When it comes to youth baseball, whether travel baseball, select baseball, or Little League, the drills and workouts you practice can make or break your team's performance on the field.
Not only does an athlete need to work on their personal skills and conditioning, but also a team needs to be able to bond and play well together to find lasting success during the season and that all starts with your coaching!
In this post, we’ll share our top 11 favorite youth baseball drills that are certain to help take and motivate your team to major league performance!
1. Ultimate Drill to Stay Inside the Ball
Staying inside the ball is critical to become a well rounded hitter. Young players often swing for the fences, but learning to stay inside the ball can produce line drives and teach hitters to use the entire field. This drill can be used off the tee, soft toss, or even batting practice.
2. Learning to Hit Off a Tee
Players hit off a batting tee at every level to refine their skills. Teaching kids to hit off a tee at a young age can build a foundation of solid fundamentals.
Learn how MVP and World Series Champion Freddie Freeman hits off a tee in this video, and pass it along to your players!
3. Step Side Shuffle and Run
A lot like the AC/DC drill, the step side shuffle and run is a fantastic way to get your players to work on leading off bases and getting ready to steal or run to the next base. It’s a fun drill to get your players used to turning and accelerating quickly when it’s time to run to the next base.
You can do this drill by either running the bases or by setting up cones about base distance apart. Have your players side shuffle about 2-3 times and then turn and start sprinting towards the next cone/base and repeat. This drill can work hand in hand with the AC/DC drill, and you could even combine the two if you feel like getting creative!
This video by Critical Bench has a great example of the drill!
4. Stride Pause Stride Swing Drill
The stride, pause, stride, swing drill is great for working on the fundamentals of batting for youth players. In this case, the younger your players are, the more critical it is to make sure they understand the fundamentals of batting before they start to build up bad habits.
To start the drill, have your players get into a narrow but comfortable baseball stance. Next, have them stride out with their lead leg and pause into a regular baseball stance as if they're about to hit the ball. Wait a second, and then from there, have them swing and hit the ball off the tee!
Checkout this video from YouGoProBaseball for a great tutorial on this drill!
5. PVC Drill
The PVC Drill is fantastic for working on your players swinging fundamentals but from a different angle than the stride, pause, stride, swing drill. Just be sure to make certain your players are in a baseball stance, and taking it seriously as this youth baseball hitting drill can have some serious benefits when done right!
To do this drill you’ll need a PVC pipe. You can pick some up at your local hardware store for very cheap, and then you just need to cut it about 5 feet long, depending on the age of your players. Or about as far as a baseball bat would be if you set it on top of your players shoulders.
Once you have the PVC ready, you can have your players put the PVC pipe up against their shoulders and hold it up with their arms crossed. Next, have them get into a batting stance with a small bend in their knees. Following getting into a proper stance, instruct your players to move their hips towards the tee as if they’re going to hit the ball right on the sweet spot!
6. Seven Cycle High Octane Drill
The 7-cycle high octane drill is a great drill to work on your teams in-field passing game and also team skills. From a coaching perspective, it’s perfect since you can do this drill with your whole team instead of grouping up or doing it individually!
This drill is fairly creative, so feel free to create your own 7-cycle drills! Just be sure to make sure your players are in their main position and are working on in-game type reps. You can run this drill for about 50-100 reps each practice with your players which is a great way to get them into a rhythm and build up strong habits come game time!
A few cycles you can run with your team could be anything from, running the bases, fielding and grounding balls, to working ball handling drills and more.
For some more information and a few cycles you can work into your drill, check out this video by Championship Productions on YouTube!
7. Ball Handling Drills
The next drill on our list is all about building up your players' ball handling and fielding skills. One of the most important aspects of baseball is being able to catch, throw, and field balls and even at a professional level it should never be overlooked!
To start the drills, you can have your players get warmed up by putting a ball in and out of their gloves in various positions such as around the back, around their heads, waist, and their ankles. This way, your players can start to build up the habit of ball handling in a lot of different positions so they can learn to never feel uncomfortable with their position mid game!
Following the warm up part of ball handling you can have your players go between their legs with one of their feet forward, followed by a figure 8. All in all, this drill is a great way to warm your players up before hitting the field!
Check this video by Championship Productions for a great example of these ball handling drills!
8. Go-to Fly Ball
The Go-to Fly Ball helps improve a player's footwork and catching skills. The player should start in a ready position, feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and glove hand in front.
The coach or another player hits or throws the ball into the air, aiming to send it to different areas of the outfield. Make sure the ball is hit high enough to simulate a fly ball in a game.
As soon as the ball is hit or thrown, the outfielder must quickly assess the ball’s trajectory and move towards where the ball will land. This helps them judge the ball’s flight and adjust their path accordingly.
After catching the ball, players should quickly transition into a throwing stance, as if preparing to throw the ball back to the infield. Switch up this drill by mixing in some line drives and over-the-shoulder catches.
9. Round the Bases
"Round the Bases Drill" is a good base running drill for baseball that improves speed, agility, and technique. It helps players make tight turns, touch the bases correctly, and accelerate out of the turns.
To start, have player(s) line up at home plate. If multiple players are participating, have them line up behind each other with a little space between them. On your signal, the players sprint to first base, focusing on running through the base and not slowing down before reaching it. The player then makes a tight turn at first base and runs quickly towards second. They repeat this pattern all the way to home base.
If you want to make the drill a little more exciting, make the drill a relay race.
- Divide players into teams for a relay race around the bases.
- Each player must round all the bases and tag the next player in line, who then repeats the process.
- The first team to have all players complete the circuit wins.
10. Drop Step Drill
Grab a bucket of balls and line up fields standing around 20 feet from the coach. The coach throws the ball at an angle, to either the left or right, and the folder uses a drop step to move and catch the ball. Coach can also shout the direction of the ball, or use hand signals.
If players are too young, and not comfortable enough yet with a baseball or softball, you can run this drill with tennis balls to start.
After catching the ball, the fielder quickly turns and transitions into a throwing position, as if preparing to throw the ball back to the infield.
11. Bunting for Accuracy
A good bunting drill helps develop precision and bat control when laying down a bunt. Set up three designated bunting zones along the first-base line and the third-base line using cones or markers. One zone close to home plate, one in the middle, and one near the base. Have the batter bunt the ball into one of the designated zones.
To spice it up a bit, place moving targets (like a fellow player) in the field, and have the batter try to bunt the ball to them. Or, create game-like situations by giving the batter specific scenarios (e.g., a runner on second, no outs) and have them execute the appropriate bunt.
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When it comes to training your players for the youth baseball season, regardless of their age or skill level, there’s always something that can be improved and worked on. From ball handling, to throwing mechanics and batting, to building up strength, all of these factors can play a major role in your players on-field performance and confidence.
While our top 11 drills don’t include every throwing and fielding drill you can run with your players, they're a great place to start to build your own youth baseball practice plans!