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It would be great if it stayed like that. Just enjoy this age. After T Ball is coaches pitch and machine pitch. These are great baseball learning tools for six and seven year olds. If a child starts out at this level, he is almost guaranteed to get some hits, and feel good about himself.
Eight year old are still a little young to start kid pitch in my mind, but many leagues begin at that age. It is a little early for most kids to have control of their pitches, but coaches at this age can usually find a couple of pitchers. Probably the biggest jump in improved individual skills happens during the nine and ten year old years.
Team skills show the most improvement during the eleven and twelve year old ages. Pitching distance is the big key for thirteen and fourteen year olds. All across the country you will find the pitching distance to be somewhere between fifty-four feet and the major league distance of sixty feet, six inches for pitchers either thirteen or fourteen. If you are playing at ninety feet bases, then use more youth baseball practice drills for your infielders. They will need extra practice at playing on a bigger infield.
If they are moved back to sixty feet, there will be plenty of offense. This is the time when we as coaches have to be at our best, making sure each player is using proper catching and throwing technique. One of the biggest time wasters in baseball practices is kids chasing after balls.
We want every possible moment of practice to involve skill building activities. When thrown balls are missed by the receiving player an adult standing behind the row of players flips a new ball to the player that missed, so that player gets right back in to working on their skills.
Proper technique for pitching, throwing, receiving throws and the additional drills that make up this part of practice will be added to the Coaching Guide in soon. Batting Practice - 'A 12 Player Drill'. This activity is often characterized by one kid batting and eleven kids standing out in the field shagging. Those eleven other kids are often board and losing interest in the sport minute by minute.
An entire section of the Coaching Guide is dedicated to describing how to set up and run an proper Batting Practice. This will be added very soon.
Kids do understand that they need to practice to develop their skills, but they also have a strong desire to PLAY. Our goal as coaches is to create a practice environment that is FUN as well as active, efficient and effective. It is strongly recommended that most every practice conclude with a scrimmage. A scrimmage is not a willy-nilly activity, however. This is a controlled activity where teaching takes place throughout.
Following each play, the coaches acknowledge things kids did correctly and instruct as needed. These teaching periods should be brief, seconds; keep the game moving! The relevant information is that has numbers to the right of the drills and activities. The numbers indicate in which practice the drill or activity can be found on the 'Practice Plans' page. The purpose of this list is to provide a coach with a guide to which skills and concepts to teach first and a logical progression of teaching where each activity builds off those preceding.
The ordering of the list can be debated; I have been rearranging it for years now, but am confident that, as it now stands, it is pretty solid. It is important to note, especially for coaches working with kids ages 10 and under, that introducing all the contents in the list in one season is not a goal to be concerned with; start at the beginning and progress with your team at a pace that they and you are comfortable with and confident.
It is about a three year process for the players and coach to gain a somewhat solid grasp of the game, its concepts and skills.
The information on this site is not intended to be consumed in one season. It is a 'guide' for a coach to follow year after year as they progress through the different levels of play. Getting the kids solid in the basics in the upper part of the list will give them a good understanding of how to play the game and set them up to get accomplished players given their age. A veteran coach and coaches working with older players 10 and above may move through the content quicker than is laid out in the practice plans.
It is still important, however, to review and drill these players in the most basic content. Playing the game well and executing more advanced concepts will always be built off the most basic aspects of the game. Regardless of a coaches experience or the age of their players the Progression of Teaching section below 'Progression of Practice Content' will serve as a checklist throughout the year to make sure that each detail of the game is taught. The practice plans below are set up and paced for a mid-level player pitch team.
These are to serve as a guide. A coach can deviate based on the pace their players pick up on the content, the coach's personal style and the specific needs of their team. These plans introduce content in a thoughtful sequence where each practice provides a foundation for the content taught in the next practice.
Day 2 builds of Day 1, Day 3 builds of Day 2, etc. As practices progress into the season 'new' content will, in most cases, be a combination of concepts and actions the kids learned in earlier practices with one new aspect added.
The practice plans alternate between a 90 minute schedule and a 2-hour schedule. Many younger teams only practice for 90 minutes; some older teams will go for two hours.
There should not be any feeling that everything listed in a practice must be completed on that day. Just add the stuff you don't get to into the next days plan.
Its not a race to teach the kids everything. Over the course of the season every team will progress through the teaching content at a different pace. The first four practice plans are posted. The content in the plans was covered in the Coaching Clinics and should be fairly familiar to those who attended.
Some activities in the plans can be better understood given some supporting information. I will be adding this supporting information over the next few days written March 5.
The next practice plan 5 is 'Teaching and Learning Batting Practice'. The objective of the first four practices is to teach the kids the foundational concepts of defensive positional responsibilities, throwing and basic pitching mechanics, the key focus points of playing catch moving their feet to throw and catch , receiving throws at a base, fielding, a few simple skill building drills, etc. In many parts of the country we are still getting a lot of rain and most coaches will have to deal with wet fields from time to time, but that is no reason to cancel a practice.
Short of lighting or a real heavy downpour we can still hold practice. The availability of, or use of, a diamond is not needed to run a championship caliber practice. Most of the activities in the practice plans can be run most anywhere, a gym, and outdoor covered basketball court, a covered walkway or in a school yard or parking lot that is free of cars.
Use whiffle balls and shorten up the bases to 40'. At that distance the defensive players will get a decent feel of the ball coming off the bat, will have the opportunity to work on their footwork and see some fly balls. Give the kids the option of using their glove, however it is difficult to catch a whiffle ball with a glove, so encourage them to try defense with no glove.
Split the team into two groups of six and set up two diamonds with two Batting practices going on at the same time. Four kids play defense and follow the same approach as described in "Batting Practice - A 12 Player Drill".
The other two kids bat and work on reacting to balls off the bat. After the batter completes their swings they switch with the base runner. After they both get their swings, switch them out with two of the kids on defense.
Again play using whiffle balls on a 40' diamond. The primary skills the kids are working on is base coverage responsibilities and footwork involved with covering bases, receiving throws at a base and fielding ground balls. On the smaller diamond we only play with six players split the team into two groups and have two games going on at one time. I change the 'rules' slightly. We tell the players the TWO objectives on defense are:.
This is done by throwing the ball ahead of the runner. If there is any question the ball will reach a base steps ahead of the runner, they instead throw a full base ahead of the runner. When the runner reaches their base and sees the ball being held by a defensive player at the next base there is no question the runner cannot run any further.
We have one batter, four infielders and a catcher. After the batter hits and runs the bases, all players rotate. The infielders rotate from 3b to SS to 2b to 1b to C; the catcher is the next batter and the batter-runner moves to 3b. Set a marker 10'' behind the plate where the catcher stands while the batter is swinging the bat.
After the batter drops the bat, the catcher runs up to their 'position' a step in front of home plate. From there the Catcher works on their leadership and decision making skills by calling to the defense where to throw the ball. The catcher MUST were a helmet to protect them from a flying bat , ideally one with a face guard. On the first day, like the first day of any new activity, this scrimmage format will be a bit wonky.
Once the kids get the idea of 'get the runner out' out of their heads and grasp the concept of 'stop the runner', the drill starts running clean and fast.
Expect to get batters hitting and running the bases per minute. This format of scrimmage also gets the kids in tune to the idea that "The runner is safe a lot" in any baseball or softball game. But on each play we still must accomplish the goal of 'stopping the runner s '. Given this realization the kids begin to feel empowered by the act of stopping the runner.
When it comes to real games, where the runner s is often safe, the players will recognize they have still accomplished something by 'stopping the runner s '. And not giving away bases by making poor throwing decisions resulting in overthrows and runners advancing further than they should have.
When working on wet pavement it is important to remind the kids that it is slippery and in this situation they have to control their giddiness and move a bit slower and not try to stop and change directions. Practice can begin one hour prior to your assigned field time — a diamond is only needed for Scrimmage. Stance at a base prior to receiving a throw.
Receiving a Throw at a Base. Infield Base Coverage, 2. Backing up Bases — Outfield. After the first three bat, switch them to defense. See Practice 1 review. Two groups of six players - 5 minutes at each station.
Throwing Drills — Footwork. Delivering Balls in Drills. Infield and Outfield Movement, 3. Each batter bats 2x. After the first three players bat, switch them to defense. Balls to their LEFT. Ready Position to Catch. Focus on glove elbow: Pitchers Responsibilities - balls hit in the infield. Turn back; Turn fast. This is the introductory day and will take extra time to teach and get a feel for the flow of the drill.
If they hit either of the buckets in the air, they receive 2 points. If they hit either bucket on a bounce they receive 1 point. You can choose any number to try and score to for the win. Usually we do 15, but lower it based on player skill level, or you can move players in to the cut of the grass, etc. We have added some additional rules- you must try to get rid of the ball quickly.
If you hold it too long or take too many steps toward home, your throw does not count. If you miss the ball, you must go get it and make the throw from where you pick the ball up.
And -5 points if you hit a coach has not happened yet. I've been coaching year olds the last couple of years and I've managed to find a few drills that the kids seem to enjoy. I think they're favorite is using a pitching machine to practice catching fly balls. I aim it real high and set the speed to a reasonable level and then have the kids track it down. Because my kids are young, I use tennis balls to keep the concussions to a minimum.
At the beginning of the year I have them stand right where the balls will land. As they gain some skill, I'll use an orange cone as a starting point, and place it a few feet away from the landing zone. This way they learn to run into the fly ball and learn how to track while on the run. Another drill I have is where I place a number of balls in the dirt between 2B and 3B and then setup targets stuff animal on a stool against the first-base fence.
I separate the kids into 3 or 4 lines and then have the front player start on their belly. On my command they jump up, run to a ball, scoop and fire at a target.
The team that hits the target most wins. Another drill that I really enjoy because I think it targets a lot of different skills is a situational infield drill.
I split the kids into 3 teams. One squad goes to 2B, one to 1B and one as runners starting from home. For the age group that I coach, this really helps the kids learn how to play a bag properly. They start off 1B, then have to run to cover it. It's amazing to me how many kids who start at this level forget to run through first-base. Or, how many first-basemen forget to run to the bag to cover it in-case of a throw. Over the course of the year, when the kids get comfortable with that, we'll shift over to covering 2B with a squad at SS and 2B and a runner at 1B.
It's a bit painful at first because most of these kids can't catch a ball which is why I wait to introduce it by week 3 and I still use a soft-core ball. But it was amazing to me how many outs we made by the end of the year. We're only house-league, but we were making plays other teams weren't.
It was a highlight of my season last year when one of our most inexperienced kids made a great play to get a kid out at 1B and afterward said "Just like we practiced! And I always finish a practice with a scrimmage against the coaches.
The coaches never hit, only field. We challenge the kids to score x-amount of runs against us and we don't take it easy on them. After a minute practice trying to hit all the fundamentals this is drill that seems to help the kids unwind and have fun.
I used a variation of one of your suggestions tonight in a tunnel.