Practice Length: 1 Hour

Best Practices for Long-term Development:

  • 8-U practices, while maintaining the idea of fun and keeping things loose, should also introduce more detailed fundamentals—for all positions: fly ball communication, double play feeds, thinking ahead, being prepared as opposed to just reacting.  
  • Learning/Repeating vs. Mimicking: Teaching more in-depth fundamentals at this age group will help the development of muscle memory (and avoid bad habits).
  • As always, teach the framework for sportsmanship, being a good teammate.
  • Patience is the key with this age group, though, as the athlete’s growth is anything but uniform. There are massive differences in cognitive and physical development amongst kids in this age group. As a coach, you need to pay attention to that and accommodate.

Pre-Practice Warm-Up

Obstacle Course: 10 minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Another great way to break the ice and get the players interacting with this fun warm-up routine. Get all the coaches involved too, allowing each player to get more comfortable with the staff.

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate

Practice

Defense: 30 Minutes

Stretching/Into Catch: 10 minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Use this time to do two things: 1) begin to show the importance of taking care of your arm—demonstrate a few easy stretches they should do before throwing. Also, continue to reiterate/teach proper throwing mechanics and grips. (Use the Mike Schultz videos for assistance).

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate 

Infield: Groundball Competiton: 20 Minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Split the team into two groups on each side of the mound—working on fielding ground balls and making the throw into the net (or to a coach) at home plate.

Note: Focus on teaching the proper mechanics and not the speed they can field the ball and make the throw.

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate

Offense (with Pitching Side-Work Intro)

Hitting/Pitching Stations: 30 Minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Break the team up into two groups. One group should be working on hitting fundamentals—tee work and soft toss—while the other group should be at the mound for pitching.

For the pitchers: Take this time to teach basic fundamentals of pitching. Step by step, walk the group through where to place their foot on the rubber, a few leg lifts, etc. To end the session, have each player throw a few pitches with the coach (preferably you) catching behind the plate.

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.
  • Get a show of hands: Who wants to pitch?
  • Remember: End the practice with a High Five Line—“Good Game!”

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Life lessons and Mentoring Dialogue will play a role at this age, but shouldn’t be introduced right off the bat—take time to discuss who likes what best, and why. Build the Life Lessons organically as the team continues to grow. That way they will retain the information a little better.  

Keep pre- and post-game team talks short and to the point. Kids in this age group will forget what you’ve said if the talk goes too long. Short and make it count! Best practices are to keep a note pad of the “goods” and “the things you need to work on” in both practices and games. This way you can verbally reward “effort” and cater needs to your practices.

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