Congratulations for making the commitment to coaching youth softball
players. The positive way in which you lead them will spark their continued
interest in the sport.
Your first practice should concentrate on
giving the players a basic understanding of the concepts of the field, the
game and learning each other's names. The more you use the players' names and
incorporate them into drills, the easier this will be accomplished.
that you learn the names as quickly as possible. The coach should arrive
early to practice to discuss his/her practice plan with the assistant coaches
and prepare the field. Encourage players to come early as well. At this age,
a practice will keep the players' attention when it lasts one hour.
Repetition and competition are keys to teaching the fundamentals of softball.
The following practice plan includes suggested times to keep it running
First 10 Minutes (Introductions)
The key is to have the players become comfortable with you. Keep the
dialogue as simple as possible. Gather them in front of you (rather than a
circle because you don't want your back to anyone and you want them to hear
you). Introduce yourself and your assistant coaches. Then ask each girl her
name and something about herself. Be specific in what you ask for; most kids
will be too scared to think of something on their own. Ask, 'What's your name
and favorite color?' Or, 'What's your name and do you like broccoli?' The
goal is to make them laugh and feel comfortable. Repeat each girl's name and
response. At the end of the introductions, review the names. The best way is
to point and say, 'You're Alyssa and you love broccoli!' If you're right,
great; if you're wrong, the kids will correct you and they'll think it's
At this point, let them know you have rules. Again, keep it simple: 1) have
FUN, 2) be on time, and 3) if a coach
is talking, the players should be listening to him.
Next 5 Minutes (Warm-up)
Stretch, especially the legs, because the kids will be running. Have one of
the girls lead the stretches, but keep a chart so each week you will have a
different player leading and everyone will have chances through the
You can design the stretches, but here are some examples:
Sit, with legs
extended out flat on the ground in a V position. Lean forward, reach for the
toes and pull back on the toes. Hold for a 10 count (have the girls count
down from 10). Repeat. This works the hamstrings, calves and lower back.
Stand straight, bend a leg behind the
body, grab the ankle and pull the heel toward the backside. Hold for a 10
count. Mimic with the other leg. This stretches the quad muscles.
Stand straight and extend the arms
straight out. Do trunk rotations from left to right. One to two sets of 10
will suffice. This stretches the oblique muscles.
Next 10 Minutes (The Bases)
Stand at home plate, point out first, second and third bases and explain
that the object is to hit the ball, run and touch all the bases to return
Walk the kids around the bases, explaining this is first and this is second,
noting that you can't touch second without touching first, etc…
Quiz them. Say, 'Where is first?' Then stand on first and say, 'Where is
third?' Walk to third, bypassing second and ask, 'Can I touch third without
touching second? Of course not, back to second we go.'
Always run to first base!
Next 2 Minutes (Water Break)
Keep your players hydrated with a water break. But have them hustle back to
Next 10 Minutes (Running Through First Base)
The drill: Place the kids in a line at home plate
and a coach about 10 feet beyond first base. Have the kids, one at a time,
stand in the batter's box (explain), show you their stance, swing and run as
hard as they can to first – touching the bag and continuing up the
line to tag the coach's hand. Do this repeatedly – until each kid
understands the concept.
Next, explain if the coach says 'go!' they are to touch first base and
continue on to second. Place another coach at third and have the kids run
from second to third, and third to home. Emphasize picking up the coach and
listening for the command.
Next 2 Minutes (Water Break)
Keep your players hydrated with a water break. But have them
hustle back to the field.
Next 15 Minutes (Baserunning Relays)
Divide your squad into two teams (by now you should have an idea about which
kids are fast and which are not. Match them up evenly). Put half of Team 1
near home plate and the other near first base. Put half of Team 2 near second
and the other near third (keep them far enough away from the bases that
they're not in the way). Place one girl from Team 1 in the batter's box and
another on first. Place a member of Team 2 on second and another on third. On
your command, the girl at home plate runs to first, tags the hand of her
teammate, who runs to second (make sure the player running to first runs
through the bag). At the same time,
the player at second runs to third and tags her teammate's hand. The teammate
runs home. If Team 2 reaches home before Team 1 gets to second, it wins, or
vice versa. Do your best to ensure the competition ends in a tie.
After the players get some water, gather them, review what they learned and
congratulate them for their effort. Let everyone know the next practice time.
Follow up with an e-mail to all the parents.
It is always fun to have the
players huddle and place their hands together and yell, '1, 2, 3 (with the
team name)!' Do this at the end of practices and before a game.
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