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After hours and seasons of use we report on the three best baseball coaching apps available. We really think these are must have apps for any coach of baseball and softball players. Those running competitive teams from 7u to 18u should give them a try if they have not already.
How do you calculate ERA again? Who is leading my team in BA/RISP (Batting Average with Runners in Scoring Position)? What was Johnny’s dad’s phone number again? When and where do we play the Hillsdale Cardinals this year? What exercises should my pitchers be completing during the off-season? What is the pitch count this week? Who should I be most concerned about for rotator cuff issues?
Best Baseball Coaching Apps
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Wow, that’s a lot of questions. Some of the answers might be easy if you are a seasoned coach. Others will take time, a spreadsheet or a piece of paper along with 10-30 minutes to calculate the findings. Why spend time manually doing things for you and your baseball team when it can all be automated with apps?Technology is here to stay and so are some really great apps that will help you manage your team easier. You can focus on what’s important: actually coaching the game.
Below is a review of the apps that I have used over the past 3 years. These have made a difference in the way the coaching staff communicates, manages the game, and trains our players.
There is nothing smoother than being able to pull our your phone or tablet and keep score of a baseball game. Today, we look into the apps that make the old paper scoring book a thing of the past. Spreadsheets and paper stacks are gone. No more mathematical errors. No more questions from the parents as to what Little Johnny’s average is this week. The best part is that you, as coach, can take total control of your team. The best decisioins are now made with data even at the lowest levels of the sport.
Game Changer is part of the DICK’s Team Sports HQ suite of digital youth sports apps. Game Changer does baseball and softball. Below only focuses on the benefits of the app in terms of using it to replace the normal paper scorebook. (See the Game Changer website for other things they do).
One key to Game Changer is that it is free to download and use (both iOS and Android)! The base functionality can be summed up into three categories:
This is year #3 that I am using Game Changer to keep the scorebook for games. Each year, you can carry over the players and data from a previous year’s team. Once you enter the team into the app, you will only have to set the lineup and positions when it comes game time. A new feature this year includes the ability to pull in the opposing team’s lineup if they use GC to keep score too. This is a huge time saver.
Controlling the scoring of the game is very easy once you complete the practice portion of the app. It is very intuitive. It directs you to make the right and complete choice to tell the whole story of the play. For example: Ball In Play – Hard Ground Ball – Single – To the Left Fielder. There is a learning curve. During the first game or two you will always be a little behind. But, once you are a week or so in, it becomes second nature. There have been many times I have been coaching the bases and was easily able to keep score and track the game without any issue.
Two of the greatest features I feel with Game Changer are:
The stats section keeps just about every stat collected from the games played. You can see how well your players hits with a certain count, how clutch your batters are with BA/RISP (Batting Average with Runners in Scoring Position), plate appearances where the hitter had over 6 pitches, the list is endless! In the end, it allows you to make the best decision when it comes game time.
Another really cool part of the app is that it tracks both the spray charts (where the ball lands when it is hit) of both your players and the opponents. The tracking of the opponents spray chart is awesome for the teams that you play 2-3 times a year. #24 Bob Turner has 5 hits against us and he always hits it to opposite field – you might want to employ a shift to cover against his tendency. You can also see where your #5 hitter puts the ball on a consistent basis. Should you call the hit and run with someone slower on second? Probably not, because your #5 hitter hits 75% of his hits between SS and 3B. It makes decisions based on data, one item that seems to rule sports in today’s world. Below are a few real world samples from our previous season.
One very cool feature that families love with Game Changer is the broadcast feature. Parents and family can join the teams “community” via finding the team online within the application itself or via email invite. Once they are part of the community, the games are able to be followed real time as the stats are taken.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not a YouTube video livestream in 4K where you can see the sweat dripping off the pitcher’s forehead. It is a very simple interface where you can see player name and play (it kind of reminds me of a 1980’s computer game). This simple, yet super effective way of allowing parents and family members follow the game has been a real “game changer” for us in the past years. It has also kept the dugout a sacred place as we don’t have people coming up asking us what just happened with the last play or what the score is. Game Changer is there, always up to date, and as accurate as your scorekeeper’s fingers allow it to be.
When you select a player to be on your team, you also select their parents. One of the biggest complaints I hear from other parents (outside of our team of course) is the poor or lack of communication between the coaching staff and the parents themselves. Changes to schedules, tournament updates, practice cancellations due to weather, unsure of an away game field address – all can lead to frustration from a parent. Proper communication channels are key to make the parent/coach relationship crisp and a non-issue throughout the season.
TeamSnap is free app that you can use to solve all the problems above. The app can be also be broken into three key sections: player/parent information, master scheduling tool, and communication. TeamSnap has different levels of plans and pricing based on functionality, but for this post I am only going to focus on the free version (which I assume the majority of users will utilize). The TeamSnap application is available for iOS, Android, as well as a full blown webpage where you can do alot of the initial information entering and configuration. After the initial load is complete, you can control and update very easily from the app itself.
See the Team Snap website.
I remember years ago when I was playing little league, the coach had a clipboard with contact numbers on it. Back in that time, people had one phone number, no email, no mobile phone, and certainly no email. Communication was easy.
Enter the year 2018.
Parents have 5 ways to contact them, kids come from split families, and phone numbers/contact information can change on a monthly basis. This is one of the main reasons why I love TeamSnap. When you enroll the player along with an email for their parent, all the responsibility is shifted to get the information entered. Parents usually jump onboard rather quickly when you make the edict early in the season that this is the only way you will be communicating changes once the season starts. Once all the information is loaded into the system (by the parents), you simply send out a blast email via TeamSnap and it sends to the parents preferred mode of communication. More on that in the next section. Having all the information at your finger tips makes it very easy to get a hold of a parent if a player is injured or feels ill during a practice.
To me, there are two major events during the year around setting your baseball schedule (especially in a travel baseball environment) –
I know when we have our scheduling meeting for our league, it feels like a speed dating event. You are looking for 15 teams out of 26 that you are supposed to schedule with. Once you get those locked in, the emails start coming in… can we change our date… can we move the game earlier, the list goes on and on! It got to be quite painful three years ago when we actually handed out the schedule on paper to the parents. Then the next week we had to hand out the schedule again because it had changed.
Enter TeamSnap to save the day.
We do not hand out paper schedules anymore, we just direct the parents to the app. When changes are made to the schedule, they are notified of the change.
The scheduling tool within TeamSnap contains information such as date and time for the game, along with location/address of the field (connected to a map application if you use one), and most important, which uniform to wear. Our team has quite the variety of uniform combinations that can be worn, so it is very easy to update the week’s games with the proper uniform choices, also allowing for the parents to know their laundry schedule. Once again, when changes are made, there is a notification sent out to the parents.
I have mentioned communication in both sections above, after all, it is the most important part of a successful relationship… we are still talking baseball by the way. The one portion of TeamSnap I have not touched upon is the Messages feature. This will allow anyone who is part of the team to send a direct message to be viewed by everyone.
Many times we have used this feature to say there is construction on the way to the away game, bring extra clothes as it is very windy and cool at the field, along with in-game messages. We had an instance last year where a player from the opposing team was injured and we ended up in a scrimmage where one of our players played RF for them. A notification was sent to parents as the events occurred and there was no confusion and things went off without a barrage of people asking what is going on at the dugout fence.
For the seasoned coach, coming up with drills is a piece of cake. You:
The USA Baseball Mobile App is something that I have used for a year or so. The app is laid out into specific sections: Practice plans, drills, and strength/ conditioning. Each section includes all the information you would need to successfully plan and execute on a baseball practice for most age groups.
The section of the app called Practice Plans is a deep library of plans that can be used in their entirety or partially to give the maximized practice environment for your players. For example, there is one practice plan called “1 Hour Pitching Workout”. Within this workout, there are segments broken down into individual activities to ensure a proper and correctly progressed pitching practice. You have access to many videos and a 1-2 page document that explains the drill in its entirety.
If you don’t need an entire practice plan, but you want to look into a different drill other than those in your coaching bag, you can look in the Drills section of the app. Broken down into very easy to access sections and filters, your search will be very simple. You can search by skill level (easy to hard) or skill set (infield, outfield, pitching, catching, hitting, pitching or even bunting).
This is a great section as you can find what you are looking for quickly and get all the information as if it was listed in the larger practice plan. This section also includes a time, so when the drill says five minutes, you can just click start and it will let you know when you have hit the time limit. This is a great section for the new coach who doesn’t want to do too complex of drills and really make his players discourage due to ability level of the player vs. ability needed to complete the drill successfully.
One of the key aspects of preparing a player during the off-season, pre-season, and during the season is strength training and conditioning. Proper drills will focus on developing strength during the off-season, while not causing undue strain on the player’s body.
Proper conditioning techniques will prepare the player for the long haul of the season. Some coaches think running till they drop is the answer. Lifting weights might not fit the bill for all. With the USA Baseball Mobile app, you will have the option of multiples of strength and conditioning exercises that will focus on particular body systems that are important to a player, their current season, and seasons to come.
Just in closing, this is not an exhaustive list of apps that you can use as a coach. There are MANY other phone/tablet apps that can be used. Many are great or possibly better than those listed above. I wrote this posting based on personal experience that the apps above really made a difference in the way the team was managed year-round. Make the game easier to manage, get an app for that!
Miss a baseball or softball app you love? Tell us about it in the comments below.