Leading an adult league baseball team can be a challenging but rewarding experience. As a first-time manager, it’s important to have the right preparation, mindset, and guidance to succeed. In this article, we’ll share essential tips to help you confidently manage your team and lead them to victory. Whether you’re new to the role or looking to improve your skills, this guide will give you the knowledge and confidence to succeed.
Manage Finances Like a Banker
As a first-time manager, managing the finances of your team can be one of the biggest challenges you face. But it’s essential to have a handle on the finances to ensure a successful season. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Plan ahead – To avoid under-budgeting, it’s important to prepare for unexpected expenses such as players quitting or not paying their fees. Establish a contingency plan to ensure your team can continue to operate smoothly when you have to pay extra fees for a rained out game, or need to buy new bases when your assistant forgets your current bases at the ballfield.
Organize Early – Start collecting fees and separating the finances from the game as early as possible. This way, you’ll have a clearer picture of your budget before the season starts. This isn’t always easy. While you can buy uniforms and hats early, if players want to personalize them with their names and numbers on the back, you often need to wait until your player draft is complete and you have a full roster. This won’t give you a lot of time to collect money. Google Sheets are a great way to manage who has paid team & league fees, uniforms, and other expenses.
Hold Discreet Discussions – Financial discussions should be kept private and away from the playing field to maintain focus on the game. Have regular discussions (even if via What’sApp messages) with your team to review the finances and make sure everything is on track. Remember, not everybody is in the same financial situation, and for some players, coming up with $300 for league fees and uniform is more of a burden than for others.
Maintain Privacy – Avoid discussing financial matters at the ballfield, as this can be disruptive to the players and negatively impact their performance. Instead, conduct these discussions in private to maintain a positive team dynamic. Even beyond privacy, nobody wants to discuss money at the field – especially you! If money is handled well in advance, you’ll never need to have the discussion on the ballfield.
Plan and Lead with Confidence
To lead your team to success, it’s important to have a plan and stick to it. Here are a few tips to help you do just that:
Recruit Early & Often – New managers can have an edge when it comes to acquiring new talent. With a blank slate for a roster, they can start recruiting months earlier than returning teams and secure top prospects from social media or a Player Pool their league maintains. Plus, if they reach out to college coaches, they can also tap into a pool of graduating seniors looking for a team the following season. With early recruiting, new managers have the potential to be a big hit with their player acquisitions and catch competitors off guard.
Stay Committed – To lead your team effectively, it’s essential to make decisions you believe in and stick to your game plan. Show your players that you have a clear vision for success and that you’re committed to achieving it. Remind your players of your game plan and that you’re thinking three moves ahead. E.g., an X% play followed by a Y% play leads to a Z% score. Players are often just watching one play at a time. It’s okay to share your thinking, even if they don’t agree.
Have a Balanced Approach – While it’s important to listen to your players, don’t manage by committee. Everybody is going to want more playing time, to bat higher in the line-up, and to question why your pitching moves were so quick. Maintaining a clear vision and decision-making process will earn you respect as a leader.
Build Confidence – As a first-time manager, it’s natural to have doubts or feel unsure. However, believe in yourself and your abilities. You chose, or were selected to lead this team, for a reason. Have confidence in your decisions and actions.
Lead by Example – Your players will look to you for guidance and inspiration. By demonstrating confidence in yourself and your abilities, you’ll create a positive and motivated team culture. For example, managers that argue with umpires tend to have teams where players argue with umpires and get ejected. Your leadership creates a team culture.
Build Strong Relationships and Prepare Thoroughly
To lead your team to success, it’s also important to build strong relationships with your players and plan and prepare thoroughly for each game and season. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Build Relationships – Building strong relationships with your players is essential for creating a successful team. Take the time to get to know your players, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and foster an atmosphere of trust and respect. In most adult baseball leagues, players switch teams regularly to play with friends, or as they advance to different age groups. These relationships you build will help you retain existing players as well as recruit from other teams.
Do your Research – Prepare thoroughly for each game and season by researching your opponents and creating detailed practice and game plans. Anticipate any potential challenges and have backup plans in place to address them. Most leagues use stat programs such as 400hitter. In amateur ball, every pitcher likes to pitch to every batter as a matter of pride. But if you are truly playing to win, there is no shame in pitching around a tough opponent to get an easier out on deck.
Be Prepared – The more you have a game plan and prepare, the better equipped you will be to lead your team to success. Consider all potential scenarios, such as injury or other unexpected events, and have contingency plans in place to maintain momentum. In amateur leagues, planning isn’t just about opponents, but about personal plans. For example, if one of your players is getting married in the summer and several players will be attending that wedding, schedule around it. Also, pitch your ace leading into it, as he will have extra games to rest afterwards.
Be Proactive – A proactive and well-prepared approach to each game and season will demonstrate to your players your commitment to success and increase their trust and respect in your leadership. Part of this is just showing up on time. In an amateur league, the managers who arrive early, take a full infield and outfield before the game, and have their batting order done in advance, are the ones more likely to come out on top.
Lead Your Team to Victory
With these essential tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to leading your adult league team to a successful season. Manage finances and maintain focus, plan and lead with confidence, build strong relationships and prepare thoroughly, and you’ll be well on your way to a winning season.
Brett Rudy is a trailblazer in the world of baseball. As the founder of Baseball Is My Life and co-founder of Charity Hop Sports Marketing, he’s dedicated to elevating the sport and supporting the athletes who play it. With a passion for making a difference, Brett has created successful philanthropic initiatives like Charity Wines and 100 Innings of Baseball for ALS. He’s also the mastermind behind the Corked Bat Collection, Cooperstown Classic at the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Winterball for Toys for Tots. When he’s not working to improve the game, Brett can be found playing outfield in the Boston Metro Baseball League, living and breathing the sport he loves.