The batter takes his stance and the tension in the stands rises as the pitcher throws the first pitch of the game. Then the crowd goes wild as the batter races around the bases, as fast as his little legs can carry him. Teaching 6- and 7-year-old players the correct mechanics and movement patterns of hitting the ball should be one of your primary goals as a coach. Conduct a variety of enjoyable batting drills during each practice session to achieve this objective.
Bunting is an important skill for youngsters to learn. They'll likely be asked to bunt many times throughout their playing days. Bunting helps develop hand-eye coordination, which is an essential skill for catching and hitting the ball. The sacrifice-catch drill teaches your players to "catch" the ball with the barrel of the bat rather than swing at the ball, which will likely make the ball go too far. Tape a glove to the barrel of the bat. Then have one player at a time practice bunting by tossing a ball in the strike zone and asking them to imagine "catching" the ball with the glove. The ball won't actually stay in the glove, but it provides an effective visual aid for the players.
Stride, Pause and Swing Drill
The full baseball swing requires a coordinated series of movements that might prove difficult for some 6- and 7-year-old players. Breaking the swing into segments might be more productive, especially for beginners. The swing should start with a short step toward the pitcher. The batter keeps his hands close to his back shoulder as he steps forward, then concludes with a powerful swing to hit the ball. Have your players pause after they stride and check to make sure they're positioned properly before they swing. Make them correct their position before swinging, if necessary. During the drill, you can have them swing without a ball, hit a ball off a tee or toss a ball from a short distance away, depending on their skill level.
Having 6- and 7-year-old players hit off a batting tee is good practice. It allows them to focus on swinging correctly without worrying about swinging at the right time. It's also an effective method of practicing a lot of swings in a short period of time. Set several tees up and have your players hit the ball into a net. Once they become proficient, change the height of the tee and move it to the inside and outside parts of the strike zone periodically. Give your players constructive feedback and encouragement as they perform the drill.
The front-toss drill is a logical progression from the tee drill. It involves a coach tossing a ball into the strike zone from a short distance and slowly, making it as easy as possible for the batter to hit the ball. Stand behind a screen and toss the ball either overhanded or underhanded, depending on the player's ability level, to one batter at a time. Consider using a soft baseball or a tennis ball if the batter is afraid of the ball. Give each player at least five successful hits per turn.
- Motor Learning and Control; Richard A. Magill
- The Baseball Drill Book; Bob Bennett
- The Baseball Coaching Bible; Jerry Kindall and John Winkin
- BYBA League: Youth Baseball Fundamentals Workbook
- QC Baseball.com: Baseball Hitting Tips and Mechanics