I signed up to coach my daughters’ softball team this year and just wrapped up practice #1 over the weekend. This is 8U coach-pitch rec softball, with some players who are brand new and others who have played for several years. The first practice was an hour long, and my objective was to evaluate the players to understand their skill levels and begin to assess what we’ll need to work on in preparation for the season.
It’s hard for a new coach to understand where to start or what should be taught when they take on the challenge of leading a group of youngsters in a baseball season. The list below is intended to serve as a guide for new coaches and a reminder for experienced coaches of many of the objectives that should be covered over the course of a baseball or softball season. The list is directional and generally comprehensive. As a coach your goal at the end of a season should be to check off as many of these boxes as possible.
Certain leagues may have longer or shorter seasons, and teams may have larger or smaller rosters, so you will need to consider these variables when deciding what to cover. The absolute essentials are bolded, start with those, and move on to the others to make sure your players have the foundation they need to enjoy the season and the desire to continue playing.
First Things First
Before we get to the list below, the #1 thing to impress on the players is that they’re engaging in a game and it’s meant to be FUN! That fact gets lost in the shuffle too often at all levels. The chance to step on the diamond and PLAY a GAME is a great opportunity that should be cherished. Sometimes things will go their way, and sometimes they won’t, but a coach should always strive to keep things in proper perspective for the players. The coach’s prime objective at beginning levels should be to instill an enthusiasm for the sport such that players develop the passion to continue playing and potentially strive to improve.
Watch the ball all the way to the bat (coach pitch)
Don’t chop down, try for a level or upper cut swing
Look where you’re throwing
Correct Arm Action (elbow above shoulder)
Throw, don’t push the ball
Catching/Fielding a Ball
Alligator style on grounders
Two hands on pop-ups
Get in front of the ball
Get your glove on the ground
This post is intended to help you as a coach understand what you need to cover over the course of a baseball or softball season when you have a mixed group of new and experienced players who are just learning the game. If you have older or more experienced players, these foundations are still important, but your focus will be on teaching and reviewing more advanced topics under each category.