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Thread: Teaching 5 year olds to throw

  1. #1

    Teaching 5 year olds to throw

    OK so it's the first day of baseball practice. You give all of the kids a baseball and ask them to throw it to their parents to work on their throwing motion.

    You give them the OK to go ahead and throw it just to see what sort of form they use.

    After you quickly discover that most of them have no idea how to hold the ball what to do with their feet, shoulders, what sort of posture you decide that the best thing to do is to instruct them on the proper way to throw a baseball.

    How do you instruct them?

  2. #2
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    The top secret drill . While the child is standing sideways to there parent have them Point front elbow toward there parent(elbow closest to there parent). Than have them push off with there rear foot to give them momentum to step over there front foot so there belly button is facing toward there parent. Do this without a ball.

    After the child has this move down insert ball in rear hand, so them the L position and have them throw down and follow through with there hand going down an imaginary line. Or use the first or third base line.


    I know I left out a lot but this is as basic as it gets for 5 year old


    Oh since this is free advice take it for what its worth. The last thing I want is for a future Ted Williams to have a throwing fault because of me.



    drill
    Yogi Berra was asked by a reporter "How do you catch a knuckle ball?" He came right back and said "When it stops rolling"

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Texas Aggie View Post
    How do you instruct them?
    Here's how I teach throwing...

    - Sideways, Swing, Step, and Throw

  4. #4
    Very nicely done Chris and thank you.

    I think this is a discussion that we don't see enough of because I see kids from 5 years old to 12 years old with horrible throwing mechanics and it is primarily because no one has taught them how to properly throw the ball.

    So many times a kid is handed a ball and told to throw it.

    I'm going to read your information more closely and I'll let you know if I have questions but generally speaking it looks like we have the same approach - non throwing shoulder lined up to the target, feet perpendicular to the target.

  5. #5
    The first thing you need to understand is that most 5 year olds do not possess the strength or coordination to throw a ball with proper form, regardless of the quality of instruction they receive. Trying to force them to do something their bodies aren't capable of doing will create frustration and, in some cases, bad habits that they may never be able to break. You have to be extremely careful here, and you need to understand the difference between bad form and simple lack of coordination/strength. The biggest problem I've seen with kids this age is over-instruction. Parents (and coaches) are trying to force these little 5 year olds to do things they themselves weren't doing until they were 7, 8, 9 years old, and in the process they're doing irreparable damage to their mechanics.

    When I teach a kid this age to throw, all I really care about is their feet and shoulders. If their feet and shoulders are facing parallel to the direction of the throw they're on the right track. The last thing you want is for a 5 year old to be going through a mental checklist of steps just to throw a ball. If you position their feet and shoulders properly, the rest should fall into place eventually. The natural biomechanics of their bodies will eventually figure out the most efficient way to throw the ball, but they need to be allowed to develop over several years rather than forced.

    Also, I highly recommend that you stay away from the "L". This is where you have the kid start in the high cocked position and throw the ball from there. I did this with my son (based on some book I read) and I believe it screwed up his mechanics. He's 7 now and we're still dealing with the repercussions of it. My daughter, who's 5, has received almost no throwing instruction (aside from the positioning of her feet and shoulders), and her throwing is very smooth and natural. I've had to bite my tongue many, many times to keep myself from correcting her "bad" form, and it's paying off.

  6. #6
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    Throwing came naturally to my son and I didn't coach until 7/8's. So I haven't taught five year olds. My son only practiced with his older sister's softball teams from three to six. We threw baseballs when the girls warming up with softballs.

    One of the issues with small kids is how well (or not well) the ball fits in their hand. The one thing I didn't see mentioned is grip. I taught "bunny ears on the ball." Someone I know in Arizona taught "fangs on the ball." Fangs is a little cooler. I learned it after the fact. The point is the kids should learn how to grip the ball with two fingers. If not taught properly you will see kids with three fingers on the ball or holding the ball too deep in their hand.

  7. #7
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    Chris, I posed this question to MM--is the pendulum swing appropriate for catchers and infielders who must get rid of the ball quickly?
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by TG Coach View Post
    Throwing came naturally to my son and I didn't coach until 7/8's. So I haven't taught five year olds. My son only practiced with his older sister's softball teams from three to six. We threw baseballs when the girls warming up with softballs.

    One of the issues with small kids is how well (or not well) the ball fits in their hand. The one thing I didn't see mentioned is grip. I taught "bunny ears on the ball." Someone I know in Arizona taught "fangs on the ball." Fangs is a little cooler. I learned it after the fact. The point is the kids should learn how to grip the ball with two fingers. If not taught properly you will see kids with three fingers on the ball or holding the ball too deep in their hand.
    I'm of the opinion that this shouldn't be taught at all until they're older (7/8+). It's too much for the young ones to think about, and their hands aren't big enough to hold the ball properly anyway.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Texas Aggie View Post
    So many times a kid is handed a ball and told to throw it.
    I think this is true for most MLB players, past and present.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deezeldogg View Post
    Chris, I posed this question to MM--is the pendulum swing appropriate for catchers and infielders who must get rid of the ball quickly?
    Given the very low rates of TJ surgery among IFers, I'm not convinced that they are taught to throw wrong. You could argue that short-arming (or long-arming) the ball is better than coming to the L position (elbow bent 90 degrees).

    It's a little different for catchers b/c their TJ rates are relatively high. There may well be a problem with how they are taught to throw.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesse View Post
    When I teach a kid this age to throw, all I really care about is their feet and shoulders. If their feet and shoulders are facing parallel to the direction of the throw they're on the right track. The last thing you want is for a 5 year old to be going through a mental checklist of steps just to throw a ball. If you position their feet and shoulders properly, the rest should fall into place eventually. The natural biomechanics of their bodies will eventually figure out the most efficient way to throw the ball, but they need to be allowed to develop over several years rather than forced.

    Also, I highly recommend that you stay away from the "L". This is where you have the kid start in the high cocked position and throw the ball from there. I did this with my son (based on some book I read) and I believe it screwed up his mechanics. He's 7 now and we're still dealing with the repercussions of it. My daughter, who's 5, has received almost no throwing instruction (aside from the positioning of her feet and shoulders), and her throwing is very smooth and natural. I've had to bite my tongue many, many times to keep myself from correcting her "bad" form, and it's paying off.
    I agree.

    Just getting them standing sideways to the target will fix 80 percent of problems.

    Also, teaching them to come to the "L" (elbow bent 90 degrees at the high-cocked position) may be terrible advice.

  12. #12
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    This age group has to be taught individually and not in a group setting. Once they learn the routine they can go into group start.
    I start them with the grip by telling them that at your age either 3 fingers or 2 fingers is OK depending on their hand size. Three fingers is incredibly stable at this age 95% of 5 year olds hands are to small for 2 fingers! Always a 4 seam with no emphasis on where the thumb length lands the thumb will lengthen up at a later age. When they turn 8 all must change over to 2 fingers. David Eckstein is said to use three fingers?
    Teach them about fingerprints physically and show them how to place the fingerprints on the opposite side of threads. Show them how to center their thumb directly under the middle finger.
    Teach them two types of throws; Standing throws and walking throws.

    One knee down ball arm foot forward

    Start them on the ground glove knee down, Ball knee forward foot and ball foot forward ahead of the knee and in. Teach them to turn their Torso and pendulum swing their ball and glove at the same time Point their glove at and below the target (just below chest) and the ball at and above Drive line away from the target (ear high). have them backhand their glove (Pronated) and lift the baseball (pie lift) Thumb up (supinated). Teach them to throw the ball over their head with their elbow passing their ear (Inside of vertical forearm tangent). Teach them to pull the glove under the armpit supinating it with it finishing palm up. Teach them to drive and finish by Pronating Thumb down at finish, tell them to finish with the Elbow up and hand in front of the Elbow and below the Elbow not across the stomach.
    Throw 20 times minimum effort.

    Stand them up.

    The standing throw. (Drive position)

    Start them Glove arm leg forward, Ball arm leg back. Teach them to stand glove arm foot three inches towards the glove arm side of center mass (Line to target), Teach them to place ball arm foot 3 inches towards the ball arm side of center mass (line opposite target)
    This gives you a slightly open stance to the target.
    Have them put their ball hand and ball in the glove with the ball in the web not the pocket. Put the glove palm towards their belly with the Elbows away from the ribs. Have them pendulum swing the ball and glove above the drive line to Driveline height (Ear high straight back). Have them freeze, inspect them for correct position. Have them do the same upper half mechanics as you taught them in the one knee down drill. When they start the throw. Have them start their glove then their ball with the ball arm hip and ball arm coming forward at the same time. Have them finish with 170 degrees of rotation of the glove side leg.

    The walking throw. (Crowstep)

    This is the most important motor skill that your child needs to learn!

    All the previous Motor skill work applies here with regards to the throw. Start by facing their target. Start walking with their ball arm foot towards the target in line with the foots standing position to the target, break the hands so the ball and ball arm hip move back together to the drive line position then start the drive.
    Always spend most of you time tedious or not with catch and throw. It is very important that the coaches stay diligent and focus on attaining straight drivelines, no to sidearm throws, and the forearm inside of vertical. Pronation at finish so that their first engrams are built correctly (proprioceptive awareness). The older they get the harder it is to fix mechanics.


    Your Childs Elbow at this age is a mass of cartilaginous goo that has not solidified yet And will not start to show up in X-RAYS until they are 9 or 10. Never let them throw competitively more than two months in a row!!! Vigorous spring infield and outfield for this age group would be considered competitive.

    P.S. Dads, do not raise the tee above low thigh when batting! If you wish to build a looping uppercut in their later swing raise the tee to belly high.
    Last edited by Dirtberry; 01-22-2008 at 02:19 AM.

  13. #13
    Ya gotta sell your guidelines to kids this age... and do it quickly.

    Face 90 degrees from the target -- that's a gimme. Then, make it like a nursery rhyme.

    "Hands to the ground" (i.e., forearms parallet to the ground and waist high in front of you, making one straight line from elbow to elbow).

    "Halfway 'round" (i.e, drop the throwing forearm straight down and start to swing it backwards)

    "Feed the giant" (bring the hand up and turn the arm slightly out -- like you're feeding an apple to a giant behind you -- this naturally cocks the arm a little bit to avoid a straight arm 'hand grenade toss')

    "Step and throw" (step to the target and bring the arm down toward it).

    There must be at least one mythical creature in your instruction, or else you'll come across as a boring, obsessed parent.

    As soon as the kid exceeds 20 MPH on the radar gun (which you presumably will have purchased in short order), make sure to post fifteen minutes worth of the kid's bullpen on YouTube.

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