As players enter their teenage years, many of them have been playing for about 6 or seven years, and others are novices, just starting in the game. A year or two after age 13, the distance between the bases becomes the official90-foot distance, while the distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate moves out to 60 feet. 13 years old is the time to prepare for regulation baseball, and these 8 baseball drills for 13-year olds will help players improve their reflexes, reaction time, and power in hitting the baseball.
These drills are designed to be played at either a shorter distance between bases or at the regulation distance. The sooner 13-year olds are able to play at the official distance, the better prepared they’ll be for competitive baseball.
No Defense Running Drill
Players will be faced with many different running situations in gameplay. They could be on base alone, or there could be a runner ahead of them in scoring position. There could be two outs with a runner on first and third and the coach will call for a suicide squeeze. They could also be in a steal situation at first base and will attempt a steal by studying the pitcher’s movement as he winds up and throws.
This drill serves to condition the runner and help him improve his body mechanics to run fast within the base path. He can also work on the different base running situations described above.
For this drill, players will need a batting helmet. Coaches and hitters will need baseballs and bats.
The coach will be at home plate, using either a regular bat or a fungo bat for place hitting. He will also need an assistant at the third base line to instruct the runner.
- Stat with a runner on first and a runner on 2nd base.
- Have one player in the batter’s box.
- The rest of the runners form a line behind home plate.
- Do not use any infield or outfield players.
The coach hits the ball from home. All ground balls or pop flies are assumed to be base hits.
- The runners on base assume there are defensive players on the field.
- As soon as the ball is hit, players start to run.
Runner at 2nd:
- The runner at second runs to third and stops at third on any ground ball.
- On any fly ball, the runner at 2nd rounds 3rd base and heads home if the third base coach instructs him to do so.
Runner at 1st:
- On a ground ball, player will run directly to second base and stop.
- If a fly ball to the outfield is hit, the first base runner will round 2nd base and look to 3rd base for the coach’s signal.
- The coach will either instruct him to round third base to home or to go straight to 3rd base and stop.
Runner at home plate:
- On a ground ball, the runner at home will run hard to first base and run past it and will stay at first
- On a fly ball to the outfield, the runner at home will round to first base towards 2nd but will stay at first.
Soft Toss Hitting Drill
This drill helps players hit the ball as a moving object, rather than stationary baseball on a batting tee. Besides swinging mechanics, developing good eye to hand coordination is key hitting for power and speed. It also helps to hit the ball with greater accuracy.
For this drill, coaches will need a batting tee, tennis balls or tee balls, and an assistant coach to soft toss, and a net.
- The coach tosses the ball in an underhand motion to the hitter. Start from a distance of about 5 feet or less.
- Make sure the one tossing is safely away from the baseball bat or the trajectory of the hit baseball. Injuries are common when the one tossing doesn’t take common sense precautions.
- The hitter follows the ball and hits it into the net.
- This drill works best when it is repeated. The coach tossing should first throw the same pitch over and over.
- After about 10 throws of a pitch in the center of the strike zone, the coach will mix it up. Next, he throws high tosses, about 10 in a row.
- Follow this by pitches low in the strike zone, then inside and outside pitches.
It can’t be emphasized enough how important repetition is in a sport like baseball. Basketball is another great example of how the repetition of the same play improves skills. A basketball player practices his three-point shot by remaining in the same position on the court and repeating the same exact throw from the same angle repeatedly until he sees a slight improvement.
Baseball is the same. Soft tosses thrown one after the other at the same speed and from the same distance will guarantee there will be improvement of that exact play. When the tosses are low and thrown repeatedly, the players’ eye is able to follow it and begin to master hitting it.
Lead Hand Hitting
Great practice for young players is to work on their swinging motion. A swing involves the opposite elbow of the arm that holds the bat. Establishing a balanced swing, with the elbow bent will dramatically improve a young bitter’s swing.
This drill requires a coach to soft toss to the hitter. You’ll also need a bucket of baseballs. There’s not a safety issue in this drill for the one who is tossing since he will be on the side of the hitter.
A one-handed bat is also required for the drill. These bats are thinner and lighter than regular bats and are helpful for swinging with one hand gripping the bat.
- The coach squats or bends a few feet away from the hitter’s right side (if he is right handed), or on his left if he is a lefty.
- The player holds the bat in his left hand if he is a right handed batter, with his elbow out.
- The coach soft tosses underhanded to the center of the hitter’s strike zone.
- The hitter follows the ball and with elbow relaxed, hits the ball with the bat in his left hand.
- Repeat the toss 10 times
Top Hand Hitting
In this drill, the coach tossing, and batter assume the same position as the Lead Hand Drill above. The difference is now the batter holds the one-handed bat with his right hand.
- The hitter moves the bat down to the hitting zone.
- The bat extends fully from the back to the front of the hitting zone as he swings.
- The hitter’s elbow is bent but relaxed at the letters of his uniform. The elbow serves to balance the hitter’s body when he swings.
- The elbow on the opposite arm is key to the batter making a balanced swing. When his opposite elbow is near the body just below the chest, the bat swings evenly through the strike zone.
By practicing hitting with the left arm followed by the right arm develops balance and forces batters to focus more on the baseball, further developing eye to hand coordination. It shows how critically important the eyes are to hitting for speed and accuracy.
Infield Ground Ball Fielding Drill
Throwing drills can’t be overemphasized. It’s often said that great defense wins games. When the infidel works like a well-oiled machine and each position player is at top form, it’s hard for the opposing team to score runs, even if the opposition has fast runners and good base stealers.
For this drill, you’ll need a minimum of 5 players but can include more if you’re creative as a coach. You’ll also need a bucket and baseballs, and you as coach with a fungo bat at home plate.
Position your players at the 4 infield defense positions and a catcher behind home plate. You’ll want to keep track of errors, so count the balls that will be used in the drill before hitting to the infield.
Place baseballs near you at home plate and keep the bucket outside of third base.
- Using a fungo bat, hit a ground ball to the third baseman.
- Third baseman fields and throws to the first baseman
- The first baseman throws the ball to the catcher.
- Catcher throws back to the third baseman who places the ball in the bucket.
- Next, hit a ground ball to shortstop.
- Shortstop throws to first base.
- The first baseman throws ball to the catcher, who throws it to the third baseman.
- The third baseman puts the ball in the bucket.
Keep track of any errors made. If an error occurs, the third baseman will leave the ball outside of the bucket. The objective is to have no errors from any position as you go through the infield rotation.
Coaches can have players change position. For example, after hitting around the horn to each player three times, you can alternate by having the third move to first, first move to second, second to short and short to third. Then begin another three sets of hits to each infield position.
Infield Around the Horn Drill
This drill is performed without the coach hitting grounders to the infield. Instead, the players themselves practice fielding and throwing in order to throw out base runners at each base throwing to each other and covering their bases.
You’ll need to have the entire infield take their positions at third shortstop, second, first and catcher. They can work on this drill alone, a total of five players. The coach can take the rest of the team and have them practice either running or batting practice.
- The catcher throws the ball low to the bag at third base.
- The third baseman catches and simulates a stealing situation throw down.
- The third baseman next throws a grounder to the 2nd baseman
- 2nd baseman fields the ground ball while the shortstop covers the second base bag.
- 2nd baseman flips the ball to the shortstop who simulates a tag at 2nd base.
- The shortstop throws to the first baseman at the first base bag.
- The first baseman throws back to the catcher.
- Repeat: catcher starts by throwing low to the third baseman.
- After two rounds, the players rotate: 3rd to shortstop, shortstop to second, second to fist, and first baseman to third.
- The new position players go two rounds.
- Keep repeating the sequences two times until every player (except the catcher) has played and fielded in each position.
At 13 years old, players are beginning in play assigned positions. Defensive players a become better throwers than others on the team and may end up playing third base. Another may have quick reflexes and can backhand ground balls better than others, so would play well at shortstop. A left handed player can stretch and field grounders better and will become a first baseman, and so on.
Rotation players in this around the horn drill helps coaches determine how to create his best infield based on individual payer skills. It’s great to rotate players and observe their reflexes, throwing and catching skills to find the best fit for each player.
Call for the Catch
This drill makes outfielders learn how to call catches and work with the outfielder next to them to call for the catch or to move away when the outfielder next to them has a better play.
For this drill, you’ll need an assistant coach as well as yourself throwing fly balls to the outfield from both the first and third base lines. You’ll each need a few baseballs to throw and keep the momentum going.
- Coaches will each throw fly balls to the outfield and the infield between field positions so players can call the catch. Have your outfielders play shallow near the infield dirt.
As can be seen in this illustration, the coach positioned near first base throws a fly ball between the first and second baseman. The center fielder and the right fielder also watch the fly ball to determine whether it will come to into their zones. The first or second baseman calls for the catch.
The third base coach throws between the center and left fielder. The shortstop and third baseman watch to determine whether they have a play. The coach can also throw over the third baseman so either third base or left field makes the call.
Now the coach along the third base line moves in towards home and throws a fly ball between third and shortstop. These players determine who has the best play.
Next, he makes an infield throw between the pitcher and catcher. The catcher removes his mask and runs towards the ball and one of the pairs makes the catch.
The coach on the right side of the infield throws between center and right field. The second baseman moves back and tracks the ball, and the call is made between right, center and second base.
Next, he throws a fly ball in shallow right field, and the first baseman and right fielder parry for the catch.
This drill incorporates the entire infield and vastly improves the learning curve for players in their position relative to a fly ball. The drill also helps improve safety and helps avoid collisions that can lead to significant injury to players.
Lastly, the drill helps each player to track fly balls better. Outfielders move forward, their eye always on the ball, and infielders step backward tracking the ball as well. Over time, an infielder will know when to get out of the way because the outfielder has the better play on the ball and vice versa.
Tee Ball Hitting Drill
A batting tee is always useful for baseball players no matter what their age or experience. Hitters can always improve their swinging mechanics, and there’s always a need to work on eye contact. When the ball is stationary, the batter can focus on his stance, stride, and swing and watch the results when he contacts the ball.
For this drill, you’ll need a bat, helmet and a batting tee. You’ll want an adjustable batting tee that will be set thigh high for the first set of swings.
Have players in their positions in the infield and outfield. If the practice has exactly nine players, you can rotate and leave one outfield position open. So, the first hitter at the plate with the batting tee will be the right fielder. The second baseman can playback as an option. Next hitter would be center field and so on.
The series should be as follows:
- Thigh level: 5 swings
- Move the batting tee inside the plate as the hitter remains in the same position in the batter’s box. He takes 5 swings.
- Move the tee to the outside of the plate. Hitter takes five swings.
Move to the next player. The hitter now returns to his place in right field.
Make sure each player has a turn at the plate. The drill will move fast and should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete. Coaches can even mix real pitches into the drill. After every player has hit off the tee, players can apply the drills they practiced as listed here and hit off pitched balls, simulating throwing runners out at bases, and calling fly balls.