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What is the best way to run/structure a baseball practice? What works for you?

How do you run your practice?  How do you make it efficient and keep everyone learning/involved at all times?  How do you work in individual and team fundamentals?  Stretching, Running, BP, Pitching, Fielding, Situations, Cutoffs, etc.  Share your best practices for any age group.




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I think the key is the age group of the players---younger kids, LL age, require one method while HS age kids can go another route.

For our group HS varsity players ( Tournament/Showcase Travel Team) we start with extensive stretching (perhaps 30 minutes) with all the players in unison--it looks awesome from the oppositions dugout---then we get into specifics with regard to what has not been working for us--obviously we have BP but for us it more improtant to work on the little things we have been doing wrong or not well enough
I've learned how to run an effective practice by attending "Big Al Coaching Clinics." I would high recommend attending one if you can. Here is the link to his website.

http://www.bigalbaseball.com/
I run our 9-10 year old team practice just as we had practice when I was playing professionally. We are having BP and at the same time we hit ground balls to all infielders who throw to 1st base. And on top of that we have a pitching machine shooting balls to all fields in the outfield. No matter what happens the ball coming off the bat of the live hitter always takes precedence over any fungo or machine baseball. During all of this, whoever just hit will run the bases depending on how the current hitter is hitting the ball. The runner gets his lead just as he would during a game and learns to read the pitchers front foot and every so often I will try a fake move to pick him off to be sure they are paying attention. The runner will advance only one base no matter where the ball is hit so that he can learn all of the bases. I started doing this last year and our team by far had the best runners in the league. BTW, we also do cutoffs and relays on the balls hit to the outfield no matter where the runners are.

After doing all of this we usually always find some type of fun drill to do so the players can compete amongst themselves. Whether it be a basic ground ball drill, throwing drill or something else real basic, or it could be a complicated drill of throwing the ball around the infield to help promote good hands and footwork.

One other thing, I always have the catchers rotating in and out during BP so they can work on their skills as well. This also allows for less balls to pick up because the catcher either throws them back or puts them in a bucket.

All of this happens twice a week where I take another day in between and have the certain kids over to my house for individual instruction in a cage and off the mound.
That sounds like a great plan for any age, Kip. I love the way it keeps everyone involved and moving. Now if I can just find a way to make sure I always have extra hands at practice to hit the fungos.
Speaking of Fungos.. If we didn't get 18" of snow this weekend, (Reno, NV) I could have hit with my Fungo bat from Superior bat company. Still haven't had a chance to try it out.

Pat
I've actually never swung a wood fungo. Be sure to let us know how you like it!

We've been lucky with regards to snow in the northeast this year. My daughter and I just came in from playing catch. Of course, the forecast for the rest of the week is a wintry mix... ugh... At least we can still take swings as I have an area of the basement netted off along with a personal pitcher machine.
My buddy has a swing away in his basement, he swears by it for his son. Does anyone else have one of these?
Swing away is absolutely one of the best training aids I have used for my players, the best thing is it doesn't require anyone else to be there and it's a lot of fun.
It really doesn't allow for work on mechanics but it forces you to focus on the ball and make solid contact.
If you continue to use Tees for mechanical work and add this to the routine it will pay off.

Rick, I would respectfully disagree with your comment " really doesn't allow for work on mechanics". It is actually better than a tee to work on mechanics and you say it yourself; you don't have to chase the balls down. With a 3 second reset and a non-moving ball, this is a great tool to work on mechanics. A player doesn't have to worry or think about a ball coming at them or breaking away or hitting them.  Just set, swing and hit. Emphasize what they need to work on whether it be keeping the front shoulder down, hips leading the hands, turning the shoulders and keeping your angles, or whatever it might be, the swing-away is a great tool for it.  Hope this helps and you are able to incorporate it into your workouts.  Best of luck.

I like the SwingAway as well.  Here's a new training tool I just came across. I was curious what everyone thought.

http://striketecbaseball.com/

I might be missing something here, but it looks like a fishing pole with a ball instead of a hook.  It takes 2 people to use, and it is dependent on the rod holder's grip/stance being extremely still through the swing or the ball bobs up and down, side to side.  

I'll pass.

I really like the makeup of the tool.  The one thing I don't like about the SwingAway is the instructional videos advocating 10 swings in a minute or 25 swings in quick succession as a part of the drills.  This is not good instruction.  Players should take time to re-set their approach every few swings to remain focussed.  Otherwise, they're just taking hacks. 

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