Youth Baseball Coaching Tips.
Today I am going to throw out a few Youth Baseball Coaching Tips. I will be emphasizing keeping things simple. Everything about baseball can be complicated. If you ever get to go to a Major League facility during spring training or even batting practice. Not pregame BP real batting practice when they are in the cages with the computers and video cameras. You will see what complicating baseball is all about. What a mess those guys are. If you had to try to figure out how to hit a pitcher that can throw the baseball anywhere he wants at nearly 100 mph and also adjust to his 87 mph change and 83 mph 12-6 curve you would want to complicate things too.
Afraid of the ball.
For our purposes though we only have to worry about getting a kid to stand in the box long enough to have a chance to hit something that is probably only going about 50 or 60 mph. This is still a challenge sometimes. So my first tip is for the player that doesn’t want to hit. He is afraid of the baseball. they don’t want to get hit while they are batting or get in front of the ball when it is time to field it. This is a problem. The solution is simple start small and work your way up. Take a sock or a rag and roll it loosely into the size and shape of a baseball then wrap it with duct tape. Have the batter stand in the box and toss the sock ball at their hip. When you hit them with it ask if it hurt. The next time have them turn their face to the backstop and toss it at their lower back area explain that when the ball is coming toward them this is the appropriate response. After a couple of more times start letting them hit it. Once they are hitting it show them how much better a real baseball travels when they hit that. If they are afraid of the real ball still go back to the sock ball and have them try to hit it while it is going at them. Once they are successful explain that the ball can’t hit them if they hit it first. This is a tried and true method I used it on my oldest son when he was 8. He went on to be one of the best hitters at his high school. The fielding is going to be similar play catch with the sock ball and no gloves. Once they are doing better introduce a glove. Teach the player to catch the same way with the glove that they did without it. After a while introduce the real baseball. If all goes well you will have a baseball player ready to play.
Batting practice tip.
My next tip is for hitters. When you are working with hitters the best thing you can do is hit and hit a lot. The best way to do this is to set up a pitching screen and stand about 10 to 12 feet in front of them and flip the ball underhand in a straight line. don’t arc the ball hopefully they won’t be looking to hit an arced pitch for quite some time. This drill will allow you to give them a lot of swings in a controlled environment very quickly. Good accurate tosses are easy from this distance and you are close enough so you can make adjustments without yelling. The hitter is going to want to start to load/ prepare when you start drawing your arm back for the flip so present the ball forward draw your arm back and then toss it forward.
Another great tip for coaches is to coach baseball as if it were a physical activity. I like to incorporate running into a lot of my drills. A good example would be to have the team do a relay drill. The whole team lines up from one foul pole in the outfield to the other. The player at one foul pole has a ball he throws the ball to the next player who in turn rotates to throw to the next player and so on until the ball reaches the other foul pole. To do this is great for teaching players how to throw, catch and make relays. The only problem with this drill is that most of the time is spent standing around. So to add a physical element what I like to do is have the first kid chase the ball. If they can run all the way to the other foul pole before the ball gets there they get to watch their teammates sprint around the bases one time. If the ball beats the runner then the team moves down one spot and does it again. Three points to this drill are one team building and individual player skill development. The second point is to introduce some physical activity to an otherwise static drill. The third if your players get good at it is to show your players that they cannot run faster than they can throw a baseball. Which is a great tip for base runners and fielders.
What is faster?
As a base runner your players need to understand that they are not faster than a thrown baseball. As a fielder knowing that you can throw a baseball faster than the other player can run is a big advantage. I can turn a double play if I throw the ball to the second baseman and he throws the ball to first. If i field the ball and run to the base I might get one if I am lucky but I am not going to get both.
Please let me know if these tips are helpful. I appreciate your feedback.