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Youth Softball Drills: 8U, 10U, and 12U

Youth Softball Drills: 8U, 10U, and 12U

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With age comes differences in cognitive development, engagement, and physical capabilities. Therefore, when planning youth softball drills for your upcoming tryouts or practices, it is essential to tailor drills according to the players’ ages.

We break down youth softball drills for 8U, 10U, and 12U players. Drills that will keep each age group motivated while helping coaches analyze players across the core areas of softball, such as: hitting, throwing, bunting, fielding, and catching.

8U Softball Drills

Kneeling glove fielding drill

  • Arrange players in pairs on the infield, positioning them approximately 15 feet apart from each other. Both players should have gloves on for this softball fielding drill.
  • Players will take turns rolling the softball.
  • The receiving player will catch the softball with both hands while ensuring the palms of their hands are facing upwards.

Tip: Emphasize the importance of soft hands when players catch the ball. This means catching the ball with minimal force while ensuring a secure grip, helping to prevent the ball from bouncing off the glove.

Tee hitting drill

  • Place a batting tee on the ground. The height of the tee should be just above belt level; however, minor adjustments can be made.
  • Line players up and fill a bucket with 10 softballs.
  • The first player in line will hit the softball from the tee, repeatedly replacing a softball on the tee after each swing.

Tip: Ensure players maintain a proper stance, hold the bat with a comfortable grip, and keep their eye on the ball at all times (from the moment it is placed on the tee until after contact is made).

Running callout drill

  • Have players line up in a single file line.
  • The first player up will start at first base.
  • On the coach’s call, player 1 will have to run towards (and back to) whichever base you call.
  • Have each player complete this drill 3-4 times before rotating to the next player in line.

Note: Ideally, you want to encourage players to increase their speed & endurance each round. Make sure to use a stopwatch to time each player and congratulate any victories along the way.

Balloon batting drill

  • Position a balloon between the player’s thighs before they assume the proper batting stance.
  • As the batter advances with their swing, they must maintain control of the balloon, preventing it from shifting or dropping to the ground.

Tip: For optimal batting stance, players will stand with their feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Weight should be on their back foot with their front foot planted on the ground. Their toes and chest should be pointed towards home plate.

One-knee throwing drill

  • Players will begin by kneeling on one knee, with their back leg perpendicular to their front leg.
  • The throwing hand (on the side with the back leg) will start by going to the player’s thigh before they bring their elbow up and face the ball out.
  • Simultaneously, the other hand with the glove will be extended straight ahead.
  • Once this position is secured, players will perform the throw. In this drill, the throwing hand will follow through while the gloved hand steadily descends in a straight path.

Tip: As the ball is released in this softball throwing drill, players should also be snapping their wrists to ensure greater accuracy of the throw.

See the one-knee throwing drill in action

Youth softball drills in practice

10U Softball Drills

Point value bunting drill

  • Assign a score to each base. For example, bases 1 and 3 can be worth two points while base 2 can be worth one point.
  • Each player will take turns bunting the ball.
  • The players will get awarded a point value for where the ball stops. If the ball doesn’t land in any designated marked areas, a score of zero will be given.
  • Each player will bunt the ball 4 times.
  • Make sure to tally up the scores at the end of all four rounds.

Tip: Ensure players bunt the ball off the upper portion of the bat, slightly north of the barrel’s ideal zone.

Pendulum throwing drill

  • Line players up.
  • The first player in line will rock back and forth 3 times, shifting weight from their back to their front leg.
  • On the last rock to their back leg, players will get into a throwing stance.
  • As players rock forward, they will throw the ball.
  • Rotate through players 5-6 times.

Tip: For optimal throwing stance, players should stand with feet shoulder width apart with one foot slightly in front of the other. Additionally, elbows should be at or slightly above shoulder level and knees should be slightly bent to generate maximum throwing power.

Triangle fielding drill

  • Draw a triangle in the sand and pair up players.
  • Have one player stand with their knees slightly bent and hip-width apart at the base of the triangle. Without a glove, these players will practice receiving different ground balls from their partner: i.e., straight, forehand left line, backhand right line.
  • Once players feel comfortable with this drill, they can then put on their gloves to receive a variety of ground balls.

See the triangle fielding drill in action

Freeze hitting drill

  • Place a batting tee on the ground. The height of the tee should be just above belt level; however, minor adjustments can be made.
  • Line players up and fill a bucket with 10 softballs.
  • The first player in line will hit the softball from the tee, repeatedly replacing a softball on the tee after each swing.
  • Players will set up their swing how they normally do; however, when they go back into their load position, they will freeze for 2-3 seconds.
  • Players will then follow throw with their swing and hit the ball.

Slide catch drill

  • Players will start a few inches ahead of home plate, with their knees bent in a squat and their gloved hand straight out.
  • Fingers should face up to the sky and their palm facing the field).
  • On the coach’s call, a ball will be thrown, either veering slightly to the left or right. Note: Players won’t know ahead of time which direction to go
  • Players will have to quickly slide over to the designated side where the ball is heading and drop to their knees to catch the ball.

Tip: When players move to the right side, they will need to ensure they throw their right foot out (and vice-versa when they move to the left side). Enough momentum should be developed so that that the trail side follows along with it.

Youth softball drill catching drill

12U Softball Drills

Hit the helmet throwing drill

  • Place a helmet at home base and line your team up between second and third base.
  • Each player will throw the ball with their dominant hand, and ideally hit the helmet, before going to the back of the line.
  • The first player to hit the helmet wins the round.
  • After each round, continue to place the helmet an inch further from players.
  • Run the drill for 5 rounds.

One-knee hitting drill

  • Pair players up.
  • One player will be on one knee, with their back leg perpendicular to their front leg and their shoulders relaxed with a solid grip on the bat.
  • The other player will be responsible for throwing the ball in a standing position.

Note: This hitting exercise effectively isolates the upper body, prompting the hitter to concentrate on correct swing mechanics rather than speed.

Wide-receiver fielding drill

  • Line up players in the outfield with their gloves on.
  • Place a cone 20 feet from the first player in line.
  • On your call, player 1 will sprint to the cone before either breaking right or left at a 45-degree angle. Note: Players won’t know ahead of time which direction to go.
  • As the player begins to sprint to the cone, you should release the ball. The player must maintain visual contact with the ball throughout to ensure a successful catch.

See the wide-receiver catching drill in action

Knee tap bunting drill

  • Line up players with a bat.
  • Player 1 will start in an upright hitting position.
  • As the coach throws the ball, the player will drop down to one knee and execute the bunt.

Note: Dropping to one knee helps players to maintain better balance. Additionally, by localizing movement the upper half of the body only, batters can achieve greater precision when bunting.

Slow to fast batting drill

  • Line players up with a bat.
  • As the ball nears, the first player in line will assume a normal batting stance but slowly shift their weight onto their back leg.
  • Once weight is shifted, players will gradually increase their bat speed until they make contact with the ball.
  • After hitting the ball, players will continue their swing (at full speed) through to the hitting zone.

Wrapping Up

While younger athletes might still be mastering fundamental softball skills such as coordination and balance, your older youth athletes might be advancing to focus on throwing accuracy and batting swing path.

Therefore, when athletes perform youth softball drills that align with their physical capabilities and cognitive development, their skill set has the potential to thrive.

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FAQ — Youth Softball Drills

With age comes differences in cognitive development, engagement, and physical capabilities. Therefore, when planning youth softball drills for your upcoming tryouts or practices, it is essential to tailor drills according to the players’ ages.

To get a comprehensive assessment of players’ capabilities, make a list of softball skills that are most important to measure. I.e., Hitting, fielding, pitching, and base running. Choose 3-4 drills under each skill.

Kneeling glove fielding drill
Tee hitting drill
Running callout drill
Balloon batting drill
One-knee throwing drill

Point value bunting drill
Pendulum throwing drill
Triangle fielding drill
Freeze hitting drill
Slide catching drill

Hit the helmet throwing drill
One-knee hitting drill
Wide-receiver fielding drill
Knee tap bunting drill
Slow to fast bunting drill

Danielle Stringer

Danielle is a dynamic content marketer with a unique blend of creativity and analytical expertise. She is driven by her passion for helping companies scale through lead generation, always finding distinctive ways to connect with her audience. Drawing from her extensive background in B2B SaaS, she is thrilled to apply her skills and knowledge in her current role at SkillShark Software Inc.