Winning Baseball by Trent Mongero is an outstanding book for baseball coaches.
Mongero describes the book as being “For Beginner to Intermediate Play” and on the cover Mongero’s description of the book says that it teaches “age-appropriate drills at the level of T-ball through 9- to 10-year-old level.” This is the only part of the book that I had to differ with. In my opinion, it may have been geared to top level 10-year-old travel level players, but it was not geared to the typical 10-year-old recreational Little League player. In fact, at the recreational level, the drills would be fine for up to 12-year-old players.
One of the great things about the book is the numerous graphics of young players demonstrating the techniques and skills that Mongero teaches in the book. Many of the young boys appear to be t-ball level players and some older Little Leaguers. It’s often difficult describing things like baseball grips and the pictures here are truly worth a 1000 words.
The biggest complaint that I have about youth baseball coaches are they often seem to show up right after work and they have been busy with work all day and don’t have a plan for practice. A youth baseball coach must remember that a dozen young baseball players are relying on him to show up with a plan of challenging and fun drills. And, just like that coach wouldn’t make a sales call without preparation, he shouldn’t conduct a baseball practice without preparation either. Mongero actually gives complete practice plans in his book that will be very helpful for rookie youth coaches.
The skills of all aspects of baseball are well documented in the book. One of the first photos that caught my eye was one of a t-ball player with the batting tee actually sitting in front of home plate. It has always made me crazy to see t-ball coaches put the tee right on top of home plate and then expect the young player to hit the ball that is directly in the middle of his body and his stance. Who can hit a ball at that spot? Everybody knows, at least if you think about it, that you hit the ball out in front of the plate!
Mongero dedicates a significant part of Winning Baseball to giving information about how to start and manage a travel baseball team. Of course, there are many thoughts about travel baseball, but I do believe that Mongero has it in perspective. As a coach who has managed at both the recreational and travel levels, I continue to believe that it is important for youth players to play in their hometown leagues through age 12 in addition to their travel teams. Let them be a superstar in their local leagues and then also have the opportunity to be just another contributor on a travel team. The player will benefit from both, yet maintain contact with the players that he will be playing with at the high school Varsity level in just a few years.
Trent Mongero has been a baseball coach for over 18 years. He played in the Atlanta Braves organization and at UNC-Wilmington. He has coached at the University of South Carolina and regularly holds baseball camps in the Czech Republic.
Mongero’s book “Winning Baseball” is available from Sterling Publishing and sells for $19.95 in the USA and $25.95 in Canada.