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Mason District Little League

Our Kids, Our Community, Since 1955.

Player Drills/Training

father & son playing catch


With so many youth sports programs adapting or canceling their offerings this year, families across the country are missing much of the time spent together during the athletic season. Fortunately, even though the traditional season may not happen as scheduled, you can still inspire your children to enjoy the benefits of the game.

While some on-field activities may have been called off, families continue to rise to the challenge, hitting the backyard and connecting over their shared love of baseball and softball. This provides numerous benefits, from physical exercise and improved coordination, to bonding time with loved ones and the opportunity for children to learn valuable life lessons.

1. Stay positive and have fun

Nobody can control the current circumstances, so dwelling on the negative doesn’t help anything or anyone. Rather, focus on making backyard activities fun and always keep a positive attitude. While teaching skills, remember that praise is powerful. When your child tries a new skill or does something correctly, celebrate the win, even if it’s small. Praise is more effective than criticism, plus it keeps the activity focused on fun.

2. Be specific with feedback

As the Positive Coaching Alliance recommends, try to be specific with your praise when taking on the role of backyard coach rather than the standard “good jo.” If you’re practicing batting, instead of saying “nice hit” be specific with feedback by saying something like “way to keep your eye on the ball.” When working on catching pop flies, rather than saying “great catch,” you can say, “great hustle and nice job calling the ball.”

3. Go beyond the game

Playing ball is full of opportunities to teach life lessons, so make sure to relate what your child is learning in the backyard to skills they can use throughout life. This includes courage to try something new, perseverance to keep trying, the strength to deal with success and failures, listening and taking direction, exhibiting good sportsmanship, and so much more.

4. Express admiration and joy

When kids see you having fun and enjoying yourself, they’re more likely to do so themselves. Laugh, play together, share stories, and bond over the love of the game. Whether it’s with a youngster taking her first swing off a tee or a seasoned ball player practicing their drills in hopes of keeping skills sharp, this is quality time spent together.

You can always find a way to celebrate the bond that sports provide families each season and help develop those lifelong lessons that children learn during their Little League experience — no matter if it’s in a huge stadium or on the grass out back. For further ideas on how to be the best backyard coach possible, check out the free resources from the Positive Coaching Alliance at positivecoach.org.



Backyard Tip: Same Side Toss



tossing ball

The basic skill of hand-eye coordination is practiced using the “same-side toss” drill. Your child can improve dexterity, tracking the ball with their eyes, grip on the ball, and transferring the ball to the throwing hand by practicing the fundamentals used in this drill.

Drill Explanation

  • Partners will face each other from at between 5 and 10 feet, depending on the skill level of the player.
  • Each partner has a ball in their right hand. Partners toss the ball at the same time to their partner’s left hand.
  • Throws are continuous and will alternate hands after ten (10) throws on each hand.
  • Do this drill to improve hand-eye coordination, while working on the transition on the ball to the throwing hand.



Backyard Tip: Soft Toss


father tossing ball

The basic skill of contacting a pitched ball with a bat is practiced using the “soft toss” drill. Your child can improve hand-eye coordination, batting stance, swing path and stride, and bat control by practicing the fundamentals used in this drill.

Drill Explanation

  • Kneel on the opposite side of the hitter’s stance. Make sure that the player is approaching their at-bats as if it were in a game.
  • The player (wearing a batting helmet) will receive a ball tossed to them underhand and should cross their swing path allowing the player to drive the ball.
player hitting tossed ball


Backyard Tip: Knee Ground Ball


player catching a ground ball

The basic skill of fielding a ground ball is practiced using the “knee groundballs” drill. Your child can improve hand-eye coordination, glove placement, ball control, and confidence when fielding a ball away from the body by practicing the fundamentals used in this drill.

Drill Explanation

  • Players assume a kneeling position (on the edge of the grass if at a ball field or, if not, make sure on a level surface.)
  • Roll balls along the ground to the player from a distance between 5 and 15 feet, depending on the skill level of the player.
  • Players will use “alligator hands” to field the ball.
  • Players will work on backhand fielding out front and to their glove side.

mother rolling ball



Backyard Tip: Alligator Hands

sb player catching ground ball

  • Players will be in an athletic fielding position. Torso lowered, knees bent, glove hand down towards the ground.
  • Roll balls to players once they are in proper fielding position.
  • Players will field the ball out in front of their body with glove hand down and throwing hand on top simulating an “alligator mouth.”
  • Players will work on pulling the glove and ball into their stomach to set up their throwing motion.
adult rolling ball



Backyard Tip: Game of 21

player ready to catch ball

The basic skill of proper glove and throwing hand placement is practiced using the “21” drill. Your child can improve catching a ball, transferring the ball to the throwing hand, and delivering a consistent throw by practicing the fundamentals used in this drill.

Drill Explanation

Play a game of catch by keeping score and the first to 21 wins.

Each throw is worth points.

  • If the throw is directly to the two-hand target at chest level, it is worth three (3) points.
  • If the throw is a little outside of the two-hand target, it is worth two (2) points.
  • If the throw is well outside, then it is worth one (1) point.

Every throw is worth at least one point.



Contact Us

Mason District Little League

 
Falls Church, Virginia 22042

Email: [email protected]

Mason District Little League

 
Falls Church, Virginia 22042

Email: [email protected]
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