Baseball Drills - Coaching Tips
One exciting aspect of baseball is that a player with less ability can rise up and become a better player than the pure athlete. While this can be said of many sports, it is especially true in baseball. The reason is the large number of skills that are required for a player to become a complete ballplayer. There may be no substitute for speed, but in baseball speed alone will not get a player very far, or even off the bench for that matter.
If you're a player, you must focus during practice. If you are working on fielding a backhand play, then work on the skill as if that's the play you're going to have to make for the league championship. You never know, it just might be! In addition to the work ethic you display at practice there are many skills that you can develop working by yourself at home. How good of a player do you want to be? Make sure your effort reflects the answer.
The ability of a baseball player to rise above more talented athletes is not only attributed to his desire, but also to the coaching he has received. Repetition of a skill is essential for a player to become proficient in that skill. Repeating that skill improperly also ingrains a skill, unfortunately an incorrect one.
Many times practices are jammed with drill after drill designed to improve the skills of players in many different areas. How these drills are performed is much more important than the drill itself. As a coach, you may be rushing players around from drill to drill during practice. Make sure your player's understand that while it's important to move quickly to the next drill, it's also important to take time and perform the skill properly at that station. It's always better to get 10 quality swings at a soft toss drill than to rush through 20 poor swings. In short, quality not quantity should always be the objective of all baseball drills used during practice.
Often players run from station to station during practice where they have a few minutes to work on a certain drill. Here are a couple of tips to keep the rotation running smoothly:
- The kids should already know how to perform the drill before the rotation begins. The coaching involved at this stage should be identifying problems and helping fix those problems, not teaching the kids how to perform each drill.
- If you have parents helping you out at different stations, have them look for 1 or 2 common flaws and help the player correct that flaw. Don't assume the parent understands what those flaws are, you may need to show them exactly what to look for.
- While the kids are stretching and warming up, take each parent to the station they will be helping with. Explain what they will be doing and what to look for.
- Emphasize quality over quantity by:
- Being flexible with time given to the rotation. The rotation will usually take longer than you expect. The younger the kids the more difficult it will be to meet a time restraint.
- If your behind, don't rush through to finish. Have kids and parents remember where everyone is and finish it off at the next practice.
- Don't have stations set up where they need to perform a skill x number of times. Always have them perform the skill for the duration of the time. They will then feel no need to rush through the drill in an attempt to complete it.
- Communicate with the kids that you want them to hustle to each station, but at the station they need to take their time and work hard on improving.
- If you can get enough help, don't run any of the stations yourself. Oversee the rotation and help out where needed. You will then be able to evaluate the rotation as a whole instead of your one station.
- Get a parent on the side to keep time for you. This will allow you to help and coach without have to worry about when to yell "rotate".
- Many of the drills listed in this section can be played as games. Games promote competition during the practice and give the players the opportunity to perform the skill with a bit of pressure to succeed. This will help them when it comes time for the game and helps them to focus during practice. In addition the kids love to compete and will work hard to try and win. It's fun, which translates into a better learning environment. I often have a competition at one station, then a couple without, and then another station with a different competition. I think you will find that your players will improve much faster if they enjoy practice and enjoy the drills that you have them work on.
In this section we will cover many different drills that can be used to improve baseball skills. If you have an additional drill that you find particularly helpful, please send us an e-mail and we'll consider adding it to our site.
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I really look to your blog and the intuitive instructions that you send out and offer that has guided me as a coach and many others as well...that in itself is "timeless"! Thank you for all of your great coaching skills, drills, and education it means a lot to us youth coaches!!!
- Chris W.