The following are guidelines coaches/parents should be following when on the infield to game match-up between two teams.
- Each game day there are three teams are on each diamond
- Team A and Team B are in the infield to play a game while team C starts a practice in the outfield
- After both team A and B finish their game, Team A moves to the outfield to practice while team B and C play
- After both team B and C finish their game, Team B moves to the outfield to practice while team C and A play
- Each team has two games and one practice each session
- Bases are set up at 60’ – this is a long distance for the little ones but allows more time for the defense to try and make a play. 60’ is also the distance for the next age level (9U Grand Slam)
- Foam balls and foam bats are used – please save the metal bats for home use
- Defensive players should be set up in the infield (sand area) in normal baseball positions
- Teams with more than 6 players will put the 7th player between 3rd base and short stop and 8th player between 1st base and 2nd base
- The player ‘pitcher’ will stand beside the coach, on the opposite side of the home plate that the batter is standing on (in the diagram below the batter ‘B’ would stand on the left side of the plate so the pitcher ‘P’ is on the right
- All players should play all positions – coaches should rotate players so they each get a turn at a different position each game
- The coach of the defensive team (on the field) will pitch underhand to the offensive team
- This is so the coach can also manage their infield and direct where the play should go
- The coach should adjust the pitching distance and/or ball size to the players ability (more experienced players can hit a pitch from further away)
- The coach of the offensive team (batting) umpires the game
- This is so the coach can adjust and instruct the batter
- If a player is timid or not as skilled a batting tee may be brought out but ideally we want players to work on the eye/hand coordination and learn to hit a moving ball
- Batters should wear a batting helmet – the helmet should stay on the entire time the batter is on the field. Infielders do not wear helmets.
- All players on the team bat at least once
- If one team has a lot of players and the other team has only a few try to balance out the team numbers. It’s much more fun playing 5 vs. 5 than 7 vs. 3
- A ball is ‘fair’ if hit into the field of play – coaches may use discretion if the ball is hit close to the foul lines but ideally we want the players to also understand which area is ‘fair’ and which is ‘foul’
- Coaches of the batting team will hold players to a reasonable The purpose is to teach runners the game of baseball and what a normal expectation is
- If the ball is hit into the infield (sand) the batter can run to 1st base
- If the ball is hit through the infield (sand) into the outfield (grass) the batter can run only as far as 2nd base
- If the ball is hit in the air onto the outfield (grass) the player gets a home run
- When the last batter hits all batters on base run around to home
- When a ball is hit and is in play, runners can be tagged out or forced out
- For the first two weeks all runners are ‘safe’
- After the first two week period if a runner is tagged out or forced out the player is ‘out’ and returns to the dugout with a ‘good job’, ‘good effort’ – coaches/parents should be reinforcing that this is part of the game
- Defensive parents should set up in the outfield or beside their players to help direct the play
- Parents should let the players chase after all infield balls (unless to speed up the game)
- Remember the throw down bags are sometimes hard to see so the parents on the bases should be holding up their hands saying ‘Here! Here!’
- Offensive parents should be at first base and third base (and maybe 2nd) to help direct the runners
- One parent needs to stay in the dugout to direct the bench and on-deck batters
- After all players bat the teams switch places (offence to defense)
- After two teams bat teams rotate
Remember baseball is a game and games should be FUN!
Please keep in mind that players on the teams vary in age from 4 to 7.
Due to registration numbers (and a lot of expected late registrations for first time parents in sports) it is not possible (yet) to split teams into 4/5’s and 6/7’s as in some other sports plus for the game play it would be no fun for an all 7 year old team to play an all 5 year old team.
Players learn at different speeds. How well a player does has more to do with how often they have been (correctly) taught. A four year old who plays a lot of catch with parents and/or older siblings is usually much better than a 7 year old who has just started, however a 7 year old may be able to catch on quicker.
Players learn differently. Some kids can watch and repeat, some will understand the verbal instructions and implement, some need to be physically moved, and some just need to figure it out on their own.
Coaches should attempt to match players of the similar skill level when doing drills – if you ask players to pair up they tend to naturally sort themselves out but players can also match up with parents if shy or more advanced. If you are, for example, working on catching pop-flys the younger kids may only be comfortable catching a ball a few feet above their heads whereas the older player may want you to go 15-20 feet high.
Start small and work your way up. Most players will require a lot of repetition to master the motor skills required.
Coaches should work on the FUNdamentals of baseball: Throwing – Catching – Batting – Running
The coach’s manual has a lot of information and preset practice plans and mini games to keep thing fun.
That said if you’ve been involved in baseball/softball and know a thing or two please speak up! All coaches are volunteers and are doing their best and I’m sure they’ll appreciate all the positive input and help. Parents can make the experience even better by practicing at home.
Coaches: please help each other out. If you see another team’s player struggling and you have a tip that might work let the other coach know.
Lastly, don’t over correct. Sometimes you just have to smile, say good job and work on it another day. Keep it positive and the kids will come around.
Lastly, HAVE FUN! Our kids feed off of us. It we as coaches/parents are excited and enthusiastic and positive so will the kids.