Hey i was just asked to coach a girls 5-7 year old softball team here in Houston. I don't mind it, but have no idea what to do at practice or how to structure it. Almost all of these girls cannot catch a ball or even throw properly so warming up tthrowing to each other seems out of the question.
So how should I structure my first practice? What drills or stations should we do? Any help would be appreciated.
Arrive, raise hell, leave. - Steve Austin
I coached a 4-8 rec team one spring and half that team was like yours. You will need help don't try to do it all unless you have too. Small groups from 3-4 kids. I split the kids up based on what they could and couldn't do. Basically I didn't put all the kids that couldn't hit in one group I split them up. When teaching how to throw and catch. I used foam softballs or tennis balls, no gloves just their hands for the first month. Fielding I rolled the balls at first, hitting we used a tee a lot. Work on running the bases that one area I didnt and wished I had.
Wow great info!
Base running - you mean game situations or just basic bases?
My biggest issue is these girls can't even catch the ball withtheir gloves wwhile playing catch - how do I get them to catch just playing toss?
Same as jnw96 stated.
DD, nickname is stone hands, coach started with the player throwing to their parent and the parent rolling the ball back to them.
I would start catching with tennis balls or some other softer ball with bare hands, introduce the mitt, and then introduce whatever ball you play with.
It is a slow process for some of the players.
Edit: For 8U and under you are going to have a lot of parents there, show them what to do and they will help.
I like the suggestion of starting them off throwing to their parents and having the parents roll the ball back. Have them get their glove down on the ground and bring their other hand down on top of the ball once it rolls in--it's usually called alligator hands or alligator jaws, which the youngsters seem to enjoy.
You are going to need to find a girl who can catch reliably and put her at first. IMO first is the most important position at 5-7.
A lot of things are very, very different at that stage. The following is mostly condensed from stuff I've read on the net and what I remember from watching the little ones learning to play... I'd concentrate on the right side of your infield. The defensive pitcher, the second baseman and the first baseman are where you are going to get your extra outs. ( besides strikeouts. :-D ) Unless you have a complete stud who can actually throw accurately all the way from short to first (and if you do, she should be at one of the three other positions), all you can generally expect on grounders toward third and SS is that the girls learn to hold the runner, by getting in front of the ball, getting their gloves down, stopping the ball in the infield and throwing or running the ball in to the pitcher. (That's really a good accomplishment at the 5-7 age) You can keep the parents who think their daughters are great (but who actually need work) very happy by letting them play SS and third fairly often. It will give them a chance to learn and you weren't really expecting to make outs there anyway. For the defensive pitcher and 2nd, you want to find girls who can field and throw and who are alert. The hits they will see that can become routine outs are going to be slow to mid-speed grounders. Train them to field those balls aggressively and throw to first. (Or, many times, the defensive pitcher or first baseman would be able to run to the baseline with the ball in her glove, her other hand holding it in securely, and tag the runner.) If you develop a team that can make any routine outs at that age, you will be ahead of the game. IMO once the girls have some success, they're going to be motivated to keep playing!
Sorry, got a little too far ahead... How about the good old clock drill? Where you have them stand with their gloves on and move their hands to show you what position their glove should be in for which catch. It's simple, it's dull, but it's very important to know when the fingers should be pointing up versus when they should be down.
I've heard of kids having success catching big marshmallows. If you catch it, you can eat it. :-) Maybe you can use other painless catching aids, like tennis balls, softies, nerf balls, tee balls... And work on throwing, not shot putting the ball. Girls can learn to throw! Frankly, I might go out and get some of those soft tee balls and start them out with those. They're not terribly expensive and I think it's easier for the kids to learn to throw using a smaller diameter ball. Just give every girl a tee ball to take home with them and teach their parent how you want them to play catch with their child between practices?
Last edited by MsDinosaur; 03-04-2013 at 06:27 PM.
First defensive drill how to wear your glove
Wow great info thank you!!!!
Should we practice base running the first practice?
Can you go into more detail on the clock drill?
Keep it coming!!
The girls I have coached have always enjoyed one on one races (use two bases side by side, stand past the bases and the first to touch your hand wins), learning how to round first and the another is half of them start at 2nd and the other half at home and have each girl run back to the base they started from and see which team wins. Don't short change the girls, some of them will be more capable than you might think.
Teach them basic fundamentals of throwing and catching and how to stay in front of balls. But as stated above you have got to keep it moving. Spend about 10-15min on each drill set. You will get 1min of attention span for each year old until they get around 8-9. So have plenty of help that know what they're talking about and not a mom who volunteers to help but cant do much athletically. Batting right out of the gate should be weight shifting and throwing the bat head and not a casted out swing. Nip that before it starts. Have a plan before you get there and follow the schedule. 15min of throw/catch, 15min of base running/listening to base coaches, 15min of defensive structure etc. And finish with each girl getting a few at bats of live bp.
"The only difference between average and exceptional, is the attention to detail applied to the task... Don't practice mistakes." James Clark