Base running Secrets for Youth Baseball Coaches
Here’s a few drills to get your team ready for next season to burn up the base paths. Make a note of them for your spring practices.
Base running is another overlooked part of coaching youth baseball.Most of it is from not having fun instructive drills that will teach kids proper base running techniques.All Youth baseball players can become good base runners regardless of speed or size. As a youth baseball coach don’t forget about your slow guys, they can also help your team with good base running.Here’s a couple drills that you can use this upcoming season.
Divide your team in half as equally as possible and assemble two lines at home plate, one line slightly ahead and inside the other. Now have a coach on the pitcher’s mound give a command for the lead runner in both lines to take off. . One runs straight through first base as if they are beating out a groundball, the other makes a turn and continues into second. At the next command, the drill continues in the same manner but the runner on second now rounds third and scores while the runner on first takes third. Now you have bases loaded on every cycle of this drill .It goes on with the runner on third tagging up and scoring. Two runners will now score each time the bats are hit together. Players go to the end of the opposite line when they score and bases remain loaded continuously.
It’s a much more instructional drill than having the players continually circle the bases, and give every player a chance to perform just about all the situations they will see in a game. Coaches can check for base running technique, how they are rounding the bags etc…It help players get into baseball shape which it more short quick bursts of energy needed. You can help players learn to get good jumps and to anticipate when to go.
This drill should be done at the end of practice, because the players will be pretty tired after. End the drill when you can see they have had enough and are starting to get sloppy
Study the pitcher drill
Align all players on the first base foul line, in the outfield. The line becomes the base. Somewhere near the infield dirt, near where the second baseman would play. On second base two out lead, delay steal, etc.). Other coaches should be positioned to watch players and make corrections.
Spend 5-10 minutes of every practice on this. We also spent at least 5 minutes before every game on this drill.
This drill is usually done with the entire team. Splitting up the team prevents players from just copying what the others are doing. This forces them to focus more and actually retain more of your coaching.
This not a long drill, just a quick refresher on studying the pitchers foot work to determine whether or not to dive back, go back standing, or just move back toward base. Just assume that it is 1st base we are working on. You can add 2nd or 3rd base if you want.
Split your players up into as small of groups as you can, depending on the current situation at practice or pre-game. Use the outfield foul or any kind of line, depending if you are indoors or not. A coach acts as the pitcher. All players should have a good view. The coach should alternate between right-hander, left-hander, stretch, windup, stepping off the rubber, and picks. Players are given a scenario before every pitch (on first base straight steal, on first base hit and run, etc… Players assume the correct position, take a proper lead, and react according to the play called and the movement of the pitcher.
When it is a team drill, have other coaches watching players, don’t let players take this drill lightly, base running blunders can blow up promising innings
Off to the races drill
This is another fun way to end practice with a base running drill kids will like. Split the team in half, with one group of kids behind home plate and other half behind second. Just don’t have them all run the bases together, there’s not much being learned that way. Turn it into a relay race with baseballs as the batons being passed from runner to runner. Give the first kid of each group a ball (this will be the "baton" for the relay race). At "GO!" the first kid from each team begins running the bases, ball in hand. After making a complete lap around the bases (back to each kid’s starting point) that kid hands the ball off to the next kid in line, who continues the relay race. Try to have coaches at the bases encouraging proper turns and foot work. First group of kids to finish the race wins. They will not want practice to be over most of the time. Kids love to compete, and when you can use contests to help you teach, it’s always more effective.
These are some of the more basic drills, look for more advanced drills coming up later.
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| By Chip Lemin