8-U Practice Plan 1

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

Home Run Derby: 10 minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: 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

Catch/Into Abbreviated Long Toss: 10 minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Make sure the pairs are spread out—no black eyes! Take time to go over throwing mechanics—grips and footwork—and ease into it. Use the Jim Brower video as a reference for what you should look out for—and what the players should avoid.

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate

Infield (Groundball)/Outfield (Fly Ball) Stations: 20 Minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Start from the beginning, fundamentally. Take time at each station to talk about infield techniques and outfield techniques, and start slow: roll grounders during the infield portion and lob the fly balls in the outfield. As it progresses, fungos or tennis rackets (one of the best fly-ball machines ever invented) may be used.

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate

Offense: 30 Minutes

Hitting Stations/Tee Work: 20 Minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Like the previous section, start from the beginning, fundamentally. Athletes at this age are more susceptible to bad information and developing bad habits, especially from the plate. Take the first few practices to go over proper grips and swing mechanics, but also take the individual tee time and soft toss to begin to understand each hitter’s skillset (including capabilities) based on their strength and what’s comfortable to them. 

YSPN360/Dugout Captain Video(s) to Incorporate

Around the World Baserunning: 10 minutes

YSPN360 Coaching Tip: Focus on teaching—exploding out of the box, running through the bag, and shuffling during the secondary lead before heading to second.

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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