Each month, thousands of travel ball coaches scan the internet for fastpitch softball drills for 10U and 12U players. And thousands more for 8U, 14U, 16U and 18U.
While we often like to lump groups together into broad categories (travel ball, high school, rec league, etc.), the reality is that each group has subcategories with very specific needs. While many parts of the game apply for all age levels, an 8U or 10U player is much different than an 18U player.
And as a result there are certain skills and drills that are great for an older, more experienced 18U player that may not be so good for the 10U girls (as an example).
I would encourage every coach that attends a conference to listen to each speaker through the “filter” of “does this apply to my team?” College coaches will be your typical speakers. While they nearly always deliver great information, they aren’t always teaching with the 10U, 12U, or 14U player in mind.
And today’s post is written for that 10U or 12U coach.
Continue reading to learn about four great fastpitch softball drills for 10U or 12U teams. If you would like to receive four additional 10U/12U drills you can click this link:
The truth is that these drills are good (and recommended) for ANY age-group. However, they will specifically help a 10U-12U player with her fundamentals. And with young travel ball players laying a great foundation of proper fundamentals is essential for future success!
10U-12U Fastpitch Softball Drill #1: Pendulum Throwing Drill
This first of my four fastpitch softball drills for 10U and 12U is a throwing drill. Proper throwing mechanics is one of the biggest challenges I have experienced with this age group. Some of this is arm strength, while some is simply reinforcing proper fundamentals.
This drill will not fix all of your teams throwing woes. But it will help your players develop some body awareness for proper weight transfer during the throw.
In this drill, the player rocks back and forth with a ball in the middle of her body. You can see the video of the drill below:
A couple of important notes as you watch the drill:
- The players rocks her weight back and forth from her front leg to her bag leg 2-3 times
- On the last “rock” to her back leg she goes into her throwing motion
- This drill helps players feel their weight transfer from the back side to the front side
10U-12U Fastpitch Softball Drill #2: Jump-back Tee Drill
The second drill is a hitting drill that I call the “Jump Back Drill.” Once again, developing body awareness is the critical element for this drill.
Much like with the pendulum drill, this drill will help a player feel their weight transfer from the “back side” to the “front side.” This drill can help players develop proper weight transfer with their lower body. It can also (when done correctly) help develop smoother upper body movements as the hitters hands separate from her body during the stride phase.
This may be a little awkward for the 10U player initially, but she will improve with practice and time. And as she gets into the 12U “phase” of playing she will have this mastered. Just be sure to watch her upper body to make sure it isn’t “flailing around” during the drill.
Below are pictures that give you an idea of the drill from start to finish. You should take note of a couple of important things:
- The player sets up with her front foot even with the ball…with both feet together (picture #1).
- The player jumps onto her back leg (pictures #2 and #3).
- The player brings her front-knee in towards her back knee (picture #3)
- In picture #4, notice how her hands separate from her body, her front shoulder and hip rotate “in”, all while she strides forward.
10U-12U Fastpitch Softball Drill #3: Soft-Hands Paddles
At the 10U (and 12U) levels, teaching and reinforcing proper infield fundamentals is critical. Which is why I love using soft-hands paddles for this age group. This “drill” should progress from rolling grounders to your players, to possibly hitting grounders at them.
You do not need a lot of paddles to make this work (although it is easier with one paddle for each player). If your budget is tight, you could purchase 2-3 each season. If you do not have many paddles, simply have the players share.
A couple of important notes:
- Do not be overzealous with this. Going too hard could have the end result of players being afraid of a ground ball. Keep in mind that this is for fundamentals.
- Do NOT hit grounders at them with their paddles unless they are VERY comfortable. And start SLOWLY.
- Use the paddles on grounders that the players can get in front of only. Balls hit right at them or that take them a few steps to the side is best.
- Use this drill to reinforce the following:
- Proper footwork on grounders.
- Covering up the ball with the throwing hand (two hands).
- Making throws to bases after fielding.
- NOTE: This drill can be done either with a throw or simply by dropping the ball in a bucket after a fake throw.
10U-12U Fastpitch Softball Drill #4: Buddy System (Team Building)
If you want to coach fastpitch softball, you NEED to do some team building with your girls. If you neglect this area, you will lessen your impact and the desire of your players to stick with softball.
A very simple team building drill is using a “buddy system.” This is something that one of the coaches in the SCO Community shared with me a while back, and I love it. In a nutshell, here is how it works (and you can EASILY tweak this):
- Each player is assigned a buddy for a few weeks.
- During each practice, the “buddies” take 5 minutes to learn something new about each other.
- Take 5 minutes on occasion to have a player share with the team what they have learned about their “buddy.”
- If you have new players coming onto your team each season, partner them with a “veteran” player to help them get to know each other.
There you have it. Four different fastpitch softball drills for 10U and 12U coaches to use in practice. Nothing overly complicated…but for the 10U-12U players keeping it simple is important.