Practice Length: 2 1/2 Hours

Best Practices for Long-term Development:

  • Coaches should always focus on teaching the framework for sportsmanship, being a good teammate, and how much FUN baseball is—regardless of the age group.  Strict accountability should be enforced, ie: Early vs. Not on time.
  • Increase the prep for high school ball: assign more responsibility to individuals for things like field prep, pre-practice warm-ups, post-practice breakdowns, etc.
  • Challenge your players – Stations should have strict timeframes with work expected to be accomplished with energy and focus within specified timeframe.The pace will increase, so it’s important to stress more focus during drills, and will hopefully equate to second nature during the game.
  • Team Defense Vs. Team Offense in a highly competitive environment should be established from Day 1. Competition is about the individual giving the best effort; it’s not “who is in the other dugout.”
  • Mental and more philosophical approaches can be introduced in heavier, more complicated amounts with this age group. Learning vs. Results are huge here. Teenagers come with all sorts of insecurities. Focusing on learning and growing daily helps resolve performance anxiety and self-judging: batting averages and ERA.
  • Keep the game fun: this age group starts to find themselves more easily susceptible to performance pressures.  Growth vs. Results
  • Remember to create an effort-based environment: focus on the journey.

Pre-Practice/Warm-Up

Wiffle Home Run Derby: 10 Minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: As longtime MLB man, Kevin Youkilis said on Twitter: “If any coach tells your child that whiffle ball ruins their swing, you need to find a new coach.” Keep things loose as practices progress by allowing the players (as we have said) to have a little fun—while also trying out different things within their swing.

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate

Structured Catch into Long Toss: 20 minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Go easy as your team progresses with long toss sessions. If there is ANY arm soreness from any player, have them just do a light catch.

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

Groundball DP Feeds/Fly Ball Cutoffs/Catchers Conditioning 2: 25 Minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: This station work should reiterate the drills from the first practices, but now will incorporate more game-like scenarios.

Note: Rotate/mix in the players who will be in the infield, outfield, and/or catching.

Infielding

Note: Work on short hops with first and third base; have the middle infielders work on DP feeds (NO THROWS!).

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate 

First and Third

Short and Second


Outfielding

Note: Work on both flyball communication—”I got it!”—and charging grounders. Go easy on the throwing: this should be about the mechanics of each method.

Catching

Full Infield/Outfield: 20 Minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Again, once the station work is completed, move to a full round of Infield/Outfield—just like a pregame routine!

Offense: 50 Minutes

Cage Work/Tee Work/Pickoffs: 40 Minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Progress with the hitter’s mechanics and focus on developing bat speed. Continue to work on the details, in the cage, and off the tee—this week, also work on the basis of Train It vs. Trust It.

For the Pitchers and Catchers: Take the opportunity of waiting time at the cage to add in a pickoff station for pitchers.  

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate

Hitting

Pitchers

Leads and Breaks: 10 Minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: This is a great way to finish practice with some cardio, but also an opportunity to introduce/revisit/train the proper running leadoff/breaks techniques.

Note: Use a coach to simulate the pitcher on the mound. Work on reading the heel and shoulder for righties, and the front foot crossing over the back leg for lefties.

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate

Post-Practice Mentoring/Leadership: 5 Minutes

Discussion: 5 Minutes

  • What was their favorite part of the day—what did they learn?
  • Talk about expectations: being a good teammate, being focused while having FUN.
  • Talk about the next practice: what to expect.
  • Remember: End the practice with a High Five Line—“Good Game!”

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Life lessons and Mentoring Dialogue will continue to play a huge role at this age. This group, again, will experience different pressures than previous years, so it’s important to keep the message about fun, that failure happens (and is OK), and that the game is only a small piece of what is the bigger picture: being a good person!

Because players are different, sometimes it is good to make “Practice Notes” which might be specific certain players, and then break them down to give more of a team-learning message.

Lastly, connecting individually with players can have a dramatic impact on these kids. They are looking to you for information, support and help as they work toward their goal of playing high school baseball. The more you can provide them, the greater lifelong impact you’ll make on them. They are all ears at this age if you earn their trust.

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