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Ideal Practice

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  • Ideal Practice

    We had a great practice tonight. We started with a half-dozen pitching drills, and the kids really picked up a lot that should help them with proper mechanics and accuracy. We were sharing the field with some older kids. We were in right field. So we decided to hit flys. The kids really need to work on this. A few of them can't catch flies, but they're getting really close. I also worked with them on how to play a ball they can't get to by making sure they don't run past it or put themselves in a spot where they'll have to snag a short-hop.

    When we finished catching fly balls, the older kids were practicing infield defense. So I talked to the coach, and he let me put my kids on base to practice their base-running. They ran into about a half-dozen line-drive DPs and learned how to advance to third on a ball hit to third by waiting for the throw to first, etc., etc. Plus, it was great conditioning. They just ran around and around the bases. Halfway through that, I sent the two who needed to work on flies back into the outfield with another coach to get some additional practice.

    The other coach let my kids take the infield for a short time. They looked decent, but we definitely need to work on the middle infield positions. Granted, my second baseman wasn't there tonight. My son played third and fielded a short bouncer with his bare hand, planted and threw a strike to first base. It was easily the most impressive defensive play he's made, and he has been making several over the past few weeks.

    At the end of practice, the kids ran a relay around the bases.

    I also got a chance to talk to the league president of the Dixie Baseball league we're moving to. He was the guy who shared the field with me. It was nice to chat with him, and I was glad that he got to see that I am a dedicated coach with the right attitude for the job.

    Essentially, it was the best practice I've ever had. Ironically, we didn't bat, and that probably made it fairly boring for the kids.

    So, I'm curious. What is your ideal practice? Do you have a certain list of things you hope to accomplish? Do you remember any particular practice as being really great?

  • #2
    It's simple at this age. A practice that is fun for the kids and where they get quality repetitions. I'll be blunt. If the practice was boring for the kids, it wouldn't count as a great practice for me. Also, it has never happened nor will it happen that I didn't have hitting at a practice. It's the hardest thing to do in all sports, so I always have hitting, 100% of the time. Plus as you point out, that's what is fun for the kids and at this age that's what I think is very important to emphasize.
    The outcome of our children is infinitely more important than the outcome of any game they will ever play


    • #3
      10U-14U maybe...

      - stretching is done before 'practice' starts
      - 1st practice , determine who is OF and who is IF, then
      - 2 fungoes at once, hitting to SS and 2B
      - while someone is hitting balls to OF, they catch on the run to always get 2 outs, or they catch over head on the run
      - hitting with coach pitching behind screen (live pitchers for scrimmage), rotate fielders
      - always end on running the bases, sprint to 1B, lead off/ run back, lead off/steal, etc.
      Last edited by songtitle; 08-02-2012, 09:27 PM. - hitting and pitching fact checker


      • #4
        Originally posted by JJA View Post
        It's simple at this age. A practice that is fun for the kids and where they get quality repetitions. I'll be blunt. If the practice was boring for the kids, it wouldn't count as a great practice for me. Also, it has never happened nor will it happen that I didn't have hitting at a practice. It's the hardest thing to do in all sports, so I always have hitting, 100% of the time. Plus as you point out, that's what is fun for the kids and at this age that's what I think is very important to emphasize.
        Ya. Kids love to hit. My kids hit fairly well, but they definitely need constant practice. If we had the whole field, I would have pitched to them. I need to buy an L-screen, though. It will improve batting practice immensely. I plan to dig out a bag of little Whiffle balls on Sunday and set up a station for that, a station for soft toss and a station for live pitching. The crazy thing is that my kid says he loves to practice defense.


        • #5
          This is what I had in my book.... It didn't copy well, but you can get an idea...
          There would be a number of things I would change if I wrote it today. The above was mostly from our clinics.

          Here are some suggestions for individual days - It'll give you an idea how I ran my practices. How to Coach Little League - Practice Schedules.doc

          When organizing your practice it’s important to remember children get bored very fast! Come to practice prepared. Establishing a good practice schedule only takes a few minutes and will make your practice much more successful and enjoyable for the children.


          There are several key considerations when establishing your practice schedule. They are:
          a. Age appropriate practice times. Not all age groups should practice the same amount of time. Younger children get little out of the experience when practices are too long. Use the following as a guide for maximum practice times.

          Table 6.1: Suggested Practice Times
          Level Age Suggested Time in Minutes (Hours)
          Tee-Ball 5-6 60 (1)
          Minor League, 7-10 60 – 90 (1-1.5)
          Little League 10-12 90 (1.5)
          Junior League, Senior League, Middle School 13-16 90-120 (1.5 – 2)
          High School 15-18 120-180 (2 – 2.5)

          b. Practices should begin with dynamic stretching and running. Make sure the players have broken a light sweat before proceeding with the practice.

          c. Practices should always include throwing and catching drills.

          d. You should review your last practice and today’s practice with the players at the beginning of each practice. Ask the question, “What did we learn yesterday?” Followed by, “OK, here’s what we’re going to be doing today.”

          e. Teach a new skill at every practice.

          f. Have a game-like component at the end of each practice.

          g. Keep the players constantly moving by having 7-8 different activities planned.

          h. Avoid line drills. When necessary use your assistant coaches and keep everyone moving!

          i. Start with the basics and work up. Use a building block approach.

          Utilizing a whistle during practice helps eliminate confusion and makes your practice more effective. Many coaches are reluctant to use a whistle. The whistle can be the coach’s most effective weapon in maintaining order and control. Other items that help are:

          a. Use cones. They are inexpensive and will help save a tremendous amount of time by eliminating confusion. Kids can easily see a line created by using two cones; they cannot see the imaginary line made by the sweep of a hand. Cones are readily available at stores like K-Mart and Wal-Mart.

          b. Set up stations using assistant coaches. Have assistant coaches come to practice a few minutes early in order to review their responsibilities for the day’s instruction.

          c. Use batting cages when available. Make sure however, that the coaches are properly trained in how to use the cage effectively.

          d. Use a white board to explain new concepts. Children are visual and do their best when they can see what you are teaching.

          e. When using a pitching machine, insure it is properly set. Coaches should be trained in proper loading techniques in order to best simulate real pitching. If using a pitching machine, set prior to practice. They can sometimes take a while to set up. A whole book could be dedicated to this topic so ensure your coaches are well versed in proper usage.

          f. Always use your best throwing coach during batting practice.

          I cannot stress the importance of practice schedules enough. They only take a few minutes to develop and they save an incredible amount of time and energy in the long run. They are key in helping the coach establish credibility with players and parents. Even coaches that have never coached before can be effective if they are organized and well prepared.
          Several important thoughts about practices and practice schedules include:

          a. Use a building block approach when teaching young players. It is best you assume they know nothing about the game. Do not take the simple things for granted. How many of us have seen a young batter run the wrong way after hitting the ball, or stand in the batters box after being called out on strikes? Our job as coaches is to ensure that all players know the basics.

          b. Plan your season by establishing a pre-season master schedule. The master schedule helps establish a balanced perspective to the season and keeps you on track. It is a “living” document that provides organization to the season. Specific master schedule items are similar for every level. The speed in which you can cover those items however, varies depending upon the level of the players you coach.

          c. When conducting drills, use a whistle and stop watch and make a game of every drill. Tracking players’ performance helps them to understand the desired standards and their relative position and improvements to those standards.

          The following is an example of a master schedule and individual practices for the first six days. You may have to adjust them to suit your team’s needs. Don’t worry about whether or not they are perfect. Having a less than perfect written schedule is always better than a perfect schedule in your head. If your schedule is not written down you will get easily distracted and become inefficient with your practice time.

          4. MASTER SCHEDULE

          Master Schedule

          Each coach should establish a master schedule at the start of each season. The master schedule is a list of basic skills that need to be taught and/or reviewed throughout the season. Utilizing the building block approach, the skills should start with the basics and move to the more complicated tasks as players develop. There are two safe assumptions when establishing the master schedule. First, every team and every player is different. The timeline and lesson intensity will also be different. Second, children and their bodies forget! Baseball/softball skills require a great deal of muscle memory. Start with the basics every season.
          The following is a suggested, “building blocks” Master Schedule for Little League:

          Table 6.2: Master Schedule
          Day 1
          Topic Item
          Team rules and expectations Team rules and expectations
          Team philosophy
          Your expectations of the parents
          Proper practice dress and equipment

          Baseball/softball field and terms
          Field review and playing positions
          Baseball/softball terms
          Rules of the game
          Warming up
          Dynamic stretching
          Static stretching

          Throwing instruction Proper grip (4-seam versus 2-seam)
          Throwing techniques
          Catching instruction Base - Ready position
          Upper body
          Hands (M’s and W’s)
          Proper techniques in playing catch

          The Glove How to size
          How to wear
          How to properly maintain and break in a glove
          How to play catch with the glove

          Catching drills One handed self toss – Proper grip location
          Short toss - (no glove)
          Short toss - (glove)
          Ground ball basics
          Ground ball circle drill (tap/pass)
          Ground ball circle drill (gloves)
          Ground ball line drills, coach toss
          Fly ball
          Fly ball drills
          3-man relay drill

          The bat (How to size)
          Proper grip
          Stance (Base)
          Head and eyes
          Upper body
          Stride and separation
          Swing and finish

          Day 5

          Base running Primary, secondary leads
          Slide and cross step
          Base returns
          Home to first
          First to second
          Second to third
          Third to home

          Other items Pitching
          The catcher
          Field positions
          Game like situations
          Proper tagging techniques
          Run down drills and techniques
          Passed ball drills
          Dead ball drills
          Offensive bunt work
          Defensive bunt work
          Bare hand drills
          Backing up the bags and plate
          Double plays
          Outfield ground balls (Outfield fence drills)
          First and third drills
          Ground ball blocks
          Sliding techniques and drills
          Pre-game routines
          Squeeze plays

          There are literally thousands of drills that can help your players. You need to develop drills that best suit your team. The Little League, professional clinics, local high school and middle school coaches, the Internet, your local library and the American Baseball Coaches’ Association are all great resources.

          Table 6.3: Defensive Positions and Field Numbers

          The following are the numbers used for each position.

          1. Pitcher
          2. Catcher
          3. First Base
          4. Second Base
          5. Third Base
          6. Shortstop
          7. Left Field
          8. Center Field
          9. Right Field

          10. Extra Fielder (Used only in Softball)

          The above is covered during your first practice. I still find it amazing how many children at the Little League level do not know the above. This is simply because they were never taught.
          "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
          - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
          Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.


          • #6
            That's a nice list. I do not always review what was covered at the previous practice. That's something I need to add. I do make a practice plan for each practice. That helps tremendously, but situations sometimes throw a monkey wrench into the best plans.


            • #7
              Every other month we would have a practice that was just a skills-challenge night...

              I've attached a practice plan sheet (along with a regular practice plan sheet, below) of what we did. Each skill had a prize for the winners (Whip-out-Cash for some skills and something baseball related like a helmet, batting gloves, sweat-bands, socks, baseball cards, pine tar, etc.) We also had booby-prizes like an old Jock or some pink-panties that had the guys rolling! We would put the prizes in numbered brown paper bags, and then have corresponding numbers on folded up pieces of paper in another and the winners would have to reach in and grab a number and that's the prize they got. We also would do some baseball-trivia during the night that got prizes too. It can get pretty competitive and it's fun!

              And EVERY player walks away with something - THAT'S KEY! Its just a suggestion...

              (You can download the Microsoft Word .doc at

              -Good luck!
              I don't like my balls to smell like pickles.


              • #8
                I love that idea. I'm going to put together something like that for this fall. Can I borrow your pink panties? LOL


                • #9

                  I don't like my balls to smell like pickles.


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