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I'm trying to find ways to mix up our 8U team practices.  I was thinking of setting up a "Skills Competition" for the kids.  Football has "punt-pass-kick".

I want to do Run-Throw-Hit type drills where the kids compete and I'll award small prizes like baseball cards to the winners. 

Has anyone done anything like this?

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Bill-  Here's a link to a blog post I wrote last year on some of the competitive skill challenges we use http://www.cornerstonecoachingacademy.com/creating-challenges-for-p....  Some of them would need to modified for younger players, but it should give you a start.  I'm also sending you an email with some more ideas. 

Let me know if you have any questions, I'd love to hear other's ideas!

Kyle 

Thanks Kyle!

Don't know if this fits into the overall scheme of a skills challenge but I made up a game for kids that develops a few skills.  The idea is to distract them from drills by making a game out of something.  What I did was get some ragballs and have about six players line up in front of the backstop and have a batter hit the ragball off a T toward the line of players.  Whoever caught the ball traded places with the hitter.  You never saw kids swing the bat so hard when it meant they could nail other kids with a hard line drive.  The ragballs don't injure players.  The fielders also learn reaction time and fielding skill as well as lose fear of the ball coming at you.

For 8u its about having fun,  We use to do knock out hitting and fielding,  makes it fun and competitive,  You can make the rules anything you want ,  like hitting you can call outs if you want regardless if its caught but if it caught maybe let that kid back in,  tons of ways,  put a bucket at home for them to throw to from SS,  just make if fun and competitive,  last man standing and be creative,  base relays with team , one team starting at home the other a 2nd and they naan off a ball when they get back to where they started to team,  make the loosing team pick up balls that practice while the winners just set back and watch

keep it fun, competitive and skill oriented

A summer youth baseball league my son played several years in Hampton, VA (Phillips Athletic Association) has a skills challenge for the whole league.  Typical challenges are done by team,  but you can make teams out of your players.  The drills that can be used for this age group could be a relay drill (line of 3 players throw the ball down and back 2-3 times),  fly ball challenge (can use a tennis raquet and tennis balls),  gold glove competition, turn two (ground balls hit to SS and other team serve as runners).  If you are a  machine pitch league you can do some sort of longest hit.  For pitching skills we use a Target Practice drill   (line up a bench across the home plate and put buckets and other items that the players attempt to knock off). Another throwing drill is knock out (pairs of players throw to each other and distance is gradually increased).  Last team that doesn't drop the ball wins.   As kids get older you can add drills such a a pickle drill and dropped third strike. 

The whole competition has been well received by players and parents. 

i think all these are good , be creative,  one thing I would like to say is I would NOT have any kind of drill or competition for pitching at 8, I know Little League starts pitching at 9 in what they call the minors so maybe something then but i still wouldn't make pitching competitive at practice,  They just aren't ready for that and for SURE DO NOT worry about Velocity at that age or teach them or let let throw breaking balls,  just fast ball , change ups

Bill,

Back in the day there was a national competition that was called Pitch Hit and Throw. Today it's called Pitch Hit and Run and it's sponsored by MLB. Google it and contact them and they will send you a kit so that you can host an event for your area. All the winners advance on to the next site and I believe that the eventual winners at each age and gender get to shag the fly balls during the All-star Home Run Derby. Here the local winners go compete at a minor league field and eventually at a MLB field. And it's 100% FREE.

Here is what I ended up doing yesterday at practice. It was well received by the kids.  We kept score of points and I gave the winner a pack of baseball cards. Other then the bunting, the skills were more focused on defense. I need to mix in some hitting drills next time.

Overall, it was fun and productive. The kids worked hard and were very competitive.

Skills Competition:

play catch. start close. move apart. last team to drop or miss ball wins.
(5 points each for winning team)
 
groundballs. start at 3B, then SS, then 2B.  take grounder at each position..  throw to first.(move quickly from 3B to SS to 2B)  (1 point for fielding ball.  1 point for accurate throw.  5 bonus points if you complete all 3 positions clean)

quick catch.  set timer. how many catches between partners in 60 seconds. (winning team 7 points each)
 
fly balls. (1 point for each caught fly ball) I hit deep, high challenging fly balls to them.
 
OF throws. field ground ball. throw home from CF. catcher is set. throw must be on the money. (3 points each successful throw)
 
bunting challenge.  5 bunts. make target on field. (2 points each successful bunt)

===========================

Put at least one infielder at each position (including catcher and pitcher). The goal of the game is to get 18 consecutive outs (a full 6 inning game).
Hit routine ground balls to varying positions in the infield. They must field the ball cleanly and throw accurately to first base to record an out. If someone makes an error, other infielders get to “pick them up” by turning a double play on the next ground ball. If they make an error then fail to turn a double play, they will start over at zero. Leave plenty of time for this drill as it is difficult, and your team will need to start over several times. (this is from Kyle's site)

Pick up a couple of these and have a home run derby with it or even play a baseball game with it with no gloves.  Teaches fielders to get in front of the ball with both hands in good fielding position.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Franklin-Sports-Josh-Hamilton-Homerun-Tra...

Bill - 

Great skills challenges!  I have thought about taking a rainy cold day (not that those exist in March in Chicago) and doing a baseball olympics similar to that.  How large were the teams you divided the kids into?  Did that size work well?

Thanks!

Kyle

Thanks Kyle.  You gave me a great head start with your suggestions.

I only had 6 kids at practice yesterday, so they were in teams of two for some drills and the others were individual. For the two throwing/catching challenges I mixed up the teams so that they had different partners to work with. We did two rounds of each challenge and kids were asked to keep their own point total each round and report it to me (honor system) after each round.

The size worked well. I think it would have been even better with a full squad.  I'll definitely do it again at practice.

For your "21 out challenge" I reduced it to 6 outs per round to keep things moving as this is 8U.  Getting 18 or 21 consecutive outs with this age would be a challenge.  They enjoyed it and it seemed to increase their focus as opposed to our normal infield practice.

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