Keeping Young Players Interested and Involved at Baseball Practice

Ask the Coach

Coach Arnald Swift

Al asks:

I run a 10 week baseball camp every year for our local baseball organization. This year we have added a very young group (age 6-7) and I am struggling to keep their interest. The area of most concern is the hitting station. Can you suggest games and/or drills that can be used for this age group?

Coach Swift answers:

You are certainly correct in that these little guys are extremely busy and have very short attention spans. When I coached and had to deal with this age group I set up as many stations as I could. The number of stations often depends on how many people you have helping you.

The normal hitting stations are:

  • Stationary tee
  • Soft toss
  • Small plastic machine pitch
  • Live hitting in a cage

These stations can be done with a couple or three people around the cage so supervision is very close at hand.

And as long as you have access to a batting cage, one of the things I would suggest is to divide it into two or three sections with divider nets and do front soft toss from behind a screen.

I would also suggest that you create stations that teach defensive drills in very isolated parts. What I mean by that is that the player only fields ground balls, catches fly balls, or throws. Make each station independent of the others and have a bucket next to the kid so he can put the ball in it after he catches a grounder or fly ball.

Baserunning is always a good opening and closing drill for this age group as they love to run. This gives you a chance to teach them certain situations and keep them moving. You can do it individually or as a group. I always teach baserunning by hitting a ball so they learn when to run by reacting to the ball, as opposed to what I say. You or another coach must be the one that hits the ball and be in control. This works really well if you have three people: one to hit the ball, one to field the ball, and one to be a baserunner that the other kids can imitate.

At Baseball Tips, we have three items that actually would be of value to your situation. The 59 Minute Baseball Practice DVD and Backyard Baseball Drills DVD were both made to specifically target the young player and keep them moving and involved with very simple and ordinary drills, but done in a way that keeps everybody busy. The other useful resource is a book and CD called A Youth Baseball Coaches Tool Kit. All three are exceptional tools for you to be able to use with the younger set in a group environment.

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