Practice Set Up and Sample Drills

Updated Sunday March 12, 2017 by League Athletics.

Running a Practice:  Things to Know

  • Plan - Have a plan for practice, and pay attention to time.  
  • Training the parents - Start & end on time.  Engage any parent that sticks around for practice to help where needed.
  • Pacing - Kids this age have high energy but low stamina.  Vary the high effort (running) and lower effort (throwing) activities every 10 min or so.  
  • Water breaks  
  • Names - Re‐introduce / go over players’ names to start every practice.  
  • Start physical.  Kids are full of energy when they arrive
  • Baseball hustle.  Teach kids to run (‘hustle’) every time coach calls them in, sends them out to the field.

Sample 60‐minute Practice Layout

  • Team Meeting (5 min)
  • Player’s & coaches names – do every practice to start
  • Explain today’s program
  • Warm up and base running (10 min)
  • Jog around bases
  • Stretch as a team (2 min) with coach
  • Run bases – fast, but one base at a time, on coaches’ mark
  • Throwing (10 min)
  • Demonstrate grip –1 Min
  • Show / reshow correct body position and 4 throwing steps – 1 Min
    • Turn
    • Point
    • Step
    • Throw
  • “Bonk the bucket” game with whole team
  • Split into two groups for batting and fielding (10 min)
  • ƒ Batting:  One coach takes half the players to outfield:
    • ƒ Do 5‐10 hits/player (as time allows),  
    • ƒ 1‐1 or 1‐2 instruction with each batter
    • ƒ Other batters field the hits while waiting turn
  • ƒ Fielding:  Other coach works with rest of team on one of:
    • ƒ Fielding grounders:
      • ƒ Roll ground balls to players.
      • ƒ Show right glove position (down low, out in front)
      • ƒ Charge the ball, catch and cover with other hand
      • ƒ Throw to coach (pretend coach is at 1st)
      • ƒ “Hustle” game  
    • ƒ Catching balls:
      • ƒ Toss from coaches (& parent?) to players
      • ƒ Players line up 2‐arms length apart, facing coach
      • ƒ Glove in front of chest, fingers up or sideways
      • ƒ ‘Squeeze and freeze’ when catching
      • ƒ “Count” game (easy) or “Ball Relays” (advanced)
  • Reverse the two groups (10 min)  ‐ coaches stay at same spots!
  • Positions instruction and closing (5 min)
    • Run “Break” game to teach positions, cool down before end.

Four Variations & Notes on the sample practice plan:

  • Close with a whole‐team activity like the “Break” game
  • Player positions are a great thing to review as the last item in practice at this age.
  • There is never enough time to teach batting, being a one‐on‐one thing and only one tee.  
  • After 2‐3 practices, kids will know your basic practice plan and you will have time to teach a few more skills at each station.   

Here are useful additional skills to work into your practices over time:

  • Base running:  
    • Players run on balls of feet, not on heels. Kids call this ‘toe running’.
    • Run through 1st B, turn outside, then return.  
    • Stop on the bag at @ 2nd, 3rd.
  • Fielding:  
    • Spread players out and roll/hit to them without calling their names (teaches focus).  Teach:  closest person gets it.  Have them throw to another parent/coach standing where 1st should be.  Speed up so they’re always on their toes.  
    • Switch to ‘hopping’ ground balls with better players, rather than rolling them on ground.  Start with light 1 hop (1 bounce) tosses that go knee/thigh high and have kids catch & cover those (yes, its hard for them on the 1st day, but most are amazing good at this by the 3rd time they practice it)
    • Switch from the coach rolling balls to the coach hitting balls (gently) part‐way thru the season.
  • Catching:  
    • With better players, switch to low throws every other toss so kids learn to ‘switch’ from glove‐up to glove‐down based on incoming ball height (tough for them at tee‐ball age, easier as they age and coordination improves).
  • Skill Games:
    • Bonk the Bucket
      • Put an empty bucket upright on a tee (take out neck insert first)
      • Line up players between 1st & 3rd base across pitcher position
      • Roll balls out to all players, have them find grip, then wait for coach
      • On coach’s words, players:  TURN, POINT, STEP, and THROW at the bucket simultaneously
      • Big cheer if anyone hits the bucket
      • Ass’t coach helps correct kids who need 1‐1 help with mechanics during drill
    • Hustle (“Charge It”) Game
      • Line up players single file, or in two parallel lines
      • Roll balls to players, have them field it, throw to coach, and return to end of line
      • Fast moving.  Many skills/lessons to teach:
        • Teach to ‘catch & cover’ ball when fielding grounders
        • No diving on ball – field it on two feet!
        • Players should charge short or slow‐moving balls.  
      • Coaches should have a pile of balls at feet.  Let overthrows go.  
      • Mark a ‘start’ line for players (or they will creep up to you fast
      • On throws, emphasize correct progression (turn, point, step, throw).
    • Count Game
      • A simple catching game.  Line up players arms‐length apart, all facing a coach.
      • Coach underhand tosses a ball lightly to each player in succession (switch to overhand after a few practices / when they are ready)
      • Count # of consecutive catches, and see how high the team can get.  
      • Start only 5’ away from players.  Move back as season progresses.
      • All throws to player’s chest (above waist!) for first few weeks.  Then switch to throws to right, to left, or higher ‘pop‐up’ catches
      • Emphasize:  Correct glove position.  ‘Squeeze and freeze’ on catches.
    • “Break” Game (learning field positions)
      • A simple 5‐min game to teach players where to stand properly in the field, to be in ‘ready position’, and to hustle out and in.
      • Assemble team around coach at pitcher’s mound.
      • Have team close their eyes.  Tell them to remember their position.
      • Tap a child’s head and say a unique position
      • When everyone has a unique position, say “Break”
      • Kids hustle (run) to their positions and assume ‘ready position’
      • Call them in, and repeat with new position assignments.