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Lost Baseball Skills:
Another Practice Goes
'Down the Drain'

After my recent lesson on baseball skills with a young baseball player I couldn’t help but notice a team of 10 & 11 year-olds showed up to baseball practice.

It was a nice spring pre-season day. First, the coaches and players just piled in the gate and started playing catch without even checking to see if I was finished with my baseball lesson. Rude!

We moved our stuff to the outfield and finished our baseball workout. I would have gladly moved to the outfield any way but it would have been respectful to at least ask.


This Is What Happens When Nobody Trains the Baseball Coaches

By the appearance of things the players looked like recreation league kids that had just been assigned a team or recently went through tryouts.

The baseball coaches appeared to be nice to the kids but had no idea what they were doing.

No one appeared to know how to teach baseball, much less run and plan a baseball practice that taught baseball skills, gave the kids numerous repetitions to touch the ball or swing the bat, and even began to know how to make the practice fun.

In a word it was AWFUL!

Where Are the Baseball Throwing Drills?

Out of the corner of my eye I watched the coaches and the ball players line up to play catch. Predictably the players paired off and started lobbing the ball back and forth.

The players received very little if any throwing instruction on catching the ball or throwing tips.

  • Baseball throwing technique: No coaching at all. Not even a “Hit em’ in the chest.”
  • Teaching baseball throwing: The players only threw about 10 throws apiece and never more than about 40 feet apart. REMEMBER: Two and half times the length of the base paths. 60’ bases means to work back to at least 150 feet.
  • Drills for Baseball: They did not even sniff a ‘fast catch game’ or ‘Kit-Cat-Catch Game’ or a ‘relay game’ or ‘21’ or anything that included a competition. So far the kids have lobbed about 10 baseball throws to each other at 40 feet.

Fielding Drills for Baseball Practice

I counted about eight players at this baseball practice. One player went to play firstbase and the rest lined up a shortstop to field groundballs.

One of the coaches started hitting fungo grounders to the players lined up at shortstop. There was no introduction into any fielding footwork, fielding stance, and ball transfer, baseball glove positioning, or anything.

The baseball coach began the fielding drill hitting grounders fairly hard on a really rough skinned infield. None of kids could field a grounder. Since the fielders could not catch it –they also had no throws to the bases. An ABSOLUTE nightmare!

  • Coaching Drills: Cut the distance. You do not have to hit from home plate. Move up closer to the players and control the speed of the grounder. Roll the baseballs on the ground. That way the young players gain some confidence and can make some throws to the bases.
  • How to Coach Baseball: I would have a group at 3B and a group at SS. The 3B group fields the ball and throws to secondbase. The Shortstop group fields the ball and throws to first base. Each base has an empty bucket to put the baseballs in. I would toss by hand-thrown grounders or routinely hit grounders several steps in front of home plate. 
  • This is a rapid-fire fielding drill—basically you have two lines working at once thus doubling the number of baseball plays. The infielders would get 40 to 50 plays in during 10 minutes compared to 4 or 5 grounders with zero throws to firstbase or any base.
  • Youth Baseball Coaching Tips: Use the ‘fun-on-the-run drill’ to warm up the infielders and outfield drills. The players at all ages love this baseball drill. In 5 minutes the fielders will get a chance to catch several baseballs while on the run & improve baseball skills. 

Now We Start Hitting Drills:
Talk About BORING!

The Batting practice was absolute rally killer. First, the baseball team had a live pitcher trying to throw strikes to the batters. This is not good practice to follow when trying to teach baseball skills.

One of the dad coaches put on a mask and umpired behind the catcher—not sure what that was about? I guess the volunteer dad coach was actually the live umpire.

Each batter got an at bat. All the batters would have walked but the umpire gave them a couple more pitches to try to swing at.

If the batter swung they always and missed. Two hitters got plunked. I was there for 25 minutes of batting practice and never saw a ball hit fair.

The hitters were stepping out and scared to swing the bat. A coach was going around the infield showing the infielders how to get ready and no one ever hit them a ball.

Finally, a coach tried to pitch batting practice and beaned a batter so he quit throwing. AGONIZINGLY BORING!

  • Drills for Baseball Practice: Baseball players have to crawl before they walk and walk before they run. Get some wiffleball games, use tennis balls, tees, softoss and let the hitters make some contact before you run them out there against live pitching.
  • Baseball Hitting Drills: 3-team-it! Figure out a way to get 25 to 50 swings in during a baseball practice plan. Divide the baseball team into 3 groups and have each in a hitting drill or shagging group.
  • Baseball Drills: NEVER have one batter hitting and the rest standing around shagging or on deck. This is too much waste of time and chases kids from baseball because it is boring & ruins baseball skills!

Baseball Pitches:
Get Your Work in the Bullpen

Pitching Mechanics: Workout your pitchers on the side. Keep the baseball pitches very simple using baseball skills for throwing.

First, throw the fastball over the plate. When you can throw 60-70% strikes with a fastball then it might be time to try other baseball pitches like a change-up.

Pitching Baseball: Just about every baseball player should try to pitch. Relying on one or two pitchers in not smart. Try to develop at least four pitchers per age year.

Secrets on How to Coach Baseball

Pre-season meeting: Go over your coaching procedures and coaching philosophy with all the parents.

Baseball Parents: Parents are welcome at practice. Position yourself in an area that will not be distracting to the players. I do not want my players looking into the bleachers all the time to get coaching from mom or dad baseball parent.

This particular baseball practice had all the parents either in their lawn chairs behind the backstop or standing at the backstop while the batters took their batting practice.

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