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Southeast Portland Little League

Skills Checklist for Tee Ball, Rookie, and Farm Divisions

Here is a checklist of skills to teach Tee Ball, Rookie and Farm players throughout the season. Players will progress at different rates. The goal is for all players to perform these skills before advancing to the Minor Division.  

General Knowledge

  • Names of the defensive positions
  • Names of the bases
  • Infield v. Outfield
  • Proper direction to run the bases
  • Purpose of base coaches
  • Batting Order
  • Object on offense is to hit the ball, advance to each base safely, and to touch home plate to score a run. (Teams score runs, not points.)
  • Object on defense is to catch a batted ball in the air, tag a base runner with the ball, or touch a base before the runner on a force. 

Sportsmanship

  • Have fun!
  • Try hard - give best effort at every practice and every game
  • It's okay to make mistakes. Mistakes are an opportunity to learn. 
  • Be a good sport - treat teammates, opponents, coaches, officials, and parents with respect
  • Cheer for your teammates

Throwing

  • Grip - 4 seam (2 or 3 fingers)
  • Thumb under the ball
  • Position entire body perpendicular to target (shoulders, hips, and feet)
  • Look at target throughout the throw
  • Point glove shoulder and elbow toward target
  • Step directly toward target
  • Arm moves in a circle
  • Throw overhand - elbow above shoulder/hand above head
  • Rotate and follow through with hips, legs, and arm

Catching

  • Square/facing the person throwing the ball
  • Both hands in front of the body, fingers up, thumbs together, arms relaxed and extended slightly toward the ball
  • Keep eyes on the ball
  • Step to/get in front of the ball
  • Catch with two hands
  • Bend the elbows to absorb the force of the throw
  • Watch the ball in the glove and squeeze it

Playing Catch

  • By the time players finish Farm Ball, the goal is to be able to play catch at a distance of 60 feet (the distance between bases).

Ground Balls

  • Get in front of the ball - body squarely facing the ball
  • Feet shoulder width or wider
  • Bend knees and drop behind to the ground (limit bending at the waist)
  • Extend glove in front of body
  • Keep throwing hand close to glove (alligator)
  • Watch ball into the glove
  • Grab the ball with throwing hand
  • Throw the ball to the target

 Fly Balls

  • Sprint to ball (do not coast or drift)
  • Get under the ball
  • Call it - "I got it!" or "Ball, Ball, Ball!"
  • Catch with two hands

Batting

Hitting a baseball is the most difficult skill to master in baseball. Break it down as follows:

Grip

  • Grip the bat firmly (don’t squeeze or death grip)
  • Hold hands together above the knob
  • Hold bat with fingers (not deep in palms)
  • Middle knuckles generally lined up

Stance

  • Body perpendicular to pitcher
  • Feet comfortably wider than shoulders
  • Toes straight ahead toward the plate (or slightly pigeon-toed)
  • Knees slightly bent with weight centered on the balls of the feet
  • Upper body bent slightly at the waist
  • Hands (not elbows) up.
  • Elbows out from the body and flexed, pointing toward the ground (Never tell a kid to put his elbow or elbows up.)
  • Head turned toward the pitcher.
  • Eyes on the ball

Load

  • Eyes on the ball
  • Move hands up and back (in a backwards "C" motion)

Stride

  • Eyes on the ball
  • Take small step with front foot directly toward the pitcher

Swing

  • Eyes on the ball
  • Head down
  • Swing slightly downward
  • Hands first (lead with the knob)
  • Extend arms through the ball
  • Follow through

Exiting the Box

  • Do not watch the ball
  • Set the bat down safely
  • Run to first base
  • Listen to base coach

Base Running

  • Before the pitch, keep one foot on the base and lean forward toward the next base
  • When the batter hits the ball, use the base to push off
  • Look at the base you are running toward (not the ball)
  • Pay attention to the runner in front
  • Touch every base
  • Know where ball is
  • Listen to the base coach

Sliding

  • Sliding feet-first is allowed at all levels of Little League.
  • Encourage sliding by players who demonstrate the physical ability to do so.
  • Very few players in Tee Ball will slide. By the time they reach Farm, most players should be sliding. It is a very important skill by the time players reach the Minor Division.

Infielders

  • Baseball ready every pitch
  • Catch ground balls and step on or throw to base
  • Tagging a runner with the ball (ball in glove or ball in throwing hand with hand in glove)
  • Receiving balls from the outfield at second base

Outfielders

  • Baseball ready every pitch
  • Outfielders should learn to throw the ball to second base every time

 Catcher

  • Teams do not have to use a catcher
  • In Tee Ball, catchers must wear a catcher's mask with dangling throat protector. Shin guards and a chest protector are not required.
  • In Rookie and Farm Ball, catchers must wear a catcher's mask with dangling throat protector, shin guards, chest protector, and protective cup. 
  • In Tee Ball, catchers should stand behind and away from home plate until the ball is hit.
  • After the ball is hit, the catcher should take a position just in front of home plate, ready to catch a throw

Skills Checklist for Minor and Major Divisions

Skills Checklist for Minor and Major Divisions

Here is a checklist of skills to teach Minor and Major players throughout the season. Players will progress at different rates. The goal is for all players to perform these skills before advancing to the Intermediate (50/70) Division.

I. Throwing the Ball

  • Grip - 4 seam (2 fingers)
  • Thumb under the ball
  • Position entire body perpendicular to target (shoulders, hips, and feet)
  • Look at target throughout the throw
  • Point glove shoulder and elbow toward target
  • Step directly toward target
  • Arm moves in a circle
  • Elbow above shoulder/hand above head
  • Rotate and follow through with hips, legs, and arm

II. Catching the Ball

  • Square/facing the person throwing the ball (baseball ready)
  • Both hands in front of the body, with arms relaxed and extended slightly toward the ball
  • Keep eyes on the ball
  • Step to/get in front of the ball
  • Catch with two hands
  • Bend the elbows to aborb the force of the throw
  • Watch the ball in the glove and squeeze it
  • If ball is in the dirt, get in front of the ball, stay square, and block the ball with the body

III. Ground Balls

  • Get in front of the ball
  • Feet shoulder width or wider
  • Bend knees and drop behind to the ground (limit bending at the waist)
  • Extend glove in front of body
  • Keep throwing hand close to glove (alligator)
  • Watch ball in the glove
  • Grab the ball with throwing hand
  • Throw the ball to the target

IV. Fly Balls

  • Sprint to ball (do not coast or drift)
  • Get under the ball
  • Call it - "I got it!"
  • Catch with two hands

V. Batting

A. One foot in, one foot out

B. Take sign from coach

C. Take position in batter's box

D. Grip

  • Grip the bat firmly (don’t squeeze or death grip)
  • Hold hands together above the knob
  • Hold bat with fingers (not deep in palms)
  • Middle knuckles generally lined up

E. Stance

  • Feet comfortably wider than shoulder's width apart
  • Knees bent
  • Toes pointing perpendicular to the pitcher (or slightly pigeon-toed)
  • Straight line from tips of toes toward pitcher
  • Hands (not elbows) up

F. Load

  • Eyes on the ball
  • Move hands up and back (in a backwards "C" motion)

G. Swing

  • Eyes on the ball
  • Head down
  • Swing slightly downward
  • Hands first (lead with the knob)
  • Extend arms through the ball
  • Follow through

VI.  Bunting

A.

VII.  Uncaught (Dropped) Third Strike (Major Division Only)

A.

VIII. Baserunning

A. Infield Ground Ball

  • Set bat down safely
  • Assume all batted balls are fair until umpire calls “Time”
  • After 2-3 steps, quick glance for ball
  • Touch front side of bag
  • Run through bag
  • Turn head to right to look for wild throw
  • If ball in control, return directly to first base
  • If wild throw, listen for coach and make decision on whether to advance

B. Single to the Outfield

  • Set bat down safely
  • Assume all batted balls are fair until umpire calls “Time”
  • After 2-3 steps, quick glance for ball
  • Round the base
  • If defense misplays ball, be prepared to advance to second base

C. Double

  • Set bat down safely
  • Assume all batted balls are fair until umpire calls “Time”
  • After 2-3 steps, quick glance for ball
  • Round the base
  • Hustle into second base
  • Slide if any doubt

D. First Base

  • No leading off
  • Take 3-4 steps toward second base after ball reaches batter on every pitch
  • Do not return to second base until after catcher throws ball to pitcher
  • Never take eyes off the ball if not touching base
  • Ground ball – advance on contact
  • Line Drive – freeze, see ball, if caught return to first base, if hit advance to second based
  • Popup (infield) – return immediately to bag, tag up
  • Fly Ball (outfield) – go about halfway (far enough to reach second base if ball dropped, but not too far so can return to first base if ball caught)

E. First to Second

F. First to Third

G. Second Base

  • No leading off
  • Take 3-4 steps toward third base after ball reaches batter on every pitch
  • Do not return to second base until after catcher throws ball to pitcher
  • Never take eyes off the ball if not touching base
  • Ground ball
    1. Runner on first – advance on contact
    2. First base empty
      1. If ball hit behind runner (to 2B or 1B), advance to third base
      2. If ball hit in front of runner (to 3B or SS), do not run into tag, advance if ball goes to outfield or after 3B/SS throws to first base
  • Line Drive – freeze, see ball, if caught return to second base, if hit advance to third base
  • Popup (infield) – return immediately to bag, tag up
  • Fly Ball (outfield)
    1. If ball hit behind runner (RF or deep CF), tag up
    2. If ball hit in front of runner (LF or shallow CF) go about halfway (far enough to reach third base if ball dropped, but not too far so can return to second base if ball caught

H. Second to Third

I. Second to Home

  • On balls hit to the outfield, advance to home unless third base coach stops runner

J. Third Base

  • No leading off
  • Before pitch, stand with left foot on third base with entire right foot and entire body in foul territory
  • Take 3-4 steps toward home plate after ball reaches batter on every pitch
  • Do not return to third base until after catcher throws ball to pitcher
  • Never take eyes off the ball if not touching a base
  • Passed Balls
  • Ground ball
    1. Runners on first and second – advance on contact
    2. First base or second base empty
      1. If ball hit to between catcher to pitcher
      2. If ball hit beyond pitcher, advance
  • Line Drive – freeze, see ball, if caught return to third base, if hit advance to home plate
  • Popup (infield) – return immediately to bag, tag up and be prepared to advance if the ball is misplayed
  • Fly Ball (outfield)
    1. Tag up
    2. If ball hit deep, advance after catch
    3. If ball hit shallow, break toward home plate and force throw

K. Home Plate

  • Always slide unless a home run or a walk
  • Pick up bat and remove from home plate area
  • Become a base coach if following runners advancing to home

IX. Sliding

A.

X. Base Coaches

A. First Base Coach

B. Third Base Coach

XI.  Individual Fielding

A. All Positions

  • Baseball ready every pitch
  • Call outs/play after every new situation (e.g., new batter, out, runners advance)

C. Pitcher

  • Ground Balls to right side of infield (1B & 2B) – cover first base
  • Back Up Responsibilities
    1. Back up second base on throws from outfield to second base
    2. Back up third base on throws from the outfield to third base
    3. Backup catcher on throws from the outfield to the catcher

D. Catcher

  • Back Up Responsibilities
  • Back up first base on infield ground balls with bases empty

E. First Base

  • Infield Ground Balls
  • Base Hits
    1. Sprint to infield cutout
    2. Watch batter-runner touch first base
    3. Turn toward ball
    4. Be prepared for play at first base if runner caught between first base and second base.
  • Steals
    1. Yell “he’s/she’s going” when runner steals
  • Back up Responsibilities
    1. When runner on third base, back up pitcher on all throws from catcher
    2. Back up throws from 3B to P

F. Second Base

  • Infield Ground Balls
  • Hits to the Outfield
    1. If ball hit to right side of CF, go to cut off position
    2. If ball hit to the left side of SS, cover second base
      1. If no play at second base, give base to runner and watch runner touch second base
    3. Be prepared for play at second base if runner caught between second base and third base.
  • Steals
    1. Yell “he’s/she’s going” when runner steals
    2. Generally cover second base if right-handed batter
    3. Straddle second base when waiting for the ball from catcher
  • Back Up Responsibilities
    1. When runner on third base, shortstop or second base backs up pitcher on all throws from catcher

G. Third Base

  • Infield Ground Balls
  • Hits to the Outfield
    1. If ball hit to right side of CF, go to cut off position
    2. If ball hit to the left side of SS, cover second base
      1. If no play at second base, give base to runner and watch runner touch second base
    3. Be prepared for play at second base if runner caught between second base and third base.
  • Steals
    1. Yell “he’s/she’s going” when runner steals
    2. Cover third base
    3. Straddle third base when waiting for the ball from catcher
  • Back Up Responsibilities
    1. Be prepared to back up throws from right field into the infield
    2. Back up throws from 1B to pitcher

H. Shortstop

  • Infield Ground Balls
  • Hits to the Outfield
    1. If ball hit to right side of CF, go to cut off position
    2. If ball hit to the left side of SS, cover second base
      1. If no play at second base, give base to runner and watch runner touch second base
    3. Be prepared for play at second base if runner caught between second base and third base.
  • Steals
    1. Yell “he’s/she’s going” when runner steals
    2. Generally cover second base when a left-handed batter
    3. Straddle second base when waiting for the ball from catcher
  • Back Up Responsibilities
    1. When runner on third base, shortstop or second base backs up pitcher on all throws from catcher

I. Left Field

  • Balls fielded in front, throw to second base
  • Balls fielded behind, throw to cutoff (short stop)
  • Back Up Responsibilities
    1. Back up third base on infield ground balls throw to third
    2. Back up third base when catcher attempts pick off of runner at third base
    3. Back up second base on balls hit to RF
    4. Back up CF on all balls hit to CF

J. Center Field

  • Balls fielded in front, throw to second base
  • Balls fielded behind, throw to cutoff (2B or SS)
  • Back Up Responsibilities
    1. Back up second base when catcher attempts to throw out runner stealing
    2. Back up second base when pitcher attempts to pick off runner at second base
    3. Back up RF on all balls hit to RF
    4. Back up LF on all balls hit to LF

K. Right Field

  • Balls fielded in front, throw to second base
  • Balls fielded behind, throw to cutoff (second baseman)
  • Back Up Responsibilities
    1. Back up first base on infield ground balls
    2. Back up first base when catcher attempts pick off of runner at first base
    3. Back up second base on balls hit to LF
    4. Back up CF on all balls hit to C

XII. Team Defense

A. Fly Ball Priorities: CF, LF/RF, SS, 2B, 3B/1B, C, P

B. Fly Balls

  • "I got it!"
  • "You, you, you!"

C. Relays and Cutoffs

D. Bunt Defense

XIII. Pitching Mechanics

Focus on the five key elements of pitching.

A. Balance

  • In wind-up feet in athletic position with good balance, not right next to each other.
  • Start wind up with feet pointing slightly toward the direction of turn on wind up pivot. Wind up step needs to straight back and not too deep to keep proper balance and direction. Avoid side steps in wind-up.
  • If wind up creates a challenge with balance, consider working from stretch position utilizing similar athletic stance at start of stretch.

B. Deception

  • At separation of ball and glove in wind-up or stretch be sure pitcher is utilizing ball to the wall technique.
  • At separation of ball and glove in stretch or wind-up glove elbow should be just as high as should if not higher if possible. This helps with balance and power and deception to batter.
  • Try to hide the ball within the width of pitcher body until final release. Throwing side are or showing ball too soon is advantage to batter.
  • Attempt to start right handed pitchers all the way to right side of pitching rubber. If it does not work for a particular pitcher then moving all the way to left ok but try right. Opposite for left handed pitcher.

C. Direction

  • Body, motion and energy always needs to be focused straight ahead toward home plate.
  • Very important to keep head still and focused toward home plate throughout pitching motion.
  • See how high the pitcher can get his front knee while keeping balanced. Get front knew as high as athletically comfortable and when knee is at highest point delivery pitch.
  • Where a pitcher steps down is CRITICAL. Get pitchers step online with catcher/home plate with foot slightly closed. If pitcher is stepping and ending cross body or falling off they can never create consistency.
  • Front knee needs to be turned and focused toward home plate.
  • When front foot lands it needs to be straight and land solid and planted.

D. Finish & Follow Through

  • Bend over so right hand outside of left knee for right handed pitcher. The more erect or taller you finish the less effective the pitch will be and easier to get hurt.

E. Rhythm & Tempo

  • We want optimal wind up rhythm and tempo. Usually it is too slow with youth pitchers. Generally we need to get you pitchers to speed up their delivery to get better velocity. Find optimal delivery speed for the pitcher but keep in mind often it will be they need a quicker delivery not slower.
  • Pitch delivery tempo. Try to get pitchers using an acronym to delivery timing. Try UCLA.Sometimes delivery at UC, next UCLA, next UCL, next UCLA12 and so on. This also goes along with deception keeping batters from making batting practice out of a pitcher.

XIV. Catching Mechanics

A.


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