You call this Baseball?
Chris Johnson Not a baseball coach, but a coach's coach, Chris Johnson is a parent, an educator, and a tremendous motivational speaker. Though he professes to know nothing about the game of baseball - something I consider to be a mild prevarication in order to maintain his mystique as a soccer-loving Englishman - he definitely understand competitive pressures, the coaching psyche, and more than little aboutthe human condition in general. He is a frequent guest speaker at baseball conferences and other sports coach gatherings. I know first hand how memorable and inpirational he can be. - Richard Todd, WebBall
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Sometimes we're so focused on the details of the game we forget the kids are often here just for the fun of being on a team. So here are a couple of ideas to help build team work that don't require baseball-specific skills (but hand-eye coordination helps). Our thanks to Chris Johnson, formerly of Douglas College, New Westminster, BC, Canada
Here's an idea that combines all the stretching, core warm-up, skill prep you'd ever want. And I've seen it work for older players, too. Enjoy.
A game of tag...
Try regular tag, chair tag, spaghetti tag, hug tag, ball tag (maybe with a whiffle ball) Help!, slap tag, tail tag, Frisbee tag, line tag, shadow tag (only when the sun shines!), circle tag, rope tag, hospital tag, chase the dragon, chase the tail, bull in the ring, octopus garden.
These are just a few. Ask your athletes to ask their parent about games they played when they were kids and share those with your team.
Try this tag-ball game. 50% of the team have a ball, 50% don't. One person is chosen to be "it." Only those without a ball can be tagged. So with cooperation and communication, the players can protect each other by passing the balls. There's skill development, fun and lots of laughs!
Another idea: Try practicing fielding and hitting by using one of those little rubber footballs. It brings a new dimension to fielding grounders and pop flies.
It's a great way to improve hand-eye coordination. A few minutes of this and you're whole team will be juggling. Plus they'll really gel as a team - great for the first pre-season practice.
Do this with whiffle balls (or bean bags) or reduced injury balls or tennis balls without gloves. Older ages can use baseballs and gloves.
First, find out who can juggle 3 balls on their own. Get someone to demonstrate while you announce that the whole team's going to learn to juggle - more than 3 balls!
Now get the 3 balls back (you should have a bag with 10 or 12 whiffle balls in all).
Start by tossing a ball to one of your players. Get them to call out their name as they catch it then toss it to another player (who calls out his name). That player tosses to another player who calls out his name, and the round continues until everyone has caught a ball and it's ready to get tossed to the first player again.
Once every player has caught this first ball and called their name, start a second round - each player tossing to the same target person only this time the player tossing must call out the name of the target. That round continues.
Here's the juggling part. After two complete rounds, continue, but as the first ball is still making its round, start a second ball in the same route (with same call-outs). Then add a third ball to the route, and a fourth.
Keep this up for a few more rounds, then continue, but now everyone calls out the name of the person they're getting the ball from. And you continue to add another ball every round or so.
With a team of 12-15 players you should be able to get 6 - 8 balls making the rounds at the same time - that's at least 6 balls in the air all at once! You're team is juggling, just like you said it would!
[Editor's Note: Webabll staff have actually done this with a team of 15-17 year olds - they had fun also! It's a good reaction, alertness drill, plus they got the message about the importance of teamwork.]
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