Sometimes the hardest part about coaching youth players is being able to maintain their focus for the entirety of the practice. From my personal experiences, I have found that youth players stay the most engaged and get the most out of their time when they are doing fun and simple drills. Here are a few for you to get started having more efficient and productive practices.
Most kids love this drill because they get to throw a bat. I recommend not using the players good bat as it could hit something and damage it. You can use an old beat up bat, or, when inside, I will use a wiffle ball bat. The focus of this drill is to identify the player's bat path and direction through the zone. The objective is to have the bat thrown directly up the middle, showing good direction and attack angle (the positive or negative angle at which your barrel moves through the zone) of the bat.
Notice how the bat works up to the back net, representing a positive attack angle and good direction. You can also set up a tee, without the ball, and make the player aim for the high pitch or the low pitch.
This error shows a negative attack angle which many youth players struggle with. While I maintained good direction and the bat worked to center, I failed to get the bat working up sooner.
Here is what you will see a lot of your players do to start this drill because of a late release of the bat and bad direction through the zone.
I find a fun way to get youth players to loosen up in the box is to have them imitate some of their favorite players. This can help kids understand rhythm and timing, as well as let them have a little fun. The crazier the stance the better!
As you can see here, I chose to imitate the very iconic stances of Gary Sheffield and Kevin Youkilis. You do not have to use these, but these are examples of the types of stances that kids will have fun with.
When doing this I also like to use a wiffle ball bat because it has a smaller barrel with a much smaller contact point. You can do this during real cage time with a player’s bat or with the wiffle ball bat. Any variations of this will work.
This drill will help players make better contact as well as strengthen their wrists.
If your younger players struggle to square the ball up or struggle to get through balls because their bat bounces back, plyo balls can really help them feel how to be strong through the ball.
Hopefully some of these drills that work for me will work for you! And try to grow from these! Make up other similar drills that would be fun for kids but still have a purpose for you as their coach. The main goals of any coach are to get better and have fun so do both at the same time!