A scrappy, undersize group of kids from a small Caribbean island who have ascended to Little League baseball’s most illustrious stage: the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. For six of the past eight years, in a tournament where merely qualifying two consecutive years ranks as a remarkable achievement, Curacao has reached the semifinals six of the past eight years, winning the title in 2004 and finishing second in 2005.


A Field of (Myelin) Dreams: Audio Slideshow

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Ignited in 1996 by local boy Andruw Jones’s dramatic World Series home runs, Curacao began its rise from mediocrity to international success. But the truly remarkable thing wasn’t the ignition (after all, other places have had local boys make good), but rather the tools they used to capture and funnel thatenergy into deep practice. They do this by:

  • Modeling. I’ve never seen quite so many coaches at a baseball practice as I did in Curacao—and many of them were still in their teens. It’s their system: the older players come back and help with coaching, modeling the right way to execute skills and sending a clear message: if he can do it, why can’t I?
  • Creating a culture of drills. The coaches and kids bring a near-religious attentiveness to the smallest practice drills. They’re all like tiny coaches, explaining how their swing works, or the best way to field a grounder. One 13-year-old player spent twenty minutes explaining why a sockball (made of two tightly folded socks) was the best way to learn to hit a curveball.
  • Compressing the game. Curacao doesn’t have many fields, and so in yet another classic example of advantages masquerading as disadvantages, they shrink practice to tiny areas. The coach frequently pitches batting practice from 30 feet, instead of the conventional 45 – a strategy which, like similar soccer techniques produces terrific results (I tried it with my Little League team.)

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5 Responses to “Pabao Little League, Willemstad, Curacao”

  1. Jean Martina says:

    wow, I feel so proud being from Curaçao and all. I’d like to point out that the Curaçao comunity is extremely proud and supportive of its talents, whether its in sports or arts the whole island gets involved up to a point that it can be the topic of the day or even the week.
    The Little leaguers are still thriving and the island stays proud.

    Imma buy this book!

  2. Maria says:

    We visited Curacao this summer for the Little League Caribbean Regionals. Curacao took first and second place.I enjoyed seeing these kids play, their discipline and the common demonstrations of affection between the kids and the kids and the coaches.

  3. Coach Daddy says:

    Wow, Maria, we’re jealous! You see, we already go to Williamsport and have fallen in love with the Curacao kids. With that same idea going down there in 2010, I Googled my way to this article and your comment. Actually, our 9-year old came up with the idea . . . “…the boys would love the baseball and Mom and (sister) would love the beaches!” So, how did you do it — did you have to book anything special in advance (like tickets)?

  4. William Marquez says:

    I was born in Curacao many years ago but left at a very young age to go live in Holland. For the last 23 years I have been living in Florida. Regardless, I have alaways kept up with the culture and to this day speak fluent Papiamentu. I’m glad I did because I can now truly say that I’m still a part of it. I’m very proud of these kids!!! Hoping for a big win against Japan tonight!!!

  5. James Ryan says:

    Hi Mr. Coyle I have a few things to ask you about.

    First I am a unorthodox baseball player in southern California. I have attended somewhat a Pitching hotbed in Texas with a population of 800 have produced more than 110 pitchers with major league “talent.” Any way because of baseball’s long past and history i’d say 98% of coaches are not open to new ideas. Any way I have no coach. Ive tried to educated even my own family to try and help but they are tremendously busy. What should I do? I know ideally you would have someone give you feedback right away. Be my own coach? If so in what way could I to maximixe my deep practice?

    I realize you may not be able to help 100%, but your feedback would be very appreciated. Thank you, James

    p.s it was the hotbed that introduced me to your works, i think it became a HotBed because of your work. We fallow your little book of talent like a bible. Im pretty sure your a big reason why this place has become a hot bed.

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