Baseball drills are the key to success in this sport. However, as a coach, you must have noticed that there are dozens, if not hundreds of drill recommended by experts and other coaches out there. We can’t argue with the fact that these people mean well, that’s why they take time to share their insights and experience with other coaches.
However, some softball drills will help you and your team achieves better results more effectively and in a fun and efficient way. In this article, we focus not only on these drills but also on how to plan for the practice sessions.
Even with the best drills if you don’t have an elaborate and well thought out plan, your performance might end up being disjointed and lacking in focus and purpose.
We’ll take you through the general outline of effective softball practice plans as well as highlight examples of meaningful practice plans. It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner Little League Softball coach or you are an experienced coach in one of the top-performing teams, there’s always something to learn and share as you polish your softball practice plans.
Coaching Youth Softball and Beyond
We’d lie if we said that being a softball trainer is a stroll in the recreation center. Younger kids need discipline and are inclined to pick irrelevant skills from guardians or different players who may have no clue about what they are discussing. Furthermore, team and parent politics can interfere with the young players and inculcate some undesired habits and attitudes which can compromise the players’ performance.
For instance, you’ll have a few guardians keeping a close eye on you and passing judgment on all your choices, also you might come across others who track their children taking note of the time to the second. These people must be managed tactfully.
However, even with all these challenges, softball practice is beneficial and rewarding. Getting the chance to invest energy with your child, seeing the young competitors in the group show signs of improvement after some time, and watching them have a ton of fun does more than compensate for all the headache you have to go through.
For most softball trainers, the start of the coaching begins by coaching children age 4-6 in Tee Ball and ends at around the high school level. In some cases, experienced guardians will get an opportunity to be the lead trainer if their calendar permits or have them the chance to help with the high school players if the coaching staff is on a limited budget or the athletic boss is lenient enough to let the parent coach the team.
Relatively few coaches get the chance to coach in school the same number of these positions are full time, accompany tolerable compensation, and are extremely serious.
Another exceptional softball association is the American Softball Association (ASA). This association offers softball at all levels: recreational, competitive league, and National titles, and even worldwide. Periodically, in ASA there is a more significant level of competition than that found in Little League. ASA gives a coaching accreditation program called ACE (Achieve, Certify, and Educate) and gives prepared umpires who are knowledgeable in most cases.
Neglecting to Plan is Planning to Fail
Rather than “taking a blind leap of faith” and having your training plunge into complete turmoil leaving you looking awkward and you’re coaching authority enduring a big battering, a better approach is to think of a general outline of your practice. This blueprint will leave sufficient space for flexibility if a drill coincidentally goes after some time or if for instance, you feel the group is particularly benefiting from a specific exercise.
Coaches are continually making decisions. Their vision and performance will have an enormous effect on how fruitful the group’s season is. As a fresh, new coach, dealing with a group of youthful players can feel overpowering from the start. The best things to remember are that things will continue showing signs of improvement with time and experience.
A large part of the fight is won just by keeping everybody dynamic and focused. The more idea and time you put into coaching, the quicker you will arrive at the purpose of having a training run smoothly like a well-oiled engine.
Likewise perusing books on training and informational websites – like ours- is an incredible method to supplement your experience and discover drills and exercises that best suit your group. With the right skills as a coach, it takes you about half a month of training sessions to get accustomed to another group and find the particular ranges of abilities of every player and which position they will fit best in.
You may not be the organizational type of coach kind of coach but it is a vital skill that makes you a good head coach. It’s a smart thought to map things out things before practices begin. Start with the preseason, then the season, and the games program that makes up the last part.
Split these into manageable bits and develop mini-schedules. For instance, practices, before the games start, will have more intensity than scheduled practices in the middle of scheduled games.
Having a ton of fun is the most significant piece of any game. Including some little competitions into the drills and balancing these with the objectives of the drill is one sure way of injecting some degree of fun into the baseball drills. This is a great way of keeping the team motivated and upbeat particularly if you are coaching kids. In this case, there isn’t much focus on competition.
Additionally, the more youthful the players are the more unlikely to grasp advanced concepts and softball mechanics. A much better strategy is concentrating on general ideas and the critical areas where they will get the most advantage.
Training Tips Summary:
- Increase your level of experience and knowledge
- Remain clear and break things down to smaller season mini-schedules.
- Keep things simple for the more youthful players
- Have some good times, that is the reason the players are there in any case.
The Five Pillars of an Effective Softball Practice Plan
Repetition and practice will lessen mental and mechanical mistakes not eliminate them.
Once a while this basic bit of a balanced practice is ignored by coaches or players. A light runs, stretching, and a catch and throw action is a magnificent method to warm up the group. You don’t generally need to follow this fundamental warm-up outline however, there are a lot of dynamic warm-ups that will extricate up the entire body and build their softball skills.
Besides, warming up forestalls injuries such as pulled muscles and cramps. Pro competitors consistently include a warm-up session before any thorough training or drills to help in forestalling wounds and assist take in taking care of their bodies.
Example of Drills
- Catch and Throw
- 4-1 play & 4-3 play
- Side shuffle, partner toss
- Catch and Throw Modified (On their Knees)
- A Dynamic warm-up
2. Softball Drills, Exercises & Conditioning
Drills, workouts, as well as training, will make about 75% or more of most softball practices. Like we said previously, they are the bread and butter of any great practice. Hitting drills, infield drills, outfield drills, all fall under this umbrella class.
In case you have a younger or inexperienced team you’ll need to begin with drills that focus on the fundamentals and afterward proceed to more advanced activities.
Remember that repetition and practice are the most ideal approaches to prepare the athletes for game circumstances. Decision-making blunders are normal, so drills that help players to prioritize where the balls need to go in what circumstance will help forestall this when it’s time to take care of business. One more of the most widely recognized errors are botched fielding chances and dropped fly balls.
Repetition is likewise the way your players will have the option to grow great mechanics to forestall these blunders from occurring during the games. Remember, mental blunders and slip-ups are inescapable. Practice and repetition will diminish these blunders and increase the possibility of your team winning, however, these two aspects will never eliminate such blunders in total.
- Reading the hop
- The scarecrow drill
- Decision drill
- Tripled infield drill
- Backhand and throw drill
3. Team Building Softball Drills & Bonding Exercises
If you are dealing with a younger aged team you’ll be able to pull off doing more “fun drills” since you’re investing less energy in diving into the bare essential of hitting and handling mechanics. These are generally placed towards the end of the practice session and are an extraordinary method to wrap up and keep camaraderie high.
These drills can be as straightforward as group batting or skirmish and as complicated as some innovative game the coaches have thought of.
Team bonding drills are likewise an extraordinary method to dissolve some of the tension at the start of the season. Many of your players may not have the foggiest idea about one another well or they originate from various social groups and these drills help build up a strong foundation of fellowship among the teammates.
Team building reminds players that they settled on the correct choice coming out for softball and that they will have a great time during the season. As a coach holding challenging practices loaded up with high-intensity drills, conditioning, and pressure circumstances, again and again, will wear out players and may even cause some of them to quit.
Having the correct blend of drills is what isolates excellent practices from good ones.
- “Barney” game
- Steal the bacon
- Base Race
- Bucket relay
- “Thunder” Game
We turn out attention to defensive softball skills. In this regard, a brilliant methodology is to split the team into groups once in a while to allow your players to truly sharpen their specific and most used skills. It doesn’t bode well for your catchers to practice as pitchers or the other way round.
Outfielders ought to invest more energy following and getting fly balls, infielders with ground balls and Pitchers, and bouncers throwing to catchers. Concentrating on the abilities generally relevant to every competitor’s position is perhaps the most ideal approach to using limited practice time.
However, we appreciate there are times when it won’t be possible to break into different stations. This might be because you’re the main coach and you need to concentrate on drills that the whole team can do together to keep everybody active and engaged.
It is not the best idea to overdo the position-based drills focusing only on possibilities that often arise in their positions. It’s a great thing to ensure your players are all-rounded; each player needs to have a feel of what happens in each softball position. This can come in handy on a bad day. For instance, a player may miss a game and another person can fill in the position, and the tournament proceeds.
Players can move to various teams, quit, discover a place that better fits them, as well as be engaged with different games that limit their availability. Anything can happen, and that is the reason it’s logical to prepare all players in the team to have a base level competency in playing all softball positions.
5. Water breaks
Keeping competitors hydrated is basic for various reasons. It causes them to keep up a significant level of performance over longer practice span, forestalls cramping and dehydration, and is a welcome relief in the middle of drills.
Water breaks are especially significant on hot days and during exceptional practices. You don’t need any of your players dropping due to heat exhaustion. That is risky and will likewise extremely vex the guardians.
Generally, you’ll need to include around 1-2 water breaks for each hour of training. If you have more than that you’ll end losing some minutes sitting around idly, less than that isn’t sufficient and endangers the players’ wellbeing. These breaks will allow the team to pull together and take a worthy breather.
These water breaks also provide an incredible opportunity for coaches to get together and talk about player progress and how to approach actualizing the next activity. Additionally, these breaks are a decent method to give you an ideal opportunity to formulate the next drill just in case you had forgotten to plan for the next practice session.
Developing Softball Practice Plans
As earlier implied, a practice plan is what a lesson plan is to a classroom instructor. It helps you to define your objectives for every practice session. If you go to the practice field without well-thought-out objectives, your training will largely be disjointed and purposeless. At best the team will end up in the field and do some activities that hopefully, have something to do with softball.
But at worst you’ll end up with an exhausted team that achieves and reaps nothing from the said “drill and practice sessions”. Don’t even imagine the kind of reaction you’ll get from the parents if you are coaching young players. The guardians want to see results and be sure that their kids are gaining something out of the practices they are going through.
Most importantly you also want to get the joy of inner satisfaction by knowing that you are achieving your objectives as a coach. This self-fulfillment can be very rewarding to you.
This entire argument means that the basis of any excellent softball practice plan is having clear objectives. Once you set these objectives and progressively build on the success of each practice session, the results will start manifesting to all the stakeholders. Your team will not only be disciplined and happy but will achieve the success they yearn for.
Developing and following well-crafted softball plans should not be an option, it should be the only way to ensure focused and results-oriented softball practice sessions.