball teams.
Determine the number of coaches you will want on your team and who those coaches will be. In addition to past baseball coaching experience, the time commitment for practice and games should be considered into the selection of the coaching staff. Also, establish the roles of each coach and what is expected in that role so there will not be any confusion in this area moving forward.
Attend a couple of games which include teams competing at the age level of the team you are starting. Your coaches should attend with you. This will give you a feel for the level of competition at your team's age group level, which will be important later if you need to conduct tryouts. Also, speak with the coaches of the teams in order to garner information as to what they unexpectedly encountered when they started their team.
Find a baseball field to be used for your practices and home games. Initially contact your local parks and recreation department for information. Other organizations to contact include the regional baseball association and local schools. Make sure you visit the field to see its condition and makeup. The makeup would include things like whether it has a grass or dirt infield, the distance of outfield fences and overall aesthetics such as stands, concessions and parking lot condition. You also will need to know if there is a monetary cost to the team for using the field, understand who maintains the field and if the field is shared with other teams as this would have practice- and game-scheduling implications.
Choose a name for your team and your team colors. Once you know your colors you can start looking at potential uniform styles. One place to try is Uniforms Express although there are countless other options to find youth baseball uniforms online.
Join the baseball association you have chosen. This could be national, regional or both. Based upon the baseball association you choose, the requirements may be different. Certain associations may require the name of the team and the field you will be using while there are some that want a complete roster and names of coaches. Some may require nothing other than the annual fee.
Ensure you have enough baseball equipment as you will be responsible for this since it is your team. Many kids will have their own bats or batting helmet, but you should assume you will provide everything when it comes time to begin practicing with the team.
Select a date for tryouts if you do not already have a full team. Spread word of the tryouts by contacting other youth baseball people in your area and placing fliers at local sports and baseball shops. If you do need to conduct a tryout you should consider areas of need on your team, such as pitchers or catchers.
Establish the annual dues a player on the team will have to provide the team. Among other items, the team fee will cover the cost of uniforms, any league dues, tournament costs and insurance costs. This should be clearly presented to the parents so that they understand what their dues cover.
Ask for a volunteer to be the team parent. This person will perform various administrative tasks throughout the year. This could be anything from obtaining and distributing contact information of all the parents to obtaining uniform sizes of the players.
Order the uniforms. Other extra baseball accessories may be ordered if desired. The most common are individual baseball bags and batting helmets.
Set the schedule. This includes both practice and game schedules. There are some baseball associations which will set the game schedule for teams in their league but this is usually the responsibility of each coach in the league. You also will need to consider games outside the league such as tournaments and games with teams in other baseball associations.
Consider joining the eteamz website. This is a free site. Eteamz is a complete baseball communication tool where you enter your game and practice schedules, team roster and many other things you need to get your team organized and started. Eteamz also provides templates for building your team's website and displaying photos from games. This free site is a very useful tool to use for the benefit of the players and parents of the team.
Before the practice season starts, get the families together for pizza. This is an opportunity to go over various basics and pass out information.
Changes in the baseball game schedule should be communicated via the team website or a communication tool such as eteamz. Emails noting game changes can get lost.
- baseball image by Christopher Walker from Fotolia.com