How to Plan a Softball Practice
The easiest way to run a solid softball practice is by creating and adhering to a game plan. This plan should make efficient use of your time, as well as ensure that all players get the same training opportunities. This softball guide will outline an effective practice plan that fits perfectly with the general two-hour time frame.
Get Them Moving
The first part of practice should always be devoted to a proper warm-up and conditioning session. Start with a light jog, then take a short time to stretch out a bit before starting the conditioning.
Hot Tip: Don't Forget Your Stopwatch!
You won’t be able to go through this type of practice without a watch or stopwatch, so make sure you
Once players are warmed up and stretched out, it’s time to move on to conditioning. Quick conditioning circuits are perfect if you are looking for an efficient way to build their stamina. Below are a few ideas for quick workouts that you can combine into a conditioning routine:
- Sprints down the bases: The best way to get the girls comfortable with running the bases is to have them do it regularly. Recording their times will show you their progress throughout the season.
- Cross jumps: Using two jump ropes or simply drawing a big cross in the dirt (at least two feet in length), the girls go through a series of jumps: side to side, back and forth, on two feet, on one foot, or doing quick steps through each quadrant. Each set should be at least 25 seconds long, and at least four sets should be completed.
- Jump rope: An exercise that has lasted through time, simply timing 60-second jump rope sets will definitely get players breathing hard. At least five sets should be completed.
- Triplets: Line the girls up on a foul line and stand 20 yards out. Have them sprint to you, back to the line, and then back to you; this constitutes one triplet. Doing 20 triplets will build their endurance and speed in no time.
- Roundabouts: Have each girl stand next to their glove or cone, standing at least ten feet away from her nearest teammate. If you have a big team, you can split them into two groups and have one group go at a time. Each player will stay low and try to move around her own cone as quickly as possible for 30 seconds. Usually, the fastest way to do this is to have them stay low and get around the cone with short, quick side steps. You can also mix in cross jumps, having the girls jump over the cone instead of through the quadrants. At least four rounds of roundabouts should be completed.
- Ladder: The ladder is a great tool to build speed. Doing 20 repetitions through the ladder will really improve players’ agility.
After conditioning is done, line them up for callisthenic stretches [link]. Then allow them some free time to stretch anything else that needs attention.
Warm Up the Arms
After the girls have finished with conditioning, have them throw to warm their arms up. Encourage outfielders to throw with other outfielders, as they (the outfielders) will be able to more rapidly increase the distance of their throws. Never rush this warm-up, but don’t allow players to go through it at a leisurely pace either.
Split the Group
Hot Tip: Don't Forget Water Breaks
This practice schedule is designed to be fast-paced, but don’t forget to give the girls regular water breaks! It’s much easier to be productive when you’re not completely dehydrated.
It’s likely that 45-60 minutes have passed since you started practice. That means you have approximately one hour left. In order to use this last hour most efficiently, split your team into infielders and outfielders. This allows two things.
- It gives the coaching staff the ability to focus on each group independently, allowing them to work on any plays or skills specific to that group.
- It gives the players enough time to focus on their hitting and their fielding.
With such a short time frame (about an hour), attempting to give each player adequate hitting and fielding practice during a full team practice would be incredibly difficult.
One group goes through multiple hitting stations; if you need a few ideas, check out iSport’s guide on hitting drills [link]. The other group will focus on defensive drills. Again, if you need any ideas for drills, check out iSport’s guides on outfield drills [link] and infield drills [link]. After 30 minutes, have the groups switch. Again, these are quick changes, but quality is far more important than quantity.
Bring Them Together
If you have 15 minutes to spare at the end of practice, bring both groups together for a quick infield/outfield workout. Place everyone on the field in their normal positions. If there is more than one player in a certain position, have them alternate turns. Then run through the common plays: Infield throws to first and then to second; outfield throws to second and then to home. Ending on a team drill will give the girls a sense of unity.
Sometimes, after a tough game, you might find that your team is struggling in the batter’s box, which would be grounds to devote an entire practice to hitting; and vice versa for fielding. This practice plan, though, is great for the start of the week or right before a game because it combines the offense, defense, and conditioning… and even a little time to breathe.