This document is a checklist for the coaches. It has a wealth of information that you can use to include in your practices and games.
This is not a recipe but more a starting point and a reference document to help you.
Before the season starts
- Set simple objectives for the season and make sure to communicate them to the players AND parents.
For example : Make friends, become a team, giving all you have, never get discouraged, have fun, improve throughout the season etc.…
- Quickly plan a parents meeting so you can introduce yourself and your assistants. In this meeting, communicate the logistics for the up-coming season. Make sure to announce your intentions of holding many practices.
- Take the time to get to know the parents. They will help you during practices and they can also help re-inforce certain messages off the field.
Suggestion: Take a few minutes to introduce your players to all the parents.
For the beginning of the season (1st month), plan for 2 practices per week. For the remainder of the season, plan for at least 1 practice per week.
Frequently include “fun” into your practices. Come up with games or activities that your players will appreciate.
- Establish a plan for each practice.
- Always be on time in order to give a good example to your players. You should be at the park 30 minutes before the start to setup everything.
- Plan for practices of at least 90 minutes. It’s difficult to have a good practice of less than 90 minutes especially at the beginning of the season.
- Always include a general warmup, stretching, arm warmup (throws with one knee down, standing up, gradually increase the distance).
- Introduce games to make the warmup fun.
- Designate one of your assistant as your pitching coach.
- Make sure that all your players practice this position.
- Prepare many pitchers for your games. You will need them.
- Keep your instructions simple. For example:
- Proper grip on the ball.
- Short wind-up only (Mosquito, Pee Wee B).
- Short and long wind-up (Pee Wee A, Bantam, Midget).
- Emphasis on precision and consistency.
- Starting with Pee Wee A…,
- Holding the runners.
- Pause in the wind-up to prevent balks.
- Cover 1st base on a ball hit to the left.
- Identify your catchers (certain players will not want to play this position). Prepare 4 catchers for the season.
- Encourage them to be dynamic, focused and totally involved. For example, tell them to quickly pick up balls that end up in the backstop, to throw back to the pitcher with accuracy and to talk pitchers when things don’t go too well. Etc.…
- Important: The pace and duration of games is often influenced by how dynamic the catchers are.
- Use them in your pitchers practices (especially in Mosquito and Pee Wee).
- Show them where they must be positioned after a ball is hit (they should be in front of the plate, not behind or on the plate).
- Teach them not to block the plate to prevent injuries.
- Practice how to….
- Block balls.
- Throw on bases to prevent stolen bases.
- Make an out at the plate (on a forced and unforced play).
- Catch a pop-up (remove mask, face the backstop).
- Throw to first base when a ball ends up right in front of the plate.
For many players, hitting a base hit during a game is one of the great sensations in Baseball. Because of this, you must spend quite a bit of time on this aspect of the game in your practices.
- Include a batting practice in all (or almost all) of your practices.
- Again, keep things simple:
- Use the right bat (not too heavy, not too light).
- Use the proper grip.
- Adopt a comfortable stance.
- Swing with power.
- Finish the swing with a good follow-thru.
- The best way to teach batting techniques is to demonstrate and let players imitate you. Try to limit the technical explanations to a minimum.
- Use the following techniques to practice batting:
- A hitting « T ».
- Wiffle balls (thrown from the side and from the front).
- A real pitcher (a coach, not a player).
- Hitting machine (Brooks Park).
- Keep a fast pace during batting practice. For example, give each player 10 swings.
- For your weaker hitters, assign an assistant for a one-on-one session of 15-20 minutes.
- Practice bunting.
Your infielders (2nd base, Shortstop, 3rd base)
- All your players must practice these positions.
- Practice the following items:
- The « ready » position.
- How to catch the ball between the legs.
- Shuffle left and right.
- Catch the ball and throw the ball: in two distinct movements.
- Foot positioning before throwing the ball.
- Catch pop-ups (position under the ball and “calling” for it).
- Make a forced out with a teammate (2nd base and shortstop for example).
- Make a double-play.
- Make an out by tagging a runner (keep the tag low).
- Be the cut-off guy for the outfielders when the ball is hit far.
- A few tips
- Use your hands instead of a bat to throw grounders from a closer distance.
- This will allow you to perform more repetitions.
- Use the bat at the end of the drill.
- Use your hands instead of a bat to throw grounders from a closer distance.
Your 1st basemen
- Identify your 1st basemen (as with your catchers, certain players will not want or will not be able to play this position). Prepare 3 or 4 for your season.
- Show where the player should be positioned (in situations where the runners can take a lead or not).
- Teach foot work (use proper foot on the bag, how to stretch for ball).
- Practice how to scoop the ball on a short-hop.
The outfielder position is tougher to valorize especially in the Mosquito and Pee Wee divisions. It’s important to make sure that a proper player rotation is observed for this position.
- All your players should practice this position.
- Introduce fun games for outfielders.
- Use a tennis racquet and balls to make the drills more efficient.
- Encourage your outfielders to adopt the “ready” position like the infielders.
- Practice relays to the “cut-off” man.
This important aspect of the game is often neglected even though it’s easy to practice and does not take a lot of time.
- Incorporate a base running drill in all (or almost all) your practices.
- Practice running from home plate to first base.
- Run straight in the runner’s lane without looking at the ball.
- Accelerate until first base has been reached.
- No sliding.
- Practice running from home plate to second base.
- Use the “banana” curve before first base.
- Touch the corner of the bag.
- Look at the first base coach for signs.
- Base stealing.
- How to take a lead (Pee Wee A and up).
- Explosive start to steal.
- For divisions with no steal, practice explosive starts as soon as ball crosses home plate.
- Sliding techniques.
- Base runner’s reaction on a fly ball.
- Go half-way or tag-up and wait for the catch.
Practice the following game scenarios:
- Relays from the outfield to the correct player (and back to pitcher for Mosquitos).
- Covering bases.
- Bunt defense.
- Important: Teach your players not to obstruct a base when an opposing player is rounding the bag. This will prevent collisions and injuries.
- Explain how they need to know where to throw the ball BEFORE the batter hits the ball.
- Use simple signs for simple situations (green/red light for steals, green/red light for the batter, bunt)
- Establish a pre-game routine:
- General warm-up.
- Warm-up for the throwing arms.
- Infield practice.
- Outfield practice.
- Starting pitcher warm-up.
- Pre-game meeting.
- Always respect referees. Act as a gentleman and always stay polite. Don’t shout and if you need to talk to the referee, get closer and speak calmly.
- Following an error, wait for the player to be back on the bench before making any explanation. Always speak to the player calmly.
- Take notes during games for elements to include in your next practices.
- Always keep a positive attitude.
- During your post-game meeting, always find something positive to say. Even after bad games.