So you’ve taken on the task of coaching youth baseball? First off, we’d like to thank you. Becoming a youth baseball coach is important on many different levels. You are taking on the responsibility of not only developing young players on the field, but also off the field. Your players will look up to you. Because of this, we implore you to set an example of how an adult should act, especially during the heat of the moment.
Furthermore, we’d like to help you be as successful as possible. To help you organize your team and their skill progression, we have put together an informative article on how to structure your youth baseball practices. The following is a simple organizational outline to use when planning an hour and a half baseball practice.
- Warm-Up / Stretch
- Defensive Drills
- Hitting Drills
- Something Fun to Finish
Youth Baseball Practice Breakdown
Warm-Up / Stretch
It’s important to emphasize the warm-up process to young ballplayers. Teach them at an early age to take care of their bodies and properly prepare for either a game or practice. A quick little jog, followed by some leg, arm and back stretches will help focus your team on the task at hand. This also allows your players to get to know each other on a personal level. Create conversation and encourage everyone to feel comfortable joining in on the conversations. [~10 Minutes]
You can do any of the following few steps in any order you see fit. However, beginning with defense helps to emphasize the importance of playing sound baseball. For the youngest of players, make sure they are playing all of the positions and getting a chance to both field ground balls and catch pop ups. As players grow older, they will likely begin to specialize at a position or two, but until then you want to make sure everyone is getting an opportunity to improve in all aspects of their game. [~15 Minutes]
Youth Baseball Drills for Defense
- Practice Ground Balls
- Hit Pop Ups
- Hot Potato
- Tandem Fly Balls
- Field on Your Knees
- Unzip the Jacket
Recommended Read: Tips to Become a Better Fielder
Remember, most of your young players won’t understand all of the nuisances of the game. Many of them will need to be taught the basic rules of baserunning before they play in their first game. This includes elements like tagging up when a pop fly is caught, how to round the base, and even something as simple as running when the ball is hit. Often, coaches and players get caught up in the notion of baseball being a game about hitting and fielding. So make sure you take the time out of your practice schedule to instill basic fundamentals. Effectively mastering the art of smart baserunning will lead to less outs on the basepaths and more opportunities for players to hit at the plate. [~10 Minutes]
Youth Baseball Baserunning Drills
- Picking Up Your Third Base Coach
- Tagging Up at Third on a Flyball
- How to Leadoff
- Sliding Practice
- Effectively Rounding a Base
- How to Run Through First Base
Teach your players the game of baseball through hypothetical situations. Drill the importance of making the right decisions. Use live baserunners to make it feel real, and when things go wrong, take time to stop action to correctly instruct your players as to what should have happened.
Players learn the game through repetition. Unless they are at home watching baseball on tv all the time (they’re not) then they are likely only going to learn the game while at practice and in the games. Utilize situational drills to create teaching opportunities. Run through simulated innings to give players the chance to make quick decisions. This is also a great time to teach them the rules of your league. [~20 Minutes]
[For example, many machine pitch leagues will stop play once the ball is on the infield and the fielder puts their arms in the air. Use situations at practice as a time to get players comfortable with this.]
Now the fun stuff. Young players love to hit. Shoot, all players love to hit. But things can drag on if you are taking the time to have everyone stop and watch players hit one at a time. Try to come up with engaging drills that can keep everyone on their toes. A great way to do this is to have some assistant coaches hitting pop ups and ground balls to the defense in between pitches. If you have extra players and protective netting, have them working off to the side with tees and soft toss. Or you can have them put on helmets and run the bases in a situational format. The more you can create controlled engagement, the more your team will want to come to practice and get better. [~30 Minutes]
Youth Baseball Hitting Drills
- Scoring Frenzy
- Soft Toss
- Tee Work
- Target Bunting
Something Fun to Finish
The goal as a youth baseball coach is to keep players wanting to come back to the game. A great way to go about that is to always finish practice with something fun. Have them leave each practice with a great taste in their mouth. This can be a team-wide competition or just a silly game. Each team is different, but as you begin to get a pulse on your team you’ll learn the things they enjoy. But make sure to allot a little extra time to give your players a chance to have some fun. Trust us, they’ll be more engaged at your next practice because of it! [~10 Minutes]
We hope you found this breakdown informative. It can be tough to plan out your youth baseball practice, but once you get the cadence of how everything works you’ll master the process and your kids will appreciate the consistency.
As always, if you have any questions regarding anything youth baseball or softball, feel free to contact us via social media, phone call 1-866-321-4568, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or LIVE CHAT. We’re JustGloves and we’re with you from Click to Catch!