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.

It's critical 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 smoothly.

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 funny.

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 season.

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 home.

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.' 

Coaching Point
  • Always run to first base!  

Next 2 Minutes (Water Break)

Keep your players hydrated with a water break. But have them hustle back to the field.

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.

Remaining Time

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. 

Coaching Point
  • 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.