GOAL: The introduction of proper warm-up exercises and techniques for fielding ground balls and throwing.
First 10 Minutes (Introductions)
Considering this is the first practice, introduce yourself and all coaches to the players. Have the players introduce themselves – name, school, what they like. Many times, players know some of their teammates from a prior season or school. One of the more important aspects to stress to the players is they will work together as a team. Having camaraderie among the players is crucial. As the coach, it is important to teach the players how to have fun, but, at the same time, to teach them how to improve their skills. It is the coach’s job to figure out that fine line of balance between play and work.
Next 5 Minutes (Stretching)
Of course, the coaches are involved with the stretching, but it’s important to have a player lead his teammates, too. Keep track of this, so all the players have chances to lead their teammates.
Have the players stretch legs for two minutes and stretch arms for two minutes. Stretching prepares the muscles to prevent injury. The last minute should be used to jog around the field once.
You can decide on the stretches, but are some examples:
Next 10 Minutes (Proper Throwing Mechanics)
- 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.
- Sit, with legs extended out flat on the ground in a V position. Reach and touch the right hand to the outside of the left foot. Mimic the other side. Hold for a 10 count on each side. This stretches the outside of the upper back.
- Sit in an Indian-sitting position, with legs bent and the soles of the feet touching in front. Gently press the knees toward the ground. This stretches the groin muscles.
- 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.
Pair the players with adults and line them up 5 to 8 feet apart. Make sure there is enough room to consider errant throws. With the players on the knee opposite the throwing hand, have them toss the ball to the adult, forming an “L” with the arm. Throwing 20-25 balls should have the arms loose. Remember, the more throws the better.Coaching Points
- Players should vary their grip according to the size of their hands. Place either two or three fingers across the seams with the thumb directly underneath the ball.
- Accuracy and form are more important than velocity.
Next 3 Minutes (Water Break)
Give the players time to break for water. It is extremely important for the players to remain hydrated at all times. But have them hustle back to the field.Next 15 Minutes (Fielding)
Pair off the players and line them up 50 feet apart, rolling ground balls to each other.Coaching Points
- Gloves should be out in front of the body with the rear down low. Have the players step into the grounders and step up into a throw.
- As you are talking to players, get down on one knee to be face-to-face with them.
Next 3 Minutes (Water Break)
Give the players time to break for water. It is extremely important for the players to remain hydrated at all times. But have them hustle back to the field.
Next 10 Minutes (Throwing)
With the players staying paired off, allow one player to roll ground balls to the other player to field and then have him throw the ball back to his partner. As with any throwing drill, players should focus on having an efficient arm swing, tucking their glove to their chest, and following through over their front leg.
Next 10 Minutes (Baserunning)
It’s always fun to end practice with a lap around the bases. The kids love it.
But before we make it a staple with practice, explain baseruning to the players. If they are running to first base, they want to touch the front of the bag and run through it. If they are rounding the bases, they want to approach a base with a banana-like pattern. This allows them to touch the inside corner of the bag and angle to the next base.
End of Practice
While the players are drinking water, huddle them together for a talk. Take this time to recognize the work that was done well, but also discuss what needs improvement. Always finish the talk in an upbeat, positive way. Tell the players the next practice time and follow up with an email to their 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.