1. AF continuous is the one setting I most often forget to change as I go from one type of photography to another. AF-C is correct for what you are doing.
2. AF Lock. There are a few things I set in specific ways that work for me. Me they work for / you maybe not so much. Bad English used to emphasize that these settings are personal and there isn't really a right answer - except what works for you.
I have focus activated by the shutter. The AF-On button is set to AF Lock. I place the subject in the focus point, press the shutter and follow the action. AF Lock is used if I need to keep the lens from hunting (pitcher on the mound shot through a fence). This combination works for me because the subject is generally moving toward or away from the camera.
3. Focus points I use 11 as well. It provides enough selection without taking too long to get from one to the other.
4. AF-C 9 points. This is the setting I use as well. Last weekend shooting birds I found the next one up (AF-C 21?)worked well if the birds were in an open sky. It gathered too much distracting details if the birds were in the rushes. 9 is a good place to start. You may find more works better if there isn't a lot of other detail in the area. Players in the outfield, golfer on course, kayaker in rapids, all of these may be easier with more points - or it may confuse the AF as it looks at too much.
5. Focus-release vs release-focus I use Focus priority. Blurry photos drive me wild so I prefer to have no photo than to go through and delete all of them later. Yes, sometimes the focus isn't off *that* much and sometimes it doesn't matter. I'm not paid so getting the shot isn't that critical. Getting something that doesn't cause me extra work and pain is more valuable than getting something that may be good enough for a small print.