The Baseball Positive site is in the process of adding specific content for each level of play:

  • Tee Ball
  • Coach/Machine Pitch
  • '89ers'
  • 'Minors'
  • 11-12
  • Lead-off Game

These are being added in order.  Tee ball is in place (not entirely complete, but close), the Coach/Machine Pitch level is being added right now.  Next is 89ers and we'll add section by section up through the highest level which is '11-12'.  An additional section, lead-off baseball, will be added to accommodate those organizations that play using lead-off rules as well as summer tournament and travel ball teams that play lead-off baseball.

This section (begun May 27), initially, will look more like a note pad than an organized web page.  Check back and see the content come into focus.  The information is applicable to all levels of play; coaches of older players can dig in and find sound fundamental teaching that applies to players ages 11-12.

 

 

Contents

Goals for the Season

Skills: Areas of Focus

Practice Structure

Playing Catch Practice

Foundational Drills

Drills

Practice Plans

Scrimmage Teaching Points

Teaching Progression

Drills - Priority of Introduction

Teaching Phrases

Skills Checklist

 

 

 

Goals for the Season

Developing the swing and applying it to contacting a live pitch is a major focus for this level of play.   Another major point of emphasis is teaching the kids the movement patterns on defense.  The fact is we are still dealing with little humans who still struggle with catching the ball, but we can train them to be in position to make plays even though many aren't physically ready to complete those plays. 

Our satisfaction from coaching at this level, aside from teaching the kids to hit, is seeing them gain an understanding of how to play the game correctly.   Much of our job is planting seeds that will begin to bear fruit at the next level of play. 

In all that we do we bear the primary responsibility of making the kids' experience on the field dynamic and fun above all else.  The importance of creating an environment so the kids will 'want to come back to play again next year' is critical at this level of play.  In this case 'next year' is when the kids' skills and strength become such that the game starts to become real.   We must do all in our power to get the kids to continue on to the player pitch level.  

 

Skills: Areas of Focus

  1.   Swing development and translating the swing to hitting a live pitch
  2.   Infield movement and base coverage
  3.   Pitcher’s fielding and base coverage responsibilities
  4.   Making throws to bases (catching ground balls and throws is taught and trained, but the ability to execute remains low)
  5.   Running the bases: focus on the base not the ball

 

Practice Structure

The practice plans in this section are laid out in both 75 and 90 minute time frames.  An hour and 15 minutes may be all your kids (as well as you and the parents) are ready to handle at this age.  Many groups of kids are ready for 90 minutes.   A point to keep in mind is that not all time is spent 'practicing'.   Each workout concludes with a 20-30 minutes scrimmage segment.

Below is the practice template that is used in the Practice Plans section;

  • Wiffle Ball Batting                         pre-practice
  • Skill Building Warm-up               15-20 minutes   (water break is included in this time frame)
  • Playing Catch Practice                  10 minutes
  • Team Drills/Batting Practice^      25-30 minutes   (account for a water break in this time frame or scrimmage time frame)
  • Scrimmage                                      25-30 minutes

        ^ Team Drills and Batting Practice are alternated every other practice, so time is allowed for detailed teaching in each subject area.  Note that is some of the practice plans that a batting station is included as part of the Team Drills segment

 

 

Playing Catch Practice

Playing catch is the foundation of baseball.  At the younger levels where this skill is still developing, this aspect of practice, while important, is not given the same time emphasis as it is at higher levels.  Let's be clear, the statement to be conscious of is how much of our limited time is dedicated to the aspect of practice we call 'Playing Catch Practice'.

The 'Minors' level is where the full level of expectation and intensity for Playing Catch Practice kicks into full gear and we describe it as the Most Important Part of the Day.  This mindset continues at the 11-12 level and with teams playing lead off baseball (in my years as a college head coach I preached that Playing Catch Practice was the most intense, hardest working and most important part of each of our workouts). 

Prior to the Minors level, our kids (as a whole) are not to a point in their development where they will attain proficiency in these skills.  Therefore our expectations cannot be so high and, as stated, the time commitment to this aspect of practice is not given as high of a priority.

At the Coach/Machine Pitch level of play the kids are still a ways from having the physical capability to consistently throw and catch the ball.  Of course we dedicate a portion of practice to developing this skill.  It is a large part of other aspects of our practice activities and through repetition they will improve, but we recognize that our expectations of the kids' ability to execute these skills remains low.

When  kids jump up to the 89ers level we introduce the mindset that the Playing Catch Practice aspect of our practice has significant importance and is to be a 'serious' activity.  However, it is not until the Minors level where our expectations become absolute regarding the kids' attitude towards, and how they go about, the playing catch aspect of practice.  It is at this level that we can begin to have a high level of expectation for the kids to execute the actions related to playing catch correctly.

 

Foundational Drills

 

 

 

 

Drills

  • Wiffle Ball Batting / Live 5
  • Base Running - Through First Base
  • Underhand Toss
  • 20' Ground Balls
  • Infield Base Coverage
  • Pitcher Base Coverage
  • Two Player, One Base Drills - emphasis on involving pitcher
  • Fielding - with overhand throws to bases
  • Double Plays
  • Rollers
  • Perpendicular Toss
  • Pop Flies
  • Catch, Tag (force), Power Position - partner making underhand toss
  • Replaying Balls 

 

Practice Plans

 

 

 

 

Scrimmage Teaching Points

  • Positioning
  • “Ready Position”

 

  • Infield base coverage (pitcher is bonus)
  • Not standing on the base

 

  • “Move feet to throw”

 

  • Receiving throws, teaching points
  • Fielding, teaching points
  • Base Running, teaching points

 

 

 

Teaching Progression

        PROGRESSION OF SKILLS

  •  “Ready Position”                                                                                                                             RECEIVING THROWS
  • “Move Feet to Catch”                                                                                                                       RECEIVING THROWS
  • “Reach Forward to Catch                                                                                                                 RECEIVING THROWS

 

  • Underhand Toss                                                                                                                                THROWING
  • “Power Position”                                                                                                                               THROWING
  • Pull with glove elbow (teach, but difficult to execute)                                                                 THROWING
  • “Move Feet to Throw” (‘shuffle, shuffle, pull, snap’)                                                                   THROWING

 

  • The bases belongs to the runners                                                                                                    THROWS AT A BASE
  • Do not stand on top of the base                                                                                                       THROWS AT A BASE

 

  • Legs power the swing, “Turn Fast”   (add ‘switch heels’ on day 2 or 3)                                       BATTING  
  • “Head in place”                                                                                                                                  BATTING

 

  • Infield Positions                                                                                                                                 POSITIONING

 

  • Ball or base                                                                                                                                          DEFENSIVE RESPONSIBILITIES
  • Run to the base                                                                                                                                   DEFENSIVE RESPONSIBILITIES

 

  • Batting Stance, Front foot in relationship to ball                                                                           BATTING
  • Batting Stance, Distance from tee                                                                                                     BATTING
  • Batting Stance, Foot alignment in relation to tee and pitcher                                                      BATTING

 

  • “Head Straight” (‘steering wheel’)                                                                                                   THROWING

 

  • “Feet wide to catch”                                                                                                                            FIELDING
  • “Move feet to throw” after fielding of the ball                                                                                FIELDING

 

  • No ‘tacos’                                                                                                                                               RECEIVING THROWS
  • Fingers up to catch balls from chest up                                                                                            RECEIVING THROWS

 

  • “Ball first, base second”                                                                                                                       THROWS AT A BASE
  • Keep eyes on the ball; don’t look at the runners                                                                              THROWS AT A BASE

 

  • Running through first base                                                                                                                  BASE RUNNING
  • Don’t look at the ball                                                                                                                             BASE RUNNING

 

  • No high arcing throws                                                                                                                          THROWING
  • Follow the throw in a straight line, underhand toss (in drill and game environment)               THROWING

 

  • Sideways Karate Chop                                                                                                                           BATTING

 

  • Both hands used properly (pinkies together or alligator); throwing hand NOT behind glove   FIELDING

 

  • Run two bases when ball is hit to the outfield                                                                                    BASE RUNNING

 

 

Drills - Priority of Introduction

  • Underhand Toss
  • Infield Base Coverage
  • Rollers
  • 20’ Ground Balls
  • Perpendicular Toss
  • Double Plays’
  • Base Running - Through First Base
  • Catch, Tag and Throw (mini diamond, using an underhand toss)
  • Two Players, One Base Drills
  • Pop Flies

DRILLS - Batting

  • 1-6, plus feet in place (awareness)

 

Teaching Phrases

  • “Ready Position”
  • “Move Feet to Catch”
  • “Reach Forward to Catch”
  • “Power Position”
  • “Move Feet to Throw”
  • "Shuffle, Shuffle, Pull, Snap"
  • "Follow Your Head"
  • “Feet wide” - batting stance & ready position
  • “Turn back, Turn fast” / “Turn fast”
  • “Head in place”
  • “Switch heels”
  • “Feet Wide to Catch”
  • “Base is for the runner; ball is for the defense”
  • “Ball First, Base Second”

 

 

Skills Checklist

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4 - Gain some level of mastery; execute correctly most of the time

3 - Demonstrate an understanding; execute fairly well some of the time

2 - Awareness is established; execute with average competence on occasion

1 - Concept is introduced

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BASE RUNNING

  • Running through first base                                                                                                                           
  • Don’t look at the ball when running to a base                                                                                           
  • Turns and touches
  • Run two bases when ball is hit to the outfield                                                                                           

 

BATTING

Fundamentals

  • Legs power the swing (“Turn Fast”)                                                                                                            4
  • Switch heels (¾ of players master; ¼ demonstrate an effort)                                                                   4
  • “Head in Place”

                   --->   Majority of players do not spin in a circle at conclusion of swing                                                         4

                   --->   Gain awareness of head movement and some level of mastery to control (“Head in Place”)                 3

Stance

  • Front foot in relationship to ball                                                                                                                  
  • Distance from the tee                                                                                                                                     
  • Alignment of feet in relation to tee and pitcher                                                                                         

 

DEFENSIVE RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Ball or base                                                                                                                                                       
  • Run to the base              
  • Three 's
  • Infield Base Coverage
  • Pitcher Base Coverage
  • Catcher's Position                                                                                                                             

 

FIELDING

  • “Feet wide to catch”, strength will limit how many can (and how often) do this                               
  • “Move Feet to throw”, following the fielding of the ball (UH Toss or Shuffle)                                     
  • Use both hands properly (pinkies together or alligator); throwing hand NOT behind glove
  • Ground ball footwork
  • Replaying Balls    
  • Perpendicular Toss
  • Pop Flies (to the player)     

 

POSITIONING

  • 45/15                                                          

 

RECEIVING THROWS

  • “Ready Position” - will not be able to do this properly b/c of lack of strength                                       3
  • “Move Feet to Catch”                                                                                                                                       3
  • “Reach Forward to Catch” - lack of strength limits kids’ ability                                                               3
  • No ‘tacos’                                                                                                                                                            3
  • Fingers up to catch balls at chest level and above - requires parents to work with kids at home        4

 

THROWS AT A BASE

  • The bases belongs to the runners                                                                                                                   
  • Do not stand on top of the base                                                                                                                      
  • Stopping the ball is first priority over covering the base, which is priority #2                                        
  • Look for other runners
  • Keep eyes on the ball; don’t look at the runners                                                                                          

 

THROWING

  • Underhand Toss                                                                                                                                                
  • “Throwing on the Run"
  • "Power Position”                                                                                                                                                3
  • Glove elbow pull (teach, but not expected to execute, re: strength)                                                           1
  • “Move Feet to Throw” (‘shuffle, shuffle, pull, snap’)                                                                                    4
  • “Head Straight” (‘steering wheel’) before, during and after the throw                                                     3
  • No throwing in a high arc - demonstrate an understanding                                                                        3
  • Follow the throw (underhand toss) in a straight line in drill and game environment                             3

 

Not expected, but teach

  • Glove elbow pulls during throwing action                                                                                                     1
  • After the throw, follow head in a straight line toward target (overhand throw)                                      1