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Practice important even before the season begins

By Jacquie Joseph

Organizing effective practice sessions is one of the most important jobs of any successful coach. To help your players grow as athletes, you must teach them how to perform skills and drills correctly; maximizing quality repetitions in your practice sessions is a must. This chapter helps you determine which skills your players need to work on before the season begins. Sample practice plans are presented at the end of the chapter to show you how to conduct your practices effectively and efficiently, and special considerations for teaching youths to more advanced players are also discussed to help you maximize your practice sessions for all levels.

Before you meet with your team for the first practice of the season, list the skills and plays that must be covered before opening day. Whether you practice indoors or outdoors, the basic skills are the same. A typical list might include the following skills:

• Footwork at the bases—force outs, tag plays, and double plays
• Throwing to bases
• Checking the runner
• Fielding fundamentals
• Grounders, including forehands and backhands
• Pop-ups and communication
• Diving
• First and third situations
• Fielding bunts

• Fielding bunts
• Throwing to bases
• Running the ball to first
• Covering home plate on a passed ball or wild pitch
• Intentional walks
• Pitchouts
• Backup responsibilities

• Receiving balls and setting up
• Blocking pitches in the dirt
• Framing pitches
• Pop-ups
• Plays at the plate
• Force outs
• Tag plays (blocking the plate with a runner attempting to score)
• Fielding bunts
• Calling the game
• Cutoffs
• Throwing to bases
• Pitchouts
• Intentional walks
• Passed balls

• Grounders
• Down and block
• Like an infielder
• On the charge
• Fly balls
• Sun balls
• Drop step for balls over the head
• Playing the fence
• Line drives
• Throwing to bases
• Backup responsibilities

Team Skills
• Throwing and catching fundamentals
• Communication on all plays
• Rundowns
• Relays and cutoffs
• Hitting
• Bunting
• Baserunning
• Pickoffs

Don’t forget to consider your team’s strength and conditioning needs when planning your practices. For example, you might plan to include time for your team to lift weights after practice on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and do an aerobic conditioning workout after practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tailor your workouts to match your team’s and the individual players’ needs.

This is an excerpt from Defensive Softball Drills.

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