LLLL Tball Drills

BASE RUNNING
Drill Name:  Base Running Basics
Purpose:  Introduce players to the basics of base running
Type of Drill:  Station/Team
Drill Preparation:  Position coach on foul line 10’ beyond 1B and line up all players at home base.  Consider running Parts 1-3 at the beginning of practice and Parts 4-5 to wrap up practice.
Drill Execution:

  • Part 1 – Simple base running
    • Coach leads line of players around base path naming each base as it is touched by the players (2x around the field)
  • Part 2 – Running thru 1B
    • Players in a single file line with the first runner in the batter’s box in a hitting stance with hands together as if they were holding a bat
    • On command of “go” the batter swings the imaginary bat, runs through 1B and keeps running to high five the coach standing on the foul line 10’ beyond the base
    • Player is instructed to look over right shoulder after high fiving coach, turns to the right then stops
    • Players return to the end of the line at home base by jogging along the first base line side of the field (2x runs to 1B)
  • Part 3 – Races thru 1B
    • Players in two lines with the first runners side by side in the batter’s box
    • On command of “go” both players race to 1B and keep running to high five the coach standing on the foul line 10’ beyond the base then look over right shoulder and turn to the right before returning to home plate
    • Both players return to the end of the lines at home base (2x runs to 1B)
  • Part 4 – Station to station
    • Players in a single file line with the first runner in the batter’s box in a hitting stance with hands together as if they were holding a bat
    • On command of “go” the batter swings the imaginary bat, runs through 1B and keeps running to high five the coach standing on the foul line 10’ beyond the base
    • Player remains on 1B and advances station to station as each runner goes to 1B (position assistant coaches at each base to instruct the base runners)
    • Player returns to the end of the line after advancing to home base
  • Part 5 – Home Run
    • Players in a single file line with the first runner in the batter’s box in a hitting stance with hands together as if they were holding a bat
    • On command of “go” the batter swings the imaginary bat, runs to 1B and continues on around the bases as if they were the home run hitter (position assistant coaches at each base to instruct the base runners)
    • Instruct the base runners to try to touch the inside portion of each base
    • As each player reaches 1B instruct the next player to run

Key Point:  Incorporate basic base running into each practice to reinforce the concepts
Make it Fun:  On the station to station drill have players run to 1B, shuffle to 2B, run backwards to 3B and sprint to home
Drill Name:  Base Runner Tag
Purpose:  Fun drill to teach players that runners can be tagged out when advancing to the next base
Type of Drill:  Station/Team
Drill Preparation:  Drill is conducted in the infield or anywhere with four bases spread out to represent an infield
Drill Execution:

  • Player that is “it” stands at the pitcher’s mound – all other players are standing with one foot on one of the bases (with a full team the coach may want to have a couple players be “it”)
  • When the coach says “go” all base runners try to advance to the next base while the player that is “it” tries to tag them
  • Tagged players then become “it” for the next game (try not to have the same player be “it” more than two consecutive times)
  • Remember to instruct runners to stay in the base paths or they are “it” just as if they were tagged

Key Point:  The coach should use the time after each game of tag to reinforce the concept that runners can be tagged out if they are not touching a base and are also out if they run out of the basepaths
Make it Fun:  Tag is a fun game for kids – just ensure that no one player is being singled out to be tagged “it”

BATTING
Drill Name:  Group Batting Drills
Purpose:  Group of station drills to increase the number of hitting reps that each player gets at a practice
Type of Drill:  Station
Drill Preparation:  Requires 3 T’s and 4 adults to assist with the station.  Spread out batting stations along fence line or backstop with players hitting into the fence.  Keep safety in mind at all times – require all participants to wear helmets and ensure that the only time players are swinging bats are when instructed by adults.
Drill Execution:  This drill has four stations and players will rotate through stations every 2-3 minutes.

  • Tee 1: High Tee
    • Have batter hitting off high tee to practice keeping the bat up through the swing – not letting it drop
    • Player hits 5 balls from the tee into the fence then moves to the  next station
  • Tee 2:  Separated Hands
    • Batter separates hand on bat by 4-6 inches to reinforce the mechanics that both hands have in the swing (front hand pulls the bat at the start of the swing and back hand follows through)
    • Player hits 5 balls from the tee into the fence keeping hands separated throughout the swing
  • Tee 3:  Normal swing
    • Player hits 5 balls from the tee into the fence
  • Station 4:  Properly Dropping the Bat After Contact
    • Draw a box in front of the plate where each batter is expected to drop the bat after hitting the ball
    • Player is in the proper batting stance in the batter’s box at the start of this drill
    • Coach instructs the player to swing at an imaginary ball, drop the bat onto the box drawn in front of home plate and run to 1B
    • The key point of this drill is to condition players to safely drop their bats after hitting rather than throwing them
  • Station 5:  Soft Toss
    • Introduce batters to the concept of soft toss by having a coach kneel slightly in front and off to the side and toss the ball over the plate for the batter
    • Have the batter take a couple swings before tossing the ball to him so you can observe where the bat is passing through the strike zone – try to toss the ball in this area to increase the likelihood that the batter will make contact
    • Challenge the batter to hit each ball farther than the last one
    • After 5 hits have the batter retrieve the balls

Key Point:  Increase the number of batting reps that each player gets at practice while focusing on different aspects of hitting.
Make it Fun:  Modify each of the hitting drills to the skill level of each player.  More advanced players can be challenged to hit the ball to target areas of the fence.

Drill Name:  Directional Hitting
Purpose:  Teach players to hit the ball to a targeted side of the field by adjusting their feet or changing contact point
Type of Drill:  Station/Team
Drill Preparation:  Position 4 defensive players on one side of the field (3B, SS, LF, CF then 2B, 1B, RF, CF) and remaining players are batters
Drill Execution:

  • Coach demonstrates to players that they can change their location to hit the ball by adjusting their feet and turning their body
  • Hitter in batter’s box adjusts feet to hit the ball to the left side (each batter hits 2 balls before going to the back of the line)
  • Defensive players field the ball and throw it in to the coach
  • After batters go through the order a couple times and demonstrate that they can hit the ball to the left side, reposition the defensive players to the right side of the field and have the batters adjust their position to hit to that side

Key Point:  The objective is to show the players that they can hit to either side of the field by changing the position of their body and feet
Make it Fun:  Players get one point for hitting the ball on the correct side of the infield and 2 points for hitting the ball on the correct side of the outfield

FIELDING/CATCHING
Drill Name:  Fielding Basics

Purpose:  Introduce the concepts of fielding
Type of Drill:  Individual/Station
Drill Preparation:  Smooth area to roll balls to fielders
Drill Execution:

  • Part 1: Defensive Position
    • Instruct players to stand with their belly button facing the coach, feet wider apart than their shoulders, knees bent, butt down
    • To get players used to being in a flexible defensive position have them jump up and down a few times with their feet spread apart
    • Coaches should be encouraging good balance while leaning slightly forward
    • Instruct players to shuffle their feet to a position 15’ to their right and stop – then have them shuffle their feet back to the starting position
  • Part 2:  Alligator
    • Explain to the players that their arms should be like an alligator’s mouth clamping down on the ball when it hits their glove.  Instruct them to extend their arms in front of their body and slap their throwing hand into the palm of their glove like an alligator clamping down on the ball.
    • Once the concept of the “alligator” is understood instruct the players to get into their defensive position with their glove out in front of their body with the fingers of their glove touching the ground (help them get the correct angle ( like a backstop not a  ramp) so that the ball can roll into the glove without rolling up their wrist)
    • While in the defensive position and the glove touching the ground instruct the players to “do the alligator”
  • Part 3:  Grounders
    • Take turns rolling the ball to each of the players in the drill having them trap the ball in the mouth of the alligator
    • Position coaches at 4 positions between third and second base about 5 feet apart. As players become better at fielding grounders right at them roll the ball to the side of the fielder and have them position themselves in front of the ball before getting down into the defensive position.  Then shuffle to the next coach who rolls a ball to them.  Once all players are on second base move coaches between second and first and repeat this drill.  Once all players are on first base go back in the other direction until all players are back to third base.

Key Point:  Work through the fundamentals of fielding grounders.  Not all players will learn at the same pace.  This is a good drill to work on at every practice.
Make it Fun:  Encourage the players to make their meanest alligator sound every time they clamp down on a ball

Drill Name:  Field, Freeze, Make a Play
Purpose:  Reinforce fundamentals of trapping the ball in the glove with the throwing hand and bringing the ball up to the chest before getting into a throwing position
Type of Drill:  Individual/Station
Drill Preparation:  Conduct drill on infield near SS or near 2B positions
Drill Execution:

  • Spread out a group of players along a line facing the coach 20’ away
  • Players get in a defensive stance and coach rolls the ball to each player in the line
  • Coach instructs the players to “freeze” upon stopping the ball and covering it with their throwing hand
  • Coach instructs player to bring the ball in the glove to their chest and “freeze”
  • Coach calls out players next move to either (A) run with the ball and tag the closest base or (B) throw the ball to the coach
  • Coach picks up the pace as the drill progresses

Key Point:  Break down the mechanics of fielding a grounder and get into position to make a play
Make it Fun:  Place a target (bucket or net) at the base and track how many times players are able to hit the target during the drill

Drill Name:  Right Side of Infield to 1B
Purpose:  Introduce players to concept of making outs at 1B
Type of Drill:  Station/Team
Drill Preparation:  Defensive Positions: P, 1B, 2B – all remaining players are base runners at home plate
Drill Execution:

  • Coach rolls ball to defensive position, offensive player runs to 1B, and defensive player fields the ball
  • Defensive players are taught that they can throw the ball to 1B, tag the runner or tag the base
  • Reinforce to runners that they need to run through 1B
  • Rotate players through all positions every 3rd ball
  • Players should be reminded to use underhand toss learned in underhand toss drill when appropriate

Key Point:  It is important that defensive players learn to stay in their area to field the ball, communicate who is going after the ball, and to back up each other.
Make it Fun:  Be sure to praise outs as they will likely be few and far between

Drill Name:  Get an Out at Closest Base
Purpose:  Introduce players to concept of making outs at the closest base
Type of Drill:  Station/Team
Drill Preparation:  Defensive Positions: 3B, SS, LF, CF or SS, 2B, CF, RF – all remaining players are base runners at each base
Drill Execution:

  • Coach rolls ball to defensive position (infield or outfield), offensive player runs from 2B to 3B, and third baseman covers 3B
  • SS, LF and CF are taught that they can throw the ball to 3B for a force out
  • Outfielders are instructed to back up the balls going to the infielders
  • Reinforce to runners that they cannot over-run the base
  • Rotate players through all positions every 3rd ball
  • Players should be reminded to use underhand toss learned in underhand toss drill when appropriate

Key Point:  Teach defensive players that they can often make a force out at the closest base rather than trying to throw to 1B on every play.  Teach the concept of covering your base and outfielders backing up infielders.
Make it Fun:  Be sure to praise outs as they will likely be few and far between

Drill Name:  Out at Home
Purpose:  Teach the catchers to field the throw to home and tag the runner out (targeted for last batter of each inning – home run hitter)
Type of Drill:  Station/Team
Drill Preparation:  2-3 players at home to rotate as catcher, remaining players line up at 3B as runners
Drill Execution:

  • Coach throws the ball to home from an infield position, player runs from 3B to home, and catcher attempts to tag the runner
  • Players rotate through each of the positions

Key Point:  Catchers learn to field the ball and position themselves a few feet up the line to tag out the runner.  Runners are allowed to slide (if desired) and are taught to stay in base path but avoid contact

Make it Fun:  Runner can stay in the running line until he is tagged out by the catcher.  The last remaining runner wins.

Drill Name:  Learning to Catch a Ball
Purpose:  Safe way to introduce the concepts of catching a ball without the fear of getting hurt
Type of Drill:  Individual/Station
Drill Preparation:   Balloons or playground balls (4-6” in diameter)
Drill Execution:

  • Line up all players participating in the drill along the foul line facing the coach 10’ away
  • Coach tosses the ball/balloon up in the air for the first player to catch it
  • Players should catch the ball in the glove above their shoulders, the fingers of the glove pointing toward the sky and the throwing hand securing the ball/balloon in place
  • Coach progresses down the line of players with higher tosses as they become successful catching the ball/balloon
  • Alternative:  Toss ball/balloon below the waist to teach players to flip over their glove with the fingers pointing downward
  • Alternative:  Randomly toss the ball to players in the line to keep them all prepared to catch the ball

Key Point:  Players learn the fundamentals of catching a thrown ball without the fear of getting hit.

Make it Fun:  On an individual or group basis, keep track of how many consecutive catches are made and encourage the players/groups to break existing records

THROWING
Drill Name:  Underhand Toss
Purpose:  Teach players to quickly toss the ball to a nearby base
Type of Drill:   Station/Team
Drill Preparation: 

  • Place cones (or other markers) about 15’ apart

Drill Execution:

  • Split the group in half with equal lines behind each cone
  • First player in each line assumes the proper defensive stance
  • From 20’ away coach rolls the ball to the player at cone (A)
  • Player at cone (A) fields the ball and tosses it underhand to the chest of player at cone (B)
  • Player (A) follows their toss to cone (B) and then to the back of that line
  • Player (B) catches the toss and throws the ball back to the coach before proceeding to the back of line (A)
  • Repeat drill for next player in each line
  • Alternative:  After several times through the order rolling the ball to cone (A), reverse it and roll the ball to cone (B)
  • Alternative:  Conduct the drill around an infield base with the player receiving the toss touching the base for an out

Key Point:  When players are close together it is faster to stay low and toss the ball underhand than to rise into a proper throwing position.  It is also easier for others to catch a ball that is tossed from a close range.

Make it Fun:  Count the number of consecutive times that the payers catch the ball tossed to them and see which group catches the most
Drill Name:  Throwing Progression
Purpose:  Work players through the progression of proper throwing mechanics
Type of Drill:  Individual/Station
Drill Preparation:   find an area on the field where the drill participants have room to throw the ball and place a row of cones at 20’ and another at 40’
Drill Execution: 

  • Line up players along foul line with each player holding a baseball in their glove
  • Upon the coach command of “grip” each player retrieves the ball from their glove and holds it out for the coach’s inspection for proper grip of the ball.
  • Upon the command of “turn” each player turns their body so their non-throwing shoulder is facing the target
  • Upon the coach command of “power position” each player points their glove toward their target and raises their throwing arm above their shoulder with their elbow bent in an “L” position with the ball hand toward the sky and the ball pointing away from their body.  Use  a sweeping motion like an eagle flapping it’s wings.
  • Upon the coach command of “throw” each player throws the ball toward the cones with the objective of seeing who can throw the ball the farthest
  • After players throw a second baseball they all race to retrieve both baseballs and return to the foul line
  • Coach should be assisting players with form/mechanics as they go through each stage of the drill
  • Alternative:  Have players throw the first ball flat footed and the second one shuffling toward the target – point out how much farther they can throw it by moving their feet in the direction of the target

Key Point:  Ensure the players are learning the fundamentals of throwing the ball and work with them to correct major issues
Make it Fun:  Place a bucket out in the throwing area and have the kids try to hit the bucket

Drill Name:  Bucket Throw
Purpose:  Work players through the progression of proper throwing mechanics
Type of Drill:  Individual/Station
Drill Preparation:   Set an empty bucket near the center of the backstop
Drill Execution: 

  • Line group of players in a semi-circle about 15’ from the bucket in the backstop area
  • Players will try to hit the bucket or throw the ball into the bucket
  •  Upon the coach command of “grip” each player retrieves the ball from their glove and holds it out for the coach’s inspection
  • Upon the command of “turn” each player turns their body so their non-throwing shoulder is facing the target
  • Upon the coach command of “power position” each player points their glove toward their target and raises their throwing arm above their shoulder with their elbow bent in an “L” position with the ball hand toward the sky
  • Upon the coach command of “throw” each player throws the ball toward the bucket
  • After all players throw their ball each player retrieves their ball and returns to the starting position
  • Coach should be assisting players with form/mechanics as they go through each stage of the drill

Key Point:  Ensure the players are learning the fundamentals of throwing the ball and work with them to correct major issues
Make it Fun:  Assign 1 point for hitting the bucket and 3 points for getting the ball inside the bucket