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Each month, thousands of youth softball coaches & parents scan the internet for fun and effective fastpitch softball drills for 8U, 10U, and 12U players. 

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, a younger 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 younger players in mind.

And today’s post is written with the age-range of 8U-12U in mind. 

Continue reading to learn some fun and effective fastpitch softball drills for the 8U, 10U or 12U aged- teams.

The truth is that these drills are good (and recommended) for nearly ANY age-group. However, they will specifically help a younger player with her fundamentals.

And with young players laying a great foundation of proper fundamentals is essential for future success!

8U, 10U, 12U Softball Drill #1: Pendulum Throwing Drill

This first of my four fastpitch softball drills for a 8U, 10U, or 12U player is a throwing drill. Proper throwing mechanics is one of the biggest challenges I have experienced with these age groups. 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

8U, 10U, 12U Softball Drill #2: Jump-back Tee Drill

The second drill is a fun softball hitting drill that I call the “Jump Back Drill.” Once again, developing body awareness is the critical element for this drill.

Note that for this drill, it might be too advanced for some 8U players. If you try it and it's overly difficult, then simply back off the 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 help develop smoother upper body movements as the hitters hands separate from her body during the stride phase. 

This drill may be a little awkward even 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. However, just be sure to watch her upper body to make sure it isn’t “flailing around” during the drill.

Below is a video that walks through the drill from start to finish.

 

A couple of important notes on this drill:

  1. As you can see in the video, the player sets up with her front foot even with the ball…with both feet together.
  2. Second, the player jumps onto her back leg.
  3. Third, the player brings her front-knee in towards her back knee .
  4. Lastly, from a hitting mechanics standpoint you will notice in the video how her hands separate from her body. Also, her front shoulder and hips rotate “in”, all while she strides forward.

    8U, 10U, 12U Softball Drill #3: Soft-Hands Paddles 

    At the youth levels, teaching and reinforcing proper infield fundamentals is critical. Which is why I love using soft-hands paddles (also called "pancake gloves") 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.

    You can purchase paddles on a number of different websites. While we prefer the Rawlings glove, you can find a number of different options here on Amazon.

    A couple of important notes:

    1. This drill can be done either with a throw or simply by dropping the ball in a bucket after a fake throw.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.  
    4. 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.

    8U 10U 12U Fastpitch Softball Drills

    Drill #4: Buddy System (Team Building)

    If you want to coach fastpitch softball, you NEED to do some team building with your girls. But if you neglect this area, you will lessen your impact and the desire of your players to stick with softball.

    What's more, softball team building drills are always a fun way for the kids to get to know each other!

    A very simple team building drill is using a “buddy system.” In a nutshell, here is how it works (and you can EASILY tweak this):

    • Each player is assigned a buddy for a few days or weeks (depending on the length of your season).
    • During specific practices, 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.

    Below you will find various videos for drills to help you this season. 

    Can you use these drills as your team progresses into older age groups? Absolutely! But they are simple enough that most 10U and 12U player will be able to do them after some practice.

    For 8U players, if the drill might be too difficult we will notate that on the drill.

    The key to these drills is that when done correctly, they will reinforce proper fundamentals and get your players lots of quality reps in a short period of time!

    DRILL #5: Partner Framing & Receiving Drill (Catchers)

    (**This drill might not be a good fit for 8U players...use your discretion).

    This drill is simply having a coach toss balls to the catcher around the strike zone, working on proper framing & receiving of each location. Framing is something that every 12U catcher needs to learn and practice. 

    For most 10U players, introducing this will be the starting point depending on their skill-level. But this will also help them work on receiving pitches properly.  

    Reinforce this daily and you will be amazed at her improvement with framing! 

    DRILL #6: Triangle Backhand Drill (Infielders)

    (**This drill can be introduced to 8U players to help them work on glove-work...but use your discretion if their skill-level isn't ready).

    This drill requires 3 players, or at the very least 3 people. This is a GREAT drill for teaching players how to backhand a grounder at a pace that is manageable. 

    Here are a couple of important points for using this drill with your players: 

    1. Have the players work on fielding the backhand with both feet as the “lead foot.” While right-handed players will typically have the left foot forward, as they develop they will have situations where having the right foot forward is best. For example, a shortstop making a throw to second base might be better off backhanding with the right foot forward.
    2. The receiving player should stay low throughout the drill. To keep the drill moving quickly, be sure that the receiving player in the drill does not stand up straight every time she tosses the ball over to the 3rd player. This will slow the drill down.
    3. If you do not have a bucket for each group, simply have each group take 5 balls. Each player will then get 5 reps.
    4.  The players continue going through this progression for a specified number of reps or time!

    DRILL #7: Regular Soft-Toss (Hitting)

    Regular soft-toss is a “staple” for most programs. However, it is critical that players know HOW to execute this drill properly, both as a hitter AND as the tosser. In fact, I would argue that the tosser is even more important than the hitter.

    A couple of important points for this drill:

    1. Have the tosser hold the ball up and show it to the hitter. THEN she can bring it down and up again for the toss. This allows the hitter to get their timing down.
    2. The tosser should aim for the waist height. They key is to toss it neither too slow nor too fast. Too fast doesn’t give the hitter timing ability, while too slow (or too much of a “hump” in the toss) does not simulate fastpitch softball.
    3. Use a coach to run this drill if necessary...but it is important that the players learn how to toss to each other properly in order to get quality reps without a coach as they progress.

    DRILL #8: Fastest Player Drill (Baserunning)

    The purpose of this drill is to work on steal jumps. 

    Here are the steps, In a nutshell:

    1. Have all of your players line-up down the first base foul-line (or any line).
    2. Have each of them get into proper position for a steal.
    3. On a fake-pitch (just make sure it is a game-like fake pitch), each player “steals” the next base at the same time.
    4. Simply have them go 60 feet (or to an assigned “end point” depending on age and whether you are coaching baseball or softball).
    5. If a player “beats” the person to her right, they switch spots.
    6. Do this as many times as you prefer. The goal for the players is to finish at the “top” of the line.

    This drill will give you a very quick idea of not only your fastest players, but also your most competitive. You will notice that some players will give up quickly while some will fight to the bitter end.

    DRILL #9 & #10: Encouragement Bags & Team Building Practice  (Team Building)

    We wanted to include team building drills here because we believe it's very important. While these videos are geared for softball teams, something similar could be used for baseball teams as well. 

    The first video, from Coach Ritchhart, is included to give you some ideas. You will need to tweak things so that they best fit your age-group. 

    Video #1: Team Building Practice Session with Coach Ritchhart

    Video #2: Encouragement Bags

    Our second team building drill is called "encouragement bags." This is an easy drill to build greater team chemistry on your team!

    This particular activity is one of seven activities that we cover in our Team Building Drills post. Click that link to see all seven activities!

    But first, watch the video below to learn about the Encouragement Bag activity:

    DRILL #11: Load & Go Drill (Throwing)

    In this drill, you are working on proper weight transfer and use of the legs while throwing.  A common problem for younger players is not utilizing the legs properly (using all arms), as well as opening up too soon with the front shoulder.

    This drill helps to reinforce proper mechanics for both of the mistakes listed above.

    There you have it. That's eleven different fastpitch softball drills for 8U, 10U, and 12U coaches to use in practice. Nothing overly complicated…but for youth players keeping it simple is important!