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youth fall baseball coaching approach

Discussion in 'Coaches Corner' started by garlan5, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. garlan5

    garlan5 Member SoSH Member

    What's your approach to fall youth baseball (6,7, and 8 year olds). We're machine pitch, though that probably wont matter in regards to my question. I've got a small group this year maybe enough for 2 teams. I was first going to plan on doing practice only since we originally didnt have enough for 2 teams but now were close. I practice 1x a week for 2 hours. I'm just looking to see what you coaches out there are doing with your time. If we have enough for the 2 teams should i focus on a fundamental practice each week with focus in groups working at different stations OR just throw together a sandlot game each week and scrimmage with whomever shows up. Maybe spend half an hour on infield etc and the last 1.5 hours on the game. Doing a practice only might develop them better but a sandlot game each week maybe more fun for them. Fill me in on your approach to the fall.
  2. Cumberland Blues

    Cumberland Blues Dope Dope

    Fall ball has always been basically organized sandlot in my neck of the woods. The kids are looking for more games - if you just practice nobody is showing up after week 2 or 3.
  3. Doug Beerabelli

    Doug Beerabelli Killer Threads Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    2 hour practice at that age? Do you have trouble keeping them interested at the end?

    Depends on your goals, IMO, but try to keep it fun. Breaking down into small groups is always a good idea for drills - worst thing is to have kids standing around too much. Hopefully you have 3-4 other coaches or volunteers to help. You don't really need a full set of two teams to play a scrimmage, a coach could sit in playing OF or C/ backstop stationed C or whatever. Maybe do drills first part, take some water breaks as you go along, and then do a scrimmage to end. Perhaps play to three outs, or maybe let everyone on a particular team hit, and then switch sides. Move the kids all around the field on defense every inning. I'd keep it 50/50 drills/scrimmage. If you want to develop their skills, small group drills will do more for that. Also, if most kids love the scrimmage aspect of it, the scrimmage can be the carrot to get through the drills ("We'll scrimmage after we finish working on some skills").

    You'll be losing daylight deeper into the fall (unless practices are on weekends), so plan accordingly for that.

    Keep it fun. I expect you might have a good group of kids who really like baseball if they are playing in the fall, vs concentrating on more traditional fall sports. If the kids love baseball the same or more at the end of the season compared to how much they loved it when you started the season, you've had a successful season.
  4. Hendu for Kutch

    Hendu for Kutch Member SoSH Member

    If you don't have enough for 2 full teams to play a scrimmage, one idea I've had is breaking the squad down into 3 groups and playing a 3-team game. One team batting, one team playing infield, one team playing outfield with 3 "halfs" of an inning. The two teams on defense obviously work together to get the hitting team out. It also accomplishes the goal of positional rotation. I haven't had to use it, but it's in the toolkit in the event we ever have an in-between number like 15 kids show up.

    You'd still have real game situations at play and the kids still get the competition. Bonus potentially that all the different groups of kids end up on the same "team" at some point since each group ends up being paired together on defense every inning.
  5. Pleasantlybitter

    Pleasantlybitter lurker

    We have 2 one hour practices a week (due to conflicts with other sports), most kids make it to one, the high achievers come to both, we play games against neighboring towns on Saturdays. Practice only will be better for development but kids want full on competition once in a while. It's the point of practice, so they can try to WIN. (I am most certainly not a cutthroat win at all costs coach) Watching my 9yo and his friends has made me realize it's ALL about competeing and score and points and winners and losers. We don't keep the book in our games, they keep score in their heads. I've started to add little competitions to most all of my drills and it's made the world of difference. We warm up with simple rapid baserunning instead of line stuff. We end practice with a relay race....against no one. It "feels" like competition and they love it. Most throwing drills have a competition component now and it's made them have so much more fun. (I've banished the word 'work' from practice). Sandlot games can involve a ton of standing around unless you rotate positions every batter but I think the competitive drive needs to be satiated occasionally. They won't even care if you make new teams each time.
    If you have 2 hours and enough kids I'd go with drills for much of it and tell them if they play hard and really commit to the drills then the last half hour or 45 minutes can be a game (with adjusted rules like the batter swings till he hits it or some such thing). I'm still learning what works and doesn't work, just my 2 cents.
  6. garlan5

    garlan5 Member SoSH Member

    Great stuff. I've used a little of all of this so that's good confirmation.

    I do have luck with 2hour practices, I sometimes go over and they're still engaged. My machine pitch was 5,6, and two 7year olds this spring and they were highly engaged. I used to end on relay races. 6 vs 6 one group at second one group at home. They loved that. Nice finish to practice
  7. garlan5

    garlan5 Member SoSH Member

    I think I'm going to break it down like this.

    6 to 615pm- warm ups

    615 to 7pm- 3 groups (base running, throwing, batting cage/tee) 15 minutes and rotate

    7-8 scrimmage
    Thinking 3 pitches per kid. Bat everyone. Assuming I have at least 8 vs 8 or 7 vs 7. Anything less I can use the 3team suggestion, modified I'd need be
  8. PaSox

    PaSox lurker

    Here is one for you guys to tackle..We were fortunate to have enough for two (Minor League) fall teams. Ages 8-10. Obviously that means two managers with me being one..Other manager had his team selected before registration for the fall teams were finished. That being said, he took every eligible player that made the 8-9-10 year-old all-star team during the summer. That included two catchers and four pitchers.
    When my roster was completed, I had four players with minor league experience, six players coming up from coach pitch and one player who never played baseball before in his life. As well as not one kid who had ever taken the mound before in his life.
    Parents in the league were outraged when they saw the disparity in how the rosters were formed. Regardless, after seeing the hand I was dealt, I went with drills, drills, and more drills. I went heavy emphasis on the fundamentals. Proper base running, hitting mechanics such as where to stand, where to hold the hands and so forth. Lots of infield and outfield. Fortunately I have three other guys helping me where we could break practice down into groups..Some taking BP, others doing soft toss, hitting balls to the outfield and whatnot. Biggest struggle has been the pitching. With it being fall and minimal practice time, it has been tough to work on the pitching. Can't say enough about how the kids have responded..

    We played our first game two weeks ago against the manager who loaded his team..I don't keep a book, just write notes down on the back of a lineup card that I keep in my pocket as a way of remembering batting order and such. That way I can mention some points that I think we can improve on. We lost that first game 15-2 where the manager kept one of the all-star pitchers in the game for two innings so he could strikeout six consecutive kids just up from coach pitch.

    The last two games have been much better. Throwing to the correct base, backing up throws from the catcher and actually stringing some hits together.

    I am treating the fall the way I believe it should be treated. Making it a learning experience, especially for the kids just coming up, so when the spring season rolls around they will have a general idea of what they are doing.

    Sorry for the length of the post. Just a tad bit of frustration that a league would allow something like this to happen to a bunch of 8-9 year old kids.
  9. garlan5

    garlan5 Member SoSH Member

    I feel you. I got given a team of 5 and 6years olds and my oldest son at 7. The only 7 year old on team. The other team was already "established" and that I would benefit next year when my group was the experienced group. This is 40mph machine pitch with normal ages of 7 and 8 yrs old.
  10. EddieYost

    EddieYost has a special friend in GHoff Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    This stuff should not be allowed, ever. If the teams are competing at the same level the talent should be distributed evenly.

    People can say all they want that it’s a learning experience but there is only so much you can learn when you are overmatched.

    The kids on the bad team are going to get significantly less plate appearances game over game. And when the talent level is uneven there tend to be less balls in play due to walks and Ks. So you have 7 bored kids in the field on both teams.

    There are plenty of venues to try to put together a really good team such as All Stars or AAU. It’s not appropriate in rec fall ball.
  11. garlan5

    garlan5 Member SoSH Member

    Completely agree. Unfortunately nobody else agrees. Though this fall I'm kinda running the show and I'm dividing things up. We have fewer kids in fall and much more laid back. In spring everyone will sign up in their individual towns and everything will be back to uneven. That's the problem with a small county but large in distance between fields. Nobody wants to pool cause they want to play in a town farther away.
    #11 garlan5, Oct 2, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018

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