Youth Baseball Practice & Coaching-Making The Best Use Of Your Practice Time
By Michael Sakowski
Making The Most Of Your Youth Baseball Practice
If you ever have the opportunity to watch a professional sports team practice, the one aspect that jumps out at you, other than the abundance of talent, is the degree to which every single minute is utilized in an efficient manner. Different groups rotate around drills for set amounts of time governed by a clock and timed buzzer. You can do somewhat the same thing with your youth baseball practice. Here is a good basic formula for an hour and 45 minute practice:
In the first 10 minutes have players each find a teammate to warm up with by throwing and catching with each other. If a player does not have a partner, an assistant coach should throw and catch with the player.
In the next 5 minutes you should have your team meeting and discuss what you will be doing in the practice and cover details for an upcoming game.
In then next 1 hour divide the team up as follows: Have your 3 starting pitchers and starting catcher in the pitching & catching group, have half of the remaining players in an infield practice group, and have the remaining players in an outfield practice group.
Have one of the pitchers throwing to the catcher (in full catcher's gear) while the other two pitchers throw to each other. Have all the pitchers switch off after ten pitches to the catcher so all pitchers have a chance to throw to the catcher. Have a coach watch the pitching form of each pitcher.
Have the infield group cover all the infield positions with extra players going to the outfield. A coach should bat balls to all areas of the field. Have extra players assume the roles of base runners. Rotate the infield positions after every few hits.
Have your outfield group spread out in a wide semi-circle in pairs of two with each two players about 8 feet from each other. A coach or assistant bats or throws balls to each pair. The player closest to the ball calls it and the other plays backup. Stress the need for good backup! Only 2 outfielders should be involved with each throw but you can keep the hits/throws going as quick as possible. It is nice to have an extra helper to the coach to gather balls as they are returned.
After 30 minutes, have the infield and outfield groups switch. On every other practice have the pitchers & catcher mix in with the infield/outfield groups.
Devote the last 30 minutes to batting practice. Use a variety of batting drills and make sure every player gets a lot of practice.
Michael Sakowski works full time and volunteers as an assistant coach for his son's youth league baseball team. He also has researched effective youth baseball methods and has published a website, Youth Baseball Basics that provides helpful information to first time baseball players and first time baseball parents.
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