8-Year-Olds' Softball Drills
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Softball for 8-year-olds can be a fun game, but practices that involve simply taking turns hitting and playing the field will bore young players after a while. Incorporate drills that teach important skills and add a little competition to practices to keep your players involved. Try adding a new drill each practice to make things even more interesting, but retain the drills that are especially popular with your team.
Hit off a Tee
Eight-year-olds may think they're past the T-ball stage, but remind them that the best softball and baseball players in the world still use tees for practice as adults. Set up a ball on the tee and have the player concentrate on making a level swing through the strike zone. The goal is to have every hit result in a line drive. Have each girl take 10 swings. You can make it a little competitive by keeping track of all the line drives and naming a winner after all players have taken their turns.
Run to First Base
There are two main ways to approach running to first base. If the ball is hit in the infield, encourage each girl to run to first base like a sprinter and not slow down until after her foot touches the bag and she turns toward the foul line. Encourage hard-charging steps, with her arms pumping at her sides (not across the body), and make sure she doesn't lunge at the end. If the ball is hit into the outfield, have each girl practice making a slight arc in her path toward first, but starting a few feet to the right of the first-base line and angling toward making a smooth turn at first toward second base. Have each player practice both types of runs. You can do so by announcing "single" or "double" before she takes a swing in practice.
Your players may giggle at this one, but it's a good exercise to help them understand hand acceleration and upper body movement during a swing. Start by having the player get in a proper batting stance, but without a bat. Then have her drop the hand closer to the pitcher and practice rotating her hips and shoulders as she turns to punch an imaginary softball in the strike zone with the other hand. Get the player to make as many of the movements as much like a real swing as possible to help her focus on what her body is doing as she swings.
Green Light, Red Light
This is a fun drill, and it will help each player learn to run while wearing a glove. Start with one player or coach on one side of the outfield and all the other players on the other side. The caller, facing away from the players, will yell "green light," at which point the other players, all with their gloves on their hands, will sprint toward the caller. When the caller turns and yells "red light," any player who moves must return to the starting line and resume play from there. The green light, red light pattern continues until one player gets close enough to tag the caller.
James Roland is the editor of a monthly health publication that has approximately 75,000 subscribers in the United States and Canada. Previously, he worked as a newspaper reporter and editor, covering issues ranging from the environment and government to family matters and education. He earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon.