Over the next two weeks, I’m going to put out a few blogs on ideas for practice planning with your youth baseball or softball team. With youth practices in full swings, it it critical that coaches keeps drills fun, creative, instructional, and game oriented. Implementing a few of these ideas will help you see improvements in the key areas of the game with your athletes. Athletes that get better at baseball and softball have fun playing the game for a long time.
After you have your team jog and stretch at the beginning of practice, have them get in the routine of warming-up their arms. This will assure that they remain injury free and build up a stronger throwing arm. Instead of just having them play catch at different distances to warm-up their arm, I suggest adding a fun progression to keep them engaged while learning various throws that will come up during the game. At the end of this progression, their arms will be warm and you will have exposed them to key situations on the field.
Develop a throwing progression that encompasses these throws:
1. Stand sideways towards your partner and get the arm to move in a circular motion (separate hands in a down and out motion then up to throw). Also have them work on shifting their weight to their back leg and then to the follow through.
2. Continue to stand sideways towards your partner and use a shuffle to throw.
3. Now, stand normal towards your partner and learn to “step and throw” (walkthrough version of a crow hop).
4. Finally, imagine fielding a ground ball towards your partner and then incorporate the step and throw.
Stay tuned for Part 2 which will give you fun and creative drills to help your players better catch the ball. Difficulty catching the ball is a big reason youth teams lose games and kids lose their love of this game.