Baseball is getting more and more popular, especially among the youths. One should not even wonder Why Baseball is the Best Sport in 2021. While Major League Baseball has always been a favorite for Americans, participation in youth baseball has skyrocketed in the last few years. As a result, baseball games have become fiercely competitive at all levels. In order to find a footing in these competitive leagues, players need to fine-tune their performance through meticulous practice. It falls on the shoulders of coaches to prepare effective baseball practice plans.
Coaches are the unsung heroes of baseball. And if you are one, you know the sweet satisfaction that comes from seeing your players perform well at the plate. No one understands better than the coaches the hard work and laborious practice that goes behind that excellent performance.
Moreover, Even in youth baseball, a solid baseball practice plan is essential for the skill development of baseball players. Meticulous planning and well-coordinated practice plans can make all that toil and trouble pay off in double in baseball matches.
Baseball requires strength and agility in multiple facets. On top of the honed physical ability, a baseball player also needs to be mentally adept to react in the field quickly and decisively. The muscle memory needed for competitive baseball skills needs to be instilled in players through a thorough practice plan with effective baseball drills.
Planning for Baseball Practice
Assuming you are a coach, you need to thoroughly understand the functions of the different parts of baseball practice. Moreover, your practice plan should utilize the time frame effectively.
Whether you are training high school kids or college players, you need to be prepared when you oversee their practice. Coming to the field and conducting multiple activities impromptu may bring disastrous results. You want to make sure that every minute of the practice is useful for the skill development of players and the players learn good habits to use in the field.
In order to make it easier for you to formulate a practice plan, I have explained all the major parts of baseball practice. If you want just a sample template, you can scroll to the sample practice plan below.
In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In Practice there is.Yogi Berra
Baseball Practice Plan Contents
- Baseball Buckets
- Catcher’s Gear
- Wiffle Balls
- Throw Down Bases
- The Basics of a Baseball Practice Plan
- Warm up
- Skills specific drills
- Team drills
- Fun drills
- Water breaks
- Sample Practice Template
It is up to the coaches to ensure that they have set the best baseball practice environment for the players. You don’t want to find yourself looking for gears in the middle of a practice session. Therefore, it is very important that you gather all the necessary gear and equipment beforehand.
Without the right gears, your players might waste unnecessary time and energy during a baseball practice session that needs to be punctilious. Here are some of the gears that are absolutely handy in a baseball practice session as well as for baseball practice plan.
Ideally, coaches should have their personal supply of baseballs for practice. Players need to have an adequate supply of baseballs so that they don’t have to waste precious time and break coordination during a drill. This is where the baseball buckets come to the rescue.
Notably, Baseball buckets come in various sizes. You can choose a baseball bucket depending on the number of balls you think will be necessary for your team. Usually, six or five gallon buckets are enough to ensure that your players won’t have to chase after stray balls during a practice session. Thus, the tedious task of collecting all the balls can be done at a leisurely place after practice sessions or during breaks.
We all appreciate when our players pitch their baseball at tremendous speed. However, that exceeding speed also brings with it the risk of grave injuries.
As a result, it is imperative that catchers are equipped with adequately protective gear even during practice sessions.
Speaking of safety, Wiffle balls, an indispensable part of batting practice and overall baseball practice plan, they are very safe for pitchers. Hence, they can be pitched from a very short distance.
These balls are relatively smaller than the balls used in actual baseball games. Practicing with Wiffle balls will make the players skilled at hitting small targets with their balls. As a result, hitting actual pitches in baseball games will feel easier as they are larger than the balls the batters practiced with. Pickle balls can also be used as a substitute, which is durable and easier to throw.
Throw Down Bases
Throw down bases are handy tools to create a mini diamond anytime at a convenient place. Players should get the feeling of using real bases during infield drills. Using throw down bases as markers instead of cones can create a look similar to that of the plate.
Cones are essential to mark where players need to be during a drill. Moreover, they also make the overall baseball practice plan of the drills more comprehensible to the players.
While choosing cones for baseball practices sessions, try to find the ones that don’t topple over easily. Disc style cones that soccer coaches usually use are ideal in that regard, unlike the vertical ones which are prone to falling over.
The Basics of a Baseball Practice Plan
A good baseball practice plan has these basic parts :
- Skills specific drills
- Team drills
- Fun drills
- Water breaks
All types of intensive physical activities should be preceded by warm-ups. As all trainers and coaches are aware, heading into sports or other physical activities without proper warm-up will shoot up the possibilities of injuries. Furthermore, players need to be conditioned in the mental agility required for practice.
A well executed warm-up will not only prepare the players physically but also focus their minds on the physical activities that are to come. So make the players engage in a dynamic warm up at the beginning of your practice.
Jogging and Stretching
All warm ups should start with some light jogging. Coaches should make the players jog around the baseball field or the mini diamond. I know, warm ups sounds bit boring but it should be an essential part of any baseball practice plan.
The next important step is stretching. After they are done jogging, it’s time to make them stretch their bodies so that they can loosen up for their practice. Dynamic stretching is a better option than active stretching for athletic activities. The goal here is to work up all the major muscles that are going to be used in the field.
Dynamic exercises move the muscles and joints through a range of motions. As a result, the body will reach its complete potential for movement and intensive activities.
These are some of the best dynamic exercises that will come in handy before a practice and should be included in the baseball practice plan:
- Arm circles
- Jumping jacks
- Walking knee hugs
- Side shuffle
- Leg swings
- Butt kicks
- Leg circles
Chose the exercises that best fit your practice plan. In addition, when the players are executing these dynamic exercises as a team, you can deliver the practice plan for the day.
Although baserunning is an activity similar to jogging, this step is especially important. Baserunning is not only a warm-up but also a practice that mimics an actual activity of the game. Furthermore, it’s a really effective warm-up for younger kids. They often tend to run instead of jogging in their competitive spirit. You can control their running activities through base running.
Make the players run from home to all the bases and then return to the home base as they would in a game. Here you can tell the players the tricks and tips of base running and make them accustomed to the best practices for base running.
In fact you can repeat this step a few more times. But make sure the players don’t get too exhausted for the upcoming activities.
Skill Specific Baseball Drills in the Baseball Practice plan:
Skill specific drills or position-specific drills can be categorized into offensive and defensive drills. They are the most important part of baseball practice sessions to develop the individual skills of a player.
Examples of skill specific drills include base running drills, pitcher drills, hitting drills, catcher drills, throw and catch drills, infield drills, outfield drills, infield drills, outfield drills, etc. These drills will build muscle memory and quick reaction time for those specific skills.
On the flip side, it takes a lot of time and attention to assign and monitor drills for different groups all at once. This really takes a toll on the coaches. Therefore, it’s very important to plan your skill-specific drills in an effective way so that it becomes easier to monitor your players’ performances. If you can, manage another assistant coach so that the players can get specific reviews and advice during skill specific drills.
Team drills are where players get to improve their teamwork and develop better game strategies that work for the whole team. Teamwork is the ultimate factor in baseball games. Good coordination between the team members can significantly drive up the chances of winning a game.
Furthermore, teams need strategies that they can rely on during a game. Moreover, The strategies may differ for different scenarios. And the most effective time to configure those strategies is when the players are engaged in team drills.
At the same time, players get an extra ounce of motivation to outperform themselves during team drills. In that way, team drills can be similar to a real game situation; they create the pressure of everyone else’s observation, which pushes players towards better performance.
One thing to keep in mind during team drills is that the practices shouldn’t leave space for any player to stay unengaged for too long.
The purpose of fun drills is to help the players relax and unwind. Fun drills are the activities that catch the essence and exhilaration of sports while not making the activities too exhaustive.
The ideal time to engage in fun drills is near the end of a long practice. Let the players enjoy themselves in these activities.
Put 500 in the Baseball Practice Plan
500 is a fun fielding practice. This enjoyable game brings out the competitive spirit of the players. It can be played in a full diamond or a mini diamond.
Choose one batter, and spread the other players around the field as fielders. The coach should act as the pitcher. In this fielding practice, the fielders are assigned points based on their fielding. Catching a ball before it hits the ground gets a fielder 100 points. A one hop ground ball gets them 50 points while catching a muti hop ground ball earns them 25 points. The first fielder who earns 500 points gets to bat next.
“A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”John Wooden.
This game is played with two groups. Divide the players into two groups; make one of the groups line up at the home base and the other group at the second base.
As the coach starts the game with a whistle, the first player runs around the bases to reach back to his team. When he gets back to his team, he will pass the ball to the next player, who goes through the same drill.
As long as all the players of a team will complete their rounds before the other team, that team will win. Go through How to Teach Sliding in Baseball: [THE RIGHT WAY]- New Tricks for 2021 for more information on running from Base to Base quickly.
Put Water Breaks in Your Baseball Practice Plan
Finally, player safety is the most important thing to keep in mind during practice sessions. Baseball practice can be really exhaustive, and it can take a heavy toll on the players. Therefore, water drills are extremely essential to keep these exhausted players hydrated.
Dehydration is a dangerous problem that you want to avoid. Apart from health issues, it can also slow the progress of the overall practice and lower the enthusiasm of the entire team.
Furthermore, a water break is also an opportunity for the team to regroup. The coach and the team can discuss their overall progress and set plans for the next drills.
A two hour long practice should have at least two water breaks. The number of water breaks can vary depending on the heat, exhaustiveness of the drills, and the age of the players.
Baseball practice plans should vary in practice time and intensity depending on the age group of the players and the goals the team is attempting to accomplish. Different age groups can handle different levels of pressure. Another important factor in formulating baseball practice plans is how many coaches you can have during the practice. If only one coach oversees the practice, he or she might need more time to manage a practice session. This is what an average two hour long baseball practice plan may look like:
All types of practice should start with a dynamic warm up. Start by making the players jog around. You can incorporate some base running here. Then, instruct them to engage in some dynamic exercises. Try to follow a set plan for warm-ups that the players can follow every time before they engage in an intensive physical activity or sports.
The warm-up should take about 10 to 15 minutes.
After the players are done warming up, make them gather around a circle. Now instruct them to engage in various stretching movements. This is the period when you lay out the overall plans for that day’s practice and discuss the goals for the team.
The stretching activities can take up to around ten minutes.
After the players are done stretching, divide them into groups of two. The two members of each group should distance themselves accordingly, face each other, and play catch and throw. Read up on How to Throw a Baseball: The Mechanism of Baseball Throwing to be great at it.
Continue this practice for 10 minutes.
Next, make the players work on fly balls and ground balls. You can break the team into two groups where one group focuses on hitting and the other focuses on the fundamentals. About halfway, through this drill, switch their roles.
You should keep the bucket of balls nearby to maximize repetition and get more swings within a short time. Find out How To Be A Good Outfielder in Baseball- Secret Tips to be outstanding in the field.
Players can spend 20 minutes working on fly balls and ground balls.
After working on ground balls and fly balls, it’s time to work on the various fundamental skills such as:
- Base running
- 1st and 3rd defenses
- Bunt defenses
Make them implement the best strategies to execute these tasks with speed and accuracy.
The players can spend around 20 to 30 minutes practicing these skills.
For this part of the practice, make four batting stations for the players:
- spot hitting
- two-ball tricks
- opposite field drills
- free hitting
Make the players spend around 10 minutes on each station. Assess their skill level and give the advice to improve their swings throughout the hitting practice. Learn How to Hit a Baseball: Steps and Pro Secrets Tips For 2022 for more on hitting and scoring a Home Run effortlessly.
You should remember to call water breaks within this routine according to the condition of your players.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
What are some Hitting Drills I can do?
There are Movement Drills, Tee Drills, Front Toss, and Live Pitching. Each of these drills will help you visualize and practice the hitting movement. The more consistent you are the better your batting average will be.
How to Practice being a better Catcher?
Practice catching smaller or harder to track objects such as lids of taking away containers. At first, you will have problems catching them but later it will become easier. The more you can catch the better you will be. Catch as many as you can in the shortest time possible.
What are some key baseball practice drills?
Keeping an eye on your basic knowledge and continue improving them. Arm strength and speedy movements are all necessary. The more power you can create and the faster you are base running the better you will be in matches.
How long should the baseball practice drills be?
In most cases an hour to two is good enough. In 120 minutes, you should be able to accomplish all the drills and a practice match as well. Instead of time focus more on what you are doing or learning. Make sure to properly plan your baseball practice with a bit of time on everything like fielding and catching.
Final Words on Baseabll Practice Plan
Although most of my article focuses on physical activities, you should keep in mind throughout the practice that your players feel enthusiastic and encouraged.
Make them visualize their best practices. Motivate them during the practice and boost their morale. Encourage them to improve their teamwork.
A well-planned baseball practice plan with proper execution will bring you sweet satisfaction when you see your players perform their best in a match.