With the miserable winter weather that most of the country is experiencing, it’s a good bet that many baseball teams are having their winter workouts indoors. Practicing baseball indoors with limited amount of space can be a challenge. I’ve seen teams who do it well and teams that don’t. I invite you to email me or add a comment if you have something that has worked really well for you or your team.
One of the keys to judging any practice is how your players are reacting to the practice. Are they engaged in the activities or do they seem bored and spent too much time standing around waiting?
Limited space often gives teams an excuse that it’s okay if players are just standing around waiting for their chance in the cage. I’ve seen teams where two players are hitting in a cage and the rest of the team is standing around waiting for their turn. If for example you have two batting cages, use one cage for live hitting and then use the other cage for multiple activities to keep multiple players active. Soft toss or tee hitting can allow two players to hit in half of the second cage. Other players can use the back of the cage to field ground balls thrown by a coach. With just these 4 activities, you can keep your kids moving around and involved throughout the indoor workout.
If you have more space then the options really open up. An indoor area with a decent amount of space is a great opportunity to go over defensive and offensive situations, have the kids involved in fun competitions, and work on some specific skills. Be creative and try to come up with a plan where you are working on different skills as you move through your winter workouts. I was able to rent a local school gym one night a week and it gave us a great space to get a lot accomplished. You really can accomplish a lot inside with a little bit of planning. Competitions and keeping track of improvement can be a great way to keep kids improving and enjoying the workouts. It’s also a good way to help simulate the pressure of game type situations.
One thing to be careful of is safety issues. Bats and hard baseballs in a confined area can be a real danger! Make sure you plan for all the activities to be performed in a safe environment and create strict rules for the players on where they can swing bats, throw balls, etc. One thing I always do is enlist a couple of parents to watch for any safety issues. Make sure you let the parents know what to look for and that they are not afraid to call out immediately if they see anything that could be a problem. This will free you up to coach and not having to be watching everything that is going on.
Good luck this winter!