The ages for most of these players will range between four to six-year olds. The main focus will be giving them foundational principles about the game of baseball and making it fun. Practices will normally run for one hour and information will be given in small amounts. Keep your teaching simple and communicate your message clearly. Long talks will be received with grass pulling, cloud watching and butterfly chasing.
The batting tee is one of the greatest training tools a baseball player has access to and it is imperative that coaches teach this to their players. It helps develop hand to eye coordination and a level swing path. Players should show a consistent ability to make solid contact off the tee before coaches consider pitching to them from one knee or standing up. Allow them to master the tee. Many Major League players hit off the tee every day as part of their routine.
Base Running is a skill set just like hitting. Teach the players which bases they are allowed to run through and which ones they can stop on. Have a coach at first base positioned ten feet past the base with their right hand up so players can give them a high five. This will encourage players to run past the base instead of stopping on it. You can also do this at home plate.
Throwing mechanics and catching a ball with two hands are the most important things to teach in this age division. Avoid playing catch early in the season. Have players throw into a target so they can focus on their arm path and footwork. Do receiving drills with players to work on them catching the ball. Once players have shown the ability to catch the ball in team drills, move on to playing catch with a partner.
On the defensive side focus a lot on learning to field a ground ball properly. Very few fly balls are hit in this division, so adjust your practices accordingly. Infield drills will be your main priority. Outfield drills should consist of a coaching throwing players high fly balls and teaching them throw the ball into the infield. Catchers should learn how to put on their gear properly as well as knowing a safe distance to stand behind the batter.
Players at this age will be expected to listen and not talk when the coach is speaking. Teach this principle now so we can build this solid foundation as they get older. Coaches need to remember the ages of the players and what comes with that. The kids will have short attention spans and want to be goofy. Coaches will need to have grace and practice kindness and consideration, especially at this level. We want to give players a great experience so they will want to register and play again the next year.
Please see the attached Coaching Matrix for Age/Division-level appropriate skills to develop and drills to work with your kids on.