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  • Travel Team Practice Suggestions

    I've been a head coach for seven seasons (counting Spring and Fall as separate seasons) and an assistant for two seasons for my son's rec teams. As he enters this season of kid pitch, he's going to be playing 9U rec league. He's also going to play for a 9U travel team this Fall where I will also be an assistant coach.

    We've had about four practices with this team, and was wondering what you guys would suggest for a practice routine. How long and how many times per week is good for this age (9U)? And how do you break down your practice?

    The main reason I'm asking is that in the past few seasons as a rec coach, I feel we've run pretty effective practices, so I feel that I have somewhat of an understanding of how a well-run practice should go. I don't want to step on any toes on this Fall Travel team - I've never coached with this group. I don't want to be the new guy who comes in and starts making suggestions.
    For instance, they had a 3.5 hour practice the other night. Another night during the same week, 2.5 hours. If there was a lot of instruction going on, the time MIGHT be worth it. But there seems to be a lot of down time.
    My opinion is two hours - MAX, twice/week should be good enough. There weren't any real drills being worked on. Nine players in the field, a coach was hitting a ball, and they had to make a play. That's not bad in itself, but to keep doing it for over an hour? And of course there was BP where one player hits while the other kids are in positions on the field trying to make the play on the ball. One hour for this alone...

    Thanks for letting me vent a little. I'm all ears on how you guys run (or have run) your travel team practices for 9U.

  • #2
    We've had about four practices with this team, and was wondering what you guys would suggest for a practice routine. How long and how many times per week is good for this age (9U)? And how do you break down your practice?
    At 9u I don't know if it changes that much from rec league practices you have run in the past. Perhaps some more focus on breaking down individual positions, since these kids would presumably have a better attention span towards baseball (i.e. in rec you get the kids that don't want to be there. In TB you get kids that want to be there (for the most part)).


    The main reason I'm asking is that in the past few seasons as a rec coach, I feel we've run pretty effective practices, so I feel that I have somewhat of an understanding of how a well-run practice should go. I don't want to step on any toes on this Fall Travel team - I've never coached with this group. I don't want to be the new guy who comes in and starts making suggestions.
    For instance, they had a 3.5 hour practice the other night. Another night during the same week, 2.5 hours. If there was a lot of instruction going on, the time MIGHT be worth it. But there seems to be a lot of down time.
    My opinion is two hours - MAX, twice/week should be good enough. There weren't any real drills being worked on. Nine players in the field, a coach was hitting a ball, and they had to make a play. That's not bad in itself, but to keep doing it for over an hour? And of course there was BP where one player hits while the other kids are in positions on the field trying to make the play on the ball. One hour for this alone...
    3.5 hours of anything is too much for a 9y.o. Even with down time (water breaks) I don't see how you could keep their attention for that long. I wouldn't even ask that of my 12-13y.o. let alone 9y.o. And to top that off they do grounders and BP/ball shag for two of those hours - what a bore!

    Sounds to me that the coaches don't have a plan on what needs to happen. They should sit down and figure out what they want to accomplish that week and what drills are needed to do so. Then plan a two hour practice around those drills. Throw in some 4v4v4 scrimmages (12 man roster) and you have a good practice.

    IMO -- 2 hours max!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by jbolt_2000 View Post

      Sounds to me that the coaches don't have a plan on what needs to happen. They should sit down and figure out what they want to accomplish that week and what drills are needed to do so. Then plan a two hour practice around those drills. Throw in some 4v4v4 scrimmages (12 man roster) and you have a good practice.

      IMO -- 2 hours max!
      Re: 4v4v4 scrimmages. This sounds like you have eight kids on defense and four guys batting until three outs. Then you swap out four and keep score. Is that accurate? If so, I love it. I think my kids would enjoy this.

      Comment


      • #4
        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...

        http://oi48.tinypic.com/10xhieg.jpg
        http://oi50.tinypic.com/9jlut5.jpg
        (You can download the Microsoft Word .doc at qcbaseball.com)

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

        Comment


        • #5
          We have a layered approach to practice. We start out by rolling grounders to two groups, emphasizing proper footwork/glovework, meanwhile an outfield group is getting grounders and then fly balls. We also work on double play transitions. After we have it down, we start hitting them balls off the bat. Then the entire team pitches. We usually work in groups of 3-5, depending on how many dads/catchers we have. If we don't have any catchers we will line them up and throw into the backstop. The entire focus is on their mechanics. We throw 3 sets of 10 pitches with a two minute break between each set. As the kids get it figured out after a few weeks, we start doing one on one bullpens. After that we go to the cages and hit. This is our basic practice, plus we add in one skill/strategy to every practice. Baserunning, holding runners, bunting, signs, etc. Our base practice is usually completed in 1.5 hours, 2 hours max. We have a separate practice for cut-offs/bunt coverage and it usually takes 2-3 hours and it is always the most difficult practice of the year. We usually buy the kids pizza afterwards. Once we have that practice we spend 5-10 minutes every practice going back over it.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by HeinekenMan View Post
            Re: 4v4v4 scrimmages. This sounds like you have eight kids on defense and four guys batting until three outs. Then you swap out four and keep score. Is that accurate? If so, I love it. I think my kids would enjoy this.
            This is what we do when we want to go live with our pitchers, catchers, and hitters. Just lining them up to hit off each other is boring, this keeps it fun. For us, we do it 3v3v3. 3 are hitting, 3 are pitcher, catcher, extra defense, 3 are defense, and then we rotate after 3 outs.

            Comment


            • #7
              Bolts - I use something very similar.

              My view on 9U practice is this ... "You can practice for as long as you'd like, the kids are done after an hour twenty."

              Shorter practice leads to better planning, more efficiency, and improved focus.

              Don't be like the teacher who on their list of "what's most important" has 256 things tied for 1st.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by HeinekenMan View Post
                Re: 4v4v4 scrimmages. This sounds like you have eight kids on defense and four guys batting until three outs. Then you swap out four and keep score. Is that accurate? If so, I love it. I think my kids would enjoy this.
                Yes. I have 4 outfielders, four infielders and four batters. Coach pitches into net/backstop (no catcher). Players bat around until 3 outs are made (or adjust depending on skill levels). Once 3 outs are made, the infielders have 30 seconds to get ready to hit and the batters have 30 seconds to get their gloves and head out to OF. I start pitching after 30 seconds and of no batter, it gets called a strike. If not fielders, then the batter has the opportunity to hit to that spot and run the bases. Helps keep the game moving and everyone running / being active. The kids love this and would play for two hours if I let them, but we usually keep it to 45 minutes at the end of the last practice of the week (sometimes twice a week). Do it too much and it gets repetitive and boring.

                Comment


                • #9
                  For BP, break your team down to 3 groups of 4. 1st group at bat, 2nd group shagging, 3rd group running bases. Have the hitting group perform situational hitting, with runners on base, hit and run, move runners over, scoring runners, have the base runners react to and read the ball, have them first start at 1B, then 2B and then 3B. We throw the batters 10 pitches first round 5 pitches second round and 3 the third round. We then rotate the groups. Group that was shagging goes and hits, running group goes to shag and hitting group is now running bases.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Go to Clips Pics and Sites Post #213
                    "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.

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                    • #11
                      At 9U I don't see why travel practice should be any different than rec practice. The only difference will be less remedial work. The key to a productive practice is to work in stations. Don't have kids standing around practicing goofing off and picking their noses. Just make sure no one has their back turned to the hitter while a pitch is thrown during BP if they are within striking distance.
                      Last edited by tg643; 08-08-2012, 01:24 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        One of the most important things in designing a practice is to have a clear focus, and stay on schedule.

                        Too often coaches get off schedule because they like to talk. Everything they say is important, and the whole team has to stop what they are doing continually to listen to the coach. In the end the kid's get 45 minutes worth of sermon and about 30 minutes of actual practice and 20 minutes of transition time.

                        Schedule practices with "the week" in mind. Set aside a practice with a team defense focus, batting/baserunning focus, pitching focus, etc.

                        Personally, I would always have pitchers come before practice or stay after practice for work. Since many of them play another position, they're always bouncing all over the place.

                        IMHO, kids should hit and take ground balls every practice. Quality repitition is just so important at the development ages.

                        Buckets are your friend. You can hit a boatload of ground balls to two lines and have kids put the balls in buckets and get a great deal done in a short period of time.

                        Set times for activities and carry a stopwatch if you need to.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CircleChange11 View Post
                          Too often coaches get off schedule because they like to talk. Everything they say is important, and the whole team has to stop what they are doing continually to listen to the coach. In the end the kid's get 45 minutes worth of sermon and about 30 minutes of actual practice and 20 minutes of transition time.
                          You were that close by and didn't stop by to say "hello" ? I'm offended
                          Since we're a little late to this team, I'll just wait until there's an invitation to interject some practice suggestions.
                          Last edited by johnlanza; 08-08-2012, 09:06 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
                            Go to Clips Pics and Sites Post #213
                            Any chance your book could be made Kindle accessible?

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