8-U Practice Plan 3

Practice Length: 1 Hour and 25 Minutes

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

Arm Swing Cycle Intro: 10 minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Adding in the developmental element—the Arm Swing Cycle—while keeping it fun with running around is a great way to start practice. Have the players do a dry run of the arm swings from the video below, and then incorporate running down to first base.

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate

Practice

Defense: 30 Minutes

Stretching/Into Catch: 10 minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: By this time, the players should have an understanding that this is the portion of practice where you do two things: do stretches before throwing; work on throwing mechanics and grips. (Again, Use the Mike Schultz videos for assistance).

Note: Coaches—it’s your absolute job to be mindful about preventing injuries. Keep an eye on the players during this time. Talk about the importance of stretching an introduce exercises that will help them along the way.

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate 

Infield/Outfield: Cutoffs/Grounders Away (from the body): 20 Minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Run this like a normal infield-outfield practice, but put more focus on cutoffs for the outfielders and introduce fielding the ball to the backhand and glove-hand side—it’s not always going to be hit right to them!

Note: Focus on teaching the proper mechanics and not the speed of the session. Rotate players to different positions, as needed.

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate

Offense/Pitcher-Catcher Sides: 50

Hitting/Pitching Stations: 20 Minutes

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

For the Pitchers/Catchers: 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. Have the catchers work on basic setups, receiving.

Note: 10-15 pitches MAX.

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate

Scrimmage: 30 Minutes

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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