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Coaches Tool Box - Mariners Follow-Up Clinic

Coaches Tool Box - Mariners Clinic Follow-up 2018

For those of you who were unable to attend the Mariners Coaching Clinic with Mark Zender, here is a letter from Mark with tons of great ideas and resources for coaches!

Greetings coaches!
 
Thank you for taking the time to attend our clinic at Peninsula High School.  The clinic was part of the Seattle Mariners ON BASE initiative, Baseball And Softball Everywhere.  It may sound trite, but your volunteerism is worth more than you will ever know.  You are affecting 12 players and their parents who in turn will impact others for many years to come.  
 
I hope you found the clinic worthwhile and will reemphasize the theme for this year being fundamentals.  Keep it simple and make it fun.  “Wax on!  Wax off!”  If your entire team wants to play again next year you are a master at your role as a youth coach!  Remember – LOVE of the game!
 
Attached are a few documents you may find helpful.
ü  Practice tip sheet .  Simple observations I’ve gathered over 35 years of coaching.
ü  Game Playing Time ChartWhen I coached little league this really worked well.  I posted it on a clip board in the dugout where all can see it easily.  Kids know what they’re doing from inning to inning and parents would “sneak a peak” at it (which is exactly what I wanted them to do!) and then they know you have a plan that is fair.  
ü  Practice Plan form.  This makes it very easy.  Keep the kids moving and the younger they are, the more base running you should implement.  Remember to use a whistle, stopwatch and cones.  
ü  Help your child play their best.  This is the parents letter to start off the season.  I cannot recommend strongly enough how beneficial this will be.  Parents really do want the best for their kids.  Most simply don’t understand how.  Use this and do spend a bit of time teaching them the “baseball lens” of Confidence, Relaxation and Concentration.
 
Hot tip – (aka, something I forgot!)  
A simple yet great thing to do with your team is to go to a local high school game.  The teams in your area are excellent, you get a great view of the game and the price is free!  The kids will likely have connections already to the players and the coaches will no doubt let your kids meet the players after the game.  Also consider of course an outing to a Mariners game.  Seeing the very best will light a fire under so many kids and create love of game for life!
 
Below my signature are the links to how to play pepper AND the list of competitive practice activities and full description I promised.  Look for those that fit the age group you are working with.  The kids will love it!
 
It was really great getting to meet so many of you.  If you ever have a question about coaching, please email me.  I’ll be happy to help you!
 
Mark
 
Mark Zender
253-632-1811 cell
 
 
Playing Pepper
I believe strongly that Pepper builds bat and ball skills + it’s really fun!  If you’re not familiar, here are three YouTube videos that will be helpful.
From an Orioles broadcast, they talk about the value of it.  It shows Oriole players at about 3:45.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41rNXmveW28  
Here’s a basic how-to on it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2lqU2ESp9Q
 
Competitive Activities . . .
First of all competitions can be team vs team, individual in nature or simply having specific tasks be goal-oriented.  Some are quite obvious, while others are subtle. 
 
Two Ball.  2 pitches max per batter. Let 2nd pitch go by, you’re out.  I explained this one (it is my favorite with younger kids). I recommend 4 on 4 on 4.  Play lots of ball.  Go Go Go!
 
Whiffle Ball.  The best part of this is the kids can play it at home.  Play at practice a couple times, it will be a blast, build love of the game and they will play more ball at home!  The key is to have a smaller field.  There is a fun element to “miniature baseball.”  
 
Kick Ball – Baseball/Softball concept.  The kids play this at recess at school.  Playing this will be unexpected and they will get excited that you are doing it.  This is especially good if you have 9-10 year olds, ideally later in the season if practice seems a bit stale.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdX7cZYgQ6k  
 
Timed Base Running – Especially with younger players, run the bases frequently during practice and time them.  
 
Live Base Running.  Have runners on base during batting practice.  They read balls of the bat and react live.  Don’t have them react to every ball – that is too fast.  Every 2 or 3 is about right.  Use runners at all 3 bases and work their way around.  They will get tired.  That is a good thing!
 
Live Tee infield.  Batters hit off tee and run to 1st.  Infielders are in position, field ground balls and throw to 1st.  If batter hits fly ball to OF they go chase it.  This is a great drill.  Be sure to clear bats left near home plate.  This moves along quickly and will result in lots of “live, game-like reps”.
 
Pop-to-pops.  Use stopwatch to time from the time a player touches a ball until they throw and it reaches any target.  Ideally this mimics a real game situation… C to 2nd on steal, infield to 1st on ground ball, OF on ball to gap getting it to 2nd or 3rd.
 
4-corner infield drills.  Place players into 4-corners 25-40 feet apart.  They throw the ball quickly around the square.  They can execute a variety of skills. 
·         Throw the ball to the outside, receive and spin to throw the next player.
·         Throw to the inside, receiver rotates feet to throw
·         Call “reverse” and reverse the direction of throws
·         Call “diagonal” and they throw to the opposite corner
·         Call “turn it loose” and they throw to whomever they want
·         Tag sliding runner out with each throw.
·         As the do all this, have them take a step inward so the throws become shorter, the game gets quicker and the skill speed gets faster (open the skill). …. This can reduce down to being so small that it then becomes a “flip” game where they can only use the glove to control the ball on to the next player, still telling them where to go, etc.
 
Work up.  3 or 4 batters.  All other players in the field.  When batter goes out he goes to RF.  RF move to CF, CF to LF, LF to 3B and so on.  1B goes to batter.  Don’t use a catcher.  If possible have a sock net to catch pitches.  Use a full bucket of baseballs.
 
Dueling bullpen.  Have 2 pitchers play HORSE (just like basketball) trying to outduel each other for accuracy.  This can be done at full distance or as a closed skill closer and easier where concentration and execution are the premium.
 
Ground ball elimination.  I like to call it “Gold Glove” – sounds better!  Players in a line.  Hit each ground ball.  If they bobble or make a poor throw back to you they are out.  Last player left is the winner.
 
Relay races.  Condition using a relay race or with a stop watch timing each player’s performance to get maximum effort. If timing, go twice and complete with self.  
 
Advanced . . .
Run-Down progression.  Split into 2 teams.  Each must execute 3 rundowns (pickles).  Use a stopwatch to time each rundown.  Add up all 3 times.  Team A gets a cumulative time.  Team B has to beat that cumulative time.  The runners are from the other team so they are motivated to run their hardest.  This simulates the intensity of rundowns in a real game.  I like to have the 3 rundowns take place between the 3 baselines (1-2, 2-3, 3-home).
 
Live hIt and Run.  During batting practice have a runner on 1st base.  Pitcher throws from a stretch.  Runner and first steals 2nd, peaking in.  Batter must swing with goal of ground ball to 2nd or SS.  One of those players is going to cover the steal at 2nd.  If the ball is hit where the fielder vacates, the runner continues on to 3rd.  This is an advanced play.  But trying to execute gets the kids to see what advanced play looks like and gets their concentration level higher.
 
Game Winner.  Split into 2 teams.  Set up a last inning of the game situation (I like runner on 2nd with 0 outs).  Coach pitches, Team A on defense.  Each team bats with the goal of a “walk-off win.”  Each team gets equal tries.  Put something on it – push ups running, clean-up, etc.  Create intensity and fun.  You need “buy in” from the kids to mimic the situation but if they do it can very valuable.  We practice the last inning of the state title game several times during the season.  The goal is relaxation when the real situation demands it.
 
18 Outs.  Very difficult.  Entire team on defense.  Hit balls to them completing 3 outs per inning ( 6 innings = 18).  Must complete 18 in a row without an error.  Very hard to do.  At our level it is 21 outs.  Seems easy, but very tough.  You may want to try it at the 12-out level and see how it goes, but really only for Little League Majors and older.

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 P.O. Box 2176
Gig Harbor, Washington 98335

Email: [email protected]

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Gig Harbor Little League

 P.O. Box 2176
Gig Harbor, Washington 98335

Email: [email protected]

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