To have successful practices, you must take into account the attention span and skill level of your players. If your playersare young and/or inexperienced they will have very short attention spans. You should then spend most of your time doingand less of your time talking.
"My Players Aren't Paying Attention at Practice"
This is common to coaches everywhere, so don't feel alone. Chances are, you're probably talking too much and not doingenough. Or, if you feel you are having the players do a lot, they are probably doing the same thing for too long. We alleventually reach a point of boredom.
As a rule of thumb:
- Younger Kids: Have them do a lot of different drills, and don't spend a lot of time on each drill.
- Older Kids: Can do fewer drills, while spending more time on each drill.
Kids Want to "Do"
Kids, especially young kids, are kids first and softball players second. You will only bring on more frustration for yourself ifyou try to keep your players from chasing butterflies, watching planes fly overhead, picking daisies, or doing whatever otherthings kids are fascinated with.
Let your kids be kids. Insist that they be well-behaved and orderly, but create drills and practices that keep their interest andattention. Let them be kids. You be the one to change, not them. It is a lot easier for one person to change than it is for 15.
It all comes down to the fact that kids want to "do" and adults want to "talk." Get your players active, then work to keepthem that way by making efficient use of your time, equipment, people and facilities.
Effective Use of Time
Who said that everyone on your team has to show up at the same time for practice? Break yourpractice time up into time frames that are easier for you to manage.
For example, if your practice runs from 5:00 - 7:00 P.M.and you have everyone show up the entire time, try using these time frames:
- 5:00 - 5:30 P.M.
- 5:30 - 6:30 P.M.
- 6:30 - 7:00 P.M.
One of the problems you may run into at your practice is having too many kids and too few coaches. This results in alack of control over your players, and a lack of individual attention.
This problem can be solved by breaking your team intosmaller, more workable parts, the same way you just did with your time. Your team can now become smaller groups of infielders,outfielders, and pitchers and catchers.
By breaking your team into parts, you will be better prepared to utilize yournew time frames. Instead of having everyone come to practice at 5:00, have one of your smaller groups come during the 5:00-5:30 slot.
5:00 - 5:30 P.M. - infieldersThey will get half an hour of extra work and special attention. Then, have the rest of the team show up at 5:30 (the infieldersstay)
5:30 - 6:30 P.M. - entire teamThis will allow you time to work on team drills, to play mini-team games (see below), and to take batting practice. At 6:30,once you have finished the team workout, everyone goes home except the outfielders. The outfielders stay until 7:00
6:30 - 7:00 P.M. - outfielders
Your entire practice time will look like this:
5:00 - 5:30 P.M. - infielders5:30 - 6:30 P.M. - entire team6:30 - 7:00 P.M. - outfielders
With this type of practice you will get to spend time working with smaller, more manageable groups. Your players will getmore individual attention, and the longest any player will be at practice is an hour and a half.
Courtesy of Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA)– the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States.