1 TBL Coaching Packet Coaching youth sports can be one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable. It can also be one of the most frustrating. For the most part, once everything is said and done, the positive memories outweigh the negative. Above all else you ll remember the smiles on the kids faces and the progress that they made. As a volunteer coach we understand that there are a number of demands on your time that can make it difficult to balance your family life with games and practices, keeping the kids happy, and communicating with parents. We are hoping that this packet can arm you with enough information and resources to make the coaching experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
2 Parents Meeting We highly recommend that you set aside time at your first practice (or hold a separate get together) to discuss the coming season with the parents. This meeting gives you an opportunity to set the stage for season, answer most of their initial questions and eliminate at least some of the potential issues you can encounter. Here are some items to address: Introduce yourself and any assistant coaches o Give background about yourself, why you re coaching, your experience in the sport/ coaching o Request parent helpers for practices and games Present a brief overview of your coaching philosophy. o Describe a typical practice o The emphasis you give to sportsmanship vs. winning, having fun, and helping athletes develop physically, psychologically, and socially o Playtime Describe the program you will be conducting o How long are practices? o How often and when does the team practice? o How long is the season? o How many games will there be? Are cancelled games rescheduled? o What equipment/apparel does each athlete need to purchase? o How will you communicate with the parents? o What time they should plan to arrive before games? Layout any team rules or conduct expectations o Sportsmanship expectations Treatment of players, coaches, umpires o Parent expectations Be supportive of effort over results Keep winning in perspective, and help your child do the same. Help your child set realistic performance goals. Inform of any medical or physical ailments that your child has that coach needs to be aware of Team snack Any questions from parents
3 Goals Coaches must set goals for their teams and celebrate all successes, small and large. There are general goals that cut across all age levels and there are age-specific goals. If these goals are accomplished, regardless of the ultimate win-loss record, the season should be considered a success. All Ages These are the basic goals that all baseball coaches should strive to accomplish with their teams. As a coach, continually ask yourself these questions to help determine if you re on the right track. 1. Are the Kids Having Fun? Baseball is a game. It should be fun. Do they move quickly to the field when they arrive or do they have to be forced to play? Is there a lot of laughter and energy or are the kids lethargic? Do they ask to stay and practice or play longer or are they happy to leave or want to leave early? 2. Are the Kids Improving? One of the most rewarding things about coaching is seeing the players improve. Kids have an innate desire to learn and improve. When they re successful, and those successes are celebrated, the thirst to learn increases. 3. Are the Kids Learning? When coaching, especially when dealing with skills that build on one another, it s important to review and make sure that players have grasped the initial lesson/ skill before you introduce something more complex. Division Specific Goals TBall (Instructional) 1. Learning the basic rules the right direction to run; runners must touch the bases; how to record outs; running through first base; scoring a run 2. Throwing mechanics turn the body so that front shoulder points to target; keep the elbow above the shoulder; step toward target with nonthrowing foot and release 3. Tracking follow the ball with the eyes into the glove, whether on the ground or in the air; use two hands to catch and field; try to catch the ball out in front of the body 4. Hitting how to hold and swing the bat; batting safety (when not to swing, helmets); hitting off a tee; hitting softly tossed pitches 5. Learning positional play learning the positions and where they are on the field; learn to field balls only hit in the area of coverage for that position (do not chase balls no matter where they are hit)
4 Coach Pitch (I & II) 1. Learning rules - force outs; tagging up; base running (when you don t have to run; not running into or past teammates); balls and strikes (CP2 focus) 2. Throwing mechanics - introduce the four-seam grip; point shoulder, step and throw; introduce the concept of gaining momentum to target and following the throw 3. Catching and Fielding thrown and hit balls; fingers up versus fingers down; fielding position triangle (butt down, feet shoulder width apart, hands out front of feet); introduce underhand flip; first base fundamentals 4. Hitting choosing the right bat; proper grip; hitting pitched balls; introduce drill work (tee, soft toss, short toss) 5. Learning positional play learn the positions and the areas each player should cover; cover the nearest base when the ball is not hit to you (second base covering); introduce pitcher covering first (CP2); basics of cutoffs and relays Juniors 1. Learning rules infield fly rule; balks 2. Base running leads; steals; extra-base hits 3. Pitching and throwing mechanics wind-up versus stretch; four-seam grip; shuffle, throw, follow; pitcher covering first 4. Hitting repetitions; drill work (tee, soft toss, lob toss); bunting 5. Learning team fundamentals cutoffs and relays; basic bunt defenses; basic first-third situations; underhand flip and double plays; defending the steal; infield and outfield communication Minors 1. Throwing mechanics and pitching emphasis on generating momentum toward the target and following the throw (larger field); breaking balls; change-ups; pitching mechanics and using the body effectively (longer distance); pickoff mechanics; introduction to long toss 2. Hitting introduce situational hitting (inside-out swing; hitting behind runners; hit and run; productive outs); sacrifice bunting versus bunting for a hit; understanding the count and likely pitches 3. Base running first and third situations; steal breaks; delayed steals; reading situations and reacting to them 4. Fielding generating momentum toward target when necessary; crossover and drop steps; backhands and when to use them; pitcher covering first; infield communication 5. Learning team fundamentals pickoff plays; full bunt defenses; full first-third defenses; pop-up and fly ball priorities; double plays and underhand flips
5 Majors 1. Throwing mechanics and pitching long toss; continue mastering breaking and off-speed pitches; throwing for accuracy; generating momentum toward the target and following the throw; pickoff mechanics 2. Hitting mental aspects (hitters count versus pitchers count); two-strike hitting; aggressive versus defensive swings; situational hitting; productive outs; advanced game situations and defenses 3. Base running- one-way leads; going on first move; reacting to batted balls; tag-up situations; third-base rules; no-out, one-out and two-out rules 4. Fielding understanding and adapting to playing conditions (grass versus dirt, sun, bad fields); fence drill (outfield); crossover and drop steps; do or die plays at the plate; preventing runners from taking extra bases; communicating between pitches 5. Learning team fundamentals cutoffs and relays (trailer); advanced pickoff plays; advanced game situations and defenses Practice Plans The following section contains sample practice plans. Use these as a template for running an effective practice and swap out the drills for ones specific to the fundamentals you want to focus on for your team.
6 TBall 60 Minute Practice (A) 5 mins Stretching 5 mins Run the bases Hamstrings, quads, shoulders, triceps Running through first base Play follow the leader around the base paths 30 mins Stations (3 Groups, 10 minutes per then rotate) Hitting Station: Stance, Grip, Batting Tee Catching: Two hands, Open Pocket Throwing: Play catch, throwing fundamentals 15 mins Fun Activity/ Game and review 60 Minute Practice (B) 5 mins Stretching 5 mins Form Running Games Have a relay race around the bases in teams Let kids slide into home plate to finish (w/ pants) Hamstrings, quads, shoulders, triceps Run relay races with the players doing high knees, butt-kickers, skipping 30 mins Stations (3 Groups, 10 minutes per then rotate) Hitting Station: Batting Tee Fielding: Stance drill Throwing: Play catch, throwing fundamentals 15 mins Play a scrimmage or other instructional game Play with infield only other players are runners Allow players to try each position (rotate from runner to pitcher to 1 st to 2 nd to SS to 3 rd to runner) Have a parent or coach assist with 1 st base
7 Coach Pitch I & II 90 Minute Practice Plan Note: If you feel your team can handle 120 minutes add an additional team drill and a skills drill (throwing, fielding, catching). 10 mins Stretching 10 mins Base running Hamstrings, quads, shoulders, triceps Form running (high knees, butt-kickers, bounding) Big League Base running Drill 10 mins Throwing or Catching Drills Proper throwing (point shoulder, elbow above shoulder) 4 Seam Grip Throwing One knee throwing Open Pocket Drill Fingers Up, Fingers Down Drill 45 mins Stations (3 Groups, 15 minutes per station) Hitting Station: Coach Pitch Hitting Station: (Pick one) o Soft Toss, Hitting Tee Fielding Station: (Pick one) o Infield Drills, Outfield Drills 15 mins Team Drill/Rules Session/ Fun Drill/ Review Team Infield Drill (or situational drill) Review Rules Relay race, practice sliding Review skills and mental situational drills
8 Juniors 120 Minute Practice Plan 10 mins Stretching 20 mins Base running Hamstrings, quads, shoulders, triceps Form running (high knees, butt-kickers, bounding) Big League Base running Bent Leg Sliding Drill 30 mins Fielding Stations: (3 Groups, 10 mins per station) Ground Balls; Backhand/Forehand; Short Hop; Charging the ball Fly Ball Footwork Outfield Agility Pitcher Fundamentals (break out separately) Dry Run Pitching (fundamentals) Target Throwing Catcher Fundamentals (break out separately) Catcher Stance Ball in the Dirt Step and throw 30 mins Hitting Stations (3 Groups, 10 mins per station) 15 mins Team Drill Coach Pitch Batting Tee Soft Toss, Lob Toss Team Infield Drill (or situational drill) 15 mins Controlled game or game situations
9 Minors 120 Minute Practice Plan (A) 10 mins Stretching 20 mins Base running Hamstrings, quads, shoulders, triceps Form running (high knees, butt-kickers, bounding) Lead Off Bent Leg Sliding 30 mins Outfield Fundamentals: (break out separately) Ground Balls Fly Ball Footwork Outfield Agility Infield Fundamentals: (break out separately) Gaining momentum to target Backhand Short Hop Pitcher Fundamentals (break out separately) Dry Run Pitching (fundamentals) Target Throwing Pivot Foot and Stride Foot Balance Drills Catcher Fundamentals (break out separately) Catcher Stance Bunt Fielding 30 mins Hitting Stations (3 Groups, 10 mins per station) 15 mins Team Drill Coach Pitch Batting Tee Soft Toss, Lob Toss Scolinas Drill
10 15 mins Controlled game or game situations 120 Minute Practice Plan (B) 10 mins Stretching 15 mins Base running Hamstrings, quads, shoulders, triceps Form running (high knees, butt-kickers, bounding, running backward) Big League Base running Bent Leg Sliding Drill 60 mins Game Situational Fielding Go through all drills, rotating players in. Inactive players can be used as runners. Pitchers and 1 st basemen Pitchers, 1 st basemen and 2 nd basemen Pitchers, 1 st, 2 nd and SS Pitchers, Catchers, 1 st and 3 rd basemen Pitchers, SS, 3 rd basemen and Outfielders Pitchers and Catchers 30 mins Hitting Stations (3 Groups, 10 mins per station) Coach Pitch Batting Tee Soft Toss, Lob Toss 5 mins Team Discussion Mental Situations Fun Activity
11 Majors 120 Minute Practice Plan (A) 10 mins Stretching 20 mins Base running Hamstrings, quads, shoulders, triceps Form running (high knees, butt-kickers, bounding) Lead Off Bent Leg Sliding 30 mins Outfield Fundamentals: (break out separately) Ground Balls Fly Ball Footwork Outfield Agility Infield Fundamentals: (break out separately) Gaining momentum to target Backhand Bare hand Pitcher Fundamentals (break out separately) Dry Run Pitching (fundamentals) Target Throwing Pivot Foot and Stride Foot Balance Drills Catcher Fundamentals (break out separately) Catcher Stance Bunt Fielding 30 mins Hitting Stations (3 Groups, 10 mins per station) 15 mins Team Drill Coach Pitch Batting Tee Soft Toss, Lob Toss Team Infield Drill (or situational drill)
12 15 mins Controlled Game or Game Situations 120 Minute Practice Plan (B) 10 mins Stretching 15 mins Base running Hamstrings, quads, shoulders, triceps Form running (high knees, butt-kickers, bounding, running backward) Lead Off; Big League Base running Bent Leg Sliding Drill 60 mins Game Situational Fielding Go through all drills, rotating players in. Inactive players can be used as runners. Pitchers and 1 st basemen Pitchers, 1 st basemen and 2 nd basemen Pitchers, 1 st, 2 nd and SS Pitchers, Catchers, 1 st and 3 rd basemen Pitchers, SS, 3 rd basemen and Outfielders Pitchers and Catchers 30 mins Hitting Stations (3 Groups, 10 mins per station) Coach Pitch Batting Tee Soft Toss, Lob Toss 5 mins Team Discussion Mental Situations Fun Activity
13 DRILLS RUNNING Form Running Line your players up at one side of the field and take them through the following progression. These drills will help your players learn to run more efficiently, and also provide a valuable warm-up before your baseball-specific base running drills. High knees: Lean slightly forward, pump the arms, and run, driving the knees high while keeping the toes flexed upward. Drive the hands and arms to counter-balance the body and only contact the ground with the ball of the foot. Butt kickers: Run forward while trying to kick yourself in the glute with your heel on each stride. Focus on keeping the rest of your body still and simply flicking your lower leg backward. Grapevines: Standing upright with your head and torso facing forward, move laterally in one direction by placing your trailing leg in front of the lead leg. Then move the lead leg in that same lateral direction and place the trailing leg in front of the lead leg. Maintain a fluid motion with your arms rotating in the opposite direction from the legs. Bounding: Use an exaggerated skipping motion to thrust your body into the air off one leg, then the other. The focus should be on a powerful leap into the air and a quick (but not super fast) cadence. Your arm motion should be synced to the opposite leg s action, holding steady for the brief moment while you re off the ground. Running Backwards: Although it will seem awkward at first, try to replicate your forward running motion while moving backward. You ll still be pushing off of your forefoot and swinging your arms, but you ll be lunging backward with your hamstrings and using core muscles to stabilize differently than you re used to while moving forward. Focus on form, not on speed. BIG LEAGUE BASERUNNING Objective: To work on various base running situations and conditioning Setup: Field with bases
14 Execution: Players line up at home plate and run home to first, all the way through the bag; then immediately break down and return to the bag. They then shuffle off of first, take a crossover step and run first to third (slide into third is optional); then jog home. Players line up at home again and run out a double (sliding is optional). They then go from second to home to simulate scoring on a hit. Players then run out a triple (sliding into third is optional), and jog back to home. Emphasis is on making a proper turn at each base as well as hitting the bases in stride. If players are having trouble making the correct turns and taking a proper route to the next base, setup cones or coaches to help with the proper paths. HEAD TO HEAD Setup: Field with bases Execution: One player (a) starts at second, and the other starts at home (b). Coach yells Go. Player A runs from second to home while Player B runs from home to second. Both players should slide into their bases. Whoever gets to their base first wins. Point out players who adhere to proper fundamentals and run the bases well over who wins or loses. LEAD DRILL Setup: Create 3 or 4 lines of players in the outfield, facing the coach. Execution: On the coaches signal, the first row of players will get into the leadoff position facing home plate. On a second signal, the players will take two lateral shuffle steps, then make a crossover step, bringing the left foot in front of the right foot, turn the torso and shoulders and sprint for about 60 yards. Once they reach the other end the next group of players can go. In the lead position, the player should be down in an athletic stance with the feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, the weight on the insides of the feet, and hands hanging loose between this knees. Balance is important - you should be able to bolt for the next base or dive back if necessary. As you extend your lead away from the base, use small shuffle steps. Taking long steps or crossing your legs over can put you momentarily off-balance, and therefore makes you vulnerable to a pick-off. Only make the crossover when you've made the decision to run at full speed toward the next base. Avoid taking a "false step" with the right foot before making the crossover step. Keep the right foot planted and push off to gain momentum
15 After the crossover, stay low for the first 3 or 4 steps, then explode upwards and forward while extending the stride length TURN TO THE BASE DRILL Setup: Create 3 or 4 lines of players in the outfield, facing the coach. Execution: The goal of this drill is to help train players to turn the shoulders away from the next base and get the left arm across the body. This provides more leverage to turn the hips and feet in the opposite direction and get a faster, more efficient turn to the next base. Going half-speed, the first player in each line will take five steps toward the coach. then turn quickly rotate his shoulders to the right and bring his left arm across his body, while simultaneously turning his hips and feet to the left. He will then continue at half speed for five more steps, then go to the back of the line. Keep the arms pumping with each step to maintain balance, and make the turn in rhythm Throwing the arm across the chest and turning the shoulder is done to help make a sharp turn, but if it creates a break in rhythm, it will be counter productive This movement will feel awkward and unnatural for some kids. Exaggerate it in practice to help develop muscle memory. TURNING FOR THE DOUBLE DRILL Setup: Line up your players behind home plate. Place a cone about half of the way between first and second. Execution: On the coach's signal the first player in line will sprint from the batter's box to first at full speed. He will make an aggressive turn towards second base and continue to the cone, then break down into a position where he can return to first or continue to second if he chooses. As soon as the first player touches the bag, the second player will start running, and so on. The goal of this drill is to train your players to run aggressively to first base, then make an aggressive turn towards second. At the youth level, fielding errors are common. The aggressive turn will give your players the opportunity to turn singles into doubles if the ball is slow coming in from the outfield To "break down" at the cone, lower your base, get your butt toward the ground, keep the feet moving and your head on a swivel
16 BENT LEG SLIDING DRILL Setup: Have your players spread out on a patch of soft grass with around 5-6 feet of space between them. Execution: The coach should get on the ground and demonstrate the proper technique for a bent leg slide, with your players following along. Sit down on your butt, keeping one leg straight (with a slight flex in the knee) and the other leg bent underneath into a "figure 4" position. The hands should be thrown back and up, with the head up, watching the target. Walk through the group of players and make adjustments, ensuring all players have the basic technique down. In phase 2, we will work on sliding into a base while running. Line the players up and have them run feet, break down, then slide into a base. As the player approaches the base, he should begin to squat and shift his body weight down toward the grass. With one leg straight and one leg bent, roll back the rear end, and sit on the grass with your momentum going forward. This drill is performed with the shoes off to help players get comfortable with the technique without the risk of their cleats snagging on the grass The faster you go into the slide, the easier it is on your body. If you slow down, you have a tendency to stick in the ground and there's more risk for injury The player should be sliding on his rear end, not his side The straight leg should have a slight bend in it and not be completely locked out. This will prevent it from "sticking" in the grass and prevent injury Make sure to practice this drill in the soft grass to start. Players can wear sliding shorts or an extra pair of sweat pants while they are learning the technique To simulate more of a game situation, hold a glove and ball on one side of the base, and ask the player to slide to the opposite side to avoid being tagged To make a pop-up slide, keep the front foot up slightly and catch the base with your heel as you slide in. Your momentum will push you up toward and allow you to stand.
17 HITTING KEY POINTS: Stance starting point; need vision, balance, and plate coverage Grip loose grip in the fingers with the door knocking knuckles lined up to unlock the wrists and allow for greater bat speed Weight shift weight shifts to the backside, gathering energy before being taken forward; Verbal cue you have to go back to go forward Stride short and soft; toward the pitcher Swing short and quick, using hands, wrists and forearms Follow-through one or two hands; takes care of itself if all other elements of swing are in place CHOOSING THE RIGHT BAT: Length to test if the length of a bat is appropriate, stand the bat up on its end. The handle should approach the players waist or belly button Weight to test if a bat is too heavy, have the player grab the bat with his dominant hand. Keeping the palm facing down, the player should try to hold the bat straight out in front of the body. With the player s arm fully extended, look to see if the player is strong enough to keep the bat pointing away without letting the tip fall toward to the ground for 10 seconds. If they can keep the bat up, they are strong enough to swing it. DRY RUN HITTING Setup: Spread the hitters out across the field with at least 5 strides of space in every direction. Each player has a bat and faces the coach. Execution: Lead the players through the phases of the swing one at a time (relax - ready position - stride -swing) ensuring each player is using the proper sequence. Call each phase out one at a time. Demonstrate the different mechanics and swing path for different types of pitches. Complete 5-10 swings for each type of pitch. To make the proper stride, try telling your players to "walk away from the hands." The hands stay back while the front foot makes a small step forward. The stride should be a "soft stride" - with 80% of the weight on the back foot Outside pitch: keep the hips slightly closed, try to make contact deeper in the hitting zone, and hit the ball to the opposite field. Middle pitch: open the hips slightly, try to make contact in the middle of the plate, and hit the ball to center field. Inside pitch: open the hips even more, try to make contact out in front of the plate, and pull the ball on contact
18 The back hip always goes to the target. Practice placing one hand on the back hip, taking the stride and pointing the finger (and hip) in the direction you would hit the ball Always stride to the same spot regardless of the pitch location Use visualization to help players picture how they will swing on different types of pitches Low pitch: take the same stride and keep the hips at the same level. Adjust the hands lower to make contact. High pitch: take the same stride and keep the hips at the same level. Adjust the hands higher to make contact Keep the hands inside the ball to create a shorter, more compact swing. Avoid looping or casting the bat around the plate. Be short to the ball and long after you hit it to generate more power. Extend the hands outward and make a long follow through after contact. BATTING TEE DRILL Setup: You'll need a bucket of balls, a tee. The hitter will set up over the plate in his normal stance. Execution: Take 5-10 swings with the ball in the middle of the plate, practicing hitting to center field. Take 5-10 swings with the ball on the outside of the plate, moving the tee further back in the hitting zone. Take 5-10 swings with the ball on the inside of the plate, moving the tee forward in the hitting zone. Make sure the hitter separates the stride and swing. This will allow them to sit back on off-speed pitches without committing early. Tell the hitter to try and hit the "outside" of the ball to pull it. Hit the "inside" of the ball to go opposite field. Regardless of the pitch location, the stance should be square to the plate. Instead of opening or closing the stance, open or close the hips during the swing to adjust to the location of the pitch. Try "working the fingers" during the relaxation stage of the swing. This will keep the players grip loose and avoid strangling the bat and stiffening up. SOFT TOSS DRILL Setup: Bucket of balls, a home plate. Execution: Hitter takes his stance; the tosser kneels across from the hitter, slightly in front of home plate in foul ground, not in the direction that the ball will be hit. The ball is tossed underhand so the hitter can hit it out in front of the plate. Coach Points Hitter wants to concentrate on having a loose grip and knuckles lined up
19 Hitters should think loose hands, quick bat If hitters re getting jammed quite a bit, take a look at where the tosses are coming from and are being hit. When the ball is coming directly at the hitter, he has to drag the bat to the ball, hitting it at a location not out in front of the plate. The toss should come from an angle slightly in front of the plate and be struck in front of the plate. This allows the wrists to unlock and the barrel of the bat to get to the ball. THROWING KEY POINTS Use a four seam grip Take the ball down, out, and up out of the glove (circular motion) Hand above the ball at first, shifting to behind the ball as release approaches Elbow above the shoulder Point front shoulder toward target Step toward target Release ball and follow through ONE KNEE DRILL Setup: Two players (or a player and coach) and a ball Execution: This drill breaks down the player s arm action and works on keeping their elbow at the proper level. Players drop their throwing side knee to the ground with the opposite knee up and play catch at a short distance. Use 4 seam grip. Concentrate on the taking the ball, down, out and up from the glove keeping the elbow above the shoulder Many young players turn their hand so it s under the ball before they bring it up. This is called pie throwing. This is the opposite of the most effective way to throw a baseball. For players that do this, have them stop their motion just before they bring their arm forward. Have them look back at the ball. If done correctly they should see the back of their hand. If they are pie throwing they will see the ball with the hand behind it.
20 FOUR SEAM GRIP Setup: Line your players up facing you, each one with a ball and a glove. Execution: Demonstrate the proper four seam grip: Take the middle and index fingers of your throwing hand, and place them perpendicular to the horseshoe of the seams on the baseball. The "horseshoe seam" should face into your ring finger of your throwing hand. NOTE: It's called the horseshoe seam simply because the seam itself looks like the shape of a horseshoe. Next, place your thumb directly beneath the baseball, resting on the smooth leather. Ideally, you should rest your thumb in the center of the horseshoe seam on the bottom part of the baseball. Grip this pitch softly, like an egg, in your fingertips. There should be a "gap" or space between the ball and your palm. This is the key to making a good, hard four-seam throw with maximal backspin and velocity. A loose grip minimizes "friction" between your hand and the baseball. The less friction, of course, the quicker the baseball can leave your hand. Have the players practice the grip with their eyes open, then with their eyes closed. Over time, they will develop a muscle memory and "feel" for the ball, which will allow them to establish the proper four-seam grip in just a split second. Once they have the grip down, separate them into pairs, facing each other, around feet apart feet for younger kids Practice catching the ball, establishing the four-seam grip, and then throwing it back to your partner. Always establish the grip before pulling the ball out of the glove. Don't allow your players to fiddle with the grip as they cock back to throw, as this is a major cause of bobbled balls and costly errors. INFIELD (FIELDING) KEY POINTS Create a wide base with the feet Butt stays down; don t bend only at the waist; should look like sitting in a chair but with weight on the balls of the feet, not the heels Hands are out in front of the feet; see the ball into the glove Relax wrists; fingers point down and only the tip of the glove touches the ground PRELIMINARY STANCE DRILL Setup: Line up your infielders with around 4-6 feet of space between them, facing home plate. A pitcher stands at the mound with a ball.
21 Execution: On your signal, the players will drop into the ready position, as described below. Then, as the pitcher goes into his windup, the players will take two short steps, timed with the pitchers delivery so the second step hits the ground as the ball is released. In the ready position, the fielder's feet should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with the knees bent and the weight over the balls of the feet. His head should be facing his partner with his eyes on the ball. The hands should hang low between the legs, with the glove open wide. From this ready position, the player can get a good jump on the ball and move quickly in the direction it is hit. As the pitch is being delivered, infielders should be watching the direction and speed of the ball, and reading the hitter's swing. After taking the second step, lean slightly toward the direction the ball is likely to be hit. Inside pitches are more likely to be pulled, while outside pitches are more like to be hit to the opposite field. CHARGE THE BALL DRILL Setup: Set up your players on the outer edge of the infield between second and third base, with around 4-6 feet of space between them, facing home plate. For each fielder, place one ball on the ground just inside the base path. Execution: On your signal, the players will drop into the ready position. Then, on your second signal, they will charge their individual ball, break down into fielding position, pick it up with both hands, step towards first base and cock the arm to throw. In phase 2, the players will line up single file behind shortstop. Coach will roll the ball softly towards, them and they will charge it, field it and make a strong throw to first, using the same fundamentals. The fielder should circle slightly around the ball so that his momentum is going towards first base as he fields it. Be aggressive, come to the ball, and get as close to the target as possible. To field the ball off the ground, the fielder's knees should be bent with his rear end lowered to knee level. His back should be almost parallel to the ground, and both arms should be outstretched in front of the body. The throwing side foot should be slightly behind the glove side foot (the toe lined up with the arch) The back of the fielder s glove should be on the ground with the throwing hand either above it or alongside it. The fielder s eyes should be focused on the ball. The fielder should then scoop the ball up and trap and trap it with the throwing hand. The player then cushions the ball toward his body with "soft" hands, bringing the hands to the belt area (this is called funneling the ball) as he moves into throwing position. After retrieving the ball, the fielder will crossover step with the throwing side foot as he grips the ball, then step toward first with the glove side foot as he goes into his throwing motion Coach should check the player's grip after he freezes, making sure he has established a good four seam grip
22 GLOVE DRILL Setup: Group your infielders into pairs and set them up, facing each other, around feet apart. Both players are wearing their gloves, and standing in an athletic stance. One player in each pair has the ball. Execution: On the coach's signal, the player without the ball will drop down into the ready position, while his partner slowly rolls the ball along the ground in his direction. The fielder will then roll the ball back to his partner. Throw 10 balls to the middle, 10 to the right and 10 to the left. Then, have the thrower throw randomly to different directions, maintaining the slow speed and keeping the ball rolling along the ground like a bowling ball. In phase 2 of this drill, partners should throw short-hops instead of ground balls. In the ready position, the fielder's feet should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with the knees bent and the weight over the balls of the feet. His head should be facing his partner with his eyes on the ball. The hands should hang low between the legs, with the glove open wide. From this ready position, the player can get a good jump on the ball and move quickly in the direction it is hit. The player's feet should stay planted on the ground throughout the drill. The focus is on moving the glove to meet the ball Make sure the fielder's glove is positioned way out in front of the body. The more extension the better. Only the tip of the fielder s glove should touch the ground with the throwing hand either above it or alongside it. The fielder s eyes should be focused on the ball. When the ball arrives, the player should watch it into the glove and then trap it with the throwing hand. The player then cushions the ball toward his body with "soft" hands, bringing the hands to the belt area (this is called funneling the ball) as he moves into throwing position. To backhand the ball, shift the weight toward the backhand side while keeping the feet planted. Bring the glove across the body, and flip it inside out to open the pocket toward the ball. SHORT HOP DRILL Setup: Group your infielders into pairs and set them up, facing each other, around feet apart. Both players are wearing their gloves, and standing in an athletic ready position. One player in each pair has the ball. Execution: On the coach's signal, the players without the ball will drop down into ready position as described above. The player with the ball will throw a soft "short-hop" to his partner, aiming to bounce the ball around 2 feet in front of the fielder's toes. The player will field the short hop, secure the ball, then throw a short hop back to his partner.
23 When fielding the short hop, the glove position is extremely important. The glove should be extended out directly in front of the body, reaching out toward the ball with the palm up. The fielder should attempt to catch the ball immediately after it hits the ground, which will reduce the unpredictability of a bad hop. When the ball arrives, the player should watch it into the glove and then trap it with the throwing hand. The player then cushions the ball toward his body with soft hands, bringing the hands to the belt area (this is called funneling the ball) as he moves into throwing position. Make sure the glove is low enough to the ground, to avoid the ball passing underneath it and through the fielder s legs SCOLINAS DRILL Setup: Set up your full infield minus your pitcher for this drill. The catcher begins with the ball behind the plate. Execution: This drill requires a continuous series of choreographed throws, one after another. When teaching it, the coach will need to yell out the throws one by one to remind the players of the sequence. Over time, they will memorize the sequence and be able to run the drill on their own. The sequence goes as follows: 1. Catcher to shortstop (covering second base) 2. Shortstop to first base 3. First base to catcher 4. Catcher to third base 5. Third base to second base (covering second base) 6. Second base to first base 7. First base to catcher That makes one rotation. See if how many rotations your players can make in a fixed time limit (30 seconds to 1 minute) without making an error. Throw the ball with a four seam grip Practice your footwork so that you are moving into your next throw as you catch and grip the ball Feel free to vary the sequence to work on specific fielding situations (i.e. double plays, force outs etc.)
24 DOUBLE PLAY DRILL Setup: You will need a shortstop, second baseman, and first baseman for this drill. The coach stands at the pitcher s mound (for beginners) or at home plate (for experienced players) with the ball. Execution: On the coach s signal, the players will drop down into ready position. He will then roll a ground ball to the second baseman, who will check his distance to the bag, then either tag second base himself or throw to the shortstop. After tagging second, the fielder will make the throw to first to complete the double play. In phase 2, the coach will roll a ground ball to the shortstop, who will read the play, then either tag second base himself or throw to the second baseman. After tagging second, the fielder will make the throw to first to complete the double play. The coach should vary the speed and type of ground ball, giving the player a variety of short hops, long hops, slow rollers and straight ground balls. Also vary the direction of the ball, going to the left, right, and directly at the fielder. For more advanced players, you can run this same drill hitting fungos from home plate, instead of rolling the ball from the pitcher s mound. The player fielding the ball should call Ball and the player covering second should call Bag When covering second base, the fielder should approach it with short choppy steps, and stay a few steps off the bag until the throw is released to him. This will allow him to adjust his angle of approach to catch the ball, tag the base, pivot and throw in a smooth, continuous motion Try to tag the bag with the inside of the foot and continue momentum towards the first base target On a bad throw, the player covering second should think like a first baseman getting the force out is his #1 priority General rules for second basemen and short stops 1-2 steps from the bag tag it yourself 3-4 steps from the bag make a fluffy underhand toss 5-6 steps from the bag make a firm underhand toss or backhand More than 6 steps from bag drop to one knee and throw overhand If the baserunner is going to collide with you at second, try to get slightly airborne after making the throw to first. This will prevent you from getting your cleats stuck in the ground, and reduce the risk of a knee or ankle getting jammed on impact. On short throws, try to show the ball to your teammate right out of your glove, which will help him track it into the glove more easily OUTFIELD KEY POINTS Get to the spot where the ball will land quickly then get the glove up; do not drift with the glove up Watch the ball into the glove and catch the ball above the head using two hands whenever possible
25 Try to move forward slightly as the catch is made Throw hop and gain momentum to target STATIONARY THROWING DRILL Setup: Group your outfielders into pairs and set them up, facing each other, around 60 feet apart. Both players are wearing their gloves, and standing in an athletic ready position. The feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart with the toes pointed toward your partner. One player in each pair has the ball. Execution: In this throwing drill, the players will play catch while keeping their feet fixed in an isolated position. Removing the stride will help your fielders generate more power through their hips and torso, gain more arm extension on the release and follow through, and improve their throwing mechanics. Outfielders should always use a four-seam grip when throwing the ball. The backspin generated will help the ball fly straight and true, and will also help one-hopped throws bounce harder off the ground and stay on target OUTFIELD FOOTWORK DRILL Setup: The outfielders will line up single file in the outfield facing home plate. A coach stands at the edge of the infield with a glove and balls. Execution: The coach will throw a soft fly ball to the first player in the outfielders line. The player will approach the fly ball under control then, using the proper footwork, catch the ball and immediately move into this throwing motion, delivering the ball back to the coach. As your players get the hang of the footwork, you can move the coach to home plate and begin hitting fungos to the outfield instead of throwing the fly balls. Keep the feet moving with short choppy steps as the ball is in the air, which will make it easier to step with the correct foot as you catch. The proper footwork requires three steps in total to catch, grip, and throw the ball. Step 1: CATCH: Catch the ball with the glove side foot forward Step 2: GRIP: While you gather the ball into your throwing hand, take a second step with the throwing side foot. Step 3: THROW: As you go into your throwing motion, take a final step with the glove side foot and release the ball with your momentum going forward.
26 For a right-handed fielder, the step sequence would go left-right-left The outfielder should watch the pitcher carefully, and time his movement with the pitcher s delivery. Take around 2.5 steps forward with each pitch, which will get the feet moving and enable to outfielder to get a better break on the ball LEAD DRILL Setup: The outfielders will line up single file in center field, facing home plate. A coach stands at the edge of the infield with a fungo bat and balls. An additional coach or player stands next to the coach to receive throws from the outfield. Execution: On the coaches signal, the outfielder will sprint from center field toward the right field fence. The coach will hit a line drive, ground ball, or fly ball in that direction, leading the fielder so that he has to sprint to make a play on the ball and stop it from reaching the fence. He fields it cleanly then throws it into the infield. Complete several reps for each player going in each direction. LOOK OVER THE SHOULDER DRILL Setup: The outfielders will line up single file in center field. The first player in line faces toward the outfield fence and looks over his shoulder, back toward the infield. A coach stands at the edge of the infield with a fungo bat and balls. An additional coach or player stands next to the coach to receive throws from the outfield. Execution: The coach will hit a high fly ball over the player's head. The player will keep his eye on the ball by keeping his head turned back toward the infield, then chase the ball over his head and try to make a play on it. Make sure your fielders have plenty of space to work with and you are not too close to the outfield fence, other groups of players, or any other obstructions. Make sure the field is clear of debris before you begin this drill. GROUND BALL FIELDING DRILL Setup: The outfielders will line up single file in the outfield facing home plate. A coach stands at home plate with a fungo bat and balls. An additional coach or players stands to the side of home plate to receive throws from the fielders.
27 Execution: The coach will hit a ground ball to the first player in the outfielders line. The outfielder will charge hard at the ball, breakdown, field the ball using the Knee Method, Semi-Knee Method or Pro Method, then make an accurate throw back to home plate. The coach will then hit a ground ball to the next player, as the first player rotates to the back of the line. The Knee Method is typically taught to young players as the safest and most reliable way to field a ground ball in the outfield. You can also use this technique when there are no runners on base, when the ground is very bumpy, or when there is no chance of throwing a runner out. The outfielder should charge the ball hard for the first 4 or 5 steps, then decrease his speed, get under control, and break down to field the ball. To field the ball, drop to the throwing side knee (the right knee for right handed players) and put the back of the glove flat on the ground between the legs. Watch the ball into the glove, trap it with the throwing hand, then rise up and step into the throw. The outfielder should center his body in front of the ball, so he can block it with his torso if it takes a bad hop. The Semi-Knee Method is a faster, but slightly riskier way to field an outfield grounder. The technique is the same as the Knee Method, except the outfielder will only drop the throwing-side knee halfway to the ground while fielding the ball. This will allow him to move into his throwing motion more quickly, and have a better chance at throwing out a runner The Pro Method (or Scoop Method) is the riskiest way to field an outfield grounder and should be used only in situations where the game will be lost if the fielder doesn t get the ball in quickly. This technique is for a do-or-die situation in which the tying or winning run is attempting to score and the outfielder must make a quick throw to the infield. The outfielder runs at the ball and scoops it up while on the move, placing the glove to the outside of the glove-side leg (instead of between the legs). If the ball is missed, it can run all the way to the fence, so use this technique with caution! PITCHING KEY POINTS: Feet take a small step back with the nonthrowing-side foot, keeping the weight over the stationary foot, which is turned parallel and touching the rubber Balance position nonthrowing-side leg comes up, glove is at waist level, torso is slightly forward so that the weight is centered over the pivot foot. Power position hand above the ball, take the ball down out of the glove and up (circular motion) as the front foot strides toward home plate Rotation hand goes from above the ball to behind it as the release point is approached; elbow is above the shoulder
28 Follow-through end up in a good fielding position; the follow-through takes care of itself if mechanics are correct; don t be too picky about a perfect follow-through if the results are consistent. TARGET THROWING DRILL Goal: This can be used as a warmup drill to get loose before a more intense pitching workout. It also helps with command and control, and allows pitchers to experiment with different grips. Setup: Place two players approximately feet apart - around the same distance as the gap between the pitching mound and home plate at your level of play. Both players have gloves and are standing in an athletic ready position. One player in each pair has the ball. Execution: On the coach's signal, the first player will throw to a specific target on the second player's body. 1. Right shoulder 2. Right hip 3. Right knee 4. Left shoulder 5. Left hip 6. Left knee This should be a relaxed, low intensity drill used for warmup. Look for a smooth, fluid throwing motion and good rotation on the ball. The receiving player should place his glove at the target point Players should use a four seam grip for maximum accuracy. DRY RUN PITCHING DRILL Goal: To help pitchers understand and develop the phases of the pitching motion, in a slow, controlled manner that allows the coach to make adjustments and corrections. Setup: Line up your pitchers facing the coach with about 4-5 feet of space between them. They will wear gloves but do not need a ball for this drill. Execution: Take your pitchers through each phase of the pitching motion one by one, stopping at the end of each phase to make adjustments and corrections. Phase 1: Stance
29 The pitcher's weight should be evenly distributed on both feet Eyes should be facing the target The glove should be palm up and the throwing hand palm down to conceal the ball Phase 2: Pivot and Balance Take a short "rocker step" with the stride foot (glove side foot) that goes backward, away from the rubber The step should be short, and compact so the pitcher's head remains over the ball side foot. Following the rocker step, the pivot foot (ball side foot) will square off parallel to the rubber Bring the stride leg up into a controlled motion to transfer the pitcher's weight into the pivot leg Hold the "balance" position with the stride leg up and balance until the coach says stop Phase 3: Separation and Stride After the stride leg reaches its highest point of elevation, the pitcher will separate his hands in a thumbs down position, while beginning his stride toward home plate Perform a controlled "fall" towards home plate, with the head, glove side knee, elbow and shoulder leading the way Make sure to keep a firm back pivot leg, rather than collapsing it down into a "drop and drive" motion. This will help pitchers keep the ball release point high, and develop pitches that travel on a downward plane toward the hitter Upon foot strike of the stride leg, the arms and body should form a "T" position. Minimize stress on the stride leg by landing with a bent knee. Phase 4: Release and follow through After achieving the "T" position, the throwing shoulder will accelerate explosively toward the plate for the release and follow through The pitcher's head should move to directly over the stride leg, while the throwing shoulder, arms and upper torso extend toward home plate As the throwing arm moves forward, the throwing elbow should be even or slightly higher than the throwing shoulder The elbow snaps to full extension The wrist should be straight and firm, while the fingers stay on top of the ball The pivot foot heel rotates up and out, then comes off the rubber to complete the weight transfer from the back foot to the front foot Progress through each of the phases one by one, providing corrections and adjustments along the way. Once the player is comfortable, with phase 1, have them complete phase 1 and 2 together, then stop. Then add phase 3 and stop. Then add phase 4 to create the complete pitching delivery. STICK DRILL Goal: To improve arm and hand speed, and help develop the proper release point. Setup: Line up your pitchers facing the coach with about 4-5 feet of space between them, wearing their gloves. Instead of a ball in the pitching hand, they will hold a light wooden dowel or stick