Fun Softball Practice Drills and Team Building Exercises (2022)

Ready for this upcoming softball season to be the one where your team runs roughshod over the rest of the league? You’re going to have to practice better. It’s such a cliche, but drills are the only way to improve.

That’s because so much of softball is about muscle memory. The closer you can get to making the core skills of the game second nature, the easier it becomes to execute the finer details of a solid softball strategy.

It should go without saying that you should outfit your team with custom uniforms to build cohesion and team spirit. Go with moisture-wicking polyester if you’re going to be out in the heat. Separate uniforms for games and practice is a good idea.

How Do You Run a Good Softball Practice?

Running a good softball practice is all about balance and consistency. Develop a routine with your players. It’s the key to building trust and skill at the same time. There are four pillars that any good softball practice is built on. Let’s talk about them.

Warm Up Properly

Your team can’t practice well if their bodies aren’t primed first. Help them get going with dynamic stretches that progress from walking to running from set to set. This will help your team increase their core body temperatures and loosen up their muscles.

Don’t forget about the arms. Throwing arms aren’t at as great of a risk of injury in softball as they are in baseball, but they still need to be protected. Start with arm circles, then move onto stretches that work the rotator cuff and elbow.

Each warmup session should end with players pairing up to play catch. Make sure they start throwing close together, gradually getting farther apart. After each pairing has thrown ‘long toss’ for several minutes, you can commence with drills

Make Everything a Drill

Muscle memory doesn’t just develop on its own. It takes tons of repetition to get your team to a point where the fundamentals of the game are automatic.

It’s important to break down the things that make up a solid defense, hitting, and pitching into digestible mechanics your players can understand. These are the building blocks of a good team, so ensure your players are all around the same softball IQ level before moving on to more complex concepts.

Fielding Ground Balls

Strategically speaking, defense in the youth ranks of softball is all about mitigating risk. The risk of errors piling up is that they lead to longer innings, which can stress out and frustrate players.

This isn’t me advocating for any sort of ‘win at all costs’ mentality. Young players will make mistakes, and that’s okay! It’s all a part of the learning process. But I’ve been on (baseball) teams where the bad feelings from one mistake compound into the next play, in part because some players just don’t feel comfortable on defense.

As a coach, you want to put them in the best mindset for success. That means ensuring they’re doing as little thinking as possible when the ball is hit to them.

And they’re going to want to think a lot about grounders. Part of that is because fielding a grounder is a little unnatural at first. Get your glove in the dirt, and your chest square to the ball. Your players can’t be afraid to get hit by a ball that takes a weird hop, and that takes some getting used to.

(Video) Team Building and Leadership Training

Hit grounders to your team early and often, at every position, with a focus on the basic mechanics of fielding them cleanly.

The more they practice fielding them, the less they’ll have to think about doing it come game time. Instead of waiting in fear that the ball will be hit to them, your players will treat grounders as just another part of the game. That confidence will lead to quicker half-innings in the field, and more enjoyment from your players.

Fly Balls

Fly balls are a little trickier to improve your players on, partly because you have to be pretty adept at hitting fungo. That aside, the mechanics of catching fly balls are a little simpler than fielding grounders, as they aren’t all that different from playing catch:

However, that doesn’t mean fly balls are sure-outs every time they’re hit. The wind and the sun can wreak havoc on outfielders, especially at the lower levels.

Keep that in mind when you assess how much time you’ll spend on each fielding skill in practice. Catching fly balls and handling grounders are both important, but a slight emphasis on grounders will probably result in better team play and quicker overall defensive improvement.

Hitting

Is there any player who doesn’t want to be a great hitter? For your players, it can be one of the most fun aspects of the game or totally freak them out. Give them the basic stance and grip to help them feel more comfortable in the batter’s box.

Now, every player will probably have some sort of variation in their stance and grip at the plate. Let them, as it will help them feel less rigid and more focused at bat. When a player slumps or develops obvious flaws in their swing, you can help them make minor adjustments to improve.

For your fastest left-handed players, consider introducing them to slap hitting, which is one of the coolest techniques in softball hitting:

(Video) UD Softball Team Building Day

Slap hitting can give your team a leg up on the competition and serve your players well beyond their time on your team.

Drills to Develop Better Hitters

  • Hitting off a batting tee. It helps your players develop the muscle memory needed to take effective swings.
  • Soft toss. A coach flicks the ball underhand to the batter, and the batter tries to make contact with a solid swing. Helps improve hand-eye coordination. Best practiced with Wiffle balls for safety purposes.
  • Pepper. A game that develops bat control and encourages short, quick swings. Three fielders stand at least 20 feet away from a batter. One of the fielders throws a slow pitch to the batter, and the batter must hit it to one of the other fielders.
  • Batting Practice. A drill that emulates a real at-bat while offering each player the repetition they need to improve their swing. Each batter gets the same number of balls pitched to them, usually delivered via a pitching machine.

Attention to Defensive Specialization

As a coach, you want every player to be well-rounded. This gives you versatility when setting your lineup and flexibility in the event of an injury.

Still, certain positions require special skills to be worked on in smaller groups or individualized sessions. The farther up in the ranks players go, the more specialization there will be. For now, break your team down into groups to focus on the game’s finer points in these areas.

Bullpen Sessions

Pitchers need practice as much as anyone, and while you need to monitor their workload a bit more than other players (in order to prevent arm injuries), practice time gives them an opportunity to improve on pitches they may feel less confident about. It also gives them a chance to work with the catchers and develop a rapport, which will be invaluable when it comes to high-pressure situations.

A pitcher-catcher battery needs to agree with the pitching strategy (i.e. what pitches to throw in different situations), and pick up one another when the going gets tough. The more time they spend together, the better this connection will be, and the easier it will be for them to work in unison.

Catchers’ Sessions

Catchers have a massive amount of responsibility, even at the 12u level. It isn’t enough to just be the receiver of every pitch.

A Non-Exhaustive List of the Catcher’s Responsibilities:

  • If the pitcher has multiple pitch types, call the pitches
  • Provide a good target for the pitcher to aim at.
  • Prevent the ball from getting past (if it’s too high or in the dirt)
  • Throw out runners trying to steal bases
  • Communicate with the infield and outfield to make sure the defense is motivated and engaged

With so many aspects of the position to work on, your catchers don’t really have time to take extra grounders or fly balls. Working on these elements will help them build mental and physical endurance and thrive behind the plate.

Outfield Throwing

It doesn’t matter how strong of an arm your outfielder has. If they don’t use proper form, it will be tough for them to challenge overaggressive baserunners. Heck, even getting the ball back into the infield will be an adventure.

The same goes for players who are maybe lacking in the arm strength department. Breaking your outfielders into a separate group will enable them to work on the proper approach and technique behind catching a fly ball and transitioning to a powerful throw.

It’s also crucial to practice fielding grounders that make their way into the outfield by charging them, picking them up cleanly, and throwing them back into the infield. Outfielders should practice throwing to second, third, and home via relays (more on those in a bit).

Infield Throwing

Throwing in the infield is a different beast from throwing in the outfield. Infielders have to generate the power they need to throw to each base much more quickly and in a much smaller space compared to outfielders.

(Video) The "Refuse to Lose" Softball Drill from Colleen Powers!

Most of the time, these throws don’t require the same amount of strength, but some can be tricky. The throw from third to first requires coordination that only comes from repetition. Second and shortstop need to work on their chemistry to turn double plays.

Even first base (which more often receives throws than has to make them) should practice throwing to the bags to prevent moments like this one, which still haunts my dreams.

Relays and Communication

The odds that one of your players will have a cannon for an arm like Vlad Guerrero is something approaching zero, which is why it’s a good idea to make relay situations a regular part of your practice. A relay is when your outfielder throws to one of your infielders who has left their position to make the throw to the desired base shorter (also known as a “cut-off”).

The best way to practice this is by holding joint infield-outfield practice, where you hit fungo and have the players react as though they’re in a real game. You can simulate different scenarios where your team will need to work together to perform a relay.

Key Relay Scenarios:

  • Runner on first and second
  • Runner on third
  • Runner on first and third

Run through each of these scenarios with zero and one out for both ground and fly balls. Make sure your players communicate with one another about who will take the relay throw and what base the throw should go to. The more scenarios you go through in practice, the better prepared your players will be when they happen in-game.

Baserunning

To the uninitiated, spending practice time on running the bases sounds like a waste. In reality, however, what you do on the base paths can be the difference between a win and a loss.

Getting from home to home is about more than sprinting as hard as you can from one base to the next. Teaching your players about the physical act of getting around the bags, as well as base running and base stealing strategy, will make your half-innings at bat longer– translating to more opportunities to score.

Refocusing Breaks

Every athlete needs to stay hydrated, so water breaks should be a regular part of every practice. But a break doesn’t have to be disruptive to the flow of practice.

Schedule one or two water breaks for each practice. While your players get hydrated, don’t be afraid to quiz them on different situations they might experience in the field. This will help them rest but keep them engaged with the game.

You could also take this time to review and revise signals, which all of your players should be familiar with well before they have to interpret them in a game.

(Video) Infield Training and Drills for All Levels

How Do You Make Softball Practice Fun?

Let’s be honest: drills can get kind of boring. Too much repetition without any sort of variance can make it hard for your players to buy into the program you set out for them.

Always make room for fun. Fortunately, there are several ways to spice up practice in productive ways.

Team-Building Exercises

Building team chemistry is important. It helps your players develop accountability for their actions and support for one another. These activities don’t have to be softball-specific, but they should help players get comfortable with one another.

Balance Ball

This simple game takes communication and coordination and can help build chemistry between teammates. It’s simple to set up, too.

  1. Divide the team into pairs.
  2. Have each pair sit back-to-back with a ball in between their backs. Their legs should be outstretched.
  3. Each pair has to stand up without dropping or touching the ball with their hands.
  4. Once everyone has successfully completed the drill, you can emphasize the importance of teamwork, discuss team goals for the season, or just the game ahead.

Icebreaker Scrimmage

This one is like the icebreakers you used to play your freshman year of college or the first time you went to youth group, except the ice is broken during a friendly intra-squad game.

When players get up to bat, they have to answer a question. If a player catches a fly ball, they have to answer a question. Field a grounder? Answer a question! These questions should be to help the players get to know each other better. Keep the questions light, focusing on favorite things so that you don’t make things uncomfortable.

Mini-Games

There are plenty of ways to practice fundamentals while feeding your team’s competitive side. Here are some player-approved favorites.

Survivor

There are versions of this game at every level of both baseball and softball. It’s exciting and competitive but also works as a good cool down for the end of practice.

  1. Players line up at one position in the infield or outfield.
  2. A coach hits a ball to them, either grounder or fly
  3. If a player fields it cleanly and makes a good throw, they go to the back of the line
  4. They’re out if a player doesn’t field it cleanly or makes a poor throw.
  5. The last player standing is the winner.

Hitting Derbies

A home run derby’s fast and flexible format helps your players get their cuts in while motivating them to improve. You don’t necessarily want to encourage swinging for the fences at the youth level, as it can mess up a player’s approach at the plate.

Taking the sole pursuit of home runs out of the equation rectifies the situation, though. A ‘hitting derby’ works like batting practice, except points are assigned for each hit. Some ways you can assign points are by:

  • How far a pitch is hit (think wiffle ball rules)
  • Which area of the field it’s hit to (good for developing bat control)
  • How many hits they get (good for improving overall contact)

Sweeten the pot for this game (and Survivor) by offering a custom shirt as the prize for winning the most times!

Jump Drills

This one doesn’t have winners and losers, but it is a nice shot of adrenaline for your players. Here’s how to play:

  1. Stand at home plate with a bucket of balls (and a bat, if you’re coaching older players)
  2. Have your team take the field in their main position.
  3. Each player should lay down on their stomach, eyes fixed on home.
  4. At random, roll (or hit) balls to each player on the field.
  5. The players have to get to their feet as fast as possible to field the ball and throw to first base (or second, for outfielders)

Target Practice

Throwing accuracy is critical come game time, but it can also be super fun to practice–particularly if you’re trying to hit something that makes a cool noise!

(Video) Softball Drills and Skill Development for Softball

  1. Stack up a bunch of plastic buckets.
  2. Split your team into two groups, each an equal distance away from the buckets.
  3. The team to hit the buckets the most times wins!
  4. The losing team has to clean up at the end of practice.

Four Corners

Quick ball movement is an essential part of the game. Try this game to put your players in the mindset of fielding the ball both quickly and cleanly.

  1. One player starts at home, acting as the runner.
  2. The other players divide into four groups, each occupying one of the bases.
  3. When the coach says ‘go,’ the runner takes off to run around the bases (using the ideas about baserunning)
  4. The team occupying home, first, second, and third has to throw the ball from home to first to second to third to home, then in reverse order, before the runner can reach home.
  5. The player last occupying home then becomes the runner, and the game starts over again.

Practice these drills and team-building activities, and you’re bound to have a great season!

FAQs

What are some fun softball drills? ›

10 Best Softball Drills for 7- and 8-Year-Olds
  • Four Corners. In this game, players sharpen their throwing accuracy.
  • Two Ball. Keep your eyes on the ball… ...
  • Hit the Helmet. Moneyball takes on a whole new meaning in this game.
  • Basepath Blitz. ...
  • Kneeled It. ...
  • Throwing Seeds. ...
  • Trust Catch. ...
  • Bunting Bonanza.
12 Mar 2022

How do you make softball fun again? ›

How to make the game fun again!
  1. Softball is a very difficult game. If you hit . ...
  2. Positive reinforcement works. ...
  3. Stop trying to correct every mistake. ...
  4. Encourage a positive attitude and high level of effort more than wins or losses or hits or outs. ...
  5. Let them have fun!

How do you play steal the bacon in softball? ›

So two rows and each girl is gonna get a number so she will be number one I will be number two and

How do you prepare for softball practice? ›

And do a bunch of sprints get your sprints in 30s 40s and 60 yard lengths are really really good get

How do you make a softball team work together? ›

9 Team Building Ideas
  1. 1) Team Sleepover. A classic but always a hit! ...
  2. 2) Volunteer Work. ...
  3. 3) Escape Rooms. ...
  4. 4) Competition Days at Practice. ...
  5. 5) Enjoy Seasonal Events. ...
  6. 6) “Teammate Dates” ...
  7. 7) Attend a Sporting Event. ...
  8. 8) Team Craft.
25 Aug 2019

What are the 5 skills in playing softball? ›

The basics of hitting, catching, throwing, fielding, and baserunning.

How do you practice fun in youth softball? ›

Fun Youth Softball Drills from the MOJO App - YouTube

How do I get more power to hit a softball? ›

5 Tips to Get More Power Behind Your Softball Swing
  1. Use The Right Grip. When you grip the bat, you need to focus on applying your pressure with your fingers- not your palms. ...
  2. Mind The Elbows. Many softball players mistakenly keep their elbows up when swinging. ...
  3. Power Your Stance. ...
  4. Dominate Your Stride. ...
  5. Improve Your Contact.

How do I stop softball popping out? ›

How To Stop Popping Up In SloPitch - SloPitch Hitting Tips - YouTube

What is the pepper game in softball? ›

Pepper | Fun Youth Baseball + Softball Drills From the MOJO App

What is the slaughter rule in softball? ›

A mercy rule, slaughter rule, knockout rule, or skunk rule ends a two-competitor sports competition earlier than the scheduled endpoint if one competitor has a very large and presumably insurmountable scoring lead over the other. It is called the mercy rule because it spares further humiliation for the loser.

How do you play spud? ›

How to Play. With everyone standing close to you, throw the ball straight into the air while shouting out one of the student's numbers. The student whose number has been called quickly gets the ball and shouts “SPUD” as soon as they touch it. All other students run away until they hear “SPUD.”

What are the 6 basic skills in softball? ›

The basic skills for any player involved in softball are throwing, catching, hitting for contact, hitting for power, and running.

How do you make a team stick together? ›

12 easy ways to improve workplace teamwork
  1. The role of leaders. It starts at the top. ...
  2. Communicate, every day, every way. Good communication is at the heart of great teamwork. ...
  3. Exercise together. ...
  4. Establish team rules. ...
  5. Clarify purpose. ...
  6. Recognize and reward. ...
  7. Office space. ...
  8. Take a break.

How do you build team bonding? ›

Here are seven tips to help you make your next team-building endeavor a successful one:
  1. Schedule the activity during work hours. ...
  2. Consider volunteer work. ...
  3. Encourage collaboration, not competition. ...
  4. Make it accessible for everyone. ...
  5. Go offsite. ...
  6. Set clear expectations. ...
  7. Gather feedback.
15 May 2015

What is the 10 rule in softball? ›

If at the end of a regulation game one team has a lead of ten (10) runs or more, the manager of the team with the least runs shall concede the victory to the opponent. NOTE: If the visiting team has a lead of fifteen (15) or ten (10) or more runs respectively, the home team must bat in its half of the inning.

What is the most important skill in playing softball? ›

Physical Focus on the most fundamental skills in softball: throwing and catching the ball, and running. Hitting should deal with the basic technique, focusing on development of hand eye coordination and ensuring bad hitting habits are not developed (e.g. swinging up.)

What are 3 skills of softball? ›

The necessary skills for an athlete involved in softball are; running, catching, hitting for power, throwing, and hitting for contact. These skills are often referred to as the five tools because these are the five things that scouts and coaches look for in softball players.

How do you teammates make practice fun? ›

Not only does it give your players a chance to improve their skills, it's also an excellent opportunity to bond with other teammates.
...
5 Ways to Make Training More Engaging
  1. Add an Element of Fun. ...
  2. Create a Challenge. ...
  3. Let the Players Guide the Session. ...
  4. Don't Neglect Individual Aspect.
14 Dec 2017

How do you make sports practice fun? ›

Here are five ways to make practice more fun.
  1. Break up the routine.
  2. Incorporate games into practice.
  3. Think outside the sport.
  4. Run efficient and effective practices.
  5. Focus on the person, not just the wrestler.
31 Jan 2019

How do you run a 12u softball practice? ›

Basic Softball Practice Plan & Pointers - YouTube

What are 2 key points for successful batting in softball? ›

More videos on YouTube
  • Good Balance, with the feet comfortably apart.
  • Slight, but Equal Bend in the Knees.
  • Slight Bend in the Hip so that you set the proper plane of the barrel when you get ready to swing.
  • Make sure the hips and shoulders are facing the plate, or “flat” and square to the plate.

How do you hit harder and farther in softball? ›

Softball Hitting Tips. Hit 50 Feet Further by Snapping the Hips n ...

What is a good throwing velocity for softball? ›

Average overhand throwing velocity for high school softball is approximately 48 mph; NCAA softball is approximately 57 mph. The test protocol requires the athlete to use their game bat to hit 5 line drives off a batting tee into a net.

How do you stop crow hopping in softball? ›

Removing a crow hop from your pitch - YouTube

Why do I keep flying out in softball? ›

You may not be following through on your swing, robbing power and causing it to lazily hang in the air after you make contact. Your grip may also be too low. The key to reducing your pop-ups is to adjust your mechanics so that you hit squarely and drive through the ball.

Why do softball players choke up on the bat? ›

Batters will choke up with two strikes because they are focusing on putting the ball in play. Choking up on the bat allows batters to have more control over their bat so they can increase their chances of making contact with the pitch and decrease their chances of striking out.

What does pickles mean in softball? ›

In summary, a pickle in baseball and softball means that a baserunner is stuck between two bases. The runner is between two bases, and the defense is trying to tag them out on the basepaths.

What is a dig in softball? ›

JUST DIG IN - How to Play Fastpitch Softball - The playing field - YouTube

What are pool games in softball? ›

Pool Play. The pool-play format divides all of the teams in a tournament into smaller groups. Teams in each pool play against each other, with the results in each pool determining which teams advance to the next round of the competition.

What is mercy rule softball? ›

Mercy Rule: A 10-run rule shall be used for all League games when one team is at least 10 runs ahead of another team after five innings for varsity and JV games. Further, for the JV level only, if one team is ahead 15 runs or more after 3 innings the game shall end. G.

What is the drop dead rule in softball? ›

Because of the need to clean dugouts, all leagues will use a “Drop Dead Game Time Rule” When the time expires, the game ends. If the home team is ahead, they WIN, if the visitor is ahead at that time, reverse back to the previous completed inning score. Clean and exit the dugout as soon as your game has ended.

What is a walk in softball? ›

A walk (or base on balls) occurs when a pitcher throws four pitches out of the strike zone, none of which are swung at by the hitter. After refraining from swinging at four pitches out of the zone, the batter is awarded first base. In the scorebook, a walk is denoted by the letters BB.

How do you play ketchup? ›

One person lays on the floor and the other person holds the ketchup bottle at SHOULDER LENGTH and must fill one cup with ketchup. After the 1st cup is filled, players must switch and the player squirting the ketchup must lay on the floor and vice-versa. Really fun.

How do you play the chocolate game? ›

  1. Place the chocolate on the plate with the knife and fork.
  2. Students sit in a circle on the floor surrounding the chocolate.
  3. The students each take turns rolling the die. ...
  4. The remaining students continue to take turns to roll the die until one of them rolls a '6'. ...
  5. The game ends when there is no chocolate left.

What are the 6 basic skills in softball? ›

The basic skills for any player involved in softball are throwing, catching, hitting for contact, hitting for power, and running.

What are some good pitching drills? ›

Top 10 Pitching Drills To Develop The Perfect Pitching ... - YouTube

What is the 10 rule in softball? ›

If at the end of a regulation game one team has a lead of ten (10) runs or more, the manager of the team with the least runs shall concede the victory to the opponent. NOTE: If the visiting team has a lead of fifteen (15) or ten (10) or more runs respectively, the home team must bat in its half of the inning.

What are 3 skills of softball? ›

The necessary skills for an athlete involved in softball are; running, catching, hitting for power, throwing, and hitting for contact. These skills are often referred to as the five tools because these are the five things that scouts and coaches look for in softball players.

What is the main offensive skill in softball? ›

The major offensive skills in softball are batting and base running.

Videos

1. Peter Turner's "Push Drill" for Softball Practice!
(Championship Productions)
2. All Access: Running an Efficient Softball Practice
(Championship Productions)
3. RedHawks Team Building Exercise
(ZONEDSportsAcademy)
4. Top 5 Fun Baseball Games to Play with Your Team // Have Fun AND Improve Your Skills
(Building Better Baseball)
5. Innovative Practice Drills
(Championship Productions)
6. Hit The Helmet | Fun Youth Baseball + Softball Drills From the MOJO App
(yougotmojo)

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