When you are trying to improve a baseball team, one of the easiest ways to see improvement is by putting the team through game-like drills so that they can use their experience from practice when they are put in the same kind of a situation in a real game. With practice and experience, a throw or a play will be much more natural and be much easier for a player to accomplish. Rather than show up to practice unprepared, here is our best recommendation of 6 drills you can’t skip this season if you’d like to see some major improvement in your team. They’re drills for everyone on the team regardless of their field position.
This drill requires that you form a line behind the batters mound with “runners” have these people strap on their helmets and stand behind the cage. Put your pitcher on the mound and have a person on third base as well as first base. You will also need your back catcher to stand behind the plate for this drill. Have the first “runner” stand next to the plate while the back catcher stands behind the plate. Have the pitcher throw the ball to the back catcher; at this point, the runner is allowed to take off simulating a three strike scenario where you swing but the back catcher drops the ball allowing you the chance to run to first base. While this is going on you have someone (actually no one in this case but just imagine there is someone) who is attempting to run to third base so the back catcher must throw the ball to the third baseman who in turn must throw the ball to the person at first base in an attempt to try and get the batter out. This is a great drill to practice throwing accuracy and to get your team to practice running in a third strike scenario.
Rolling Ball Drill
This drill is great for getting your team better at fielding grounders. Simply get everyone to find themselves a partner on the team and get everyone to stand at least 25 feet apart. Have everyone roll the ball to the other person like a bowling ball in order to practice being able to pick up a ball when it is rolling, rather than when it is just in the air. A variation to this drill is to get everyone on the team to stand at around fifty or so feet apart; longer if you have good throwers, and get everyone to throw the ball just short of their partner so that the ball bounces in front of them and they have to catch the ball off of a bounce. This is a great way to get your team used to how the ball rolls in the grass as well as shows them how different a ball can bounce depending on the speed and the loft of the throw.
Long Distance Throwing Drill
One good thing to do for your new players is to get them used to throwing the ball a long distance. Each and every player on the team will have to be able to do this accurately as you never know when someone is going to try and steal a base and you never know where the ball is going to end up in the playing field. It is important to team up people who have a harder time throwing the ball a long distance with people who can do it quite easily so that they can show them their techniques and your team can begin to improve with practice. It is a good idea to have your infielders practice throwing the ball to one another; one thing you can do is get all of your players into position and simply have them toss a ball around. Please note that youth baseball throwing/pitching injuries are a steady companion to this sport for many young athletes, and it is wise to educate yourself as a parent and/or coach, on how to minimize such risks. A full 5-minute shoulder/arm stretch is a basic starting point.
Outfield Practicing Drill
Another drill that you can try requires that you have all of your players go into the outfield and spread out. Have someone hit balls into the outfield and have someone standing about ten feet away from the batter that the outfielders can throw the ball back to so that the batter has an endless supply available. This is a great drill to keep your team paying attention to the ball as well as it is a great way to keep your team communicating with each other. The balls will sometimes land directly between two people and the teammates will have to call the ball so that there isn’t a collision.
Throwing Accuracy Drill
If you are having a difficult time getting everyone to throw the ball accurately one thing that you can do is have your first baseman stand on first base and make a line behind second base. Have each person throw the ball to the person on first base; making sure to call out when you are throwing the ball to make sure that the first baseman is ready. To make this drill a little bit more intense you can have a runner starting at home plate in order to apply some pressure to the first baseman and simulate an actual game a little bit more accurately.
If you are looking for something simple it is a good idea to practice your base running as well as your in fielding. Get your infield to stand in the appropriate positions and get your pitcher to stand on the mound. Place all the balls with the pitcher or with someone who can stand at the home plate. Have runners line up behind the home plate and have the first runner get ready to run. Have the pitcher either throw the ball in if you are letting them start with the ball, or have the person standing on the home plate throw the ball somewhere in the infield. It is a good idea to get your back catcher in on this drill as well so that you can simulate duffs. The nice thing about this drill is that you can purposely throw the ball into any spaces that your infield leaves vulnerable and it will help to teach them the proper spot to stand the next time around.
One thing that can be difficult to do is to practice you’re out fielding. A good way to do this is to have your outfielders stand in their appropriate positions and make three different lines with the rest of the team. The lines should be located somewhere between 2nd and 3rd base, somewhere near 2nd base and somewhere between 2nd and 1st base. Have these players each take turns either batting the ball high up into the air for the outfielders to catch, or throwing the ball high up into the air for the outfielders to catch. If you are having a hard time throwing the ball high try doing an underhand throw as this is easier for some people.
Base Stealing Prevention Drill
If you have a pitcher and a back catcher, this is one drill that can help to prevent the other team from being able to steal bases on you. In order to do this drill you simply have a base runner as well as a person on each of the three bases. Allow the runner to be able to leave the base as soon as the ball leaves the hand of the pitcher and have the back catcher attempt to throw the ball to the base that the runner is going towards in an attempt to get them out. This is a great drill to practice getting your back catcher up and moving and it even helps to get your infield team working together as well.
Live Pitching Scrimmages
If you are looking to increase the accuracy of the pitcher on your team and give your players some batting practice one good way to do this is to hold a scrimmage. A scrimmage is likely a term you have heard of before but essentially it is a mini game of baseball for which your own team competes against one another. When you have gone through the batting order simply switch out your infield and outfielders with the people who were batting so that everyone gets a chance at bat as well as some practice in the outfield or infield positions.
Improving a team is by no means an easy task. Performing drills designed for youth players that help to simulate in game experiences is generally the best way to help a team to improve as after a while instincts will appear in a given situation and the movements and throws required to make a play will seem much more natural. It is important to remember that although you may not see too much in the way of performance increases in the short term; repeating drills and making sure that everyone is doing everything properly and effectively will certainly provide you with longer term positive results. Hope that these drills have helped to show you some of the many options that are available and hope that you potentially use some of these drills to improve and help teach your baseball team.