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Thread: u6 tips

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    Checking out the clubhouse panthercoach's Avatar
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    Default u6 tips

    Howdy ya'll this is my first year coaching softball I was an assistant last year with our 6 u team and will be the head coach this year. Just wanted to see if anyone had any tips or ideas to help me do a better job. I know a good bit about the game mostly the fundamentals from the baseball I played up through high school but I have no where near the experiance as some of the folks on here. Any advice would be great what I figured was focus on fun, and proper technique and learning the basic fundamentals of the game. Thanks

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    Softball Junkie Mike's Avatar
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    Ya its all about fun. Your job is to make them want to play next year, thats about it. As far as experience goes you will learn and grow with your kids every year. Keep practices short. Use the softest ball you can find. Don't let them hit live pitching (IMO). I concentrated on a straight throw, high and low did not matter just straight. I sometimes wish I could take my girls back to that age, its alot of fun. Maybe a tee station, a grounder station, and a throwing station. I drew circles in the dirt, that was there area of responsability that way they didn't run all over the field, most balls get hit to the pitchers mound so make sure everyone gets a chance in the circle. Did I say to have fun.

    Have fun,
    Mike

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    Softball Junkie RichK's Avatar
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    I loved that age. Ideas or important things: teach them not to throw the bat first! play some games on the field and with equipment that aren't about the game itself, ie, races, tag, easter egg/ball hunts, etc. Get them to be athletic a bit. On a different note, we had a stuffed animal team mascot that a different girl brought home after every game. Organize your treats and keep extras in the car in case someone forgets. Have them throw through hulu hoops. Teach them to slide -- they love that (or they hate it). I WOULD work on fundamentals, even at that age. Throwing from scarecrow. Lining up knocking knuckles. Thumb to thumb two hands to catch. Things they'll remember past this year and get them started in the right direction. Catch whiffle balls with bare hands, then with glove, THEN use a real softie ball. Teach them cheers. Have the loudest (but nicest) team in your league. No negative cheers. Have fun, because soon they'll be wrapping up their high school careers.

    And if you find a 6U pitching 50 with a peel drop, brag about it here : >

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    I'm a fan MVLA Softball's Avatar
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    GREAT THREAD! Thanks for starting it Panthercoach. I hope people chime in.
    I have been asked to talk to the 6U (and new 8U) coaches next month. I've given it thought, but I am in need of help. I pasted my handout material below. But should the focus of the talk be on technique, drill tips, ...?

    Tips I like and will include:

    1. Go to the local carpet store for surplus patches. Some of the games will be played on diamonds that are formed in grass areas. If every team member has her own carpet square, they can be arranged according to batting order. This approach is almost as useful if there is a diamond with a bench that supports the ordering of the carpet squares. Another carpet patch can be used for placement next to the batting tee (or homeplate if/when the coach pitches). This patch should be marked with footprints. The interest level during a game will be GREATLY increased if the coaches don't need to continuously stop play in order to show the hitter how to align herself.

    2. Good tip by Mike (above) to "use the softest ball you can find." In addition, when working on "fingers up if the throw is above the belly button, but fingers down when the throw is below," use an oversized ball - first without a glove and then with the glove. With the oversized ball, the girls will find it more natural to rotate their wrists to a fingers down position when the throws are low. Congratulate them and find ways to get them to use the same approach when you make the switch back to the "normal" ball.

    3. Also from Mike - have different stations for the different skills. At 12U, rotating groups of players through a number of hitting stations makes sense, but at 6U the attention span is different and rotating the players through separate stations of different skills (one hitting, one throwing, one fielding...) works better.

    4. Find things that are simultaneously fun and informative. Take the mascot that RichK talks about, put it on a cardboard box, and have the players try to hit it on throws from some distance.

    Anyone else?

    HANDOUT IS BELOW
    ************************************************** ********************
    Here are five tips.

    1. SET OBTAINABLE SKILL-SPECIFIC GOALS FOR THE YEAR.

    If this is your first year as a staff member, you may not know the skills yourself, but you can learn them quickly. Work to reach the goals, rejoice when a goal is reached, and feel even better when your players exceed the goals. At 6U and 8U obtainable skills include:

    a. For Hitting -- before the end of the season, every player on the team will know how to properly hold a bat and how to take her stance in preparation for a swing. Don't worry that some players will find it less natural than others, as long as they have the understanding.

    b. For Throwing -- before the end of the year, every player will know what I am referring to when I gently remind her to get her throwing elbow at least as high as her shoulder. Some will continuously forget, but they will understand.

    c. For Catching softballs that are thrown to a player -- before the end of the year, every player will understand that the fingers of her glove should either point up or down as the ball reaches the glove. The fingers of her glove should never point at the player who threw the ball. (If the catch will be made above her belly button, the glove's fingers should point up. If the catch will be made below her belly button, she should point the fingers down).

    2. NEVER GET FRUSTRATED, IT'S NOT HELPFUL.

    Remember the expected attention span and remember that the surest way to make this enjoyable for the players is to make it enjoyable for yourself.

    3. KEEP EVERYONE INVOLVED.

    Minimize the amount of time in which any player is inactive. Divide the team into groups, with each group being assigned to a different staff member running a different station.

    4, ELIMINATE THE FEAR FACTOR.

    It is not uncommon for a new player to have some fear of being hit by the ball. Be creative. Work with some or all of the players by using sponge balls or a number of socks rolled up to provide the desired size. Another source of fear relates to learning from adults other than their parents. In making a correction, regularly use the "sandwich approach." That is, sandwich the statement that might be interpreted as being negative between two positives. For example, "Great job, that throw was directly at Sally. But if you get your elbow as high as your shoulder on each throw, it will go even further. It went right to Sally, you're Goooooooood."

    5. MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, TEACH YOUR PLAYERS THE LOVE OF THE GAME.

    Over the next few years, some of your players will stop playing softball because of a preference for another sport. That's OK! But in order to allow them to make the proper determination, show them what softball has to offer. And KNOW that the "success" of the team at any age division cannot be measured during the season, because it is not based on how the team does against its opponents. Instead, success is measured the following year, when you can count how many of your players returned because they enjoyed the year you were with them.
    Last edited by MVLA Softball; 01-22-2010 at 11:11 AM.

  5. #5
    I can talk softball all day 3'sDad's Avatar
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    1. Remember the snacks and bring extra drinks....they forget their drinks.
    2. Have them label all of their equipment and bags. They forget their things and the coach will have a pile of unclaimed belongings in the back of the car.
    3. Use Whiffle balls & tennis balls for catching and throwing before graduating to the "Softees". You can catch and throw all 3 without using gloves.
    4. Teach them to cheer on their team mates and the other team.
    5. Don't keep score - they all know who won anyway.
    6. if you teach them to slide, use a slip& slide for practice.
    7. Appoint or obtain a team parent to coordinate: snacks, notifications of cancellations, form returns, etc.
    8. Ice cream after a bad game makes it better pretty quick.

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    Softball Junkie SoCalSoftballdad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3'sDad View Post
    1. Remember the snacks and bring extra drinks....they forget their drinks.
    2. Have them label all of their equipment and bags. They forget their things and the coach will have a pile of unclaimed belongings in the back of the car.
    3. Use Whiffle balls & tennis balls for catching and throwing before graduating to the "Softees". You can catch and throw all 3 without using gloves.
    4. Teach them to cheer on their team mates and the other team.
    5. Don't keep score - they all know who won anyway.
    6. if you teach them to slide, use a slip& slide for practice.
    7. Appoint or obtain a team parent to coordinate: snacks, notifications of cancellations, form returns, etc.
    8. Ice cream after a bad game makes it better pretty quick.
    All great advice by everyone here. Make sure to take lots of pictures and video at this age. As mentioned earlier, the #1 goal is to have the girls really want to come back next season. However you make that happen, you have done your job.

    The one issue I have is with the type of ball to use. While I agree you should have the girls practice sometimes with wiffle balls, tennis balls, softees, etc to get used to catching the ball with their hands first and then trying it with a glove, etc. IMO there is no valid reason to not have them use a 10" regulation softball in practice and games. In our league, 6U is t-ball/coach pitch and every game is played with a regulation ball. Girls have batting helmets with face masks and no one gets injured. On rare occasion a girl might get hit with a thrown ball but its really minor stuff. We recently completed two seasons with this ball and there was never a problem with using a regulation ball. This is the ball they will use in 8U, why not get them use to it? Its really a non-issue.

    Great age, good luck!

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    I can talk softball all day TimothyJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Ya its all about fun. Your job is to make them want to play next year, thats about it.
    Couldn't have said it better.

    For the younger kids, where they don't face live pitching, I like to appoint a team "captain" for each game. The captain gets to play the pitchers position for that game, and is also responsible for bringing the snacks.

    I also buy a bunch of little softball patches ( Baseball Patch Patches Softball Motivational Incentive Reward Iron-on Patches for Youth Baseball Softball and give them out after games. They're allowed to (have their parents) iron them onto their uniforms anywhere they like..so they get to be a little creative with the different designs as the season goes on.

    They're also all about the socks (in my town at least). LL only provides shirts and visors, so we'll get matching socks too. At this site ( Baseball Socks - Baseball Equipment and Gear ), you can sometimes get them for $2 a pair ( get the parents to pitch in), or some teams will buy a couple packs of white socks, and a Mom will -tie-dye them. With their patches and nutty socks, the girls think they are the STUFF

    In practices, we're fortunate enough to have a facility that has all kinds of equipment, including "soft hands" paddles for everyone. I have the girls use them (instead of their gloves) almost exclusively for the first 4-5 practices. If paddles aren't available, dollar-store oven mitts will do the trick.

    And like Rich said...Games and fun at every practice and on the field!

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    Checking out the clubhouse panthercoach's Avatar
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    great advice everyone. For the first couple practices we have some soft kind of foam balls we'll use for throwing, that way if one of the new girls gets hit in the head it won't make her scared of the ball for life. Probally hit off the tee the first practice to get them used to holding the bat properly and try to get proper mechanics started. I figured we'd start off with a couple throwing drills each practice like 5 minutes each as a team since attention spans are short. Then since I'll have 2 assistants break up into groups for some more one on one instruction. Try to keep it moving so noone gets bored yet not too fast that it don't sink in. Out of the 12 we had last year 10 are back again, counting the ones who moved up so hopefully we can keep this headed in the right direction. I like the idea about the patches I'll have to check into that. I'll probally let the moms in the bleachers pass around a sign up sheet for snacks each game, also I hope to let every girl play every position at least once unless they just don't want to try a certain spot. Seems we always had some that we're terrified of the catchers gear. Also we don't keep score or count outs so that takes the pressure out of it for the little ones. thanks again for all the great input.

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    Softball Junkie amanda_cake's Avatar
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    Just a few tips: I agree with making sure they have their names on everything. My father has an engraver. If you know someone that can engrave the names on the knobs of the bat, beg them to do it. It is a life saver. If you bring a cooler of water and cups, take along a sharpie. If not, they will waste the cups. Label their cups. You'll also want a coach as a dugout daddy to keep track of them while they are hitting--don't rope your scorekeeper into this job. That's too much.

    I love helmet stickers and motivational stuff like that. Get a team mom, seriously. If not, you'll go crazy keeping track of everything. Have team parties and bonding stuff.

    Talk to their parents about buying bats and gloves. Educate them on that, so they won't waste money and the kids will have the right equipment. Also, the piece of equipment that everyone wants to overlook: sunglasses/hat. I hate hearing 13 little girls whine about the sun being in their eyes. Make them have sunglasses. Not having sun glasses or a hat is as bad as coming to practice without your glove, if you ask me.

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    I can talk softball all day Rambler34's Avatar
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    I agree with the need for a team mom. I feel sorry for my wife having to deal with all of that stuff. One thing that suprised me about my 6U team is how competitive the girls are. Use that to your advantage. You can have catching or throwing contests. Put a stuffed animal on a chair at first and see who can knock it off.

    I also split my girls into groups so they can get more work in. They will swing the bat 50 or 60 times at each practice. You need good assistants to help with this and teach a good technique. I put my girls together by skill level so i can give the better girls more challenging drills.

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