Sunday, October 19, 2008


Youth Baseball Drills To Develop Bunting SkillsBunting is an important batting skill in baseball which can be improved through a series of youth baseball drills highlighting the skill. Of the two types of bunting, these drills focus on the stance and execution of the more popular sacrifice bunt, where one player sacrifices their at-bat to move a base runner up a base.
Introducing the Bunt One skill that baseball players need to know and develop through youth baseball drills is bunting. When bunting the player holds the bat horizontally in front of the plate, lightly tapping the ball instead of hitting it full on, which keeps the ball in-field and as far away from the fielders as possible. Sacrifice and Base-hit Bunts There are two main types of bunts: sacrifice bunts and base-hit bunts. When executing a sacrifice bunt, the goal is to advance the base runner in exchange for an out. Since the batter never really intends to make it to first base, a sacrifice bunt is not counted as an at-bat. It is generally reserved for weaker hitters in close, low-scoring games. Bunting for a base hit is pretty self-explanatory- the player bunts the ball and runs as fast as they can towards the base. Often players begin running as they are bunting the ball, which is known as a drag bunt. This play is more common with left-handed batters since they are standing to the right of the plate and don’t need to cut across home plate first on their journey towards first base. Since bunting requires both concentration and dexterity, the best way to increase chances of success is by running youth baseball drills that focus on bunting. In doing so, players will be able to gain knowledge of the fielders’ responses to the bunt as well as deduce what type of pitch best suits their bunting needs. Bunting Stance and Sacrifice Practice Use these youth baseball drills to improve sacrifice bunting skills. The first drill focuses on the mechanics and timing of the sacrifice bunt. To begin, players spread out approximately 20 feet in front of the coach. Each player has a bat and assumes their batting stance while the coach simulates a pitch. One by one, the players transition from batting stance to bunting stance. Coaches should be watching to see if the players appear balanced and if they are stepping where the plate would be. Also, this drill gives coaches an opportunity to watch many players as once to see if their bats are at the correct bunting angle at the top of the strike zone. Once players have successfully mastered their bunting stances, it’s time to practice hitting the bunt. Here’s a bunting drill for teams of three. To begin, place a throw down base which will act as home plate with two cones on the first base side and two cones on the third base side. These sets of cones will act as targets for the bunts. The first player stands at the throw down base as another player pitches to them. The batting players gets 10 pitches to try to bunt the ball between the cones. Each time a bunt goes through the cones, the bunter gets one point. After the 10 pitches, players rotate positions, and the player with the most points is the winner. One thing to watch for in this drill is that players are pitching fairly. Sometimes players complain if they feel they didn’t get good pitches to bunt. If possible, try assigning an adult volunteer as an umpire to watch over this drill to ensure each player gets a fair chance at bunting and to avoid any argumentsPhotobucket


Geeting a Good JumpWhen the ball is hit, get a good jump on the ball. A good jump depends on your reaction time, which can improve through repetition. Watch the ball all the way to the plate and watch the swing of the bat. With a little practice you will find yourself starting to lean in the right direction before the ball is contacted.FootworkIt's difficult if not impossible to get a good jump without good footwork.When the ball is hit to your side, your first move will be a crossover step.When the ball is hit over your head to the side your first step will be a drop step on your throwing side.One of the most difficult fly balls to judge is the ball hit directly at you. If you don't immediately recognize whether the ball is going over your head or going to drop in front of you, freeze right after your drop step. The worst thing you can do is guess. Simply freeze, try to determine where the ball is and listen. The other outfielders may be able to see the trajectory better than you and yell at you to go in or go back.Get Behind The BallYou will dramatically improve your velocity and the time required to throw the ball if you get behind the ball as it comes down and start moving in the direction of your target as you catch the ball.Playing the Fly Ball in the SunIt's important that you don't stare into the sun directly. Use your throwing hand to shield the sun. If you are using your glove to shield the sun, you will be blinded when you bring your hand down to catch the ball.· Always catch with two hands. The ideal position is above the head and in front of the throwing shoulder. · The first movement of your body is a short drop step back on your throwing hand side.· Locate the ball and determine the angle you should take. · When time permits, circle around the ball and take your momentum forward through the ball on line with the target. · When you need to be quick, use a direct angle to the ball. Sprint to the spot for the catch and then turn to the target to throw. · Always attempt to keep your eyes on the ball. · Use quick feet to maintain balance. · Run on the balls of your feet using good running technique. Don't extend your glove until the last moment.The key is to be in a balanced position ready to move quickly to the ball. Outfielders in their ready position generally hold their gloves a little higher than infielders do. Players should use proper catching techniques whenever possible but must remember that the goal is to catch everything. On routine fly balls the catch should always be made with both hands slightly above the head and in front of the throwing shoulder. Players track the ball all the way into the glove.An outfielder's first movement when the ball is hit is back -- a short drop step of two or three inches. This step back puts the body in motion and prevents the player from being caught back on his heels. The drop step is the key to having quick reactions. The player makes the drop step back and locates the ball. Then, after reading the ball, the fielder decides the angle he needs to take to catch the ball. Drop step, locate, and go on an angle to the ball.Players should not think too much about footwork. Quick feet, balance, and good judgment are the keys to getting to the spot where the ball can be caught. Players should practice so that they are balanced and comfortable going after every type of ball.As an outfielder runs with his back to home after a ball directly over his head, the ball will occasionally drift from one shoulder to the other. By simply turning his head to the opposite shoulder, he can locate the ball for the catch.The outfielder should run on the balls of the feet with a smooth stride to prevent jarring her eyes and blurring her vision. He should glide to the ball using good running technique, pumping the arms back and forth while keeping them close by his side, and reach for the ball with the glove at the last second.Sometimes you have to sprint as fast as you can just to have an opportunity to catch a ball. Other times the ball will be hit high enough that you will have extra time to get yourself in a good position to get behind the ball. One technique that will help you get in position is to circle the ball. With a ball hit to your side it's risky to try and take a direct angle to cut it off. If you miss judge the distance and speed at all, the ball may get by you. By taking an angle that is deeper you can circle behind the ball and catch it moving forward with the ball in front of you. While it might take slightly longer to get to the ball, you will be in a better position to not only catch it but also make an accurate throw. The diagrams below show the incorrect angle and proper angle to take when running to the ball.If you dive and miss a ball between left center and right center, there should be someone behind you. If you miss a ball near the foul line - you’re on your own. Diving for a line drive, or charging it hard is rarely wise because if it gets past you, it’s going a long ways. On the other hand, if a high fly ball is missed, it’s not going anywhere after it bounces.In some situations the game is over if the play is not made. So regardless of the type of ball (a hard shot, uncontrollable bounces, the ball bouncing close to the feet, or a shot to the player's side), the outfielder must try to make the catch. He may have to short hop it or reach to the side without attempting to block it as he would in different circumstances when playing it safe. He must charge directly to the ball, keeping his body under control. The fielder scoops up the ball off his glove hand foot and throws on a hard, flat line to home plate.This play should always be including in any infield/outfield drills done in practice or before a game.



The 30 second drill : A GREAT DRILL! It creates competition. It teaches quick hands. It demonstrates the importance of good throws.Goal: Teach infielders to get the ball off as quickly as possible after catching the ball.Drill: With partners about 20-25 feet apart, the partners catch and throw the ball back and forth as quickly as possible. The fielders make sure they use their feet to square off their shoulders to make strong throws to their partners. Start with all the balls on one side. When the coach yells, “go”, the play begins. When the player who threw the ball first receives the ball, he calls out “one”. This is one complete revolution. The play continues until the coach yells, “stop”. How many complete revolutions did they make? Don’t count half revolutions.The players should quickly see how expensive it is to miss a throw. The winning players will always be the one using two hands to catch and making good throws. They aren’t necessarily the ones moving the fastest. Make sure the players understand this. You might want to have everyone watch the winning team.Here’s another tip. Every once in awhile, after the players have each selected a partner and are on the line ready to begin, tell the players on one side to move down one player and have the player at the end come to the front. This will disturb the pairing and will allow better players to help weaker ones.This drill is very effective if done as the last warm up done before every game or practice.

Infeild drills : Short Hops: Practice all kinds of short hops: Straight-on, backhand, glove side, hot potato in the hole. Focus drills on the fundamentals of quick feet, centering the ball, moving to either side, keeping your eyes on the ball. Put your players into circles – about 6 players to a circle. Hand a ball to one player. The players will throw a short hop to anyone in the circle. If the throw is poor, the player is out. If the throw is good and missed, the player making the fielding error is out. (Don’t call the player out if it’s a bad hop). Keep going until one player is left. The players that are out should be cheering the others on. Keep working all the players until you have a team champ. Repeat the drill at all practices so that other players get a chance to de-throne the champ.Remember that keys to becoming a good infielder are learned skills, not merely the result of natural ability. "Show Me The Button": Have your players show you the button on their caps as they do ground ball drills. If you see the button on their hats it means their head is down and they're watching the ball into their glove. Quick Picks: Short hops don't happen only after the crack of the bat. Every infielder will get bad throws and whether they can pick that throw or not will be the result of their practicing quick picks. Have your first baseman dig out bad throws. Have your middle infielders and third basemen practice "grab and tag"; this is where they're simulating a bad throw from the catcher or another infield that they pick and then have to make a tag on. Have them practice pop-tags, sweep tags and swipe tags. The more game situations you can simulate, the more prepared your players will be.Bare Hands: The best way to practice catching with two hands and working on soft hands is to do your infield drills with and without a glove. The glove is obviously an incredibly important tool, but it can sometimes get in the way of learning the best fundamentals.

5 Ball drill: Purpose: To practice footwork and releasing the ball quickly for the throw. An intense conditioning element is also a part of this drill.Procedure 1. This drill can be used with any of the infielders in a variety of situations. For each position, place five balls in a line in an area where that player would likely field balls. For example, to help the third baseman practice fielding bunts, set up five balls in a line extending from the foul line toward the pitcher’s mound approximately 10 feet away from home plate, where the fielder would pick them up for a bunt.2. The third baseman starts in his normal ready position and depth, then runs to surround the first ball and throws it to first. He then runs back to his starting position and quickly turns back to field the next ball. Repeat until the fielder throws all five balls.3. Place the balls in similar areas for the first baseman and catcher. For middle infielders, place the balls to one side of each player and have them practice their throws to each of the bases.4. Each player fields and throws two sets of five balls placed in slightly different locations.

Around the horn: Here's a nice simple infield drill. This drill covers all of the throws an infielder will make, and it is so quick paced that the players enjoy it. Position a player at each base and home, give the catcher the ball. The players make three throws around the horn, then on the third catch, that player throws across the diamond to the player diagonally across to him. After four repetitions of this, the players run to the next base and start again. Here's how it works:
C-3b-2b-1b-across to 3b
3b-2b-1b-c-across to 2b
2b-1b-c-3b-across to 1b
1b-c-3b-2b-across to c who makes a sweep tag.
Players than run to the next base: c-3b, 3b-2b, 2b-1b, 1b-c.Repeat this four times until the original catcher is back at home plate. Whenever a player throws to the wrong person, stop and give the ball back to him so he can get it to the correct player. Emphasis is on good, accurate, properly thrown balls, proper catching technique, and quick feet.

Middle Infeild & Double Play

The shortstop and second baseman are two of the most important positions on a baseball team. These spots must be filled by athletes who are capable of handling a lot of responsibilities and they must be two of your better athletes. They must be able to work as a unit in all situations.There are many drills that can be done in order to work on being a middle infielder. Taking as many ground balls as possible is the most important thing any infielder can do. While taking ground balls make sure you do it properly, with your glove down, eyes watching the ball, and your feet shoulder width apart. If you have no one around to hit ground balls you might try using a lacrosse ball and throw it against a wall to work on fielding. You’ll find this ball to be very lively.Turning the double play is a very important part. Proper footwork is a very important part of this play. Jumping rope and working on your footwork around the bag are ways in which to improve your ability to turn the double play. Jumping rope will give you quicker feet and stronger legs. Working around the bag will help you find the way that is best for you to turn the double play. Getting into the routine of doing the same thing will make the job of turning the double play like second nature to you. Ball exchange is a very important part of the game that is sometimes overlooked. The drill we use for this is dividing up into groups of three with one person in the middle and one ball in each group (this also can be used for footwork). The non glove hand should be next to the glove at all times and the exchange should be quick and effortless the only person who actually will be moving their feet in this drill is the middle one. All players should be working on squaring their shoulders in the direction they will be throwing the ball with their glove and non glove hand in place as they receive the ball and make the exchange as quickly and effortlessly as possible.On a double play exchange, the glove is used only to direct the ball to the throwing hand. The glove never closes on the ballPhotobucket

Batting and not being afraid of the ball

In order to hit you must stay in the box at a distance from the plate from which you can hit any pitch in the strike zone. If you fear the ball you will "bail out" or "step in the bucket," pulling your body and bat away from the plate and making it impossible to reach a strike.
No matter how big or "mean" that pitcher looks, as soon as he lets go of that ball, it's YOUR ball. He can't do anything else to it. He's OUT OF THE PICTURE! Plus, the ball is ALWAYS the same size, and ALWAYS has to be in the strike zone. YOU HAVE THE BAT! IT'S YOUR BALL!
The grip on the bat should be comfortable in the hand, ideally the middle knuckles on each hand would line up. This helps in executing the proper swing. The grip should be fairly loose up until you 'load' particularly with your top hand. Don't choke the bat with such a tight grip that it tenses up all the muscles in your arms and shoulders.grip

The batter should be close enough to the plate that he can comfortably reach down and touch the outside edge of the plate with his bat. This will insure that he can reach the outside pitch as well.
At this point weight should be equally balanced between the front and back legs.
Both hips and shoulders should be parallel to the ground.
Batter should have a slight bend in the knees.
Hands should be just off the back shoulder with the bat angled at about 45 degrees.

Catching Skills

All positions in baseball are important but nothing is more important than being a catcher.This is the most important position because 1 blocked ball by a catcher with a runner on third can lead to 1 less run or even a win.Now lets get started,The most important skill about being a catcher is to have quick hands.Due to wild pitches 1 ball may be in the dirt and the next ball maybe head high so you need quick hands and the instinct to be able to go up and get that pitch.The next important skill is not much of a skill but a instinct to not be afraid of the ball or bat when it is swung or thrown.To over come this fear put her/his catchers mask on and simply throw the ball at his/her mask and teach them that the ball will not come threw the mask.