Make a “10,000” Foot High Plan for the Season (Step 3)
The Hitting Practice Plan Series
Baseball and Fastpitch Softball
This Plan for the Season article has been excerpted from The Ultimate Hitting Training Guide (click to learn more about our new hitting drills book).
In The Hitting Practice Plan Series, we guide the coach through developing a plan for the season. Using a top-down approach, the coach formulates their player skill development training plan step-by-step. Upon finishing Step 6 of this series, the end product is individual hitting practice plans which are customized and synchronized with the team’s priorities.
Plan for the Season – Objective 1: Determine the Length of Season
In this topmost step, the coach decides the starting date for the first practice, the number of games in the season, and the game schedule, including championship play. These dates set the start and end dates for the team’s season. Publish this information as early as possible so parents can plan family vacations that won’t conflict with team events.
When planning the length of the season, keep in mind, yes it is important to develop players for the next level, but maintaining balance is also important. Even high school players who have the talent and passion for playing college baseball or fastpitch softball should seek balance in their lives. The best high school and college players are the ones who understand when it is essential to work hard on their pitching, hitting or fielding. These players also know when to take time off. Encourage fastpitch softball and baseball players to find balance in their lives by participating in another sport, taking part in the arts, joining youth groups, or volunteering to serve in the community.
“I am not an advocate of athletes playing any sport year-round, especially baseball or softball. At some point, the body needs a break, and more importantly, the mind needs a break. I also worry that players will lose their zest for the Game. If they play too many games and attend too many practices, there is a strong possibility playing this great game will become work. Over the years, I have witnessed many talented players who gave up playing baseball and softball before they reached high school, because they were burned out. Parents of these players were typically startled, but I believe they just didn’t see the writing on the wall.” (Petricca, A Balancing Act, 2017)
Plan for the Season – Objective 2: Determine Practice Length and Frequency
For this objective, the coach makes scheduling decisions concerning the length and frequency of practices. The typical length and frequency of training varies widely between skill level and age group:
Level Length Frequency Time
College 4 hours 5/week 20 hours per week
High School 2 hours 5/week 10 hours per week
Travel Ball (College Prep) 3 hours 2/week 6 hours per week
Travel Ball (Competitive) 2 hours 2/week 4 hours per week
Travel Ball (Recreational) 2 hours 1/week 2 hours per week
Little League (11-12 yo) 2 hours 2/week 4 hours per week
Little League (9-10 yo) 1.5 hours 2/week 3 hours per week
Little League (5-8 yo) 1 hour 2/week 2 hours per week
Plan for the Season – Objective 3: Determine Coaching Staff and Responsibilities
There are four projects to complete for this objective:
- Consider which assistant coaches desire to learn more about how to coach hitting. Invest time in training coaches by asking coaches to study individual sections of Building the High-Level Swing Series (click to learn more). As the season progresses, players benefit tremendously from the additional knowledgeable coaching.
- Hitting strategies need to be discussed openly at a coaches’ meeting. There is little more destructive to skill development than coaches teaching mechanics that are at odds with one another.
- Coaches for baseball and fastpitch softball should seek proficiency throwing underhand to corners with wiffles and regulation balls from 15 to 20 feet. At least one coach should be an expert at throwing BP strikes from 30 to 40 feet.
- Plan how to utilize helpers. The expertise of coaching assistance ranges from the parent helper who puts the ball on a tee and records and tracks successful targets to the assistant coach who shares the head coaches’ expertise. Regardless, anyone who wants to help, and has passed the league certifications, can make useful contributions.
Plan for the Season – Objective 4: Obtain Practice Facilities
Finding affordable outdoor and indoor practice facilities may be the most stressful of all the season planning functions. The coach should be rigorous in their search – don’t settle. If a facility is too expensive, share it with another team and split the cost. There are two essentials:
- Indoor batting cage with space for three other stations.
- Outdoor regulation field with maintenance equipment available to use.
Plan for the Season – Objective 5: Obtain Training Aids
In this final objective, the coach makes a checklist of equipment needed for the upcoming season. Click the link Hitting Training Methods and Aids for a list of practical and durable equipment and modern training methods.
The Hitting Practice Plan Series
Using a top-down approach, the coach formulates their training plan step-by-step. The outcome is individual hitting practice plans which fit the team’s priorities. Click each of the links below to systematically build your practice plans for the upcoming year.
Building Rome Series Books: Building the High-Level Swing Series
Click Building the High-Level Swing to learn more about our new two-book hitting series containing a detailed and comprehensive description of 100 hitting fundamentals and 140 step-by-step drills that efficiently construct the batting swing from the ground up.
In the Building Rome Series of books, the construction of skills are in functional order, providing a “roadmap” to becoming a great hitter.
All baseball and fastpitch softball players can “climb the Roman Coliseum steps” to become a powerful and productive hitter.
Enjoy the quest!