Coaching Youth Softball
Enacting Your Coaching Psychology
You are all set to start coaching youth softball. You've set your coaching psychology:
Establish a fun teaching environment
that results in winning (eventually).
So, how do you start making it a reality? How do you balance time between your top and lesser players? How do you teach a love of the game, so they want to come back again and again and can't wait to get to the field be it for a game or practice (especially practice)? How do you keep everyone engaged during the entire practice, balancing the too simple with the too complex? At what levels do you introduce different concepts of the game?
So let's start with practice set up. Remember that when coaching youth softball, you want to maximize the two hours to permit as many players as possible to be working on particular skills to increase their abilities. Coaching youth softball also means keeping it fun and interesting. But how do you do this with anywhere from 12 – 20 players? The best way to do this is by creating a station practice.
A station practice is where you divide the team into smaller groups and set aside a spot (or station) on the field to work on a particular set of fastpitch softball drills. Click on the link to see a station program we used as part of our indoor program
. Note that there are multiple skills across the game of fastpitch softball being worked on. Conditioning, hitting, fielding, and so forth are all covered. The particular drill listed is not important for this discussion, as we are focused on setting up a station practice. What each of those drills mean will be covered in the drills section of Fastpitch-Softball-Coaching.com
. The document is provided to you to give you an example of one such stations practice.
Some things to note about the station practice. The team works as a group for the Stretching and Running sections. For sections three through five, the team is broken down into groups of two. If there are an odd number of players, then a coach will team up with one of the players. The station practice is actually a practice of multiple stations. In other words, within each of the stations (Section 3 through 5) are substations. The groups of two rotate to the substation during the duration of that station practice. For example, during the conditioning drills, one group is assigned to the aerobic step, another to the jump rope, and so on. Each substation lasts five minutes and then the groups move to the next substation. When all of the groups complete all of the conditioning drills, the 30 minutes should have elapsed, and the groups then move onto the fielding/running drills, and the process begins again.
Note the timing of the entire practice: 2 hours. Now you have your players working the entire two hours with no standing around. In addition, time can be adjusted for those things you believe your team needs to focus on.
A final note on the station practice: As part of coaching youth softball, the softball tactics section was where you brought the team back together to do one of two things; either talk to the team about the fundamentals of the game of fastpitch softball, like reviewing signs, or the like or play a game. There is nothing like competition to get the blood flowing. So try, if you can, to put some sort of team game in every practice where the girls get to compete against each other.
Drills should be rotated through the program so that no two practices look exactly alike. Keeping it fresh will hold the interest of your players. Drills should also be targeted at the skill level of your players, so 10 & Under and younger should focus on basic swing, throwing, and fielding techniques. As the team gets older and skills are introduced, like base stealing, bunting (if not already part of the game), and so forth, these skills should find a place in your program. For pitchers and catchers at the travel team level, we generally kept drills specific to them outside of this program, and had additional practice time for pitchers and catchers. If this is not practical, then you will need to either take them to the side or split out a part of the practice that is targeted at them.
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