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NWLL Coaches Handbook

Game Philosophy


  • We will do everything possible in our approach to keep the games moving.
  • Players will run on and off field.
  • Pitchers will throw 6 pitches or less in between innings.
  • Batters will be up and ready to hit when it’s their spot in the order
  • Catchers shall be in gear and ready to go on defense.

Pitching Approach

  • Pitchers will work quickly.
  • We will be aggressive in pounding the strike zone…FORCE CONTACT

Hitting Approach

  • Stress aggressiveness to our hitters. If we recognize a pitch we can drive, we need to do so, regardless of the count.
  • Our hitters, in nearly all cases, are there to swing the bat, not to take pitches.

Rules & Safety
Coaches should have a clear understanding of NWLL's safety policies & procedures and be familiar with the rules governing their division. Any questions should be directed to the Division Commissioner.

Ideal practices make full use of all resources available. Equipment, including, but not limited to tees, baseballs, softees, tennis balls, and whiffles will be used by the coaches. Such equipment will be provided by the NWLL, and made available, in storage at the various practice and game fields.

Please take advantage of the batting cages and other such resources at our various fields to allow for a greater number of reps for the players and greater flexibility for coaches at practice.

Coaches will hold regular practices at least once per week.

Efficient practices will require some measure of discipline. Our coaches will have the full support of the league. They need not tolerate disruptive players at games and practices. The disruptions of a few affect the entire team in a negative fashion.

Required Structure:

  • Warm up and stretch – Must be done first, before all practices, games, and workouts. Watch Video.
  • Throwing Program (following stretch, organized in outfield, working on 1-2 concepts each time)

Practice then becomes subject to coach’s discretion, but coaches must have their teams work each of the areas of hitting, INF/OF, base running, and pitching every other practice. Teams should not go two practices in a row without working each of these.  Sample practice agendas appear at bottom of this page.

Practice Tenets
Class A

  1. Practices must keep moving.
  2. Solicit parent involvement whenever it can improve productivity.
  3. Emphasis on basic skills, hitting, fielding, throwing, running.
  4. Rolling of mass ground balls.
  5. Use of multiple balls for throwing program.
  6. Mass tee batting with whiffle balls and whiffle bats.
  7. Rapid fire baserunning.


  1. Develop structure to practices.
  2. Fielders graduate to more challenging drills, some fungoes involved.
  3. The ‘ready position’ team fielding drill is a priority at the AA level.
  4. Have players take throws at bags from various positions in the field. Make these situations both force outs and tag plays.
  5. Longer throws in drills and/or throwing program to help players learn crow hop.
  6. Hitting drills progress into front/side toss
  7. Emphasize our turns at 1st base.


  1. Efficient, structured practices.
  2. Begin to emphasize situational work.
  3. Situational games with tee and side toss.
  4. Organized infield/outfield taken in practices and pre game.
  5. Regular drills with outfielders on drop steps, general footwork, and tracking the baseball.
  6. Regular side work for pitchers.
  7. Use more challenging and various hitting drills.
  8. Sliding as practice work. Introduce head first slide, going back to bags, only.


  1. Begin working individual defense in pairs and small groups.
  2. Team defenses with focus on cuts and bag coverage.
  3. Regular PFP(Pitchers Fielding Practice) with the involvement of infielders.
  4. Pitchers’ side work should include both wind-up and stretch deliveries.
  5. Pitchers should be encourage to use their change up.
  6. Hitting will operate in similar fashion to that of defense, using various stations with work in pairs and small groups.
  7. Reading passed balls/wild pitches as baserunning drill.


  1. Regular team defensive work.
  2. PFP aimed at controlling the running game.
  3. Baserunning drills focused upon proper primary and secondary leads. Jumps for steals and hit and runs must also be addressed.
  4. Use batting practice model for efficiency whenever numbers allow. If numbers of players and staff are sufficient, nearly every aspect of practice can be accomplished during batting practice.

Practice References and Resources

  • Use cages when available for more reps and reduced turnover time.
  • Emphasize load and stride.
  • Side toss, front toss, tees, etc, with various types and sizes of balls; tennis, whiffles, golf whiffles, popcorn kernels, etc. Learn more
  • We never need live BP with our hitters in Majors and younger.
  • No more than 4-8 swings per player, per round.


  • Use as many coaches to hit/roll ground balls as possible, up to 4. Mass INF, more reps without throws.
  • Roll out as infield drill.
  • Roll ground balls to infielders without gloves. Force them to be in a more athletic fielding position, and to watch the ball all the way into their hands.
  • When throwing, work through baseball to make strong throws. Learn more


  • Emphasis on footwork, more reps.
  • Fly balls – use out of hand technique. There is seldom a need to take fly balls off bat. Learn more.

Base running

  • Home to 1st on INF ground ball. Watch example
  • Home to 1st on 1B, with emphasis on angle and turn. Watch example
  • Home to 2nd with emphasis on angle and turn at 1st, and picking up 3rd base coach approaching 2nd.
  • 1st to 3rd on base hit.
  • 2nd to home reading 3rd base coach.
  • Reading INF ground ball going 2nd to 3rd.
  • Tagging up with less than 2 outs. Watch example
  • 3rd to home on contact play, read play, sac fly, etc.


  • Long Toss and light, flat ground sides at practices. Sample of some basic drills building to long toss
  • Emphasize letting ball go.
  • Aggressive approach aimed at forcing contact.
  • Stress four-seam FB. Watch example
  • Discuss two-seam FB (Arm action and throwing motion remain the same as with four-seam FB. Only the grip changes) Learn more.
  • Introduce some basic change up grips for experimentation (Hold loose and comfortable. Throw as a FB. The grip changes, not the delivery) Learn more
  • Balance and alignment to plate. Learn more.
  • Solid, athletic landing. Learn more.
  • Full follow through, finishing in athletic fielding position. Watch video


  • Solid, square set up. Watch video
  • Low target to emphasize low strikes for pitchers.
  • Elementary blocking fundamentals.(use tennis or other soft ball) Watch video

Scrimmaging and Team Drills

  • Ready position/prep step (Team Fundamental)
  • Use tee or side toss games so that ball is put in play continually to produce more game situations
  • Older players above the Majors level graduate to BP practice model
  • Groups of 3-4 hitters, live on field
  • Group of 3-4 in cage
  • INF/OF’s take balls live off bat
  • Pitchers throw bullpens to catchers

Sample Practice Agendas
A and AA

:10 Light run and stretch
An easy run, lap around the field and a few sprints.
Simple stretch. Use arm circles.
Emphasis on warming from the core, out.

:25 Throwing program
In pairs, if possible.
When some struggle to catch, it may be necessary to throw from buckets, into a fence, then, pick up.
Start with wrist flips, emphasizing 4-seam rotation.

:45 Defense
Roll mass ground balls.
Any fly balls, out of hand.
Slowly work into throws, i.e. infield throws to 1st, outfielders throwing into  infield.

:70 Hitting
Mass tee work. Get as many swings as possible.
At coach’s discretion, those that are able work into more advanced drills

:90- Base running and/or Situational Game
Should be the more fun portion of practice for the kids.
Creativity allows for competition within practice, timed base running, live tee games, live situations, etc.

AAA and Majors

:10 Run and Stretch

:30 Throwing Program
Buildups are good to isolate throwing mechanics.
Greater emphasis on longer toss and footwork at end of throwing program.

:40 Defense
Emphasize drills, mass ground balls and fly balls.

:60 Hitting
Multi-station approach, using several drills, including tee work.
Pull individual or paired pitchers (and catchers in necessary) at this time for side work.

:90 Base running and/or Situational Game


:20 Run and Stretch

:30 Throwing Program

:50 Individual and/or Team Defense Fundamentals

:90 Hitting
Batting Practice model. This should allow for defensive work to continue during BP, whether that be off of fungo, or fielders taking reps, live off the bat.
If numbers allow, there should be a base running group. Station to station, reading balls from bat.
Pitchers throw their sides at this time

:120 Situational Game or Scrimmage

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