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Kids moving up to Babe Ruth

Discussion in 'Coaches Corner' started by EddieYost, Jul 28, 2016.

  1. EddieYost

    EddieYost has a special friend in GHoff Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Hi,

    Long time coach looking for some new ideas...

    I started a new program for kids stepping up from Cal Ripken Majors to Babe Ruth. Over the next few weeks, we will be having a series of practices (and maybe scrimmages) designed towards preparing them to transition to the 90 foot diamond this Fall.

    There are 12 kids signed up right now. I am guess that we will have 8-10 kids at each practice. Most of the kids have some exposure to the 90 foot diamond already, but not enough.

    Any ideas on fun drills and games that I could do that would help them get ready for September?

    Thanks
     
  2. loshjott

    loshjott Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    I made this transition with my team last year at this time. I don't have great ideas for fun drills, sorry, but some impressions.

    It seems like a big transition at first but to my eyes they got used to it pretty quick. Your infielders will struggle with the longer throws but they'll adjust, and of course they are getting bigger and stronger each day. For everyone except the biggest LH power hitters play your RF shallow and teach him to throw to first on anything on the ground to right. We would get at least 1 9-3 force outs a game and sometimes 8-4 forces or even 8-3. And of course it works both ways and your kids need to sprint hard to first on RF or CF grounders rather than making the turn like a normal OF ball.

    For hitting you'd think it would be easier since the pitching is coming in slower than from 50 feet but since hitting is so much about timing my hitters struggled early on until they readjusted.

    Again, from the perspective of a year, it was amazing how quickly the team adjusted to the big field and even after half a season last fall on the big diamond the 50/70 field looked puny.

    As for fun drills, we do knockout occasionally which is good for IF to get lots of throws and baserunners to hustle down the line. Set up a full IF and hitter hits off the tee and has to beat the throw to first or gets knocked out. Anything in the air over the IF also is a knockout and he has to shag the ball himself.
     
  3. EddieYost

    EddieYost has a special friend in GHoff Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Thanks loshjott. Good suggestions. We play games similar to knock out where you get points for how many bases you can touch before the ball gets back to home, or to the base ahead of the runner. Knockout sounds fun though, and has more defensive value than the games we usually play. I am going to modify it a little though because I would never want to encourage a kid to try to hit the ball on the ground. Eventually those become easy outs. I may stick some parents in the OF or just use my judgement on balls hit out there. Lazy fly ball your out, line drive your in.

    Appreciate the ideas.
     
  4. TheYaz67

    TheYaz67 Member SoSH Member

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    I used to coach Babe Ruth on the 90 foot, now am back on the 60 foot with my kids in LL, but dealt with alot of 13 year olds moving up to the 90 foot back in the day, so I have a few bits of advice and suggested drills.

    Given the much longer throws required from the left side of the infield, one drill you can do involves teaching/encouraging those infielders to take an extra "shuffle" before they throw the ball - this drill should focus on using that second shuffle to both properly align the shoulders (and hips/feet) with first base and to ensure a good stride and over the top throw to first base. When they were on the 60 foot field they knew getting the ball out of their glove/hand fast was key in the infield - now they have a lot of "extra" time to make that throw to first, and you want to drill it into their heads that the proper use of this "extra time" is to improve that body alignment and getting a good solid position/base to make a powerful and accurate throw so they cut down on the number of throws the first baseman has to dig.

    It is also helpful to do more drills on cut offs on the throws from outfielders to the bases. On the "small diamond", by the time they get to 12 years old, many of the better outfielders don't need/use the cutoff man even on a ball hit to the fence on a 200 foot fenced field - as a result they and the infield cut off men thus get a bit "lazy" on the cut offs, and the "positioning/spacing" of the guys doing the cut offs changes alot on the bigger field - they need to go out further to help the outfielders, so we always did more drills on that aspect of defense.

    Lastly, I would suggest more drills associated with infielders (especially corner infielders) charging balls, both because you get more bunting on a 90 foot field, and because a poorly hit ball will otherwise take a long time to get to an infielder, so this skill will come more into play than it did on the small field...

    Hope those are helpful, and good luck.
     
  5. EddieYost

    EddieYost has a special friend in GHoff Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Thanks TheYaz67. Those are all good thoughts. Adding all of that to my notes. I know most of these kids have no idea how to line up a cutoff man.
     
  6. tonyandpals

    tonyandpals Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    My kids enjoyed doing cutoff relay races. Three lines of 4 kids spaced about 70-90 feet apart in the outfield. Have them go down and back 3-4 times and see who finishes first. Emphasize good low throws to keep the cutoff man's feet on the ground. Show an example of how much slower it is when he has to leave his feet. Make sure they're pivoting to throw the right way. Again have a team show the wrong way to really show the difference.
     
  7. EddieYost

    EddieYost has a special friend in GHoff Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Thanks. I like that game. I have the person receiving the throw present a big target, arms up in the air. Once the ball is thrown, its the cutoff man's job to turn his body sideways and move to get in position to catch the ball and relay it fluidly.

    The only piece that its missing from that drill is the lining up part.
     
  8. absintheofmalaise

    absintheofmalaise too many flowers Dope SoSH Member

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    I relied on this book when the kids I coached moved up from LL to Pony ball. Lots of really good drills in it. One drill that really helps them learn to throw and receive relays is to line them up foul pole to foul pole and throw a ball from pole to pole. It will help with their IF play too.
     
  9. loshjott

    loshjott Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Yes, I have that book too.
     
  10. doc

    doc Member SoSH Member

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    I found it's a great time to review and correct mechanics for both hitting and pitching at this age. The kids at this age often have flaws that weren't corrected because it worked at the lower levels but will hold them back in the upper levels.
     
  11. EddieYost

    EddieYost has a special friend in GHoff Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Good point. We are starting each practice with playing catch the right way, focusing on form. I start them out close and slowly stretch them out so the can work on crow hops. Two practices so far. The kids are having a lot of fun. The 3rd one is tomorrow. I appreciate the ideas.
     
  12. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Until recently, I always coached older kids on the big field, 15U and 18U. Whenever a new crop of kids came in to start a season I noted most had serious gaps in their fundamentals especially throwing, fielding ground balls, taking and hitting cut-offs, etc., forget bunting. Very few were well coached in finer points of things like situational base running, position play, double play depth, etc. I had to arrive at the conclusion there were some very challenged coaches in the younger divisions of our league. I am now coaching in the younger divisions as a result. Note: I have no kids in the program, never have.
     
  13. EddieYost

    EddieYost has a special friend in GHoff Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Regarding bunting...

    In rec leagues, 12 and under, I spend very little time on bunting. In the town where I coached, we play about 12 games, plus maybe a couple more for playoffs. With 12 players in the lineup, the number of plate appearances for each kid might wind up around 40. My theory has always been that I want the kids to maximize those 40 plate appearances, focusing on pitch recognition and mechanics. I want for each kid to square up the ball as many times as possible.

    Maybe that's wrong. Maybe we should spend more time on bunting?
     
  14. soup17

    soup17 Member SoSH Member

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    You are 100% correct. I am the same way. We work on bunting occasionally in practice and will play a bunting game (taking up at most 10 minutes of practice), but in real games, I want them to swing the bats. This is a bit tongue in cheek, but when I am asked why I don't bunt in the games, I always say "the next time a guy who mainly bunts signs a $100M contract, we'll bunt more," and then tell them why I really don't bunt. Now as they get older and closer to HS (they are 12 this year), I will do more with bunting, since the HS into which my players feed bunts ALL the time. As an example, my son as a freshman on JV last year, got 7 at bats and was asked to bunt 4 times - similar to the experience of the other freshman players. I would be doing them a disservice if I didn't ensure they at least were familiar with bunting even if they don't do it in games very often until they move up to 13U, and even then, I will do it very sparingly (perhaps making sure each player gets a bunt down in a game at some point before he goes to HS). A number of coaches in the mid-level travel league in which our team plays bunt most of their bottom 3rd of their order. I hate it.
     

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