You've covered basic running and the mechanics of throwing. Now it's time to move on to catching the ball. This is one of the more difficult skills to teach for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, many young girls, playing for the first time, will be afraid when the ball is thrown to them. The other major problem is that their glove may be too big for their hand or too stiff to open and close. You need to be conscious of these obstacles. If a parent asks you about a glove, tell he or she to buy the most flexible one they can find and one that fits the child's hand. A 9- to 11-inch glove is more than big enough for 5- to 8-year-olds.

First 10 Minutes (Warm-up)

Run through the names again, using the same strategies you used the first two weeks. By now, both you and the girls should have all the names down. Get the kids laughing. Move to stretching (always important), especially the shoulder and back for today.
  • Jumping jacks.
  • Stand straight and extend the right arm behind the body. Grab the right wrist with the left hand and pull back and over toward the left side. Hold for a 10 count. Mimic with the other arm. This will stretch the front of the shoulder.
  • A light jog of moderate distance - not a strenuous jog.

Next 10-15 Minutes (Review Throwing Mechanics)

Employ your parents again because you can get more repetitions in. Repeat all four stages of the throw: sitting wrist flicks, kneel and toss, the crane and finally step and throw. Remember to focus on the arm angle and have the players reach, snap and follow through, touching the glove-hand knee. If you don't have the help of your parents, line the kids up, and you and your coaches can move down the line while the girls go through the stages.

Next 2 Minutes (Water Break)

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

Next 15 Minutes (Catching the Ball)

First you need some sort of a soft ball, preferably a heavier softball-sized Nerf ball. That will help alleviate some of the fear for the girls. If you have two coaches, form two lines. If you have three coaches, form three lines.

Teach the set position: feet outside the shoulders, balanced on the balls of the feed, knees flexed slightly with the arms extended out from the body and bent about 45 degrees at the elbow. Have the thumbs and index finger touching - forming a triangle at chest height. Instruct them to maintain this triangle for all throws above the waist and to move their hands to the ball and look it all the way into their hands. Then toss the ball to their chest, to the left life of their body; chest high, to the right of their body; chest high; and then just above their head. 

Next, have them get in the set position, but this time, have the hands extended down in front of the body, just above the knees. Place the hands palm up with the outside tips of the pinkies touching. Throw the ball near their knees and then off to each side of their body, below the waist, always stressing to look the ball into their hands. Repeat over and over, above the waist, below the waist. Now have them use their gloves; same set positions, same hand positions. Teach them to use two hands to catch the ball even with the glove.

Coaching Point
  • Players should look the ball into their hands and get their glove in the proper position.  
While you're working on catching, you can have a hitting station going on, where one of the coaches works with the girls on hitting off a batting tee, which is important for getting young hitters to develop good mechanics and to swing level.

Batting Tee Drill: Have the girls kneel - front leg up and back leg down - at the tee about an arm's length away and centered to the body (you need the shortest, lightest bat you can find. If you can't find, the right one, use a Wiffle Ball bat). Take one-armed swings from the load position (alternate arms). Focus on the hitters bringing the hands straight down from a load position to the ball. Focus on keeping the hands inside the ball and extending to contact.

Next 2 Minutes (Water Break)

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

Next 10 Minutes (Catching)

Have the girls lay on their backs with plenty of room between each child. Have them gently toss the ball into the air and catch it as it comes down. This will force them to get their hands in the proper position. You can do this drill with or without gloves. Graduate to using regular softballs at a pace that you think is right. When you first graduate to regular softballs, have the kids wear a batting helmet with the protective face guard. Also stress to the kids that they can do this drill at home.

Remaining Time

After the players get some water, gather them together. Congratulate them for working hard and mastering another skill. Review what they learned and tell them about the next practice. Follow up with an e-mail.

Are you ending practice with everybody placing their hands together and yelling, '1, 2, 3 (with the team name)!'? Remember, to make it a team staple.