As we head into the spring season this year, this is a great time to set some goals as coaches for what we want to accomplish with our teams this season. For some, it is simply teaching kids to play catch, put a ball in play, and get to first base. For other coaches, you have more experienced players that are looking to take a step forward in development this season. Either way, we as coaches must be intentional in our planning to be successful. Having a structured plan for your practice time is a great start! We’ve put together 5 components for you to run a great baseball practice each time your team hits the field.
1. Get the kids loose!
Don’t skimp on warmups! Baseball players of all ages need to prepare for the movement repetitions they will have during baseball practice. Start with some active dynamic warmups, such as high knees, butt kicks, walking lunges, and runs. You can line your players on the foul line and send them in groups towards center field and then back.
2. Throwing warm ups – throw with intention
One of the biggest things we need to as coaches is teach young players how to properly throw a baseball! Often times we simply get the players out in right field and let them throw for a few minutes with no direction at all. Get the players throwing with an intention as opposed to just messing around. Pay attention to player form, footwork, and how they follow through. And let’s not forget this is where they learn to catch the ball too! Playing catch is the baseline of baseball. If you can’t catch and throw, it will be really difficult for the player to develop more baseball skills.
3. Small group station work
Instead of diving into a full team drill or session, break the kids into small groups. This will allow for more reps and keep players engaged. For example, you could break your team into 3 groups of 3-5 players and run three stations of baseball fielding drills. By breaking into small groups, you can 3x the number of reps each player gets during your practice. This will pay huge dividends as the season and your practices progress. Tip- Get your parents involved. To run multiple stations, you will likely need more adults on the field. Don’t be afraid to ask your parents watching from the bleachers to grab a glove and help out.
4. Team drills
While small group work promotes greater reps, players also need to learn and master how to work as a team. Take time each practice to run full team drills, like a round of infield, or live BP. We’ve got some great ideas in our practice guides that we offer to coaches and youth leagues for a variety of age groups and skill levels.
5. Baserunning and conditioning
A great way to end practice is with some baserunning drills and competitions. Teach the kids how to make a turn at first base to get that double and how to pick up their third base coach to snag the extra base on a ball to the outfield. You can also incorporate some fun races to give the kids a fun way to end practice while also getting some conditioning.
At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is provide your players with a consistent experience in which they are getting better and having fun doing it. Take some time to prepare for practice. We have an entire section of our Training Dashboard devoted to helping coaches run effective practices and help players get better (and have some fun).