Making Youth Baseball Infield Drills Fun
One of the most common problems for coaches in youth baseball is keeping kids engaged during practice. As adults we understand the importance of hard work, however, kids just want to have fun. The importance of Making Youth Baseball Infield Drills fun for your players is imperative to building confidence, mechanics, teamwork, and love for the game of baseball.
Another key aspect of why we must ensure our players are engaged during infield practice days is for safety. Ensuring that we keep our players engaged during Youth Baseball Infield Drills practice days will ensure they are learning for such an important area of the diamond.
MAKING YOUTH BASEBALL INFIELD DRILLS FUN
Believe it or not, coaching a Little League baseball team is one of the most demanding jobs out there. In most cases, the Manager and Coaches are all volunteers. The time spent by these individuals to facilitate these functions is often just as much, or more, than what is required for a part time or full time job. One of the most daunting tasks for any coach, especially at the youth levels, is to keep their players engaged at practice in order to learn and develop.
One aspect of the game that many players (and parents) just don’t get is how important it is to pay attention on the infield. A player not paying attention runs a severe risk of injury. Keeping them engaged during practice will lead them to staying the same during games. They must Practice How They Play!
Here’s a tip to keep them engaged. It starts with stations!
Yep I know, oh man! Coach Jay is talking about stations again.
It’s much easier to hold the attention of 3 -5 in a station then it is 12 all together. There are exceptions to that rule however. Want to know how? We call them contests, players call them games.
USE GAMES TO MAKE IT FUN
When you layout your practice plans for the week, month, or season, be sure to add a at least 1 game to each practice. I would even recommend doing an entire practice full of them. Of course, the game you select should have some bearing on what you work on that day. The coaches all understand that the games are accomplishing a goal, yet the players just think they are having fun with their teammates. How can you use games to make Youth Baseball Infield Drills Fun?
When trying to make Youth Baseball Infield Drills Fun, you have to mix it up a little. A few different ways to do this is by selecting captains who, in turn, select their teams. Then you pit the two teams against each other in whatever game it is you choose. I like to allow the captains of each team to “build their lineup.” This gives them the ability to
take command and work on leadership abilities within the group. As coaches, it gives you a small glimpse of how they think as well as how the other players follow. In a practice full of games, the winning team cohesively chooses the next game to play. At that point you either keep the teams together or select new captains and re pick (that’s what I do). I like the reselection idea. Since the players know the next game, it give coaches the ability to see if they are selecting based from talent for that game or just choosing their friends. This will show you the competitive side of the players as well. What kind of games can you play?
FUN GAMES FOR YOUTH BASEBALL INFIELD DRILLS
Enough with all the babble. You get the point. Here are a few games I like to implement on practice days when we are focusing on Youth Baseball Infield Drills. There are likely other names these are called elsewhere but I will use my names for them. You can use these drills to whatever levels you wish. I commonly will add rules or different dimensions to each throughout the season such as footwork, communication, and field awareness when needed.
Knock out Drill
This is one of my personal favorites.
You will need a coach at first base. Line up all players at third base (on foul line) and one player out playing the position. The initial goal is to field the ball in front of you and deliver a good throw to first base. Players that don’t keep the ball in front of them or make a good throw are eliminated. As the game gets deeper, the balls get hit harder.
Other progressions I use are consistent with practice plans for the day. Some include, attacking the ball (charging it), drop step or cross over to get to the ball, footwork (infield crow hop), fielding the ball cleanly (not just knocking it down), etc.
Last man standing wins.
ZIG ZAG Elimination
Works on throwing accuracy and footwork.
Two lines of players facing each other starting at 10 feet apart (think warm ups). 1 baseball is used and starts on either end. The 1st player throws to the player across from him. That player then throws to the next player down the line (and across). If the player throwing makes a bad throw or the player receiving misses the ball (on a good throw) then that player is eliminated. Once the ball gets to the end of the line the players back up to your preference. Keep going until you have one man left.
Speed drill is used for footwork, speed, timing, and quick release practice. This is a rapid drill.
Two teams needed. 1 group at the shortstop position, the other at second base. Coaches stand 10-15 feet from the player and hits or throws grounders or hoppers. The player should stay low to the ball through the entire process. He fields the ball and makes the throw to second. This helps the player to get the ball out quickly. The receiver’s only function is to receive the ball and use correct timing to cross over 2nd base. Once the play is complete, the player at shortstop will go to the back of the line on the second base side and vice versa. Bad throw or bad receive, player is eliminated.
Progressions to this drill include adding a bucket to the second base side to show proper path to the bag by going around it rather then an immediate straight line to the right. You can also add a first baseman to allow the receiver to make the throw (working on double plays).
MAKE PRACTICE FUN
Making practice fun can be a daunting task. More and more coaches are just hitting ground balls or holding batting practice with a bunch of kids standing around. Adding contests allows for fundamentals to be learned as well as keeping your youth players engaged. It helps to build team camaraderie as well as trust. This was just a small list of games that can be played but there are a million more out there.
Have a game you like to play use for Youth Baseball Infield Drills? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below.