Baseball Coaching Tips for Creating a Challenging Practice Plan
A baseball coach’s job is to keep a hot team hot. Providing challenging practices is one of the best ways to keep a team playing at a high level. Let’s take a look at some Baseball Coaching Tips for a Challenging Practice.
#1 Create Competition
The other teams in the league may not be providing enough competition to keep the team playing at a high level. If this is the case then the coach will need to create competition in practice. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by setting up simple scrimmage game with the team’s best players on opposite teams. The coach can also run special skill competitions with the winners getting to choose a favorite drill or activity to end the practice. Creating a competitive atmosphere in practice will help keep a team playing at a very high level.
Another idea is to contact a team one level up and see if they want to scrimmage. They may want to get some of their pitchers some reps and playing up will certainly be a fun challenge.
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#2 Challenging Drills
With a very talented team, the coach can spend a little less time on basics and focus more on advanced skills and drills. However, the basic skills shouldn’t be totally overlooked. A good way to get in the basics is by using them to warm the team up. After warming up, the team can engage in more challenging drills like the baseball drills that follow.
#3 Challenging Outfield Drills
Extreme Range Drill
Hitting the ball right at outfielders will make them look good but it certainly won’t challenge them. A great way to set up a fast moving and challenging range drill for outfielders is by using the pitching machine. By adjusting speeds and release points, the coach can have the outfielders running back, forth, right and left to make plays. This drill can be run in the outfield while the infield is participating in their version of the extreme range drill. To make this drill more challenging, the coach can have one outfielder make three to four plays in a row which will help build stamina. Another level of difficulty can be added by including a cutoff man that the outfielder will have to throw to after making a play.
Playing the Gaps
This drill can be run during full team defensive practice. The coach will simply hit a ball into the gaps and the outfielders will have to move quickly to cut the ball off or make a play on a ball that rolls to the fence.
Runners Attempting to Advance after Tagging Up
This drill can also be done as part of a full team defensive practice. The coach can place baserunners on base who will be instructed to tag up and advance. The outfielder will have to focus on making the catch and then attempting to throw the runner out or hit the cut off man. The coach can place multiple runners on base to increase the difficulty of the drill.
#4 Challenging Infield Drills
Extreme Range Drill
The coach will hit baseballs to difficulties spots that will make the infielders run to make a play. The difficulty of the drill can be increased by not going in a particular order. The infielders will have to be “on their toes” because the ball could be going anywhere.
Rundown with Multiple Runners on Base
The coach should put a runner on first and a runner on third. The runner on first will get into a rundown while the runner on third will be instructed to try and score. The infield will have to maintain a rundown until the other runner tries to score.
Infield In Drill
The coach should challenge the infield which is playing in by hitting baseballs to difficult spots. The drill can be made more difficult by putting a runner on third who will be instructed to try and score.
#5 Challenging Batting Practice
Bunting Up the Lines
Instead of just practicing bunting, the players can take it up a notch by bunting up the lines on command. This drill can be run with the use of the pitching machine.
Inside & Outside Pitches
Again, this is a great drill with the use of the pitching machine. The coach can set up the pitches to nibble the inside or outside corners of the plate. The batters will work on putting these very difficult pitches in play.
#6 Challenging Scrimmage Games
One Pitch Scrimmage
This is scrimmage is played under baseball rules with one exception- every batter enters the batter’s box with a full count. This will not only challenge the batter but it will also challenge the pitcher to throw a strike. The scrimmage is very challenging and can also be a lot of fun.
One Out Scrimmage
This scrimmage is also very challenging because it challenges the offense to score runs with two outs already in the books every inning.
Complacency is a successful team’s worst enemy. It is a baseball coach’s job to challenge a team that has outgrown the old practice model or is simply not being challenged by league competition. Creating challenging and engaging practices will allow a coach to keep their team working like a well-oiled machine.
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