YMCA Youth Sports Baseball/Softball/T-ball Coaching Tips

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1 YMCA Youth Sports Baseball/Softball/T-ball Coaching Tips Maximize participation. articipation and movement is key in development of young athletes. Try to keep groups and drill lines small in size. Give each of your players plenty of opportunity to participate in each drill. Rotate players into different positions so each player can begin to learn and develop in all areas of the game. Be creative. Create new drills or make variations on existing drills often. Evaluate and keep notes of drills that are successful and unsuccessful for your players. Make the necessary adjustments to your practice plan and drills to create the most opportunity, participation and success for your player and team development. Encourage input from your players on your team. A players input can bring a positive energy and will empower them. The links below are few sample drills designed for all types of skill levels. Effective racticing Warm up & Conditioning Throwing Catching Hitting Base Running Thank you for your time and efforts in volunteering to coach! YMCA Youth Sports Staff

2 Effective racticing Have a lan Showing up to practice with a plan or script for how things should be run is a way to take pressure off of you and your coaching staff. It will provide your players with constant instruction and interaction. The following different drills will address areas of the game for baseball/softball/tball. Many of the drills included can be used during practices, you can rotate from week to week depending on what will need to be stressed to players for that particular practice. The drills can me modified to fit your team. The practice plans you create can use these drills and be guidelines for you throughout the season. However you choose to use the drills will be up to you, we hope that they will be helpful for you to teach your players the game of baseball/softball. Coaches should be early to practices, have stations set up and interact with players as they arrive. This sets a good example and engages your players from the start of practice. Here are some tips to running a good productive practice: Have a plan Instruct all players and assistant coaches on all techniques involved in the drill. Include fun competitions or games to break up the instructions of drills make it fun. Do NOT criticize INSTRUCT. layers respond better to instruction and positive support then they do to criticism. Keep the practice moving, but include time for warm up, cool down and water breaks. Multiple stations should be running throughout the instruction part of practice (coaching staff member at each station). This gives players continuous repetition, and the result should be increased skill set. ractice plans should be geared for grade level and ability of your players. Try to instruct on all parts of the game during pre-season practices. Once the season begins you may start to emphasize areas of the game where your players need improvement.

3 Warm ups & Conditioning Warming the body up before practice and games gets the player ready both physically and mentally ready for exercise and competition. Warm ups allow for the increased power and strength as well as prevention of possible injuries. Stretch it out Baseball/Softball players should stretch legs, arms and back prior to engaging in practice and games. While players are lined up or in a circle, designate new player each week to lead the warm up stretches (first practice coach should lead warm ups for example). Lunges, toe touches, butterfly toe touches will be a good start to loosen up player s legs, hips and back. Follow up the stretches with conditioning drills (choose from examples below and depending on grade level will determine number of sets and length of time): Jumping jacks: sets Tuck Jumps: 5 10 sets (while standing have players jump reaching arms up and bringing knees towards mid-section) Jog in place: seconds Running Sprints: 4 6 sets (put cones or markers yards apart) Jingle Jangle Drill: lace bases/mats at the distance of base paths apart in diamond shape. layers then: 1. Sprint to first base 2. Side-step to second base. 3. Backpedal to third base 4. Sprint back to beginning of line at home plate. (note when running bases during game it will be sprint to each base.) urposes of the conditioning drills are to improve balance, strengthen legs and core, develop footwork and to help with change of direction. Warm ups and conditioning drills can vary each week but should be included before all practices and games. Introduce specific play situation during the drills which will not only change things up but will increase concentration and coordination.

4 Throwing One Knee The ability to throw a base runner out, strike out the batter at the plate or hit the cut-off man from the outfield are all important aspects of the game. Correct technique and instruction are keys to teach young players the proper way to throw the ball. What is needed: Each player must have a ball glove. A correct league size ball, and open field space with no obstacles. T = Throwing layer T C C = Catching layer = Ball T T T C C C Running the Throwing One Knee Drill: 1. Two players set up first initially about 6 8 feet apart. 2. Both down on one knee (if throw right-handed then right knee down). 3. Start with glove on ground in front of each player. 4. Start by showing players the proper 4 seam grip on ball. 5. layer with ball will get proper grip, player then will bend his elbow and hold forearm with other hand. 6. The player then will bend wrist back and flick the ball to partner using only the wrist to throw the ball. 7. Have players aim at other player s glove for target. Each week move the distance back few feet in order to show development. urpose of Drill: Develops players use of wrist and elbow along with teaching correct grip on the ball. Also helpful in teaching catching drills.

5 Throwing Step and Throw Now that they are strengthening their arms with the stationary throwing drill it is time to work on the step and throw drill which is key for accuracy and velocity. What is needed: layers with gloves. One league ball per two players. Open field space with no obstacles. Running the Throw and Step Drill: 1. layers will stand 5 10 yards apart facing one another. 2. Both players will get in the proper catching position. 3. layer with ball will step forward with their throwing side leg placing down in front of them perpendicular to target. 4. As player places foot down they bring their back leg forward, swiveling their torso to get lined up to the target. 5. As they complete the step with the back leg they will throw the ball. 6. Remind players that is a continuous motion and it is a progression for stationary throwing drills. urpose of the Drill: Learn to step and line up throw in single movement.

6 Catching the Ball I got it, I got it!!. Calling for a pop up or fly ball is basic baseball knowledge in order to avoid collisions with teammate. Catching the ball whether it be a fly ball or thrown ball by teammate enables the fielding team to get their 3 outs in their half of the inning. There are many different catching drills but probably the easiest and the most fun game for young players to do is called the epper Drill. What is needed: Minimum of 3 players with gloves. One league size ball for group. Open field space with no obstacles. = layer = Ball Running of the epper Drill: 1. layers group together in circle depending on number of players per group will determine size of area. 2. One player starts with ball in glove. 3. Without using throwing hand, players toss ball to each other from their glove only. 4. Even if ball hits ground have players continue to use glove only to scoop up ball and toss to teammate. 5. This drill can be used both for catching and fielding of the ball with glove. 6. Can add to drill number of catches without ball hitting the ground or for fun the hot potato aspect to speed tosses. urpose of the Drill: To stress to players the importance of using glove to catch and scoop up ball instead of throwing hand. Develops eye/hand coordination with ball.

7 Fielding the Ball Get that glove dirty, that is a common phrase used by coaches when instructing infielders on fielding a ground ball that is coming in their direction. Using the previous pepper game will help with fielding ground balls and will remind fielders that the glove needs to open and ready to scoop up the ball right off the dirt. Fielding drills should be a part of every practice. Through repetition and practice fielders become more comfortable stopping the ground ball which will result in more outs as the season goes along. What is needed: layers with gloves. One league size ball. Infield dirt area preferred. = layer = ball Running the drill: 1. Two players about feet apart. One ball per two fielders. 2. Get in proper stance (see photo below). Feet apart bent at the knees, head up looking forward, glove open and non-glove hand both down in front of body. 3. layer with ball throws ball out in front of them towards teammate on the ground. 4. Start with grounders that end up rolling and advance to bigger ball bounces. 5. Fielding player then shuffles feet to get in front of ground ball, glove down, eyes on the ball and ready to get glove dirty to scoop up ball. 6. Advance to farther distances, after fielding ground throw to specific base/player/coach. urpose of the fielding drill: To work on proper stance, alertness, footwork and glove work. lus always fun to get dirty.

8 Hitting the Ball Crack of the ball hitting the bat, fans watching the ball soar to the outfield, batter laying the bat down and running to 1 st base being waved on by coach to round 1 st and head to 2 nd base. layer is Safe as they touch 2 nd base. The excitement and the thrill of getting that hit is such a big moment in young athlete s experience. Whether it be driving in a run for team or leading off the inning with big hit, every ball player likes to hit in the game of baseball/softball. Key points for batting stance: 1. Hands close together on bat with a relaxed grip on bat. The bat is gripped in the middle of the fingers and not the palm of the hand. A relaxed grip allows the body to relax. 2. Feet should be straight or slightly inward and spread shoulder width apart. 3. Lower half of body will be in athletic stance with knees bent which will help batter maintain balance throughout batter s swing. 4. The head and eyes pointing straight at the pitcher, this give the batter a better chance of seeing the pitched ball as it comes toward the plate. There are many different drills that can be used for hitting. The Soft Toss is easy, safe and great use of repetition which is key to getting better through practice. What is needed: Batter s helmet for player doing the hitting. Bat that player can hold up without struggling with its weight. Volunteer coach/adult with half dozen league size balls. Chain link fence to be able to hit into. Running the drill: 1. Have ball player with batting helmet on about 5 foot from chain link fence facing the fence. Coach/adult then while down on one knee across from player about 5 feet away with league balls ready to be tossed. 2. Batter has bat and stance in ready position. Knees bent, feet just as far apart as shoulders and bat off shoulder in upright position ready to swing at ball. 2. Underhand toss and not too high, coach/adult lobs the ball up only as high as player s shoulders while it drop just out in front of player. 3. layer works on timing to hit the ball against the fence not to raise front foot too high off the ground but rather just small step forward while the swing of bat occurs. Back foot remains on ground and only spins in direction toward swing. urpose of drill: To work on correct batter s stance, level swing of the bat, keeping eye on the ball.

9 Base Running After that big hit, the batter becomes base runner. roper base running techniques will allow the base runner to run the diamond to home plate much more efficient. Key reminders for base running: 1. After a batted ball remind batter to lay the bat down on the ground on their way to 1 st base. 2. Base runners should run on the foul ball side of foul/fair line in foul territory on their way to 1 st base. 3. On grounded ball/infield hit base runner should run as fast as they touching 1 st base on the orange safety side of the bag and continuing their running about 10 feet beyond first base then turning to the right in foul territory. 4. On an outfield hit. Again base runner should run to 1 st base in foul territory and with ball in the outfield base runner should round 1 st base by touching the inside of base (white part) corner nearest to them. 5. While on the way to 1 st base the base runner should watch coach for instructions to either round 1 st and go to 2 nd base or to stop on base. 6. Shortest distance between bases is straight line so remind base runners not to veer off from the imaginary line between bases unless they have to avoid fielder. ractice running bases with some of these basic base running drills: 1 st base timing or 1 st to 3 rd What is needed: Two coaches/adults. Open space area or ball diamond. Throw out bases (old carpet pieces work great if no throw out bases). lace bases at the game distance for grade level. Stopwatch or timing device whatever is available. Write down all players present on piece of paper. Running 1 st base timing drill: 1. Batter (without bat initially) takes their batting stance at home plate. Coach with timer will begin the drill by saying swing. Second coach will be beyond 1 st base 10 feet in foul territory ready to take high five from player. 2. Batter then will pretend swing without bat and then will take off and run to and through 1 st base while making sure base runner touches the base and give coach high five. 3. Not a competition between players but rather record time for individual player. Throughout season run same drill and watch the time get faster and faster. 4. Add bat to drill then do pretend swing and practice laying the ball on the ground on way to 1 st base. (Reminder throwing bat will result in an out). urpose of drill: To have batter/base runner practice laying the bat on ground and running through 1 st base as fast as they can.

10 Running 1 st to 3 rd drill: 1. Base runner starts on 1 st base in running ready position (one foot touching base and second foot behind base). Coach with timer will begin the drill by saying hit. Second coach is being the 3 rd base coach and will be waving base runner to come to 3 rd base. 2. Base runner will push off base and will run to 2 nd base as fast as possible, half way to 2 nd base the base runner should look over to 3 rd base coach to get instruction on whether to stay at 2 nd base or come to 3 rd base (for this drill wave them to 3 rd base). 3. Again coach will timer will record time for each player and throughout season will record times to reflect improvements by individual players all season long. urpose of drill: To have base runner practice watching base coach on whether to stay at closest base of continue to run to the next base. Have a great season. The YMCA would like to again thank you for volunteering to coach and we hope these coaching tips will be helpful for you to use at your practices and games. If you have any questions regarding YMCA Jr. Huskers baseball/softball rules or would like some other helpful tips please feel free to contact the YMCA Youth Sports Office at , M-F, 8:00am 5:00pm.

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