You would be surprised at how many youth baseball coaches do not teach helpful drills for baseball. It shows in how their team plays.
Having coached hundred of boys, I know boys can be taught the right way to play baseball.
So either these coaches do not know good drills for youth baseball, or they do not know how to teach them. Either way, it is frustrating to parents who know better.
I have three sons and all three played baseball. And I coached all three, but not every year.
Their ages were to far a part to allow any of them to play on the same team. And coaching one competitive team is a full time job, so I would only coach one each summer.
I was lucky to always find good coaches for the sons I wasn’t coaching. Since I was involved with coaching baseball they were not hard to find. But I want to tell you about one summer.
At the beginning of the season the coach for one of my sons had to quit coaching due to health reasons. The team was turned over to an assistant.
Well, the assistant did not know baseball very well and soon it showed on the field. My offer to help was not fully accepted so I stayed out of the way.
The team resembled teams that I used to wonder about. Were the players just not that athletic, or was the coaching bad? I agree you cannot make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear, but teams that practice good drills for baseball play better.
Often the difference is small things that many parents do not notice. The batter hits a little fly ball between the infield and the outfield. If the ball is caught the inning is over.
If the ball drops, two runs may score. A big swing of events for one little hit. Guess what, the team that has practiced on shallow fly balls makes the catch, and the team that hasn’t lets the ball drop.
The ball drops and the parents on the team yell at the infielders and outfielders to communicate with each other. It is not the players fault.
It is hard to do something in a game that you have never practiced. Yet many coaches do not work on things like communication.
That summer I learned what happens to teams who do not practice good drills for baseball. They do not play well together as a team.
The following two drills for baseball are not earth shattering new ways to play the game. Rather they are the small things that make good baseball teams.
They are not the type of drills that you would want to spend the whole practice on. But do practice them enough that everyone knows what to do in each situation.
For a baseball team to excel on the field, the players must communicate with each other.
And for that communication to work there has to be a chain of command. In the outfield the center fielder is in charge. If he is calling for the ball then all other fielders must back off.
On shallow fly balls between the infielders and outfielders the outfielders are in charge. The left fielder can call off the shortstop and third baseman, or the right fielder calls off the second and first baseman.
On the infield the shortstop is in charge. He can call off any of the infielders, including the pitcher and catcher. Or he can just call out who should make the catch.
OK, center fielder runs the outfield. The shortstop runs the infield. And outfielders have priority over infielders. The reason outfielders can call off infielders is the outfielders will be coming in on a pop up.
And catching a baseball running in is much easier than catching a baseball running backwards. And throwing the baseball back in is much easier when running forward.
As a coach you should have a team meeting and make sure everyone understands the chain of command on the field.
Be sure to ask for questions because there are usually quite a few on this topic. Drills for baseball sometimes involve a lot of talking and this is one of those times.
But once the talking is over it is time to put the chain of command to a test.
Place the fielders in their positions and start hitting or throwing pop ups. Be sure everyone is talking and following the chain of command. Give the players plenty of feedback on their play.
This drill does not happen to be one of the fun drills for baseball. But communication comes into play many times during a game, so it is very important.
Once everyone seems to understand the roles of each fielder, we can then add a little fun to the drill. We are always trying to add some fun to drills for baseball.
Put a runner on third base and continue to hit shallow fly balls. Don’t forget to make the runner wear a helmet. The runner must decide if the ball is going to be caught or not.
If he thinks it will be caught he must decide whether to tag up on the catch and run home. The fielders must not only communicate who is making the catch, but also what the runner on the third is doing. The catcher should be watching the runner and yelling “tag” or “no tag”.
In a game you will have a third base coach helping the runner decide to go or not. But in this drill let them make the choice. Just have someone watching to make sure the runner does not leave to soon.
And listen for the fielders’ communications. By now they should be getting it down pat. Go ahead and let the fielders make the throw home. This little bit of competition will help keep the drill interesting.
These two drills for baseball are not drills that need to be practiced every week. I would say work on them a couple times a month, unless you are having a lot of communication problems. Then I would advise working on them as much as needed.
Here is a listing of the drills under the Team Drills Section:
Coaching Tips and Misc Drills
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