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Softball Training and Drills Series

Softball Training and Drills Series

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with Mike Stith, founder of Team Mizuno and is the organization's Director of Player Development and College Recruitment; Head Coach for Team Mizuno's 16U Travel Team; 3x ASA National Championship Coach

Offensive Team Drills for 12U and 14U

Getting one step closer to scoring is an edge any offense would be happy to gain.

Mike Stith has created a step-by-step plan to teach your players how to run the bases efficiently and aggressively. Coach Stith goes in depth about his offensive philosophies on base running, explaining how to approach the base, take proper lead offs, and read the defensive alignment. He explains each drill and shows how to set it up and then progress it. He narrates what to look for and corrects the players as you watch them go through each drill.

Base Running Basics - Coach Stith explains proper body position and foot position for any player who is on a base, and then teaches them to start their lead off when the pitcher's back heel comes up off the ground. He teaches his players to be very aggressive, thinking two bases out of the batter's box every time. He explains the most efficient way to round a base and how to lead off of first, second and third base. He shows how to train your players to rotate your body to the ball when a ball is hit to the outfield on a fly and how to dive back to a base with the inside hand touching the outside of the bag.

Base Running Drills - Coach Stith teaches you several drills he uses for base running, most of which involve reading the ball off the bat and anticipating the defense. The runners will practice at each base, working on their lead off and reacting appropriately to any type of batted ball. The runners will begin with only outfielders in place for the defense, and they will recognize and react appropriately to balls hit to the outfield. Then, a full defense will take the field, making the situations and decision making very game-like for the base runners. Stith indicates that it is very important to perform drills with live defenses and batted balls, as this is the only chance a runner will get to practice their reactions and decision making.

Plays at the Plate - Once the players practice at each individual base, Coach Stith puts in a game-like drill to simulate real play and let the girls react to different scenarios. This progression instills the proper decision making in the players to make them more confident in their leading and base running in a real game. The runners will act as if it is a normal game situation, taking a lead off the pitched ball, and reacting to the batted ball. Stith finishes by moving the runners to second base, encouraging them to read the ball off the bat and score on a hit. It is very important to make good reads at second base, also known as scoring position, because reacting correctly will often result in a run for the offense.

At the heart of the game of softball is a fundamental strategy: to win, the offense must score more runs than the other team. Simply put, if you can't score runs, you can't win. Learn Mike Stith's aggressive base running strategies and drills which will help any young team put more runs on the scoreboard. 106 minutes. 2013.

Defensive Team Drills for 12U and 14U

Three-time ASA National Championship coach Mike Stith takes you through a live, comprehensive team defense practice that covers throwing, ground ball fielding mechanics, fly ball fielding mechanics and throwing to bases from all positions. There is very little standing around and the practice is up tempo. This usually results in a high functioning team.

Throwing - Practice starts with a team warm up followed by a throwing mechanics warm up. Throwing with correct technique is of the utmost importance, as good fundamentals at the younger ages will set up a player for future success. Coach Stith's teams do not just warm up their arms while throwing, they practice correct technique on every throw and catch. Stith also has his teams do a Four Corners Drill, which incorporates not only proper throwing technique, but also catching, correct footwork around a base, and communication to develop a quicker, more accurate throw.

Fielding - Coach Stith uses a drill he calls Circle the Wagons to begin the fielding aspect of the workout. The drill begins with the coaches rolling balls to the fielders, giving the players a chance to focus on correct fielding fundamentals and seeing the ball into their gloves. The rolls get progressively more difficult, building up into live hit balls off the bat. Stith believes in fielders being hit a lot of ground balls off the bat, as there is no substitute for live work and reading the ball off the bat.

Outfield and Communication - Coach Stith does not neglect the outfielders, as they spend ample time working on making plays and throws from all positions in the outfield. Stith is able to incorporate throws from the outfield to all bases, and also infield cutoff plays. There is a lot going on at once, making the drill very game-like, and forcing the players to focus on their tasks. Practice moves on to a drill called Right Side Left Side for fielding and communication. Communication is extremely important for fielders as balls can drop between fielders or they can be injured if they run into each other.

Plays at the Plate - Coach Stith ends practice with the infielders and outfielders throwing balls home, practicing plays at the plate. This is an important play as plays at the plate are often game deciding plays. Stith also uses these plays as a rallying point for his teams.

Getting more reps out of your team during practice will pay off come game day. Let Coach Stith show you how to run a defensive practice that will prepare your team to play at a level beyond their years. 106 minutes. 2013.

Offensive Team Drills for 16U and 18U

Learn the aggressive base running strategies and drills that will help any team score more runs and win more ball games. Mike Stith's teams are well known their offensive prowess. Learn why in this DVD, as he explains his offensive philosophies and strategy regarding base running. Coach Stith teaches you many of the basics of base running, introduces several of his favorite drills, and explains how he develops aggressive base runners.

Base running basics and responsibilities - Coach Stith begins by explaining his ideas on base running basics, starting with how to approach, round, and return to first base. He goes in depth into base running responsibilities, and what he expects of his runners while at each base. Particularly, he explains the proper lead for each base, and why each is such. Taking the correct lead at each base is important as it will help the runner avoid pick-offs and get as close to the next base as possible.

Fly and ground ball lead-offs - It is important that runners have a chance to practice their lead-offs at each base and react to a batted ball. Coach Stith begins with his runners on first base, taking a lead off the pitched ball, and reacting to a ball hit by a coach with a full defense in place on the field. Stith has his runners spend ample time practicing these skills, first on fly balls, and then on ground balls. He then moves his runners to second base, and then third base, with a different emphasis at each base.

Live ball lead-off drills - Finally, Coach Stith switches out the coach hitting balls in favor of a live batter. The batter will take at-bats off of front-toss so that the base runners can practice their running and decision making to the ball as it comes off the bat. According to Stith, this is the best way to practice base running and decision making, as it is very game-like. 56 minutes. 2013.

Defensive Team Drills for 16U and 18U

See a defensive workout that covers many situations a defense will have to face during games.

Mike Stith shows us the defensive team workout that has made his older teams successful and prepared his players to compete at the collegiate level. Coach Stith begins practice with warm-ups and throwing, and also introduces many fielding drills with a conditioning component. He uses these drills, along with hitting many repetitions of live batted balls, to build consistent defenders.

Warm-up and Throwing - Throughout Coach Stith's warm-up throwing routine, careful attention is paid to throwing with correct technique, something that is important to avoid injuries and keep the player's arms healthy. Stith has his infielders practice short hop drills with each other, and the team moves into a Four Corners Drill. This drill incorporates a lot of throwing, with an emphasis on accuracy. This drill is helpful to allow the players to practice a few of the basic but critical fundamentals of the game, such as throwing, catching, footwork, and communication.

Conditioning Drills - Once warmed-up, the entire team participates in three softball specific conditioning drills, which also allow the players to practice fielding fundamentals. The conditioning drills begin with the coaches rolling ground balls to players, gradually increasing the distance between the fielders and the balls. These drills are important as they give the players a chance to focus on fielding fundamentals, good footwork, and seeing the ball all the way into their gloves. These drills progress into the next set of drills, which involve live ground balls hit balls off the bat.

Fielding - Coach Stith believes fielders should be hit a lot of ground balls off the bat, as there is no substitute for reading the ball off the bat and reacting to the ball. The infielders are put in their positions and hit numerous ground balls to each side. They are also given smaller gloves and hit baseballs, forcing them to focus hard on seeing the ball. Fielding numerous ground balls is necessary for fielders to become consistent and develop confidence in their fielding skills.

Group Drills - The outfielders get a chance to participate in the next set of drills, which involve balls hit to the outfielders in each position of the outfield. The outfielders must field or catch the ball, and throw to certain bases. The infielders then throw the ball around the infield, alternating bases, to incorporate more throwing practice. Finally, the coaches hit balls with runners on base, to help simulate more realistic game situations. The fielders must make the play and react to the base runner.

Use Coach Stith's defensive ideas to run a practice that will prepare your team to face any game situation with confidence. 75 minutes. 2013.

Hitting Breakdowns & Drills for All Levels

Often, hitting instruction is targeted to the high school or older level athlete. Mike Stith demonstrates drills for the Under 10 group and shows how to add progressions to them as players develop their posture, speed and strength over time.

Beginning with basic tee drills, Coach Stith runs a hitting workout that gradually builds up into the ultimate challenge of hitting, batting off a live pitcher. Stith drills emphasize good balance and posture, which are key to successful hitting. Learning those skills must start at the Under 10 group and carry right through to the college level.

Knob, Knuckles, Barrel - Following the order of knob, knuckles, barrel will create a good path to the ball. Coach Stith emphasizes that is not how hard you swing or how fast you swing, but how long the hands stay on the path of the ball. All the drills in this video focus on this philosophy of technique.

For each drill, Coach Stith explains the method and purpose of the drill while showing athletes of various ages perform it.

Top Hand Drills - This area focuses on increasing the time of the bat head in the hitting zone by using your top hand to drive the knob of the bat through the hitting zone. By following the palm up, palm down philosophy you will keep the hands in a better position to drive the ball. Progressions in this drill include isolating the bottom hand and also several drills done from the knee.

Machine and Live Pitch Drills - Coach Stith starts with 8 year olds hitting off a machine and progresses through high school seniors explaining that both good machine and live pitch drills can be tools when modified throughout an entire career. One point of emphasis at any age is on the landing angle of the front foot. Landing with the front toe open allows the hips to clear better and protect the hip joint. Coach Stith demonstrates a live hitting drill on the field that incorporates a full field with groups of 5 or 6 hitters, base runners and defensive players to make efficient use of time and keep all players busy.

Coach Stith will show you how to run effective quality hitting drills, and how to adapt them for each age group, that will produce hitters who strike fear into opposing pitchers. 87 minutes. 2013.

Pitcher and Catcher Workouts for All Levels

Two of the most important positions on the field are pitching and catching. Mike Stith takes you behind the scenes of a Team Mizuno pitching and catching workout. Beginning with the catchers, Coach Stith takes the viewer through a typical workout highlighting throwing, framing, blocking, and conditioning. Moving to the pitcher, Stith has them perform spin drills, pitch to the catchers, and strengthen their arms with extended pitching.

Catching - The catching workout begins with a throwing progression, specifically throwing from the standing position and dropping down to the knees. Controlling an opponent's running game is important for limiting their scoring opportunities. Coach Stith demonstrates three drills the catchers perform to practice throwing out potential base stealers. The catchers also work on two framing drills, and have four blocking drills they must execute. Conditioning is a critical part of the catcher's position. Stith guides you through a series of challenging conditioning drills that are catcher specific designed to strengthen the lower half, quads and core to improve lateral movement and bouncing back up to their feet to make a quick and accurate throw when necessary.

Pitching - Moving on to the pitchers, Coach Stith has them warm-up their arms and proceed directly into their spin drills. Getting the correct spin on each pitch is important as the spin is what will cause the pitch to break. After the spin is warmed-up, Stith has the pitchers throw each pitch to their catcher, working on spin and location. The pitchers will also throw extended pitching, as they increase their distance from the catcher, which will strengthen their arm and help them to throw harder. Finally, the pitchers wrap up the pitching workout by running foul-poles to develop leg strength and endurance.

Let Coach Stith show you the pitching and catching workout that has allowed his battery to bring home multiple championships by dominating opposing teams. 74 minutes. 2013.

Infield Training and Drills for All Levels

Training to field ground balls can be an uninteresting experience and create boredom amongst players. In this video Mike Stith introduces a variety of exciting drills that can be adapted to any age level from U10 to high school senior. He emphasizes repetitions of correct techniques to field various types of infield balls with numerous demonstrations by players of all ages.

Infielders must focus on proper footwork to the ball and then into the throw which varies with the type of ball that is hit. Players are given corrections on looking at the ball to the glove and how to use the glove hand to field the ball.

Dynamic Warmup and Sprint Movements - Learn a dynamic movement series (16 drills) that you can put in your warm up at the start of your practice. Transfer the form and work ethic you developed in your indoor workouts to your outdoor practice through a series of stretches, sprint start and movement drills.

For each drill, Coach Stith explains the method and purpose of the drill while showing athletes of various ages perform it from under 10 to high school seniors.

Throwing Warmup and Technique - "If you can't play catch you can't win" is the philosophy Coach Stith uses to teach young players the essentials of throwing and catching. Learn how to pay great attention to how throwing needs to be warmed up and developed as the player starts young and grows through college age. Moving the feet, catching the ball with the glove and a proper follow through are only some of the essentials presented.

Fielding Infield Balls - Get more runners out by learning the techniques to field infield balls from hard grounders to soft rollers to high bouncers. Learn the angles to field a ball deeply and field it with a forehand play. You will see fielding drills for young players 10 and under, including watching the ball all the way into the glove, to more advanced drills for college entry including angled throws to bases. Coach Stith emphasizes that every player has different strengths but all must learn the same essentials of fielding and explains this in a variety of drills for different age groups.

Coach Stith shows you how to run effective infield ground ball drills - and how to adapt them for each age group - that will take your infield to the next level. 102 minutes. 2013.

Outfield Training and Drills for All Levels

Mike Stith has had a tremendous success developing outfielders, no matter what the player's age. In this DVD, Coach Stith takes us behind the scenes of the outfield workout that has made his outfielders successful at all levels of softball. The typical Stith outfield practice opens with drop step drills, and progressively builds to balls hit to the outfielder.

Drop Step Drills - To track down a fly ball in the outfield, outfielders must get a good jump on the ball. They accomplish this by taking good drop steps. Coach Stith introduces three drills to practice and improve the drop step, as well as three other drills to improve tracking. Coach Stith explains each drill, and then has several of his players from all ages demonstrate.

Ground and Fly Balls - The quicker an outfielder gets to the ball, the quicker they can get the ball back into the infield and hold advancing runners. Coach Stith shows you his ground ball drill that will train your players to attack the ball aggressively. You'll also see a fly ball drill that helps them recognize the playing conditions and incorporates the drop step, which was practiced earlier.

Fence Drills - The emphasis in this drill is the footwork into the throw, after the ball is collected off the fence. The outfielders must not waste steps in throwing the ball back into the infield, because base runners may be advancing.

Position Drills - Finally, the outfielders take position in right, center, and left field to receive balls hit from home plate. The outfielders practice their throws to all the bases and home plate. It is important for the outfielders to quickly release the ball and make strong, accurate throws to the bases. Getting the ball in quickly will stop base runners from advancing and taking an extra base.

Let Coach Stith show you how to develop pride in your outfield and keep your outfielders pushing each other to be better. 68 minutes. 2013.

Speed and Power Workout for Softball

If you are looking for an edge next season, this DVD provides you with the tools to take your game to the next level! Mike Stith introduces you to the speed and power workouts that have helped prepare his athletes for success on the softball field. Coach Stith's workout helps to promote speed and power, skills are critical for success at the higher levels of the game.

Coach Stith has his athletic trainers take a group of girls aged 9-17 through a full workout of speed and power drills. The drills all begin at a basic level and can be progressed based on the level of your players. The trainers explain the important mechanics of body movement during the drills that are sure to make your players faster and more efficient on the bases.

Dynamic Warm-up and Ladder Drills - It is important to warm-up properly to avoid injury and get the most out of your body. The workout begins with the players performing a 15 exercise dynamic warm-up designed to activate their muscles and increase their heart rate. The group progresses to a series of ladder drills designed to improve footwork by promoting quick feet and coordination. Having quick feet is important for every position on the softball field, but is particularly critical to infielders who much react quickly to get to a ball. The warm-up can be used before a regular practice, or to prepare the body for the speed and power drills in the video.

Drills and Box Jumps - Next, the coach takes the players through a series of "I" drills and "T" drills where the players must sprint or shuffle to set cones, and change directions frequently. Changing directions efficiently is an important skill for softball players as it must be done frequently during games to make plays on both offense and defense. Box jumps, designed to strengthen the legs and promote explosive power, follow the footwork drills. You'll see how to land a jump correctly and how to use arm swing to create power. Explosiveness is a prerequisite for hitting with power and is also important when on defense for getting a jump on any batted ball.

Weightlifting Drills - The younger athletes (8-12 years old) workout will be different than that of the older players. The younger players perform a circuit, where they are doing exercises based on time. Most of their exercises involve using only their body weight for resistance, and learning the correct technique for when they're older and can use heavier weights. It is important to pay attention to developmental differences when working with athletes of different ages, as younger players may not be ready to lift weights due to their physical maturity and growth.

The older players (14-17 years old), who are physically mature, have progressed to lifting actual weights. Lifting weights with correct technique is critical to avoid unnecessary injuries, and something that is emphasized throughout the workout. In this workout, the older players perform three exercises for their lower body and core, and two exercises for their upper body. It is important for athletes to strengthen all areas of their body in order to minimize physical weaknesses.

These workouts prepare the whole body with focuses on keeping the low back and shoulders strong.

The rosters of the country's top college softball teams include many players who have been coached by Mike Stith. Let Coach Stith show you the workouts that have prepared his athletes for success at the next level and beyond! 105 minutes. 2013.