Baseball takes years and years to master, but skills are perfected faster when the right drills are done. Coaches should focus on drills like the ones that follow because they focus on building the specific skills of hitting, running and fielding. Improving these skills should start at a very young age when players are still playing tee ball. I’ve included here 9 Youth Baseball Drills for 6-year olds.
Very young players need to be kept involved, excited, and most of all, having a great time when they’re performing these drills. It should not appear to them they are actually building their skill set, but rather having a fun and friendly competition with other young players and themselves at the same time.
The game of baseball for players is all about being alert and moving constantly. Standing on base after a hit, the player’s eyes and ears should be open and they should be ready to explode into movement within a fraction of a second. These energy bursts occur when running, fielding a ball, and taking a swing at a pitch. Building the reflex and reaction skills, as well as hand to eye coordination is critical at this age.
Field and Toss to the Bucket Drill
6-year olds don’t practice fielding as much as they should. Instead a lot of time is spent on activities that don’t really develop skills need for the competitive level of play that can start as young as 8-years old. The Field Toss to the Bucket Drill helps young players learn how the athletic crouch, reacting to a moving ball and then placing the ball into a stationary bucket. Kids also moving a lot during this drill, so they have a lot of fun doing it.
For this drill, coaches line up their half little league team at shortstop, the other half to the right of second base, where the position is played. Stand each player behind the other. For this drill, you’ll need a bucket of balls to hit, and another bucket for the second base bag. Each player should have their glove.
The coach stands at the pitcher’s mound or on the infield near the mound. Using a fungo bat, he taps ground balls first to the player at shortstop, who runs up to field the ball.
The player then runs it to the second base bag and drops it into the bucket. He then runs to the back of the line of the players in the 2nd place position. The coach hits next to the 2nd base players, who field and drop the ball into the bucket, then take their place at the back of the shortstop line.
For a faster drill, the coach should hit to the next player the moment the ball is dropped into the bucket at 2nd base. Then you’ll be able to go through the line faster and the kids won’t need to wait so long.
For variation, the coach can try to hit the ball to the fielder’s right or left and take note of their ability to field the ball. He can also try to hit faster than a slow-moving ground ball. Kids love a challenge, so when it appears it’s become easy for the players, don’t hesitate to turn up the level of difficulty a notch!
Bounce Ball into Container Throwing Drill
This drill teaches accuracy in throwing a baseball over a distance. Often during gameplay fielders won’t be able to throw accurately to first base if they are throwing from an angle and when they throw over a long distance. Turning the drill into a friendly competition will make players try harder and let them have fun while learning a new skill.
For the frill, coaches should use a container about 4 feet wide and about 2 feet high. All the players wear their gloves. Have a half dozen baseballs available
The players stand behind the second base bag and the container is placed on the first base bag. Each player is one behind the other in a line.
Each player throws a baseball on a bounce over this distance and tries to get the ball to land in the container. This drill helps 6-year olds become accurate at their bounce throws to first base. After his throw, he runs to the back of the line to try again.
Another way to conduct the drill is to have each thrower try three times in a row; those who get the ball into the bin container the most go to a second round and by the end the one who is the most accurate wins.
Giant Nerf Ball on the Tee Drill
This hitting drill is a fun way for players to develop their eye to hand coordination by beginning with a large target and working down to a baseball or whiffle ball on the batting tee.
Starting a hitter with a small ball to hit is difficult and ultimately frustrating, However, using a larger ball, such as a Nerf soccer ball, a target easy to hit, will reinforce proper swinging mechanics.
The players stand behind the batting tee for their turn swinging. The coach places a nerf soccer ball on the tee. He allows each hitter to take three swings at the ball.
Following this, the coach places a Wiffle ball on the tee. The batter swings through the Wiffle ball and the coach takes note of the further hit whiffle ball.
Have each player on the team hit each ball three times. At this point, the coach may wish to try an actual baseball and set markers on the infield about 10 feet away from the tee, encouraging his players to try and hit the ball this distance. He can make this into a friendly competition.
It is okay to try baseball practices which focus entirely on batting, running or fielding, as long as you keep it fun and the players are always moving. In this way, they won’t get bored or frustrated. Repetition is the most effective way to improve these three core baseball skills, so pending an entire practice focused on hitting, will let players make repeated attempts at building their skills base.
Pop Fly with Tennis Ball Drill
6-year olds are naturally averse to catching fly balls because they’re afraid they will get hurt if the ball hits their head or their face. However, tennis balls don’t hurt, so it’s a great idea to have a few pop fly drills using tennis balls, then move up to actual baseballs. As soon as a young player catches an actual pop fly baseball, half of his anxiety will go away. By the third time, he will forget he was ever afraid.
Like the nerf ball drill, the Pop Fly Drill is graduated, so kids first develop their skills with a tennis ball and work up to catching an actual baseball.
Have players split into pairs, throwing pop flies to each other. The coach and his assistants pair off randomly with some players at the same time.
The coach makes the round through the pairs of players. Before he substitutes himself in a pair, he watches the player’s catching mechanics for a few throws, then substitutes himself and works on making sure the player holds the glove above him, open. Encourage the player to catch the ball in the pocket. Work with him for about three minutes until he is able to catch the tennis ball while keeping his glove still over his head.
The coach’s assistants do the same thing. They stand and observe each pair of players and then focuses on the weaker aspects of the child’s catching and works to improve it. The player he substitutes for joins the player he left.
The coaches get together after pairing off with all the players, each rotating so that each player has worked with at least two members of the coaching staff. When the top two or three players are identified, the coaches single them out and then throw a few hardballs in the air and have the rest of the players watch. They point out the way these top fielders catch the ball as the players observing are instructed.
Running the Bases Relay Competition Drill
This is a fun drill that is intended to teach young players to touch the bag when running the abscess. Drills like this one are beneficial when players get older when they’ll have to run the bases in competitive gameplay when a win is at stake.
For this drill, the coaches will need a bucket of baseballs. The players are going to run the bases, so they won’t be using their gloves. A whistle or something that creates a loud sound would be very helpful.
The coach line up half the players at home plate, and the other half at second base in a line. One coach stands at home plate with a half dozen baseballs and another coach is at second base with his own bucket of balls.
The runners at home and at second base are given a baseball. At the sound, each player starts to run all four bases, making sure their foot touches the bag, or else they are called “out.” When they’ve run around the diamond, they hand off the ball to the next runner, who begins his run. The team who runs the fastest in the relay wins.
This is a very simple drill that helps players to field grounders in a crouching position and to center themselves in front of the baseball.
For this drill, players will use their gloves and the coach and assistants will help. Line up players next to each other on the infield grass. If there are two assistant, line up players in threes. If there are three, players line up in fours, and so on.
The head coach instructs the players to get into a fielding position, demonstrating to them by crouching. Another coach rolls the ball to the head coach who scoops the ball into the glove with his other hand. Then the coach rises to a standing position and throws the ball back.
The players will duplicate or mimic the head coach and the assistant. Now roll grounders to each player in the line three times. Then, players scoop the ball into the glove then throw it back. After three ground balls, they run to the back of the line.
This drill can develop, as the head coach and assistants roll ground balls to the left and the right of the player, who scoop the ball into the pocket and throw it back. Kids love to be told they’re doing a good job, so always give loud, positive feedback when done right, such as “Perfect!” and “Let’s see you do that again!” and so on.
Slow Motion Batting Tee Drill
In this tee ball drill, the objective is to develop the batter’s swinging mechanics. The thee basic parts of a swing are the batter’s stance, load, and swing. Again, it’s best to demonstrate first before having the player’s work on their swing.
Because you’re working with 6-year olds, movement and activity are important so that kids won’t get bored and get distracted. Therefore, a coach should enlist the help of at least two assistants if he knows he’s going to perform this drill at practice. It’s also a great idea to have several batting tees so that each coach can instruct players at each tee and the line is shorter for the next player to take a swing.
First, the coach stands at the tee and demonstrates the swing in slow motion. He assumes a batting stance (the kids will assume their own stance and that should be encouraged. There is no correct batting stance, as long as the player’s feet are in the batter’s box.)
Next, demonstrate in slow motion how to load. The front foot moves forward, the hips move forward and the bat is level with the ball on the tee. The bat swings through the ball.
Have each player go through their swing in slow motion. Make sure each player has a chance at the batting tee. Have each player swing through at least two times.
Adjust the Tee Hitting Drill
Following the slow-motion batting tee drill, the coach now allows them to swing through at regular speed. Observing their swing and making corrections in their load and their swing through, the coach lets each player stand at the batting tee and swing 3 times.
For the first swing, the coaches adjust their respective tee down low and the hitter attempts a swing through. Hitters try swinging at the low ball a few times. Next, the coach adjusts it to waist height and batters practice their swing.
Lastly, adjust the tee higher at about chest height. Players take a few swings through the ball on the tee.
The coach can introduce variations to this drill. For example, it’s a great skill to be able to swing in both an upward and downward motion, in addition to a standard level swing. Kids can see, for example, that when they swing upwards the ball flies higher in the air, and when the bat is swung in a downward motion the ball is chopped on the ground.
Another variation is to have players try and hit to the right of the diamond and to the left. The purpose is to let the player see what happens when he swings, he has control of where the baseball will go.
If the player is told to swing to his right, he plants his front foot to the right during his load, and coaches assist players in completing the hit in the right field direction.
Soft Toss Hitting Drill
If the sequence of these drills is filled in the order I’ve listed here, the next natural step for coaches is to remove the batting tee and simply soft toss the ball to players, especially if you’ve rounded up a few assistants who helped with the earlier drills.
Line paler side by side and soft toss tennis balls to them, reinforcing the proper stance, load and swing. Correct the players after each seeing, fine-tuning their load and swing. You can intervene in their stance if it is making it harder for them to swing at the ball with power.
Toss a few balls to each player, and remember to encourage them after their swing when they do it well/ “That’s it,” “Now you have it,” “Let’s do that one more time,” and other positive reinforcements are remembered, so that at the next practice, they’ll want to receive the same positive reinforcement.
It’s highly recommended that coaches perform these drills either in the order listed here, or they take the three hitting drills and do them in the order I have here. Repetition is the key to improvement, and kids at 6-years of age really do want to be challenged. Remember that when they’re 8 years old, the play will become more competitive. It can’t be argued that kids at 6 still don’t have the eye to hand coordination they will in a couple of years, and that they become easily distracted, making sure they’re always doing something will help you accomplish these drills successfully.