A new baseball coach may get overwhelmed by the preseason or even underwhelmed. The overwhelmed coach may feel that there isn’t enough time to teach everything necessary to have the team ready on opening day. The underwhelmed coach might not realize what really needs to be covered to have a successful start to the season. Let’s take a look at some Baseball Coaching Tips for Essential Fundamentals for the preseason.
Range is a skill that should definitely not be overlooked during the preseason. Sure, the team will look great if the coach is hitting balls right at the players all the time but the team will not develop good range. Outfielders should work on breaking on balls hit to their left, right, in front of them and over their head. Infielders should be doing the same. There are many drills that a coach can run to improve the teams’ range.
Running the bases properly can be a huge problem for a team that does not work on it during the preseason. A baseball coach should be making time to go over some base running skills at every practice. Base running can be taught in specific base running drills and as a part of other drills and activities.
Sliding is an important skill but one that can be easily overlooked during the preseason. Like base running, sliding can be taught in sliding specific drills and also as part of other drills and activities.
#4 SITUATIONAL BASEBALL
Again, keeping things at a basic level will make a team look really good in practice but will not prepare them for the complexities of a game. The defense must be drilled on how to handle pressure situations in which there are multiple runners on base and in different game scenarios.
#5 RUN DOWNS
Executing a run down is an important team skill that sometimes gets overlooked in the preseason. A lot of times a coach will not work on run downs until the team encounters one during a game and fails to execute. The coach needs to be proactive with run downs because it is a team skill that will take a fair amount of time to understand and execute properly.
#6 THE CATCHER
The fundamentals of the catching position are sometimes overlooked during the preseason and it is mistake. The catcher should be drilled on how to properly receive pitches, block bad pitches, field pop ups, etc.
#7 THE FIRST BASEMAN
The first base position is sometimes viewed as an “easy position” by an inexperienced coach. It won’t be easy if the proper fundamentals of the position are not focused on during the preseason. Foot work, receiving the throw-both good and bad ones, applying a tag, situational play, making throws etc. are all skills that need to be covered to have a first baseman well prepared for the season.
#8 CALLING OUT FOR A FLY BALL/POP UP
The stereotypical youth baseball scene is of players converging on a pop up and no one is calling for it. This is followed by the players colliding and falling to the ground. This doesn’t have to happen if calling for a fly ball/pop up is worked on during the preseason. The coach should use specific drills to teach this skill.
#9 PROPERLY FIELDING THE PITCHING POSITION
Fielding the pitching position can be overlooked because there is such an emphasis (and rightfully so) on pitching mechanics. That said, the coach must find time during practice to go over how to properly field the pitching position. Specific drills must be used like covering first and home, fielding bunts and throwing to bases. These skills can also be emphasized during other drills.
A coach should not wait until opening day to explain the concept of signals. Signals should be used during practice where they apply like stolen base drills or a practice game.
Part of being a baseball coach is managing preseason field time effectively. To do this, a coach needs to be proactive and plan practices ahead of time. A coach should take notes on what is covered in every practice so they can cover as many of the basic skills as possible before the opening of the season. Repetition of basic skills, proactive planning and time management will be the key to a well prepared baseball team on opening day.
Rundown Drill – Teach rundowns through a drill progression. Start with no ball and no runner, add the throw and finally add a runner.
Baserunning Drill – Split players into three groups. Group one runs to first listening for the base coaches instruction. Group two runs from first to second picking up the third base coach. Group three works on scoring from second rounding third base efficiently.