Teaching youth baseball is a rewarding experience for both parents and coaches alike. While parents have an obvious investment in the teaching of the fundamentals of the sport of baseball to their children, coaches, make a significant investment of their own in time, effort and emotion. From a personal perspective, one of the greatest rewards is in developing relationships with and positively affecting the lives of individual youth baseball players. The lessons of sports such as in baseball are positive and well documented. For coaches, there are also the internal rewards they get from seeing each player develop and from watching a youth baseball team improve as a group and learn to play together under their coaching tutelage.
Astute coaches improve the performance of the team as a whole by employing youth baseball drills to improve the individual performances of team players and there interactions together. There are three main categories in which youth baseball drills will have an immense effect on the performance levels of players.
- Youth Batting Drills – one of the most important of the youth baseball drills. The vast majority of youth baseball players have the most fun when they hit. The better they are able to hit, the more fun that they will have, and the greater their interest in the sport of baseball. Coaches and parents who teach baseball drills in batting must stress the importance of a well-balanced stance that is comfortable for the individual player, picking the ball up as it leaves the pitcher’s hand, and keeping the body weight back until the pitch is delivered.
- Youth Fielding Drills – an integral part of teaching the defensive position. Of course, there are sets of baseball fielding drills that are unique to each of the nine fielding positions in the game of baseball. However, there are baseball drills common to all fielding positions. One of the key youth baseball drills in catching ground balls is to keep the fingers of the fielding glove on the ground for ground balls, and raising the glove to catch the ball on the bounce, instead of lowering the glove. Another one of the instructional keys to fielding is to catch the thrown or batted ball with the wrist in an upward position for balls at or above the waist, and to turn the wrist upside down to catch balls below the waist. There are many ways to take a single drill and apply it so the whole team can practice at once.
- Youth Throwing Drills – the most basic of all youth baseball drills, and many instructors feel that it is the most important fundamental of all. It is vital for parents to make sure that their children develop proper throwing techniques from the time they can throw a baseball, around the age of eight or so. The importance of throwing a baseball with proper grip can not be overestimated. Youth throwing drills must emphasize four important elements: Throw the ball by gripping it with the index finger and middle finger on the ball; point your shoulder opposite from your throwing hand in the direction of your target; step in the direction of your target when you release the ball; and follow through after you release the ball with your back leg so that both legs are parallel upon the completion of the throw.
You can find many youth baseball drills on the Internet covering hitting, fielding and throwing. Some drills are free and some require subscription or for you to order a DVD. Free baseball drills allow you greater flexibility in trying a variety and see what works best for you as the coach and your youth baseball team. Always remember that drills should be age appropriate. The right fielding drill for a 14 year-old boy will not suit and 8-year old and vice versa.
There are many baseball coaching resources and communities like Weplay, available to help with any questions you might have. Don’t underestimate the passion of the community around you. We are all here to help the kids.