6U and 8-U Practice Strategies
- Teaching the Basics
- Throwing – Point front shoulder at target. Open shoulder and reach back with the arm keeping elbow and ball high. Feel the throwing arm swim towards the target.
- Catching – Catch with glove facing up. Practice forehand and backhand with the back of your hand facing you. Use two hands.
- Fielding – Ground balls: Butt down, back straight, glove out front. Move side to side keeping square to the ball. Charge the ball fielding it out in front of the body not between the legs. Use two hands. Peel and throw stepping towards the target.
Fly balls: Call for the catch. Run to the ball with glove at side until positioned under ball. Reach to catch with both hands.
- Hitting – The Stance: Ready position, feet shoulder width apart, knees bent, butt out. Grip the bat in the fingers, relax the hands. The forearms and elbows form “V”. Hands start at ear hole level. Bat points back at an angle. Don’t lift elbow up.
– The Swing – Keep it Simple! Just make sure the hitter is loading properly before swinging the bat. “Load” by moving hands slightly in and back as the front foot strides towards pitcher. As weight shifts to front side, turn hips and back foot toward pitcher. Feel power from legs and lower body. (The hands will naturally lag behind a little).
- Running Bases – Always drop the bat after a hit. Never throw it down! Round the base by touching inside of base with right foot. Always run through first base.
- Station to Station Practice – Small Groups (4-6 players)
- Pitchers and Catchers Stations (8U Division)
– Beginner windmill style. Stand to the side and point glove at catcher. Wind and step front foot at 2 o’clock position. Snap off the ball with a flick of the wrist.
– Catchers must wear full set of equipment. Squat down on the balls of the feet ready to block or retrieve pass ball. Throwing hand is behind back at all times.
- Hitting Stations
– Play workup with a hitter, a pitcher, an on deck catcher and 2 outfielders. Utilize coach pitch, blue pitching machine or live girls pitch. This can be set up anywhere!
– Tee or Soft toss in small groups. Use net or fence to hit into. Be safe!
– Group batting cage practice. One hitter in cage with jugs or blue machine, while the others hit soft toss into the netting. Rotate.
– Bunting. Sacrificing a runner and for a base hit.
– Commercial hitting stations for individual practice.
- Outfield Practice Stations
– Set up the blue machine to pitch perfectly placed fly balls to beginners.
– Fling short or long fly balls to challenge the better players.
– Relay competitions between teams to encourage a good catch, turn and relay throw.
– Relay throws from outfield to all bases, including cutoff throws to pitchers circle to hold runners.
– Rotate in a right fielder during all practices to backup first base.
- Catching and Throwing Stations
– Line up players against back stop. Each holding their glove in the up position, above their shoulders. For beginners, standing close coach throws the ball into the open glove. First to the forehand side, then to the back hand side. Gradually throw off target!
– More advanced players can play catch with each other, working on catching to both sides with glove facing up, then step and throw correctly between one another.
- Infield Practice Stations
– Defensive Line Drills. Take ground balls from infield positions with throws to first.
– With runners on base, make force outs to all bases. Play up at the corners throwing home with bases loaded.
– Catchers Practice. Force outs and tagging plays to home plate. Develop and rotate in as many catchers as possible, as this is a very physically demanding position.
– “Ball-Base-Backup game”. Each fielder must move somewhere on every hit ball. Either get the “ball”, cover a “base”, or “backup” a base. No standing around!
– Five on Five Scrimmage. One team bats around while the other plays the infield, no outfielders. Any ball to grass is an automatic double. Bat around then switch positions.
- Base Running Drills
– One by one run through first base. High five the coach standing in outfield grass.
– At home plate take a practice swing at imaginary ball, set the bat down, don’t throw it! Round each base touching the inside of the bag with right foot. Finish at home plate.
– Learning to slide. Start by sliding on cardboard. It’s slippery and easier on the body.
- Game Management
- Strike Zone
– What constitutes a strike? Gather around home plate and explain the actual size of the strike zone, inside and outside strikes, shoulders to knees. Teach the girls to be aggressive at the plate. Tournament umpires will call high and low strikes if the ball is over the plate. Learn to swing the bat, there are no walks!
- Teach Girls to Communicate and Rely on One Another
– “Talk It Up”. At some point during the season, in practice or a game, you may consider allowing the girls to call their own game. Have them decide where the ball should go by talking to one another. Give them as much guidance as possible but then let them make mistakes on their own. Eventually they will learn where to go with the ball by communicating and relying on each other.
RESTRUCTURING OUR LEAGUE – PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
- 6-U Division – Grades Kindergarten and First
- We are a Developmental League
– Practice vs actual game innings is your call. Some skills are best taught in a controlled practice setting under the watchful eye of the coaches. Learning sportsmanship and developing team chemistry takes playing a game. We leave that decision to you.
- The Basic Skills of 6-U
– It is a coach’s job to teach the basic skills of the game: throwing, catching, fielding, running bases and successfully hitting off the pitching machines.
- 8-U Division – Grades Second and Third
- The Basic Skills of 8-U
– Windmill pitch
– Catchers who work the strike zone and make outs at home.
– Infielders who play up, hold runners from scoring and make outs at home.
– Make both forehand and backhand catches with glove facing up.
– Make force outs at all bases and at home plate.
– Outfielders who call for the catch and position themselves under the ball.
– Back up every throw to first base from right field.
– Bunt for a sacrifice or base hit.
– Run through first base consistently.
– Slide to avoid a tag.
8U LEAGUE RULES 2017
1. Game nights will start at 6 pm with a 45 minute station to station practice combining players and coaches from both teams, followed by a 1 hour league game.
2. Coaches; have ready five practice stations each game night, a throwing, catching, hitting, pitching/catching and fielding station. As the players arrive divide into groups of 4-6 girls, each group moving from station to station with a coach at each station providing instruction.
3. As the players progress throughout the season the 45 minute practice station time may reduce and game innings may increase. By tournament time the girls should be playing a full 1 hour and 45 minute game. End of the year tournament games will last 6 innings or 1hr. 45min whichever comes first.
4. An 11 inch yellow optic flexi ball will be used.
5. It is recommended, but not required, that Infield position players wear a protective face mask.
6. Each inning will consist of three (3) outs or five (5) runs whichever happens first.
7. There is an 8-player minimum to play a game. No Forfeits. The team that is short players will be borrowed a player or players of the team giving the player’s choice. That borrowed player or players might change throughout the game at the player loaning teams’ discretion (Might rotate the borrowed player). This includes tournament play.
8. Only ten defensive players on the field. Outfielders must start on the grass. Player’s position should be rotated throughout the game. Players cannot sit out two (2) consecutive innings.
9. 1st or 3rd baseman positions cannot play more than halfway to home plate.
10. The catcher must wear full protective gear even in practice.
11. Each batter is required to wear a helmet equipped with a face guard and chin strap.
12. Windmill pitching is allowed. A 35 foot mound. Beginners may start at no less than 30 feet. By 1st league game after Memorial Day all pitchers will pitch from 35 ft. Tournament mound will be at 35 feet.
13. Pitchers can pitch no more than one (1) inning per game during league play. During the tournament pitchers can pitch no more than two (2) innings per game.
14. Pitchers are required to wear face mask when pitching in game or practice. NO EXCEPTIONS.
15. No walks allowed. After 3rd ball, coach will take over the existing strike count. The pitcher must reside alongside the coach inside the pitching circle. A player can strikeout on player or coach pitch.
16. Bunting is allowed. One bunt per inning per team. No bunting if the coach pitching. No bunting when there is a player on third base.
17. Base runner must try to avoid contact with a fielder or slide at the base of play. If contact is made with the fielder AND the runner does not slide, the runner can be called out for contacting the fielder.
18. If a catcher is on base, she can be replaced with a courtesy runner (player who made last out).
19. There is no stealing: therefore, the base runner(s) must maintain contact with the base until the pitched ball crosses the plate.
20. No infield fly or dropped third strike rules.
21. Offense- On any hit ball the base runner(s) may advance, at risk of being tagged out, no more than two (2) bases. (No runner can score from 1st base). No running on overthrows.
22. Defense- Play stops when the defense returns ball to the pitchers circle. At which time all base runners must return to the last base touched. This includes any base runners trying to advance.
23. Three (3) offensive coaches may be on the field at one time. First base, third base and pitching mound.
24. Three defensive coaches may be in field as well. Two in infield and one behind the plate.
25. If all coaches are on the field there MUST be a Bench Parent in the dugout with the players.
26. The home team gets the third base dugout. The visiting team the first.
27. Both teams are responsible for the field, before and after games. Coaches must have the practice stations and field set up by 6 pm. This includes liming the base lines and pitcher’s circle for tournament, placing and removing the bases and raking the diamond.
28. Babe Ruth Softball is a fun and educational experience. Any rules not specifically stated or modified above, will be governed by the Babe Ruth League Rule Book.
The game is for the kids. Keep it moving. Keep it fun.
6U League Rules
- Game nights will start at 6 pm with a 30- 40 minute station to station practice combining players and coaches from both teams, followed by a short game.
- Coaches; have ready four practice stations each game night, a throwing, catching, hitting, and fielding station. As the players arrive divide into groups of 4-5 girls, each group moving from station to station with a coach at each stop providing instruction.
- As the players progress throughout the season the practice station time may reduce and game time may increase.
- Play all players on field. Positions should be rotated each game. Although this is under coaches judgment.
- Positions: Players playing 1st or 3rd cannot play more than half way to home plate and the pitching position should be next to or back from the pitcher.
- A pitching machine will be used and located at 35 ft.
- A batting tee will be used if batter cannot hit off of the pitching machine.
- The catcher must be dressed in full gear. Including at practice.
- Each batter is required to have a helmet on with face mask and chin strap.
- Each batter will have a maximum 6 pitches, unless the sixth is hit foul. The 1st pitch to each batter is from the machine. There are no called balls or strikes on the batter. Outs are not kept.
- No infield fly rule, dropped third strike or running on overthrows.
- Three offensive coaches (1st and 3rd bases and pitcher’s mound) and (3) defensive managers/coaches may be on the field at one time.
- There must be a Bench Parent in the dugout if all coaches are on the field.
- The home team gets the third base dugout. The visiting team gets the first base dugout.
- Both teams, home or away, are responsible for the field.
- Babe Ruth Softball is a fun and educational experience. Any rules not specifically stated or modified above, will be governed by the Babe Ruth League Rule Book.
It is highly recommended that the coaches talk before each game to go over rules of the game.
Keep in mind that this game is for the children.
Keep it Moving – Keep it FUN.