"Baseball is a Game of Movement"
(coaching youth baseball & youth softball)
We want to scrimmage at the end of most every practice. It is important to remember that kids age 5-12 sign up to PLAY baseball and softball, not to practice. They understand that practicing skills is part of the deal, but what they look forward to is playing the game. The good news is that a scrimmage provides a great teaching environment.
The key to a successful, and fast moving scrimmage, is for the coach to do the pitching, from a knee from a close proximity to the batter (20’-25’). Get the coach doing the pitching as close to the batter as they are safe or provide a protective screen, This scree should be as small as required to shield the coach (4’ x 2’ is ideal).
Below is a list of focus/teaching points for the coaches. After each play we want to give the players feedback. Make corrections as required; also be sure to acknowledge players when they are properly executing. This includes things as simple as covering the correct base and getting in a “Ready Position”.
Early on we will not concern ourselves with all the points below. As more content is taught during practices, we will concern ourselves with giving feedback on more playing points. IMPORTANT: do not correct mistakes if we haven’t first addressed the content in practice. The first scrimmages will be fairly chaotic with minimal correcting/teaching. As more content is covered in practice, we will have more points to provide feedback on and teach.
Note: some of the items below have multiple points which are introduced at different times in the teaching progressing. Items are listed based on the first item in a given list.
The items listed below are pretty much in the order of when they will be introduced. Batting and base running are listed at the bottom. When communicating with the batter limit remarks to the content on the ‘Live 5’ list. A game (scrimmage) is not the place to give mechanical instruction, unless the scrimmage pitcher and the batter have been working on something specific. If this is the case the pitcher (coach) can give simple reminders (“teaching phrases” related to that/those points if needed).
Scrimmage Focus Points
Never Tell the Players Where to Throw the Ball (they need to make decisions on their own to learn)
Batting - Limit instruction: “Live 5”
- “Ready Position” to catch (includes “Feet Wide to Catch” on ground balls)
- “Moving Your Feet” to catch and throw
- “Follow Your Head” (especially on underhand toss)
Three Individual Responsibilities on Defense:
- Play the Ball
- Cover a Base
- Back up a Base
Three Team Responsibilities on Defense:
- Stop the ball (each throw is backed up)
- Stop the runner(s) - throw the ball ahead of the runner(s)
- Get the ball to the middle of the infield (Pitcher) ASAP
Receiving Throws at a Base
- “If you are not playing the ball, cover a base” (infielders and pitcher)
- “Cover the Base with Your Eyes”
- “The base is for the runner, the ball is for the defense”
- “Ball first, base second”; “Move Your Feet to catch”
- “Look for Other Runners”
The three players in the middle of the field (SS, 2B & P) “Always move towards the ball”
Outfielders' Three Responsibilities:
- Chase balls hit to the outfield - 'Move towards the ball'
- Back-up on ground balls hit to the two infielders in front of you (primarily LF and RF) - 'Move towards the ball'
- Back-up throws to a base (“Two players in position to catch every throw”)
Keep The Ball Moving – when you get the ball IMMEDIATELY do one of two things
- THROW ahead of the runner(s) - if trying to advance
- Not sure what to do? - RUN towards the middle of the infield ---> Runner(s) not trying to advance? - “RUN it in”
Once the runners have stopped trying to advance…
- ‘No overhand throws allowed’
- Get the ball to the middle of the infield (Pitcher) as fast as possible (Pitcher: go get the ball)
- After the play, RUN back to your position
- Eyes on the catcher - listen to the catcher
- “Ready Position”
Catcher Responsibilities (Run the Game):
- Get in front of home plate immediately after ball is put in play.
- Call out where to throw the ball - “Eat it! Run it in”, at the end of most plays
- Before each batter: OUTS & RUNNERS (make eye contact with your teammates)
Cut-Relay Plays to Bases
- Plays at 3B ---> SS is the cut player
- Plays at Home ---> P is the cut player
- Ball in the infield - eyes on the front of first base
- Ball in the outfield - think: “Two Bases”
- Proper Turns & Touches
Descriptions & Progression of Instruction
The titles of the classes ‘I-III’ do not refer to a player’s level of skill or experience. They refer to the steps in Baseball Positive’s Comprehensive Batter Development Program. Even an experienced and accomplished player begins with Batting I, which teaches the entire swing (see details in Class Descriptions below).
Batting I (The Swing)
Comprehensive teaching of the swing. Covers all aspects of an efficient, powerful and productive swing. Players with years of experience, as well as novice batters, start with Batting I. It is critical for players to master the skills taught in this clinic in order to be prepared to advance to Batting II.
Clinic teaches fundamentals that lead to sound body control and balance throughout the swing. Unnecessary movement in the swing is eliminated and players are trained in simple and efficient swing actions. Players learn to utilize the strength of their entire body in the swing and to direct that energy to, and through, contact with the baseball/softball. A major component of the class is gaining a sense of how their body works to produce the swing.
It is strongly suggested that players who took Batting I in the past repeat the program to retrain their muscle movements. (It is important to understand that learning physical skills is much different than cognitive learning. The brain retains information fairly well, while muscles need to be constantly retrained.)
Novice players would benefit from taking Batting I more than once; mastery of the swing does not come in five weeks (but they’ll get a great start!)
Highlights of what the batters learn:
- Balance and posture throughout the swing
- Anchoring the swing
- Controlling the lower body turn to maximize power, bat speed and accuracy in the swing
- Path of the hands in the swing - a key to a quicker swing and greater acceleration through contact. Mastery of the path of hands is critical for advancing to, and excelling in, Batting II.
- Applying the swing to hitting a live pitch and making consistently solid contact with the ball
- A simple, easy to follow and comprehensive set of drills, for work at home, is provided during the program in an illustrated handout. Videos are also provided to support the principles taught.
Introduction to hitting the ball to all fields. Strike zone awareness and recognition of pitch location is taught. Advanced drills are added to the foundational drills learned in Batting I. Players are introduced to the concept of having an ‘approach’ to live batting. An additional focus of this phase is extension through contact point to maximize power and consistency of contact (‘staying through the ball’). Swing discipline during the batting workout is also a major emphasis. Fear of the ball is addressed as well as how to get hit by a pitch safely.
Mastery of driving the ball to all fields is the primary emphasis. The fundamentals of the swing are further engrained. Greater discipline is demanded of all participants in their work habits and approach. Translating a disciplined and consistent swing from drill work to live pitches is a major focus. The mental and emotional aspects of the batter-pitcher confrontation are addressed.
Maintenance and Fine Tuning in a ‘batting workout’ format. Players learn how to work on their swing and to have a purpose for each swing during a workout. Each player receives a detailed handout with drills and direction for focused and productive batting workouts, on their own, away from the team practice setting.
- Throwing mechanics and footwork
- Receiving throws
- Groundball footwork and fielding technique
- Fly ball footwork and skills
- Skill Building Drills
- Infield arm action
- Intermediate ground ball footwork, including:
- Transfer technique (from fielding to throwing)
- Corner infielder footwork
- Footwork around the base: tag plays
- Throwing on the run
- Relay Footwork and Communication
- Skill Building Drills
^Fielding I and II can be modified to better accommodate specific age groups i.e., ages 8-9 and ages 10-12
- Advanced ground ball footwork, including:
- Reading Hops
- Slow rollers
- Footwork around the base: force plays
- Double Plays
- Cuts-Relays: positioning, communication, advanced footwork
- Defensive tactics and concepts: Bunt situations; 1st & 3rd situations
Fielding IV (Fielding Workout)
Fast paced with massive reps and fine tuning instruction. Players and coaches learn the structure of highly effective and efficient drills, while establishing objectives and focus points of each activity. A clear and effective approach to teaching is central to all activities. (Content to be discussed in a direct conversation.)
Other Topics for Specialized Fielding Clinics
- First Basemen - position specific
- Pitchers Defensive Responsibilities & Drills
- Team Defense & Communication
Fundamentals of the fastpitch delivery. Players learn how to properly utilize their entire body in order to maximize velocity and accuracy. The entire action is taught through a simple to follow, step-by-step, building block teaching approach.
Overview (Baseball Delivery)
The titles of the clinics ‘I, II, III’ do not refer to a player’s level of skill or experience. They refer to the steps in Baseball Positive’s Comprehensive Pitcher Development Program. An experienced and accomplished player begins with Pitching I, which teaches the entire delivery (see details in Class descriptions below).
Structure: Pitchers must bring their own adult catcher with them to each session (All players pitch simultaneously). This should be their coach, parent or an adult they work with at home.
Covers all aspects of an efficient, powerful and accurate delivery. Participants learn the three components of the delivery and gain an awareness of the 'feel' of an effective and sound delivery. The pitcher also starts on their way to establishing a consistent Release Point, which is the foundation for throwing effective off-speed pitches and eliminating the possibility of ‘tipping’ their pitches to their opponents.
A central focus of the instruction focuses on techniques to reduce pressure on the shoulder and elbow, minimizing the potential for sore arms or injury. The Change-up and Two Seam Fastball are introduced.
A simple, easy to follow, and comprehensive set of drills for work at home is provided during the program in an illustrated handout.
The Change up and Two-seam Fast Ball are taught in detail, including grip variations. The Cutter (a breaking pitch that is a safe alternative to the curve ball) is introduced.
The fundamentals of the delivery continue to be a focus in this class. Pitchers develop a greater understanding of the delivery and develop greater discipline in their actions. Advanced teaching, for maximizing power and accuracy, is taught.
Warm-up, stretching and a pre-game/pre-pitching routine are taught.
Learning to throw breaking pitches (curve ball and slider) safely and effectively is the central focus of this clinic; Also:
- The Change-up, Cutter and Fastball are developed further with an emphasis on location mastery
- Advanced teaching and drills for maximizing power and accuracy
- Fundamental fielding skills for the pitcher position
- Mental approach to game competition
- Pitching Plan for attacking a batter and an entire line-up
- Shoulder (rotator cuff) strengthening and maintenance exercises are taught
- Conditioning program for the pitcher - simple and age appropriate
Maintenance and fine tuning in a ‘bullpen’ setting. Players learn warm-up and stretching drills to properly prepare their bodies prior to picking up a ball to pitch. Each player receives a detailed handout with instructions for a productive bullpen session.