Practice Length: 2 Hours

Best Practices for Long-term Development:

  • Continue to focus on teaching the framework for sportsmanship, being a good teammate, and how much FUN baseball is—regardless of the age group.
  • Your overall developmental goal as a coach should be instilling Effort-based Feedback vs. Results-based Feedback. This game is about “Journey” and not “Results.”
  • Players of all ages who focus on the results of their efforts oftentimes learn to base their confidence and self-esteem on whether or not their input is positive or negative. This mindset creates insecure inconsistent athletes. Learning/Growth vs. Results/Stats is a critical philosophy that needs to be integrated into their daily life at this point. Failure & struggles are opportunities to grow!
  • 12-U is further up the maturity scale, which means that the retention of information will be more prevalent, but patience is still the key when it comes to athletic development.
  • Teach responsibility, prepping for High School: check the practice schedule and plans, understand where they need to be and when. Less handholding.
  • The growth within this age group, much like the 10-U, is anything but uniform; so remember to focus on one-on-one mentoring and teaching. Help them grow toward being “their” best!
  • Back parents off! The players are ultimately responsible for having their equipment, snacks, water, etc. The player should also carry their own equipment from the car to the field. Sounds simple, but it’s shocking how many parents do everything for their children. We need to place that responsibility on the athlete. They’ll survive if they forget their water. But they’re also more apt not to forget it next time so long as mom or dad doesn’t go buy it for them.

Pre-Practice/Warm-Up

Warm-Up Sprint Variations: 10 Minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Make sure the players get their legs loose—today’s practice will also feature stealing second with the catcher throwing.

Note: If there is a coach available, make the sprint portion more of a leadoff/GO situation—where the payers read the coach who is acting like the pitcher (should do lefty and righty).

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate

Warm-up Throwing Progression: 15 minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: The players, at this point, should have a good understanding of how to warm up on their own. Keep an eye on the distance though, because this practice will have more throwing throughout the session.

Note: Reiterate the importance of stretching. This age group should be able to lead their own routines, so implement some of the basics early on.

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate

Practice

Defense: 45 Minutes

Defense Stations – Infield/Outfield: 30 Minutes (Rotate as needed)

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: The focus during this session should be the details. Third base and first base should work on footwork and fielding the ball—to the backhand. Have them pair up.

Middle infielders should begin to work on DP feeds. Go over footwork—for both second and shortstop.

Catchers should begin work on their conditioning/blocking skills.

Outfielders should work on flyball communication and hitting the cutoff man.

Note: Don’t make this a marathon. Allow for breaks and take the time to go over the fundamentals—help them get better!

Note: Finish this session with a full Infield/Outfield round—like it was pregame.

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate 

For Third/First:

For Short/Second:

For Outfielders:

For Catchers:

Finish with Full Infield/Outfield: 15 Minutes

Offense/Baserunning: 50

Hitting Stations: Soft Toss/Tee Work Sides. Coach Throw—Bunts: 40

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Continue to work on fundamentals of Gathering to Power (see the Mike Bard Series) during tee work. Reiterate those fundamentals during the live coach toss, but now incorporate bunting situations.

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate

Baserunning/Leads and Breaks: Live: 20 minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Finish with some cardio while incorporating some base-stealing! Go LIVE! Have pitchers work on their pickoff moves—varying it up and going home too. And have the catchers make throws.

Note: This is about mechanics for the pitchers; no more than three or four pitches each. Same for the catchers. If it seems like it’s too much have a coach take over the catching duties.

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate

Post-Practice Mentoring/Leadership: 5 Minutes

Discussion: 10 Minutes

  • What did they learn?
  • Talk about expectations: Journey vs. Process.
  • Talk about the next practice: what to expect.
  • Next practice, make the team responsible for checking the schedule.
  • Remember: End the practice with a High Five Line—“Good Game!”

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Life lessons and Mentoring Dialogue, again as with all levels of competition, will play a role at this age, but shouldn’t be something that you’d equate to a college Psych professor’s thesis. Use simple building blocks of knowledge for this group—again, they are more likely to retain at this age—with things like “Being ready to go when practice starts,” or “Don’t forget: this is a game!”

Providing opportunities for responsibility and accountability pave the path for self-sufficient youngsters. That ability alone creates a tremendous amount of confidence in a young person.

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