Baseball is a fun and exciting game that takes years to master. That’s why coaches should use the right approach early, especially at the formative ages of 6, 7, and 8 years old.
Kids in this age group should focus on learning the right drills to help them develop specific skills like fielding, hitting, and running. Along with these drills, young kids should also be taught the basic rules and concepts of baseball.
Of course these are kids we’re dealing with, so it’s important to keep them excited and involved so that they can stay focused during the exercises.
Here are six baseball drills that will help and encourage a love and understanding for baseball for any young kid.
Baseball Drills For 6-Year-Old Kids
Six-year-old players fall into the middle age group of the Tee Ball group.
When teaching baseball drills to 6-year-old kids, it’s essential to keep the process simple and fun. When your approach is simple, it’s easier keep a young player engaged and maximize your chances of success.
Here are a few things that you should keep in mind when training six-year-old kids:
- Before you start training young players, you should develop a clear practice plan. The plan should be both informative and fun. Make sure everyone hears your message (otherwise chaos will ensue!).
- You can also get creative with your approach so that young players can be less scared of the ball. This problem appears more often than you might except.
- Lastly, you should try to end the drill practice with some fun games. Some days will seem tough or boring and you want to make sure you end on a positive note.
The drill practices we will discuss revolve around throwing, hitting, catching, and some basic game rules.
Bounce Ball into Container Throwing Drill
The main objective of this drill is to help kids develop accuracy in throwing a baseball over a distance while preventing injuries due to missed catches.
When kids throw a ball from a proper angle and over a long distance, they don’t do it accurately. So, you should turn the throwing ball activity into a fun drill. You can start the drill teaching process by converting it into a friendly competition where kids can learn and develop new skills together.
For this drill, you only need:
- A container that is about 2 feet high and 4 feet wide.
- About a dozen baseballs.
- Once everything is collected, ask the young players to wear gloves.
You should place the container on the first base bag, and players should stand behind home plate. Each player will try to throw the ball inside the container. If they miss, they should run to collect their ball as quickly as they can.
Another way is to create a little competition and let each player throw the ball three or four times each in a row. You can then send the players with the most balls in the container to the next round and have the losers help collect balls. In the end, the player with the most accuracy wins.
Pop Fly with Tennis Ball Drill
The objective of this drill is to help young players become better catchers.
Sometimes, kids get afraid when it comes to catching the ball because they are scared of getting hit on the head or in the face. If this is a problem for your team, it’s better to begin with tennis balls, as those balls don’t hurt nearly as much.
You can try pop fly drills using tennis balls so that the young players can get comfortable with catching. Once they start performing better, you can switch to the actual baseballs.
When you make the kids practice using a tennis ball, their anxiety, and fear of catching the ball gradually go away. By the time they are confident, they are already playing with baseballs.
You can make this drill fun and easy by dividing the players into two groups. Then the two groups can start practicing by throwing back and forth to each other.
As a coach, you can first analyze the catching skills of each player. And then work with each of them separately so that they can perfect their catch without hurting themselves.
Once everyone is confident and ready you can move on to actual baseballs.
Baseball Drills For 7-Year-Old Kids
Seven-year-old players are usually more confident than six-year-old kids. Since the players of this age group are more advanced, you can make them learn some easy baseball concepts to get them ready for the minor league.
Some fundamentals and topics that you should teach seven-year-old kids are:
- Fielding: Along with throwing, hitting, and catching, a practice strategy for seven-year-old players should also include fielding. Fielding is when a player takes hold of a ball and throws it to another defensive player to get an out.
- Importance of Warm-Ups: Consistent warm-up drills help players focus on the task at hand – becoming better baseball players.
- Hitting: You should teach deeper concepts of hitting to the young players. Some will be covered here but there are many resources and videos you can find online.
- Running Base: There are plenty of fun drills that help young players improve their ability to get on base, from isolation work to fundamental training.
In short, the training plan for seven-year-old kids requires you to re-enforce fundamentals and introduce some more complicated concepts in a way that keeps them excited and engaged.
The “Moving Tee” Drill
The goal of this drill is to help young players learn how to react to different pitches and ball positions. For this drill you will no to adjust the tee height in order to simulate real game pitches.This is a safe and effective drill to build experience and confidence!
Seven-year-old kids have a long way to go when it comes to hitting. This drill will help improve their ability to hit and adjust to live-action pitches. Before you start the drill, make sure to have the players wear a helmet.
Start this drill by:
- Setting up multiple tees. Spread them apart, for safety reasons.
- Next, place one player at each tee.
- Place a ball on the tee.
The players will take turns hitting the tee using proper form and posture. Once the player hits a tee, you adjust the height of the tee and place a new ball. Keep cycling until every player has hit a wide variety of heights.
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Soft Toss Drill
The objective of this drill is to practice how to hit a ball from the pitch. It’s also an effective way for one-on-one training to tackle any individual mistakes a player may be making while hitting.
When teaching this drill to young players, you can make some of the players take defensive positions in the field so that everyone is involved in the game. I find it effective to have a small group of about three at bat. That way, one player practices hitting and the others can watch and learn.
The way this drill works is once the player has taken the position, you can kneel or stand about 15 feet away and toss the ball. Depending on their swing, you can correct them or encourage them so that they can improve their hitting skills.
You should take a pause after every hit and let the players field the ball while you go over each swing. This drill can also be performed at home individually with your kid so that he or she can get more batting practice.
Baseball Drills For 8-Year-Old Kids
Kids of the previous age group are usually not familiar with the pitching side of the game. By the age of 8, however, you can start to teach core pitching concepts.
While the eight-year-old age group is the oldest in this guide, they are still young. Thus, you should not raise the difficulty level to the extent where the players get uncomfortable.
Another thing you might notice is a steady stream of feedback from players. It’s important to receive this feedback so you know where each player faces difficulty and what they find easy.
Also, 8-year-old players can warm up by throwing catch with actual balls. You can gradually make the young players move a little until they start practicing from the maximum throwing distance. It’s also a great way to get their hearts pumping!
The main objective of teaching this drill to eight-year-olds is to help them improve their fielding game. This drill can boost a young player’s confidence when they are catching off the ground.
Before you start teaching the drill, you must ask the players to wear gloves. Young players must be taught the correct ways to recover loose balls and steps they should take after. Players should secure the ball from the top while the other hand must scoop the ball with the glove and have an idea of where to throw the ball.
Fielding drill is also one of the best ways to teach the young players what ball force they can expect at the second and the third base. This drill also helps the 8-year-olds learn when they have to step on the base and when to tag a runner.
Another way to teach fielding drills is by making three players stand far enough apart that the ball will always hit the ground after a throw. Have them throw and recover and pass to the third member of their group. This activity will not just improve their fielding skill but will also strengthen the communication between players.
Running and Batting Drill
Another fun concept that you can teach 8-year-old players is when to run. The players of this age group know how to run through the first base instead of stopping or slowing down.
- The first running drill is about rounding. For this, you make the players stand in a line. After that, each player swings the bat and rounds first.
- The next running drill is about listening to the base coach. In this case, the base coach commands the players to do one of two things. The players may be required to go to second base or the players will have to do a “J turn” at first base. You can have them hit the ball as well to make it a full exercise.
Teaching Basic Baseball Rules
Doing drills is just part of the coaching process, you should also teach them the basics of baseball rules and encourage questions.
You can do this by hosting a question and answer at the end or before starting practice. Or you can focus on simple baseball rules while teaching new drills to the players. It all depends on your particular group and their level of understanding.
When teaching drills to young players, it’s essential to keep things simple, maintain an engaging environment, and encourage players to learn from their mistakes. Sometimes all it takes is a little cheerleading to get a younger player out of their box and into the game.
As a coach, it’s your responsibility to make the drills engaging because young players don’t practice on the field as much as they should. So, you should bring discipline, knowledge, and energy to each and every practice.
Another important thing to remember is not to overcoach the young players. You should let them learn from their mistakes and progress at their pace (they are kids, after all).
My name is David Farnum and I’ve been a Little League Coach in my community for the past 7 years. With 2 boys playing baseball and 1 girl playing softball, most weekends I can be found near a baseball diamond.