This section contains lesson plans that are designed to make it easy for coaches who have little or no experience coaching children to run an exciting and effective softball program for young children. Even experienced coaches will appreciate these well thought out lesson plans and incorporate many of the drills into their practice plans.
You have been given 18 lesson plans, but you will realize that some activities may work better than others. We encourage you to be creative – combine some of the plans, create your own name for activities or create your own plan based on the activities that you feel are most effective. Even have the players choose the activities as it’s all about their enjoyment.
Some coaches prefer to run the program in stations as opposed to one drill after another. If you have enough volunteers this may work well for your groups.
All lesson plans do require some advance preparation. The following check list will prepare you to run a successful session:
- Review the upcoming Lesson Plan prior to the session.
- Become comfortable with how to set up and run each activity (visualize).
- Consult the Softball Skills section to review how to teach the skill.
- Practice the skill at home (in front of a mirror) to be sure you are comfortable teaching it.
- Check to ensure that you have the necessary equipment for the activities in the upcoming lesson plan(s).
- Arrive at the diamond 15 minutes early to ensure the field is safe and discuss the role each coach or adult helper will play during the session. You may also want to use this time to orientate adult helpers (parents/older siblings).
Note: The following points are guidelines only. Please feel free to modify these guidelines or to develop your own as dictated by the needs of your association.
Length of Season
- Typically, the softball season for 6-7-year olds is 8-10 weeks with 2 sessions a week.
LENGTH OF SESSION
- 1 and ½ hour (90 minutes maximum) per session (45 minutes using the lesson plan and 45 minutes of a modified game)
NUMBER OF PLAYERS
- No more than 12 players on each team. It is recommended to have 10 players or less. If you are using a station-based program more teams can be present at the session, but the activities are meant for groups up to 12. All can be modified to meet the needs of your program.
NUMBER OF ADULT HELPERS
- 6 or more adult helpers (parents or family members) are required for each session.
- Should have one adult for every two players. It is important to remind parents why their participation is so important. Support for this can be found at softball.ca
- While the use of a softball diamond is suggested, an open field can also be used. Most if not all the activities found here can be modified to be played in any safe open area.
- The number of diamonds used will depend on the resources of the association and the number of participants registered.
- The coach is provided with 18 lesson plans to take them through a typical softball season (i.e. a nine-week season with 2 sessions per week).
- Each lesson plan involves activities that will teach the players the basic skills of Softball through different activities that also incorporate fundamental movement skills which are critical at this stage of development.
- Coaches are offered suggestions on how to modify an activity to suit the player’s ability level – not all players will develop skills at the same time. It is important to recognize this to ensure each child has a positive first experience with softball.
- The coach has great flexibility in following or changing the lesson plans to ensure the most FUN and ACTIVITY for their
players. If an activity is not working or engaging 80% of the players, move on to a new one. It is more important to keep the kids engaged and having fun.
- The total time for warm up and main activities is 45 minutes.
- Dependent on numbers, the team would then scrimmage against each other for the next 45 minutes. Modified game examples are listed in the manual.
Pitching activities are introduced in U7. It is incredibly important to note that athletes will develop these skills at different times. All children should have the opportunity to try pitching and practice these skills, not only those who have some success. If you are introducing pitching, be flexible with the time you spend on it. It is a complex skill and it may take time for the players to understand. Be creative with pitching activities (i.e. using targets on the backstop, stepping on a marked line, etc.). If players are confused switching back and forth from underhand (pitching) to overhand throwing, wait until later in the season to introduce pitching. This will allow players to establish their overhand throwing skills. You can also approach your Local Association to see if they run a Canpitch program. Having a Canpitch instructor come to a Timbits Softball session is a great way to introduce the proper pitching progression to young athletes.
Scrimmage modifications & best practices
You will notice that there are basic scrimmage modifications in each lesson plan. Below are some rules taken from best practices of local associations who have been using the Timbits Softball Program for many years. You can adjust these to meet the needs of your players but keep in mind these were developed to appropriately meet the developmental needs of U7 players.
- Pitching – an adult from the batting team will pitch to their own team. The pitcher is encouraged to use the windmill arm action when pitching. Each batter gets 5-7 hittable pitches. If the player does not hit a fair ball, but swings on at least 2-4 pitches, they can go to first base. This will help children to learn to swing at the ball. Alternatively, you may choose to let the child hit from a tee.
- Keep it moving. The pitcher should have a bucket of balls so that if the catcher misses you don’t have to wait for them to retrieve the ball. Have a parent at the back of the screen who throws balls back between batters. Stick to 5-7 pitches per player as the other players will get bored.
- There will always be 4 outfielders used. Two coaches can be on the field to help direct field play.
- All players will play defense but there will be a maximum of 7 players in the infield.
- Playing time – all players will be given the opportunity to play each position during the games throughout the season. It is very important to let all children experience each position and players should not play the same position in consecutive innings.
- NO stealing allowed of any base and no advances on overthrows.
- Catchers will be allowed to play 1 inning maximum per game.
- Batting - all players bat in each inning. Batting order should be shuffled every inning, so a different player leads off each inning.
- Scores are not kept. The inning is complete after every player has a turn at bat.
- 6 adult helpers are required for each team. You should have one adult for every 2 players.
- If either team is unable to field 9 players, borrow players from the other team if they have more than 9 players. It is more important to have everyone involved in the game as much as possible, then to play within your own team.
- Teams should have no more than 12 players.
END OF SEASON
- It is strongly recommended that the Association organize a “FUN DAY” at the end of the season for the participants of the Timbits Softball Program. This manual provides some suggestions and examples of what a FUN DAY could look like. The overall goal is to celebrate each child’s participation in the program and create a fun and positive environment for all players.
Softball Canada’s Athlete Development Matrix provides information on the Long-Term Player Development stages of the Timbits Softball Program. It describes what can be expected at this stage of development and what skills should be encouraged and what a child’s participation should include. Some of the highlights for the Fundamentals stage are:
- Keep activities FUN
- Develop players confidence in ability to learn new skills
- Don’t be concerned with winning or losing, focus on learning
- Encourage participation in many different activities to create motor patterns that will facilitate sport specific skill acquisition in later stages of athlete development
- Don’t get caught in the specialization trap – developing all-around players at this stage is far better!
For more information on this and all the stages of development visit softball.ca to download the Athlete Development Matrix.