I'm going to be the Coach for your little league Giants! I just wanted to reach out and say hello to introduce myself, and provide you with some information for the upcoming season. The schedule has been posted to the team site, which you can see if you're logged into the Guilford Little League website. We are the double AA Giants. Our practices are scheduled for Thursdays at 5:30 pm, and our games for 3:30 pm on Saturdays. Almost all the games are at Baldwin, but a few are scheduled for Bittner. Please periodically check the calendar through the Guilford Little League site for updates. The first practice is Thursday, April 22, and the first game is Saturday, April 24.
As for the season, I'm going to do my best to help all the kids enjoy the game and learn the basic skills. They're still so litte, so the idea is to make sure they stay engaged and confident, and that they improve throughout the season, no matter what level they're starting from.
I'm also going to copy a message we coaches received a few weeks ago about the rules for double AA, and how you should expect the season to go. Please let me know if you have any questions of me.
- AA is a coach pitch division, but our goal is to introduce kid pitch no later than halfway through the Spring season. That means that starting in week 1, we'd recommend working on pitching with kids at practice so that by the time we reach the halfway point, some kids are ready to pitch.
- Kids should throw 3-4 pitches per batter. If the batter has not reached base after 3-4 pitches, the coach should take over.
- Pitchers in AA must never exceed 40 pitches per game. This is a hard limit set by Little League International.
- The pitcher may pitch in front of the mound but may be no closer than six feet from the rubber (please use judgment). If your pitcher is doing well and throwing strikes, you should move them back toward the mound. Any kid who expects to pitch in AAA must learn to pitch from the mound.
- This is an instructional level, so in general, any kid who can pitch should pitch in AA. We encourage that on a team of 12 kids you try to develop at least 9 pitchers. With the pitch limits referenced above, you'll need lots of kids who have experience. If the kid poses a danger to the batter due to inaccuracy - it's ok not to pitch them, but you should work with that kid in practice to help build their skills.
- There are absolutely no strikeouts in Guilford in AA. If you wish you may call balls and strikes to reinforce this with your pitcher, but after strike 3 a coach should take over and pitch to the batter. We absolutely, positively should not have kids who strike out return to the bench at this level.
- Batters should see no more than ten pitches per at bat. The reason why is that after 10 pitches their swing will start to change from exhaustion and you may be reinforcing bad habits by continuing to have them swing. After ten pitches, we recommend soft-tossing to the batter for five pitches, and if they still don't hit, bring out the tee. You must use the same, consistent approach for all hitters - please don't give hitters who you perceive to be more capable extra pitches (trust me, i've been tempted). It's critical that at this level all players have opportunities to run the bases. You should do tee drills at every practice so that using a tee is seen as practice (yes, even MLB players use a tee). We know that failure is part of the game but AA is instructional and there's plenty of time for that in AAA.
- At the AA level, you must change up the batting order from one game to another, please do not bat the kids in the same order in AA.
- Unless the game is interrupted by weather, all players must get a minimum of at least two at-bats per game.
- The best thing you can teach your kids to do at this level is to take confident swings at kid pitches. They will be very anxious, but we recommend reinforcing confident, aggressive swings at hittable pitches - some kids will hesitate to swing at kid pitches at all so reinforcement is helpful.
- You'll have more than 9 players, but in AA the fielders should approximate real positions as much as possible. We need to avoid having the kids spread over the field like in tee ball - we want them to know where the positions are by the end of the season. For larger teams (which you'll have) consider five outfielders, an extra player near the bag at second, and if this works for you a kid to rotate in at first base and receive throws.
- Due to COVID restrictions around sharing equipment, we won't be fielding catchers in AA this year UNLESS the player owns his or her own equipment (rare at this age) and wishes to bring it to the game. Equipment, especially catcher's gear must never be shared.
- Players should play all defensive positions except positions that put that player or another player in danger (generally first base and pitcher). Please do your best to rotate kids from outfield to infield every other inning or so.
- In some rare cases in the past we've seen infielders take a step in toward the batter on a swing and miss - please don't do this. The fielders should never be more than one or two steps onto the grass (except for the pitcher, of course).
- An inning may end after three outs are registered by the defense, after five runs are scored by the offense, or after all batters have hit. I'd personally recommend the "three and five" rule as it keeps the game moving more quickly and teaches the kids the value of an out. Keep in mind that all kids must get two at bats, so if at the end of the game you have a kid who has only hit once, you should continue the inning (e.g. allowing a fourth out) to get the kid the at-bat. You can also do a time limit for innings - what's most important here is that both coaches agree on an approach.
- No leads or steals in AA.
- No head first slides (Little League rule).
- We generally recommend that safe/out calls on the basepaths be made by the hitting team's coach or that all of you work together to give the call to the person who has the best view. Please - no arguments or drama with each other on safe/out calls.
- Please stick to one base on an overthrow. A lot of balls will be overthrown to first, we don't want the kids to start rounding the bases and prompting the defense to throw the ball all over the field - this will just get them thrown out at AAA - so please have them stick to one base on an overthrow and let the defense get the ball back to the pitcher.
- We generally don't keep score in AA but if both coaches agree informally to do so, it's fine. No drama please :) we really want this to be instructional, but if you want to add a little competition into it that's ok.