Running a youth baseball practice is about teaching players the fundamentals of the game. The key to doing this is finding a way to hold your players’ interests throughout the entire practice. You can go through fundamental infield, outfield and batting drills, but you must combine these basics with fun-to-play games that your young players will enjoy.
Line five of your players along the third-base line. Place one player at home plate, the next at third base, the next about 60 feet past the player at third base and two additional players at 60-foot intervals. This should put the last player fairly close to the left-field foul pole. Line two other groups of five players parallel to the original group. Give the first player in each line the baseball–the one at home plate or the equivalent spot in the other lines–and have him throw the ball to the next player on your signal. That player has to catch the ball and then throw it to the next player in line. The relay continues in this manner all the way to the end of the line and then it reverses until the catcher has the ball. The team that gets the ball back to the catcher first wins. There’s one rule in this game: the ball cannot hit the ground. If any player drops the ball or makes an uncatchable throw, they must start the relay over again. This game helps players with their throwing and catching.
This is a game that young players love in practice. Divide your team into groups of three or four. If you have three groups of four players at practice, send the first group of four into the dugout to prepare for a round of batting practice. Put another group of four in the infield and the third group of four around the outfield. Send the first batter to the plate for batting practice. He gets three strikes to put the ball in play. If he gets a hit, he stays on base. If he is retired on a ground ball or fly ball, he is out. Then, the next batter comes up. Each batter in the group gets three at bats. After the last at bat, the next group of four hitters moves in for batting practice. Then, the group in the outfield moves into the infield and the group that had been at bat goes to the outfield. Keep proceeding in this manner until each group has had a chance to hit the ball. The team that comes up with the most hits wins the drill.
This is a great game to help pitchers learn the value of control. Line all of your team up behind the pitcher’s mound. The first player takes the ball and throws a pitch from the pitching rubber to a coach who is catching and calling the pitch. If it is a strike, the pitcher is “safe” and he goes to the back of the line. If it is a ball, he is on the “hot seat.” The next player throws a pitch. If it is a strike and the previous pitcher threw a ball, then the first pitcher is knocked out. If the second pitcher throws a ball, then the first pitcher is safe and the second pitcher is on the hot seat. Continue along in this manner until all players have been knocked out and there is one “king of the hill” left. You may want to reward that player by letting him pitch in the next game.
The speed ball is one of the key tools used by boxers to prepare for a fight. The speed ball–also known as the speed bag–hangs on a swivel hook at a height slightly above eye level. A boxer uses the speed ball to improve hand-eye coordination, punching accuracy, quickness and confidence. It is a staple exercise for all boxers.
Boxers need sharp reflexes and well-developed hand-eye coordination. The instant you see an opening, you must be able to deliver a jab with speed and accuracy. The speed ball will help you do just that. When pounding the speed bag, the left jab is the primary punch you will use. In order to hit the speed bag correctly, pound out a rhythm with your left jab. You must concentrate on hitting the bottom center portion of the bag so it hits the supporting rim and bounces back to you.
Quickness comes into play when you add footwork to your training with the speed ball. Boxing is not a static sport and hitting the speed ball becomes an even more effective tool when adding footwork. If you are a right-handed boxer, you will usually circle your opponent to your left. Keep this pattern in mind as you practice on the speed ball, picking up the pace as you go along. Good boxers learn to keep the speed ball moving in a rhythmic pattern as they move.
Hitting the speed bag while mimicking a boxing match can help a boxer develop a high level of fitness. Hit the speed bag for three minutes at a time–the same amount of time in a boxing round–without resting. Take a one-minute break and then repeat this for three to six rounds. This helps you maintain form and strength longer than those who do not spend the time working on the speed bag.
Boxers have to learn how to hit the speed bag. It takes time, effort and concentration to do it well. New boxers are often frustrated when they start hitting the speed ball. However, when you start to get your rhythm and learn to hit the bag, you performance in the ring during sparring sessions will likely improve. As boxers improve their quickness, hand speed and hand-eye coordination, their confidence grows and that helps their performance in the ring.
Many video feature stories on boxers open with a champion boxer hitting the speed ball with an impressive rhythm. It is a shot that gets the viewer’s attention and draws them into the story. However, this is not just a gimmick. This is one of the prime tools used to get a boxer ready for action in the ring. Sugar Ray Robinson, a Hall of Fame fighter who dominated the sport in the 1940s and ’50s, used the speed bag to build his overall quickness and hand speed throughout his career. He could make the bag move so fast that it was said to “sing” when he hit it in full rhythm. Other boxers who could do the same included Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Kid Gavilan, Roberto Duran and Manny Pacquiao.
Like any sport that evolved from another activity, the rules of Frisbee football are somewhat fluid. Further enhancements to the basics of Frisbee football have developed into an internationally recognized sport called Ultimate Frisbee. You can enjoy the basic fun of team sports with a flying disk while modifying the rules to fit your circumstances. Once you have the basics in place, you can add new rules or tailor your game to fit the playing area or number of players.
Assign an equal number of players to each team. A standard number is seven players to a side, but you can expand the teams to accommodate everyone who wants to play, as long as the field is large enough.
Define the boundaries of the field and the location of the end zones before beginning. The game plays out much like regular football, so if a youth league football field already is marked off at a local park, use that. Otherwise, use natural boundaries in an open field like walkways or tree lines to indicate out-of-bounds areas, and set out four cones or markers to denote the end zones.
¡°Kick off¡± by throwing the Frisbee down the field to the receiving team. Each team should line up at a specified point, either at the goal lines if you are on a small field or at the 20-yard line if you are on a marked football field. No player may cross that line until the Frisbee is in flight.
Mark the line of scrimmage at which the receiving team catches the Frisbee. If the ¡°kick off¡± travels out-of-bounds, the ¡°kicking¡± team must try again after marking off a five-step or five-yard penalty.
Advance the Frisbee by throwing a pass to a teammate just as you would in football. The quarterback is permitted to move around behind the line of scrimmage while looking for an open receiver.
Mark the spot of the Frisbee at the point of the catch if the offensive team makes a completion. The offensive and defensive teams line up again at the new line of scrimmage, and run the next play. Teams have four downs in which to score a touchdown, though variations to this rule exist. You may grant the offense a new set of downs following four completions, even if that team doesn’t score.
Score a single point for touchdowns for simplified play, or score the game like regular football, or six points for a touchdown, if you happen to have goalposts available for an extra point attempt. The point after should be challenging enough so that it is not automatic, so set the line of scrimmage for the try at midfield. You may also incorporate field goals for three points if you have the goalposts available.
Set time limits for each quarter, and designate a time keeper. Regulation football times of 15 minutes per quarter with a short half-time break work well.
Teenage athletes burn calories incredibly quickly. This is because their bodies are still rapidly growing while expending extra energy through sports activities. If a teenage athlete doesn¡¯t eat enough or doesn¡¯t eat the right types of nutrients, he risks decreased athletic performance and possible growth problems. Healthy eating allows a teen athlete to achieve his peak performance without compromising overall health.
The website KidsHealth.org, run by the Nemours Foundation, states that teenage athletes may require between 2,000 to 5,000 calories each day just to maintain their body weight and energy needs. If a teenager doesn¡¯t take in enough calories, she will lose weight and their energy levels will decrease. Frequent snacking is an important way that teenage athletes can eat healthy, because it allows them to get in the extra calories they require.
Carbohydrates are very important for teenage athletes because they are the main source of fuel for the body. KidsHealth.org states that fruits, vegetables and whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat bread and oatmeal, are healthy choices of carbohydrates because they are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Karen Bergs, a Registered Dietitian with Utah State University, recommends that teenage athletes get 60 to 65 percent of their calories from carbohydrates. For example, if they eat 2,200 calories in a day, they should eat at least 330 grams of carbohydrates.
A teenage athlete needs protein because it helps strengthen the muscles. Utah State University recommends that teenage athletes consume 12 to 15 percent of their calories from protein, but they should not overdo the protein as eating too much protein may have harmful side effects like liver problems. Good sources of protein include fish, poultry, dairy products, nuts, eggs, soy products and tofu.
High-fat foods are often stereotyped as being unhealthy. Teenagers who are watching their weight usually try to avoid fat in their diet, but fat is an important nutrient and not to be skipped out on by the teen athlete. KidsHealth.org states that fats are used for long-lasting energy. They recommend eating healthy fats such as salmon, avocados, olive oil and nuts. Fats should make up 20 to 30 percent of a teenage athlete¡¯s diet.
Though it¡¯s not thought of as a nutrient, water is actually one of the most important nutrients there is. Teenage athletes are at risk for dehydration if they don¡¯t continually drink water throughout their physical activity. KidsHealth.org states that when teenage athletes lose water through sweat, they can become weak and tired. It is recommended to drink water before and after exercise and every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise. There is not a specific amount of water that all teenage athletes need to drink as the amount required depends on the duration and intensity of the sport, as well as body weight. The most important thing is to drink water often.
High school football coaches use tryouts as a time to assess the talent that is available to them for an upcoming season. Common high school football tryout activities include kicking, throwing, catching, blocking and sprinting, which are typically conducted with potential players dressed in shorts or sweats and T-shirts. Like the game itself, tryouts are a difficult process intended to determine who has what it takes to succeed on the football field.
In most situations, high school football tryouts begin with a gathering of coaches and potential players where introductions are made and the tryout process is explained in detail. Players are sorted into groups based on positions before separating to different parts of the field to perform position-related drills. Some coaches will separate you into position groups based on what your physical appearance leads them to believe you are capable of playing. However, some coaches may ask you to indicate which position you want to play. In either case, as the tryout process unfolds, your skills may reveal the position for which you are best suited.
Usually, high school football coaches use the 40-yard dash as a basic indicator of a prospective player¡¯s speed, which helps to determine which position you are capable of playing. The 40-yard dash is performed either alone or against another tryout attendee. From a three-point football stance, you will be required to break into a full sprint for a distance of 40 yards while a coach times you. This drill is a good indicator of how fast you are able to run and of your muscular endurance over a distance that is commonly covered during a football game. Typically, linemen run the 40-yard dash more slowly than other positions, so coaches will sometimes employ the 10-yard dash to ascertain these players¡¯ ability to cover shorter distances quickly. Linemen are usually required to cover distances in this distance range during a football game.
High school football tryouts typically require prospective linemen to perform hitting and blocking drills on a padded blocking sled. These drills require you, from a three-point stance, to explode from your stance, hit the sled and drive it backward for several yards. Blocking sleds come in several formats, such as two-, three- and five-man sleds that the appropriate amount of players are used to drive the sled. Coaches use this drill to determine a player¡¯s ability to perform the basic duties of an offensive or defensive lineman.
If you are trying out to make your high school football team¡¯s quarterback, you will be put through a battery of drills that include throwing, running and taking a snapped ball from under center. Wide receiver candidates will be called upon to run routes and receive passes from prospective quarterbacks or coaches as part of their tryout experience. Running back candidates can expect to be required to run through obstacle courses, such as tires or cones, and to receive passes along with the wide receivers. Defensive backs and safeties will be assessed by providing pass coverage during passing drills, while linebackers will perform a combination of linemen and defensive back drills. Kickers¡¯ and punters¡¯ skills will be evaluated by attempting field goals from different distances and by punting the ball as far as they can.
There are two predominant defensive concepts in volleyball: perimeter defense and rotational defense. In addition to those two basic styles, man-up or “red” defense has regained some popularity. Teams may adjust each of these defensive schemes to fit their talent and match-up against their opponent. Each defensive type has particular strengths and weaknesses.
As the name suggests, players rotate into their “read” position based on how the play is developing. For instance, if the opponent sets to its outside hitter, the middle front and right-side front players block. The outside blocker stays home and covers the rest of the front court. The right back defender edges up behind the blockers to pick up balls tipped over them. The left back is responsible for the deep angle ball. The middle back rotates to the same sideline where the ball was set. The rotation changes if the opponent sets to its right-side hitter or the middle hitter.
In the perimeter defense, players start in the same base position as in rotational defense. But as the play unfolds, there is less movement into the “read” positions. This is a good defense to dig out hard-driven balls. It is more vulnerable to tips, relying on players to take away those plays with their athletic ability. As such, it is more popular with men’s teams with more size and range.
As the name suggests, the man up or “red” defense moves a back player up to support the front three players. This protects the middle of court from middle attacks and tips. It keeps the wing players deep. This formation minimizes the movement from base position to defensive zone. The deeper base positions allow players to keep most plays in front of them.
Within these basic concepts, countless adjustments can be made to suit the ability of the team. Hybrid defensive schemes are common. As volleyball coaching legend Bill Neville once said, “Defense should be designed so that it allows for putting the best diggers in areas that will most often be attacked.”
You should always pay attention to a headache before, during or after a football practice, because it might signal something much more significant. Headaches can arise from something as simple as dehydration, but they can also signify a brain injury, such as a concussion. Players with headaches should never ignore the pain and should stop practicing immediately to seek medical attention because headaches remain dangerous for any football player.
While not all headaches on the football field come from concussions, the book “Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis from the NFL to Youth Leagues” reports that up to 47 percent of all high school football players have suffered a concussion. Many of these concussions go unreported because these players do not want to lose their spots on the team. Many players believe that they should not worry about headaches unless they lead to or result from unconsciousness, but all players should have an awareness about the dangers of head trauma.
Countless deaths have occurred after high school practices and games over the years, with many of the deceased reporting headaches in the hours leading up to their deaths. In 2008, offensive lineman Atlas Fraley called for emergency attention after complaining of a headache after football practice. When the paramedics arrived, they diagnosed it as dehydration and left him at home after pumping him with fluids. Family found Fraley dead a few hours later because of head trauma he suffered at practice, the KnowConcussion website reports.
Professional football player Percy Harvin did not, as of the 2010 season, have a history of concussion, but reported suffering from migraine headaches occasionally. During a practice before the 2010 NFL season, Harvin complained of a headache, but soon returned to the field after receiving medical attention. The Minnesota Vikings wide receiver later collapsed on the field and the team¡¯s medical staff rushed him to hospital. This shows you should receive immediate medical attention for any headache you suffer from on the field, regardless whether direct contact occurred with the head or not.
Headaches can occur for different reasons during football practice, but no player should ever ignore them. In a contact sport, any number of collisions can cause a concussion, and a player should never return to the field until all of the symptoms have subsided. Those who return to the field before the headache has disappeared have a much greater risk of suffering from extremely dangerous conditions like second impact syndrome or post-concussion syndrome, researchers warned in a study published in 2001 in the journal “American Family Physician.”
No equipment, no gym — not a problem. You can get a solid strength-training session just using your body weight to do pushups. This classic exercise targets the chest, triceps and fronts of the shoulders but also utilizes the biceps, abs, obliques and low back as stabilizers. Herschel Walker, ex-pro football player and member of the College Football Hall of Fame, does between 750 to 1,500 every morning to stay in shape. You don’t have to gut out that many to build strength and endurance, especially if you are a beginner, but you can use the move as part of a complete workout.
When you are beginning a strength-training program, pushups may be one of the first exercises you target. A full pushup may be out of your reach, so try modified versions. You can do pushups against a wall with your hands placed a little wider than your shoulders and your body positioned at an angle to the wall’s surface. Once you can do between 12 and 15 of these, try modified pushups on the floor. Get into the top of the pushup position and then lower your knees onto the floor. Bend and extend your elbows to complete the pushup. Build up to doing 12 to 15 of these modified versions for three sets — which could take several weeks or months depending on your fitness and strength levels. Once you conquer the modified version for multiple sets, you’re ready for full pushups. A complete workout for a beginner doing full pushups is just one set of eight to 12 repetitions.
If you’ve mastered the pushup, the number of pushups you include in your workout depends on your goals. If you are a member of the military and looking to score well in the 2-minute pushup test or building stamina for rock climbing or other upper body-centered activities, your pushup workout can involve dozens of repetitions of the exercise. Stew Smith, former Navy Seal and certified strength and conditioning coach, recommends you work up to 200 or 300 per day in as few sets as possible to increase your pushup endurance and build upper-body stamina. This may fly in the face of classic strength-training protocols that demand rest between strength training specific muscle groups, but this unconventional approach can increase endurance, says Smith. Doing a high-rep pushup workout also strengthens your core muscles.
If your goal is to get a pumped-up chest for bodybuilding or significantly increase overall chest strength, a pushup workout may not be enough. A study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise published in October 2012 found that among nine of the most common chest-focused exercises, pushups ranked lowest in terms of activation of the pectorals, the primary chest muscles. While pushups can be part of a chest workout, the researchers concluded that those after a big, strong chest should emphasize the bench press, pec deck machine and bent-forward cable crossovers in workouts. If you add pushups to a comprehensive workout, do a standard eight to 12 repetitions for three to six sets. If this is too easy, try variations such as pushups on a balance device, incline or decline pushups, one-legged or one-armed pushups or handstand pushups to create a greater strength challenge. A chest workout for strength or size should allow 48 hours between sessions for the muscles to repair and rebuild.
When you complete dozens of pushups in a workout, proper form is paramount. Keep your body rigid as you bend and extend your elbows to prevent straining the lower back. If you start to feel shoulder or wrist strain, stop immediately, and if the discomfort does not go away for several days, seek medical advice. Build up gradually to high-rep pushup workouts; doing too much too soon can lead to injury.
It’s not just about working hard in the weight room, doing long-distance runs and sprint workouts and hitting a blocking sled. Football players who want to train hard and get better at their job can train in the pool, too. Aquatic workouts can help a player run faster, jump higher; and can even help kickers get more height and distance on their kicks.
A football player can improve his speed by running in shallow water. Go to the area of the pool where the water is thigh-high. Spring 25 yards one way and then 25 yards back. Take a one-minute break, then repeat the drill. By the end of the second two-lap run, you will likely feel exhausted but do your best to maintain your speed.
Stand in water that is waist-high. Bend your knees at a 45-degree angle, and jump up as high as you can. When you land, immediately repeat; jump like this 15 times. Take a one-minute break and then repeat the entire drill. The resistance provided by the water will help you build strength and explosive jumping power in your legs. This can help you get higher as a receiver, to catch the pass over a defender; or help you get high enough to knock the ball away from a receiver if you are a defender.
This is a great exercise for kickers and punters. Kicking the ball high and far is not just about explosive strength in your legs and hips. Much of a kicker’s power comes from your abs and core muscles. Grab the underside of the starting blocks at the end of the pool. Pull yourself up so that your feet are off the bottom of the pool. Point your toes, then lift your legs so your body is forming the letter “L”; Hold this position for two seconds. Return to the starting position. Do this maneuver 15 times, take a one-minute break, then repeat the set.
Playing organized sports can be one of the best experiences for any young person with an interest in sports. A player can improve his skills, make friends and learn how to be part of a team. But the experience is not always beneficial. Young athletes can get hooked up with a coach who is more interested in his ego than helping a young person. Instead of forming friendships, a young person might feel isolated. Injuries can also result from tough competition.
The coach of a youth sports team has the ability to make the experience an enjoyable or miserable one for a young athlete. If a coach is in it to win games and championships rather than emphasize learning and enjoyment, then he is not the right kind of person to lead young people. Some coaches will act warm and friendly to young players when they perform well but then act like they barely know the youngster when they go into a slump. This can ruin a young person’s attitude and make the experience painful.
Organized youth sports take steps to keep young people from getting hurt while playing. But sports are not risk-free and even with the right techniques, players are going to get injured. This is particularly true when they play contact sports such as football, hockey and soccer. Injuries can also occur in basketball, baseball, volleyball and tennis. Youngsters who suffer serious injuries (knee, shoulder, back and neck) might be hesitant to take the field in competitive situations again.
Sometimes the parents of athletes put undue pressure on young performers. Some might be blatant and provide specific expectations. “I expect you to get at least two hits tonight,” a father might say because he hopes to bring out a good performance. Others might indicate that the family name is on the line and issue a threat. “You better not do anything to embarrass me,” could be a parent’s last words before their child takes the field. Those are harmful words. Even if the child does perform well after hearing those words, all he might feel is relief. He won’t feel any of the joy that these sports are designed to promote.