Coaching youth baseball requires patience and dedication. Children 5 and 6 years old, new to the game, do not know the fundamentals of play, and need you to teach them everything, from base running to throwing a ball. Knowing the basics of coaching will help make the most out of your experience and benefit your team.
Make It Fun
At ages 5 and 6, children do not have long attention spans. Making drills fun will help keep your kids interested as you teach them the basics of baseball. The Baseball Drills & Coaching Tips website offers ideas to keep your team motivated by incorporating creativity in your practices. During throwing practice, for instance, rather than having the children play catch with one another, set up interesting targets — hula hoops or stuffed animals work well. When practicing fielding, parents acting as runners will give your team a chance to throw their parents out at the base -- a fun prospect for most kids.
Practice Makes Perfect
Repeating the fundamentals will help the movements required during a baseball game become second nature for your team. When performing drills, repeat the same motions until all your players have committed them to memory before moving on to a new drill. This practice also allows you to correct mistakes in form and gives your team members a chance to ask for additional help if necessary. Separating the team into two groups for most drills helps maximize efficiency and allows for the most repetition.
Drilling it Home
Baseball drills should focus on throwing, fielding, and batting. For an effective throwing drill, Baseball Basics suggests using a plastic ball, and having your players throw the ball to a teammate or at an interesting target. As the children throw, observe their techniques, encouraging them to throw overhand, turn their shoulders perpendicular to the target, and step with the proper foot.
Batting drills for 5- and 6-year-olds should involve repetitive hitting of balls off the tee. If your league uses coaches to pitch, you may choose to practice without the tee as well. Using a larger ball when first pitching to your players may help them develop hand-eye coordination before moving to a smaller ball.
Fielding drills should focus on squaring up to the ball, using two hands, and keeping eyes on the ball. At first, you may want to have the children practice without gloves so they become accustomed to using two hands when fielding. You will need to show children the ready position of knees slightly bent and hands off knees so they can move easily from side to side to field balls not hit directly at them.