Ultimate Guide to Coaching Little League Baseball

Teaching Basic Baseball Skills

You're familiar with the rules of your league, you've contacted your players, you've scheduled your first practice and you need a plan. To start, you need to work on the basics. There are four skills that all players, regardless of level and experience, should be working on: hitting, catching, throwing and base running. Try to find a way to isolate and build these skills in each practice.

Throwing - You may think that kids know how to throw a ball without being taught, but that's not always the case. The number of children that play catch may be far less than you think -- video games, Internet sites and television shows compete with outdoor activities for kids' spare time, so spend some time at the beginning of each practice simply playing catch. This is a good way to warm up and a perfect time for you to help your players with their throwing mechanics. Walk among players as they play and help those who are struggling. Give players specific instructions for practicing their throwing at home [source: QC Baseball].

Catching - A player's ability to catch the ball is critical to his or her safety and enjoyment of the game. Teach players to place their gloves out in front of their bodies with palms forward to give their partner a "target." Have players close the ball inside the glove as they make a catch [source: QC Baseball]. Discourage players from catching the ball palm up in front of their face, as this increases the chance the ball will bounce up and hit them. In addition, have players catch thrown balls, balls hit on the ground and balls hit in the air.

Hitting - Building confidence in batting practice is essential to a positive game experience. Players should bat against pitches from the coach as well as from other players. If bunting is allowed in the league, every player should learn how. Using a tee can be a good idea at younger levels for instilling good form.

Base running - You'll need to provide young players with plenty of baserunning experience, teaching them to run immediately after hitting the ball and to continue through first base [source: Suddeth]. With older players, you should discuss how running varies depending on the number of outs in an inning and on the batter's ball and strike count.

Once your team is warmed up with these basics, you'll want to advance into drills to build on their skills. Keep reading to learn how.