Meet – Talk about what you will do at practice today.
5 MINUTES - WARM UP EXERCISES
- Have each player sprint through first base. Then sprint through 2nd. Then 3rd and home.
- Coach starts each player 5 secs apart running around bases, and players try to pass each other.
- Make two lines at home and have pairs of kids race through first base.
NOTE: Have them swing a fake bat (e.g., their glove), take a step, then drop it in a bucket on their way to 1st.
- With players in catcher's squat position along 1st base line, have them hop forward on coach's signal. Continue across the infield.
- Any other exercises or stretches you like
15 Minutes - THROWING
Explain and emphasize proper technique all season long:
- Grip ball with two (or three) fingers, thumb underneath with space between hand.
- Emphasize that fingers must always be on top of the ball.
- Demonstrate arm circle: down, around and up into an L-shape with hand above head.
- Line up toes, knees, shoulders, and hands with target (8-eyes to target).
- Turn feet, hips and throw.
One-knee Throwing Line players along 1st base line and throw to coaches (or a bucket placed toward Short stop)
- Players start with glove knee up and throwing knee on ground and both feet lined up to target.
- Players drag ball on ground from front knee around and up to make an L-shape arm position.
- Hips and shoulders turn so elbows align with target.
- Turn hips and shoulders and throw
- Align players in wide circle, facing coach.
- Coach turns and points to a player in the ready position and tosses the ball.
- Player catches ball with proper technique.
- Player hops into throwing position with toes, knees, shoulders, and hands aligned with coach.
- Player throws ball back to coach.
- Players pair-up along the 1st or 3rd base line (one player on the line, the other 10' into the field).
- Players throw to each other with proper footwork (8-eyes to target, turn and throw).
- Coach helps players individually with their technique.
- Players count how many catches they make in a row.
- Take one player at a time to work with a coach.
- Discuss pitching technique.
- 8-Eyes to plate with ball in hand in glove.
- Lift glove leg to be parallel to ground.
- Slide-step glove leg forward as hands separate and body stays balanced over throwing leg.
- Turn feet toward batter, turn shoulders and throw.
- Practice throwing by breaking down each stage of pitch (e.g., learn to balance on one leg before adding the next step).
- Practice full motion by throwing to a coach or at target.
- Players back-up to 10' and continue to throw.
- When they can no longer reach, they start to use a crow-hop.
- With glove foot forward, rear foot hops in front while hips and shoulders turn (8-eyes to target), then step, turn and throw.
15 Minutes - GLOVE WORK
Describe glove/hand basics:
- Above Waist: Windshield wiper arm motion. Catch with thumbs together
- Below Waist: Catch with pinkies together
- NOTE: Coach throws should be underhand or from knee so ball comes in low and flat.
- Fly Balls: 10 fingers to sky, catch above and in front of forehead.
Bare-Hands Blocking Drill Use a bucket of tennis or sponge balls.
- Throw ball to different locations above waist.
- Block ball with catching hand fully open. (Don't push ball or catch it, just block it).
- Throw balls more rapidly to establish reflexes.
Two-Hand Catching Drill Use a bucket of tennis or sponge balls.
- Throw ball to different locations above and below waist.
- Catch balls with two hands and drop.
- Throw balls more rapidly to establish reflexes.
- Players stand in a line an arm's length apart.
- Coach points to player who gets ready with both hands above shoulders.
- Coach throws ball.
- ADVANCED: throw ball so that player catches while walking forward.
Catcher's station using a bucket of balls
- Take one or two players at a time in full catcher's gear.
- Explain catching position (squatting, not sitting; throwing hand between butt and foot when squatting).
- Explain how to catch balls (windshield wiper, receiving ball instead of reaching).
- Discuss blocking balls in dirt instead of catching.
- Then throw balls to different locations while correcting catching technique (drop balls in bucket).
10 Minutes - GROUND BALLS
Describe basic technique:
- Relaxed position - glove on knee
- Ready position - hands out front
- In-Play - Creep step forward
- Catching position - glove hand on ground, butt down, throwing hand above glove like an alligator.
Fielding on Knees (Encourages placing the glove on the ground and extending it forward)
- Both knees on ground, glove on ground in front.
- Coach rolls or lightly bounces ball.
- Player catches ball with throwing hand on top.
- Player places ball in bucket with throwing hand.
- ADVANCED: run the same drill with players standing up and vary the direction and speed of the ball.
Fielding from infield ready position
- Make a line with one player at the edge of the 2nd base outfield grass and everyone else behind.
- Player at front of line takes five steps forward and gets in ready position.
- As coach starts to hit the ball, player creeps forward.
- Coach hits ball softly and player runs in to catch it.
- Player runs and drops ball into bucket.
- Player throws ball to coach (or player) at 1st base.
- Put runners on base and throw to nearest force out base, or tag runner.
- Line up players at SS and throw to 1B.
15 Minutes - HITTING
Demonstrate basic technique (and then cycle players among stations):
- Knuckles (Knocking Knuckles Line Up)
- Feet & Shoulders Straight to Plate and both pointing at the pitcher.
- Bat on Shoulder
- Legs Bent. Belly button in front of toes
- Elbows Down (Back elbow is never higher that their hands!)
- Raise bat from shoulder (3-4 inches in front of arm pit and slightly back. Bat points at plate)
- Head never moves. Chin starts above front shoulder, ends above rear shoulder.
- Discuss “Squish the Bug.”
Batting T Station
- Line up ball with front foot (not center of body).
- Keep players close to the ball and require hip rotation and leading with butt of bat.
- NOTE: resist urge to move players farther from the ball to make it easier to hit with barrel as this will create hard to break bad habits.
- ALTERNATE: Instead of wiffle balls, use a dodge ball or soccer ball to encourage swinging through the ball.
- ALTERNATE: Player holds bat behind back at waist level (hands behind bat facing forward) and swings with hips.
Soft Toss Station
- Using a bucket of balls and a screen if available (otherwise hit into the outfield).
- With coaching sitting on opposite side of plate as batter, coach flips balls in air to batter.
- Batter swings and coach corrects form breaks.
- Coach throws flat underhand pitches (or kneels down and throw flat overhand pitches).
- Coach should use L-Screen and stand about halfway between home plate and pitcher's mound.
- Coach watches for form problems while swinging.
- ALTERNATE:If players step away from plate on pitch:
- Use tennis balls to build confidence
- Start with front leg away from plate and step toward plate on pitch.
5 Minutes - FUN CLOSING
End practice with a fun activity:
- Hitting for distance competition.
- Relay races.
- Fly Ball contest (players are knocked out if they drop a ball).
- Pitching contest (players take turns throwing at a ball on a T).
- Last Man Catching (use sponge balls, coaches throw at players, player is out if they drop the ball).
- Race to First. (Using a pitcher and 1st basemen. Roll ball to pitcher who must throw to 1st basemen before runner gets there).
- Sprint around the bases. (Use a stopwatch and time each player around the bases, or break into teams and do a relay).
5 Minutes - WRAP UP
Kids and assistants pick up gear. When done, everyone meets at 2nd base or right field– Hand out any paperwork.
*Always end your practice on time.