We’ve gathered a few basic drills we like for kids in tee ball, coach pitch, or making the transition between the two. While some kids will be ready for more complex work, some will still be forgetting which hand to put their glove on. These kids are young. Keeping them engaged and having fun is going to do just as much for them long term when it comes to baseball as learning the actual drills.
Kids love to hit. The trick is they can’t all hit at once. Let each kid experience some success in each drill, but keep the line moving. Also, on batter’s last “hit” of a drill, have them run out to first base. Tell the batter to run through the base, then return to first to tap their foot on the bag once before their drill is done. It’s all about developing routines.
The Slow Swing Drill
This drill is done with a ball on a tee. Help the batter get into a proper stance and instruct them to keep their eye on the ball throughout the drill. This drill is about breaking the swing into a couple of parts and focusing on the ball.
- have the batter step toward the pitching mound and turn their front foot as they step forward. The batter should not swing their bat during step one. Just the step. The entire motion should be completed while keeping their eye on the ball.
- If needed, help the batter reposition that front foot and get their body back into their post-step stance. Remind them to keep their eye on the ball as they swing. Now, let the batter swing away. Keep it fun! This isn’t the age to get serious, give them some instant success.
The Moving Tee Drill
This is a pretty straightforward drill. Let the batter hit off the tee. Pause between each swing to help the batter with their stance, and always remind them to keep their eye on the ball and follow through with their swing. Pause and move the tee up and down, in and away, between each swing. Remind them to step and swing in pretty much the same way no matter where the ball is. They’ll be tempted to reach their arms out straight when it’s away, or step backward when it’s in. By swinging at different “pitches” they’ll learn to keep their balance and repeat their swing. If you wanted to see a similar drill that we teach older hitters you can check out how we teach various contact points.
The Soft Toss Bunt Drill
OK, it’s important to preface that The Hitting Vault teaches a focus on hitting the ball hard unlocking a hitter’s power. So we don’t actually teach bunting. But for young kids, this drill is great. This is about seeing the ball from a pitch and controlling the bat head. Soft pitch from a short distance (around 15 feet). Have the batter stand ready to bunt and “catch” each pitch with the bat head. Help the batter with adjustments as needed. It’s important that the kids understand how and why they are bunting. Remember for 6 or 7 year old all of these concepts are new. It’s important that you demonstrate proper bunting form. The batter should not swing or push the bat forward.
For the young kids, we like to focus on just three things at first: learning how the field and positions work, catching and throwing the ball, and running the bases. Keep things simple. Remind yourself and your players that mistakes are part of learning, and having fun is the number one goal. Start out with safe-tee balls and work your way up to the real thing. A young player is developing confidence at this age and a body blow with a hard ball may be more of a set-back than a learning moment.
Calling Positions Drill
Have all players line up at the four (non-catcher, non-pitcher) infield positions. Each position should have a queue (if you have eight players, line two up at each position, for instance.) It’s fine if the lines aren’t equal, you’ll be mixing it up. The player at the front of each line is playing, the others are waiting their turn.
Stand at home plate with a bucket of balls. Just before tossing out a grounder, call the position you are about to throw to. Don’t call the players’ names, call the position, then throw. Have the player field the ball, toss it in to you, and return to the end of the queue for their position.
Once you’ve cycled through each queue a couple times, move players to new positions and run it again—or move on to the next drill.
The Base Coach Drill
You’ll need at least two coaches or parents for this one. One first base coach and one third base coach. It helps to have somebody standing at second to help the runners keep moving.
- Have the players line up at home plate. They should listen for the call from the first base coach to run. The player at the front of the line is the batter. When the coach calls “hit,” the batter runs to first and listens for the coach to either say “stop at first” or “run to second.” This drill is about listening (paying attention) while running.
- When the second batter “hits” they get the same instructions from the first base coach, but the runner who is already on base should be listening to the third base coach. The lead runner always stops on third or rounds to home, depending on instructions from the coach. Keep the line moving.
The Catch (and Chase) Drill
It may not seem like a drill, but catching and throwing is a big part of the game. Kids at these ages are going to vary widely in their ability to aim a throw, judge the distance of a throw, and catch with a glove. Line ’em up and have them play catch. You can wander around helping as needed with throwing form. They’ll spend a fair amount of time chasing stray balls and sliding around on the ground getting dirty. Good.
The drills should be fun. Also, don’t spend too much time on any one drill. Switch it up and keep their energy up. If you don’t run your drills efficiently (and quickly) things can get chaotic pretty quickly. But, they want to be there and the structure of the drills will keep it fun. When baseball is fun, your players will want to keep doing it. And, don’t forget we’ve got drills and tips for your players as they move up the system too. Give us a follow on Facebook and we’ll make sure you’re covered.