Being a baseball coach isn’t easy. And one of the biggest challenges is learning how to run a baseball practice.
You’re often working with a big group of energetic kids, and just couple assistant coaches or parent helpers to keep things under control.
Trying to keep all of your kids engaged and focused can be a real challenge. Especially if you use “traditional” drills that involve lots of lines, lectures, and standing-around time.
It’s no surprise that so many new (and experienced coaches) struggle to run an effective practice.
How to Run a Baseball Practice – The Easy Way
Thankfully, there is a simple solution to dealing with this problem – station based practice planning!
In a station based practice you’ll break your team up into 2-3 small groups, and have them rotate through a series of stations for a set amount of time.
Each station is managed by an individual coach or helper, and focused on a specific fundamental skill. This allows your players to get more reps in a shorter amount of time. And allows the coaching staff to spend more time working with individual kids.
We’ve created several station-based practices that you can check out below:
- 60 Minute Youth Baseball Practice Plan
- 90 Minute Little League Practice Plan
- 120 Minute High School Baseball Practice Plan
- Hitting Themed Baseball Practice Plan Template
- Fielding Themed Baseball Practice Plan
Each one follows the same basic, structure, splitting practice into 3 primary blocks or phases.
Phase 1: Warmup
This block is designed to get the kids mentally and physically ready to practice. Make sure to include drills for baserunning (to increase core body temperature) and throwing (to get the arm and shoulder loose).
More advanced teams can also benefit from a Dynamic Warmup, including exercises like skipping, high-knee runs, buttkickers, carioca and walking lunges.
Warmups typically run 10-20 minutes.
Phase 2: Skill Development Stations
This is the “meat” of the practice. You can design your stations to all focus on one primary skill (like hitting), or have a different skill at each station (hitting, ground balls, fly balls).
Phase 3: Game Preparation
When possible, you should also set aside time for game-like drills that will prepare your team for real competition.
Our Game Preparation blocks typically use some type of modified scrimmage. This allows coaches to put their teams into various offensive and defensive situations, and teach age-appropriate strategies and tactics.
Here are a few additional tips to help you run a better baseball practice:
- Write out your practice plan, on a piece of paper or even on your phone. Include the names of the drills you want to run, how long you want to run the for, and the skills you want to emphasize.
- Consider the space you have available and how you’re going to use it. Which drills will require the infield and which can be done using a patch of outfield grass? What equipment will you need?
- Use your team’s water breaks to set up for the next drill. So the kids can get right back to action as soon as you reconvene the practice
- Take advantage of all the help you can get – if parents are willing to come in and help out, an extra pair of eyes while the players rotate through can be of huge help!
- When running hitting drills, try to substitute whiffle balls where possible. Tees and hitting nets can be helpful, but are not mandatory. Coaches can soft-toss to players instead of using batting tees. And you can hit into a backstop or fence instead of a net.