Monday, May 24, 2010

How to Run a Great Baseball Practice

By Jack Perconte

Of course, the number one key to running a great baseball practice is organization. Legendary basketball coach John Wooden was famous for mapping out every detail of his practices, with every second of practice accounted for. This may be a little extreme for coaches of youth baseball but the point is that coaches who are organized will get the most out of their practice time. Baseball coaches should map out their preseason practices to be sure they cover every important aspect of baseball for the age of the player. As the season progresses, coaches can gear their practice time to cover the areas most needed, based on their team weaknesses. Following are some points that coaches should consider to run a great baseball practice:

1. Get in the habit of starting practice on time - parents who bring their child late will get the message early in the season that a late player will be missing out on some instruction.

2. Do not neglect warm-up time. This time is a very important time for coaches to teach the fundamentals.

3. Get help from assistant coaches and interested parents but be sure to inform them of the correct fundamentals that they should be watching for and teaching.

4. Keep players busy - players should not be standing around very often. Small group stations are recommended when coaches have help and game action drills or play is recommended when help from assistants is not available.

5. Keep stations relatively short so boredom does not set in and try to cover as many aspects of the game as time allows each practice.

6. Mix up the pattern of each practice - for example, if you work on hitting first one practice, work on defense first the next.

7. Safety is paramount at all times so don't forget helmets, etc... Use of softer balls for younger aged players can really help teaching all phases of the game.

8. Kids love competition and contests - the use of those when players begin to get bored, or tired, can spur enthusiasm. Using contests as incentive to work hard early in practice, with the idea of competition (games) later in practice when players work hard, can be a good idea.

9. When having contests, be sure to handicap them some so each player, or group of players, have a chance at winning. Make sure and let players know that a handicap system is in place for fairness.

10. Reward hard working "practice players" and not just star game players. Rewards for best defensive, offensive and hustle player(s) of each practice will spur good effort in practice.

11. Try to give the same amount of attention to each player. Players who feel slighted will be affected and other players will generally notice the slight of another player also.

12. Give homework. Inform players and their parents of the things you would like them to work on before returning the next time.

13. Long drawn out talks are never recommended. Bringing in a guest speaker or coach can be memorable for players.

Finally, coaches who remain positive, informative and hopeful will have the best chance of developing good players, as well as fun loving baseball players.

Former major league baseball player, Jack Perconte gives baseball hitting tips and batting practice advice for ballplayers of all ages. His baseball playing lessons, books and advice can be found at Jack is the author of two books, The Making of a Hitter and Raising an Athlete - his positive parenting advice and books can be found at

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