The key to enjoying the game of baseball and playing well for 4 year old players is repetition with drills. More than anything else, they need to learn the fundamentals of baseball, doing repetitive drills for fielding, throwing and hitting. Which baseball drills for 4 year olds that work on the fundamentals of baseball are the best?
Baseball drills for 4 years olds should always be fun and at a level they can understand. At that age, they are true novices who know very little about the game’s dynamics and challenges. Coaches are essentially starting at the beginning.
Through drills, they learn standing in infield ready position, how to hold a baseball bat, getting into the correct batting stance and learning with a batting tee and much more.
4 year olds can play at home with their Mom or Dad to further develop their skills. You will be training them form the start. If they learn what they need to know at this young age, they will always repeat it as they get older when playing more competitive baseball that tests the skills they’ve learned when they were little.
Fielding Progression Drill
We start with the most advanced drill, one to do at the middle of the season. If you can achieve this level of performing drills of this type, you will have used the drills that follow this one.
This is a very simple drill for very young players. It’s fun and based on repetition. The drill requires two young players, each wearing a baseball glove, and a baseball.
The players start 3 to 5 feet in distance from each other. The drill is best when performed on natural grass.
One player rolls a ground ball to his partner, who fields it and throws it back. He can throw short hops, ground balls and line drives. After 10 times, the second player throws balls to the first player, 10 times. It’s easy to see the drill has a lot of built in repetition.
- Ground balls tossed directly in front of the other player. He fields and throws it back.
- Player 2 now throws 10 ground balls directly to player 1, 10 times
- Now Player 1 has the baseball again, he throws ground balls a little to the right of player 2, 10 times.
- Player 2 now does the same, throwing ground balls to the right of Player1.
- The progression goes now to the left side of player 2, and then Player 2 throws to the left of Player 1.
- After this, they throw 10 fly balls to the right of the other player, then the left, and so on.
As they improve these fundamental skills, they begin to move further apart from each other, such as 6 feet apart, then 8, then 10 and keep distancing from each other until they reach their distance threshold.
These drills are don by the two players only. The coach isn’t hitting balls with a fungo bat. The coach can have his team separate into pairs, each pair with a baseball. He observes and directs them, telling them when to move apart, what kind of throws they make to each other.
These skills need to be developed.
- Ground balls in front of each other.
- Fly balls in front of each other.
- One hop grounders
- Ground balls to the left and right. Players extend their gloves away from their bodies to field.
Ground balls hit to the sides will require players to move their leg on the side of the incoming ball, bend their knees and place their gloves on the ground. Repetitions of all these movements build players’ fundamental fielding skills.
Once their body mechanics and their timing is in sync, they can fry crossovers on the sides, when they reverse their gloves and field the ball backhanded.
Running the Bases Drill
This drill teaches 4 year olds about the 4 bases situated around the baseball diamond. Here, they will learn the name of the bases and the progression of their run, and where to run to when they hit the baseball.
- The coach lines up his team behind hold plate.
- Using his voice or a whistle, the coach orders them to start running.
- When the first player reaches first, he yells out the name of the base.
- Coach sets the next runner to first, who calls out, while the first runner heads to second and yells the name of the base loudly.
- As soon as every runner reaches first base, the next runner in line starts running.
This is a fun drill for kids. They learn how to run around the diamond, record and remember the names of the bases, and how to tap each bag with their foot.
Always keep in mind that very young players know next to nothing about baseball yet, so it’s best not to confuse them. Keep every drill you do as simple as possible.
Preparing the Diamond for running the bases
4 year olds need to have the baseline very brightly marked. When they run, they will keep their feet on the line.
You may want to seek out a place where the lines are drawn brightly, and the diamond is smaller, so it will be less than 90 feet to run to each base.
Places for very young players can be found in most towns and cities. These camps focus exclusively on young players, or have areas designated for them.
Batting Tee Drill 1
Batter’s Box placement: Lining up the Belt Buckle Drill
Coaches will need to set up a batting tee on or near the mound. He’ll also need a bucket of baseballs. Incidentally, there are blemished baseballs that the large baseball manufacturing companies sell in mass quantities that are a third of the price of regular baseballs. These are regulation baseballs with slight blemishes on them that were rejected during manufacturing, but are perfect for little league for practice purposes.
- Have players line up behind home plate.
- All players have a bat and are wearing helmets.
Note: 4 year old players don’t understand the concept of the batter’s box, so setting them in the right place in the box will be challenging. Coaches will need to help them understand how to line up. At this level, you’ll want to find the best place that allows them to swing the ball with their power on the tee.
Your frame of reference is their belt buckle. Tell them to keep the buckle right across from the ball. Then show them how far away they should be. The average distance away is 24 inches (2 feet).
Once your 4 year old player understands that they need to keep the belt buckle in front of the ball on the tee, then it will be much easier later on teaching them the optimal place they should stand in order to hit the ball.
Once your players have learned how to grip the bat, and develop their batting stances, you can show them the best place to stand in the box to get the most power on the hit.
Batting Tee Drill 2
This drill is intended to teach 4 year olds how to spot the ball on the batting tee. They will attempt to make contact with the ball and hit it out to fielders.
You will need a batting tee placed on home plate, and 3 or 4 fielders spread out around the pull position of the batter.
Take a baseball and place a round black dot on it. You can draw the dot with a Sharpie or get a small round black sticker to place on the ball. Only cover the portion that will
Batting Stance and Swing Drill
Very young children will benefit greatly in the future when they are taught the correct batting stance now. They will become disciplined in the stance at an early age and when they move on to high school, it will be second nature to them. Learning the batting stance is one of baseball’s fundamentals.
For this drill, line up your team along the first and third base base lines. Ask your players to get into their batting stance. This drill is fun for the kids because it allows them to show off their batting stance. Do not use a baseball bat for this drill.
Check each player to confirm that his arms are up with hands raised to his ears, and back elbow raised.
The coach calls out “swing”, and, without bats, they demonstrate their swings. The coach walks around and makes adjustments to their swings, which should be level and across the middle of their bodies.
Make it a fun time and a game for them to swing without a bat. Make sure that they don’t swing too hard, and that with each swing, they are doing it the same way each time the go through the motion.
This is a coach intensive drill, because the coach is responsible for molding their swing. Because they are under 5 years old, what you teach them will become ingrained in them. It’s important they get it right, and swing properly, because what they learn now will stay with them throughout their baseball career.
Batting Drill with Three Tees
This drill is about two important aspects of baseball: listening to the coach and swinging the bat to make contact with the ball.
For this drill, set up 3 tees about 8 feet apart. Establish for the players that the first tee is number 1, the second 2, and the third is the 3rd tee. Select 3 players to bat.
Each player lines up in their batting stance and gets ready to swing the bat. Ask each player to call out to you what the number of their batting tee is. When they give you the correct response, you are ready to start.
The coach calls out the number of the tee he wants to player to swing. This teaches very young players to listen to their coach, as well as developing their body mechanics.
The coach now has the chance to observe each batter, walk up to them and have them adjust their stance, stride and swing. 4 year olds anticipate their number being called, and get excited to swing the bat. It’s a fun exercise that helps improve their swing and body movement as well as instilling the discipline necessary so they will listen to the coach when on their field and at the plate.
Throwing on One Knee Drill
This drill shows players the important role the upper body plays in throwing. Players will throw using their arms and upper body only, and helps develop early muscle memory.
Each player needs to have a ball to perform the drill. It’s suggested you use a tennis ball or some lighter ball (not a wiffle ball), to begin throwing on one knee. After they learn, you can use a regular baseball for a greater challenge.
This drill emphasizes upper action use of the body, starting with the grip, then to his raised arm and elbow, the L shape between the forearm and the bicep, finally turning the body gets developed. The young player will develop muscle memory through repetitions of this drill.
The player, on one knee, raises his arm with the baseball in his hand. He is facing a target you have marked. The target could be the coach or another player.
Players start with their body facing the target. He throws and the coach observes it, checking to see if proper body mechanics are used. He goes to the player and makes any necessary adjustments.
Fly Ball Drill
Young players are often afraid to catch fly balls because they think it is impossible to catch. They also have a fear that they will get hurt when the ball hits them if they miss. For this drill, coaches should use tennis balls, wiffle balls or puffy balls for all the players. Each player should be wearing his glove.
Take a ball in the hand you are going to use and show your players how soft and harmless it is. You can make a joke out of it and bounce it off your own head to demonstrate that no one will get hurt if the ball hits them. They will laugh and you will have put them at ease.
Next, have your team form a line next to each other. Throw the ball to them one by one. Once they get the hang of it, they can pair off and throw the ball to each other.
The result of this important drill is that your young player will get over their fear of being hit by the ball, so you can move on to fundamental fielding drills.
Two Station Fielding Drill
Four year olds do not have the attention span of adults or even 10 year olds. Therefore it is necessary for you to keep them constantly involved. If you do not do this, you will lose their attention and they may wander off to do something better than waiting around to perform a drill.
The more stations. or different areas with a part of the team to perform the drills, the faster the kids get involved in another fundamentals activity.
Set up two stations for this drill. Organize the kids into two single file lines. Roll them each a ground ball and have them throw the ball to first base. The two stations will be doing the same exact drill at the same time.
Simple Tee Drill
It cannot be stressed enough that coaches should make practice drills as simple as possible. No drill should be more complicated than the youths are able to understand.
For this drill, set up two batting tees. If there are a lot of kids at practice, you should set up more stations with batting tees along a fence or backstop.
Have the players line up behind the tee. The first child that comes up takes a bat and swings at the ball to try to hit it far enough to hit the fence. Each player has 3 tries.
Ball in Bucket Targeting Drill
4 year olds will find this drill a lot of fun to do while it teaches them throwing accuracy.
Set up two or three stations and place buckets on each base bag. The kids form a line about 10 feet away from the bucket, baseball in hand. The first thrower steps up and tries to get the ball in the bucket.
You can make it into a game, and establish a point system. Every time a player gets the ball in the bucket, they get 10 points. If a player hits the outside of the bucket, he gets 5 points. The closest ball to land near the bucket gets 2 points.
You can increase the difficulty of the drill by having the players throw from farther away from the bucket, from 12 feet, then 14 feet and so on. Don’t go too far away to where the kids have little chance of getting the ball into the bucket.
This drill helps young players gain accuracy. In a few years they will have to throw the ball with accuracy to other players..
Running Drill at end of Practice
To complete the fun experience of practice, your players enjoying the experience and looking forward to the next time, the final drill of the day is the running drill.
Form a line at home platte, the whole team forming a single line. The coach yells “GO!” and the first player runs to first base, touches the bag, then continues in a straight line to the outfield. Two seconds later, the second player starts running in the same direction, tagging first, followed by the third and the rest of the team.
They all reach the fence or barrier in the outfield. Finally, you yell “Come back” and they all run back towards home plate.
Remember that kids tend to run into each other, so make sure they are spread far apart when they are running back.
Also, it is imperative that you tell the players that under no condition are they to pick up a baseball bat until you tell them to do so.
End it with a race. Just straight ahead. If they race around the bases they all run into each other.