Lacrosse coaches love both you and I! They love us because they know that our best players are one boring practice, one boring week or one boring season away from tossing their gloves for lacrosse sticks. Baseball has been at a crossroads for a few years now. In the past, a lot of talented players would leave baseball at 12 or 13 and go into Lacrosse or another sport. Today players are skipping the baseball step and starting right in with lacrosse at the youth level. Take heed baseball loving coaches and parents, we can continue the status quo or we can make subtle changes in the way we do things. A lot has to do with boring practices that are slow moving and focus only on the few. We have to utilize our assistant coaches and have multiple drills going on at the same time. I maintain that we have to mix in a few fun drills or games throughout the practice to keep these players engaged. Coaches who have teams 16-18 years old tell me that there are time constraints for practices and they must spend time working on defending the bunt or working on the exact positioning for proper cut offs. I say if your practice time management is good, the fun stuff can be included. Here are a few drills or games to mix in. All have a purpose you can figure out! Most are for the younger kids but I want all coaches to put on their creative hats to mix in the fun stuff and create, create, create!
Catch Your Own Fly Two players at home have a racquet ball racquet. There is a bucket of tennis balls. Each player hits a tennis ball (very high), drops the racquet and runs out to catch the ball he just hit. If he catches it within the infield dirt, two points. If he misses the catch but it drops on the dirt, one point. If it hits the outfield or infield grass or foul, no points. Set up a competition anyway you want. By the clock or number of turns.
Ground Ball Between Legs Use soft covered balls. A player is between second and third. The coach hits or throws a ground ball. The player has to hustle and run to where the ball is and have it go cleanly between his legs. On the second turn if you want to make it hard, the player starts with his back to home and the coach yells “turn” after the hit or throw.
Fly Ball Hits The Head Players must wear a helmet! Tennis balls must be used. A coach hits a tennis ball. The player has to judge it coming down and at the last second turn his head forward so the ball hits him on the helmet. If you have a helmet with a cage, use it!
Fly Ball Over The Fence I don’t why this works but it does. A coach gets on the other side of the fence. Another coach is with a player (1st in line) who has a helmet on. The player’s back is to the coach outside the fence who throws a pop fly over the fence near the player. The coach with the player yells “turn” and he has to turn around and pick up the ball and catch it. Soft covered balls should be used.
Lefty Righty Pitcher Focus Want a pitcher to focus more on his target? Try this! Remember absolutely no swinging in this drill. Have both a leftie and righty in the batter’s box at the same time. Real humans! Not props! The pitcher has to pitch to the catcher. Start out with the batter’s at the far side of the batter’s box and they move closer every 5-10 pitches.
Line Master Line up the players side by side facing one player opposite them who is the line master. The first person at the end of the line has a ball and so does the Line Master. On the “go” command both simultaneously throw the ball with the Line Master moving down the line throwing the baseball and catching the one thrown to him. Then switch the line master.
Two Fly Ball Drill You could do this with two balls or three balls that are in a coach’s glove. He throws a fly ball to a player then quickly throws a second ball. The players have to catch the first one, drop it to the ground, refocus quickly and catch the second ball.
Tennis Racquet Home Run Derby On this one I usually use second base for home plate. I pitch tennis balls from the outfield and the batter swings trying for a home run over the fence using an old tennis racquet as a bat.
Baseball Football Out of all the games I play with my team, this is the most popular and one that former players ask if I still do with my teams. Four players on a side. Offense gets three downs to score. The ball is a tennis ball. Players on defense have to hold two hardballs in their gloves. On a completion the defense has to tag the player with their glove holding the two baseballs. If one of the balls fall out of the glove, the play continues.
Hit The Water Spray First done at home with my kids now with my grandkids. In bathing suits and using that big red plastic bat. I hold the hose and intermittently let the water spray out. Holding then letting the water out simulating a moving object like a ball. The player swings the bat trying to hit each spurt of water continuously.
Scramble The Egg Put plastic down near home plate. Use old baseballs even ones that are waterlogged. Set up eggs. I use six on each side where a bunt is suppose to go. The players take turns bunting trying to scramble the eggs.
There you go! Eleven out of thousands creative drills you can do. I purposely shortened the explanation on each drill. You figure it out and make up your own rules. Some players will mumble “this is stupid” for some of these but you’ll notice a change in attitude after they had their turn. If you are creative, they will come! Baseball lives!
Marty Schupak has coached youth sports for 25 years. He has written 11 books and produced 26 sports instructional videos. His is the founder of T-Ball America.
The book used by Little league champions!