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Thread: Teaching hitting to 8 year olds

  1. #1

    Teaching hitting to 8 year olds

    I am a high school baseball coach and I have been asked by many of the youth coaches in the area to help them with hitting instruction. I am struggling to find a way to teach hitting mechanics in a way that makes sense to 8 year olds.

    I am wondering if anyone has a simplified way to teach rotational hitting. I'm not even sure where to start.

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    Think it through from the ground up. Get in front of the mirror and see if what you're thinking makes sense. Listen to yourself speak to see if what you're saying is understandable to an eight year old. Don't use any of the big words that are sure to follow in this thread to impress you.

  3. #3
    The problem is that I use the "big words" with my high school kids, but am not sure how to teach the concepts in an elementary manner that the young kids will comprehend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevlar7 View Post
    I am a high school baseball coach and I have been asked by many of the youth coaches in the area to help them with hitting instruction. I am struggling to find a way to teach hitting mechanics in a way that makes sense to 8 year olds.

    I am wondering if anyone has a simplified way to teach rotational hitting. I'm not even sure where to start.
    I am in the same situation. If you would like to discuss what I have found PM me your phone number and I will call you.
    "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
    - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevlar7 View Post
    The problem is that I use the "big words" with my high school kids, but am not sure how to teach the concepts in an elementary manner that the young kids will comprehend.
    I haven't thought this one through on hitting for little kids. It's been a few years since my youngest was eight. But to give an example, I recently helped out in a LL minors fielding practice that was just awful. I told the kids we needed a milk crate, an alligator and a snake to be good fielders. You should have seen the look on their faces when I asked him if they had these things.

    They have to sit on the milk crate to be down to field. They have to swallow the ball like an alligator and put the snakes fangs around the ball to throw properly. Do you think the kids (and the coach) will ever forget these things?

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    I was working on mechanics with my 7yr old for the last 2 years and he has a pretty good swing, but he is a 7yr old swinging rotational and well he doesn't have the muscles to hit that way. He still hits well in 9/10 LL as a 7yr old, but he has no power. If I were to have left him alone to hit off the front foot more he would probably be hitting for more power. I think at this age its not that big of a deal to let them swing the bat how they naturally should and make minor adjustments as they go. I know in a couple years when my boy is playing as a 9yr old he should be hitting the ball pretty well, not that he is struggling now, just no power at all currently. He has only had 4 outs in 16 at bats so far this year so he is hitting well, again just no power.

    The cues I use for my kids are simply ones at this age, the major issues I see are front foot hitting and I try to get them to stay back, casting, waht can you really do with a 9 or 10 year old with this let alone an 8yr old, and the worst problem at this age is simply trying to get them to quit stepping out, I have tried different things, but there is just not enough time in a 90 minute practice twice a week to work with each kids faults at this level.

    I personally would not take someones money if they brought me an 8yr old. I have offered to work with the coaches.

  7. #7
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    With hitters at that age the key is to keep it simple and not try to correct every flaw. I don't have my beginning hitters take a stride, or if they do a very short stride. I have them focus on two things, point the belly button where they're going to hit the ball, and keeping they're hands up. (Kids that age tend to drop they're hands to their hips before they swing.) I wouldn't worry about any other details of their swing until they've established good habits in these two areas. Then you can work on keeping the weight back, the right elbow slotted, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevlar7 View Post
    I am a high school baseball coach and I have been asked by many of the youth coaches in the area to help them with hitting instruction. I am struggling to find a way to teach hitting mechanics in a way that makes sense to 8 year olds.

    I am wondering if anyone has a simplified way to teach rotational hitting. I'm not even sure where to start.
    I am teaching an 8U rec team right now (practice tonight at 6:30).

    I keep things EXTREMELY simple.

    It's more about what NOT to teach them than what TO teach them.

    Basically, I make sure their hands are back by their back shoulders, their back elbow is at the level of their hands, and that they start the swing from their hips. Most end up with pretty good rotation naturally.

    I have to teach some of the boys to not lunge at the pitch and wait for the pitch to come to them.

    I do see a fair amount of bat drag, but I'm not worried about that right now since it works (this is coach pitch).

    My biggest concern is with one kid (good athlete) who has been taught to make the Power V at the point of contact by a paid instructor. I need to talk to his mom and tell her to not go back there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
    My biggest concern is with one kid (good athlete) who has been taught to make the Power V at the point of contact by a paid instructor. I need to talk to his mom and tell her to not go back there.
    really? you dont want him hitting out in front? Where would you rather have the power V? maybe she should pull the kid off your team instead . Come on let the kid be and let him hit.

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    Kevlar7,

    I work with 180 new 6 thru 8 year old batters every year for over 25 years and there is one thing I have learned NEVER hold back a fully technical synchronized swing because you think these kids can’t handle the motor skill, they actually can learn a proper swing easier than established swing older kids. This is when to get it right!

    “I am struggling to find a way to teach hitting mechanics in a way that makes sense to 8 year olds.”

    No worries if you make it fun for them with caring exuberance and they will all respond well. You should teach them in succession the 4 parts to the swing, stance, timing mechanism, pivot then upper half swing and finish. Early rotation is not a problem with this age group! The problem comes from not using the forearm and hands correctly. This is why I use the batters press along with the most important first soft toss drill, I take a broken (at the bottom) tee and place it behind and inside a little with it raised to hip high, this makes them understand (proprioceptively) that with the initial shoulder forward movement that they are not allowed backside drop, when I toss the kids I stop the ball to see if they gather and stride correctly then flip it and work on the rest. When they learn this timing mechanism I will then throw with out a stop but will stop occasionally to back check retention of the stride and gather. Next do the one arm drill 3 swings backside 4 swings front side 3 rounds. I then have them do a rapid-fire session to help them learn how to stay closed off and build rhythm. Front side bowling toss is great for building an uninhibited swing for these guys. Then do a little live you should let them pull all they want until they are 10.

    Chris,

    “I need to talk to his mom and tell her to not go back there.”

    This is not behoove you to do this, remember all swings work, they just create different exit spins. Why don’t you just go out of your way and talk to the instructor?
    “the first left turn circuit”

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    Quote Originally Posted by callyjr View Post
    really? you dont want him hitting out in front? Where would you rather have the power V? maybe she should pull the kid off your team instead . Come on let the kid be and let him hit.
    The power V is not a cause of good hitting but a result of good hitting. The ball should be more than a few feet off the bat by the time you see the power V.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Baseball gLove View Post
    The power V is not a cause of good hitting but a result of good hitting. The ball should be more than a few feet off the bat by the time you see the power V.
    Agreed. The problem is that -- when you focus a kid that young on a power-V -- you are guaranteed to get bat drag. So, Chris, I think you're right to scare the mom away from the guy, but gently.

    Dirtberry, you say two seemingly contradictory things in your post. First, you say, "... there is one thing I have learned NEVER hold back a fully technical synchronized swing because you think these kids can’t handle the motor skill, they actually can learn a proper swing easier than established swing older kids. This is when to get it right!" I agree.

    But, you come back and say, "...remember all swings work, they just create different exit spins. Why don’t you just go out of your way and talk to the instructor?" Yeah, a swing may "work", but we're trying to set a foundation for a proper swing that they'll live with throughout their youth. How can you reconcile this with your first statement? And why should Chris go confront the other coach? What purpose will that serve?

    I think any "general" rule of coaching hitting has to be preceded by the caution that you don't want to create a cookie cutter hitting program that may not apply to all kids. Sure, you can have a few basic drills to build good muscle memory, but you also have to address the specific problems that each kid has. Anyway, in no particular order, here are what I see are the elements that most frequently need to be imparted to kids that age.

    1. Get a comfortable, square, centered "athletic" stance. Too many kids stand with their feeet about six inches apart, with their knees almost locked.

    2. Grip: bottom hand like holding a hammer, top hand like holding a wand.

    3. Hands up near the shoulders and bat at a right angle to the forearms -- make "the box".

    4. Tilt over slightly at the waist -- that's the only way you'll get low outside pitches.

    5. Load with front knee and with hands back over the rear earhole of of the helmet. (This is optional at that level.)

    6. To start the swing, take a small stride (or not, if the kid's having trouble making contact or if he lunges) and have the rear knee chase the front knee and turn the hips. (Or, more bascially, turn the back foot - squashing the bug is okay at this level.)

    7. While "maintaining the box", turn the rear shoulder toward the pitcher's feet.

    8. When about two thirds of the way through the hip rotation, snap the bat forward without rolling the wrists.

    If you really want to simplify it, just go with #3, #6 and #7. (If the kid has turned energetically, the swing will come about naturally.)

    Ursa Minor and I went to my 6 year old niece's coachpitch game Sunday, and she was weakly chopping down at the ball, barely getting it back to the pitcher. Afterword, we worked with these tips with her (taking advantage of her dance background to get her hips moving). The "maintaining the box" and "turn the back shoulder toward the pitcher's feet" cues seem to resonate the best, and she was hitting ropes down the right field line (she's a lefty hitter) within fifteen minutes. Then it was time to go eat ice cream.

    That reminds me of another key feature. Have a teenager help teach the kids. They're cool. . . you are not. Live with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Baseball gLove View Post
    The power V is not a cause of good hitting but a result of good hitting. The ball should be more than a few feet off the bat by the time you see the power V.


    IMO, most mlb hitters get extended in about one frame after contact.

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    Quote Originally Posted by callyjr View Post
    really? you dont want him hitting out in front? Where would you rather have the power V? maybe she should pull the kid off your team instead . Come on let the kid be and let him hit.
    IMO, the Power V is a non-teach.

    If a kid is swinging well, the Power V will happen, and at the correct moment.

    IMO, problems crop when people teach the Power V and get worse when people teach hitters to make it at the wrong moment.

    The same thing can be said for extension.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtberry View Post
    “I need to talk to his mom and tell her to not go back there.”

    This is not behoove you to do this, remember all swings work, they just create different exit spins. Why don’t you just go out of your way and talk to the instructor?
    All swings aren't the same.

    Instead, some swings work better than others.

    My player's being led down the wrong path, and his (widowed) mom is wasting her money. IMO, the sooner I can get him back on the right path, the better.

    Again, I try to keep my teaching to a minimum at this age. What I'm trying to do with this kid is to keep him from focusing on something that he shouldn't think about, and that will ruin his swing if he keeps trying to do it.

    I'm also trying to figure out who the instructor is so I can figure out where he's coming from.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ursa Major View Post
    The "maintaining the box"
    I haven't tried this cue with my 8Us, but I have found it works well with my 13Us, especially the oxes (oxen?) whose strength has allowed them to get away with top-down, dead lower half, swings.

    I tell them to establish the box and then just turn the box.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Go Cardinals View Post
    IMO, most mlb hitters get extended in about one frame after contact.
    When extension happens, and to what degree, is highly dependent on the location of the pitch.

    You see more extension earlier on pitches that are low and away and less extension later on pitches that are up and in.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by TG Coach View Post
    I recently helped out in a LL minors fielding practice that was just awful. I told the kids we needed a milk crate, an alligator and a snake to be good fielders.

    My son is 13 now, but I plan on remembering this one for my grandkids - that is just golden.

    John's dad

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    Chris,

    “What I'm trying to do with this kid is to keep him from focusing on something that he shouldn't think about, and that will ruin his swing if he keeps trying to do it.”

    This is a waste of focus; always teach what they should be doing and not what they should not be doing. Just get all the pieces going in the right order. These kids do not think while swinging and the only thing that gets it right is correct repetition as early as possible.

    “Instead, some swings work better than others.”

    This is highly subjective, are you saying that Ichiro is doing it wrong?
    While I do not teach his swing mechanics or Pete Roses they both produced MLB records! I do not believe saying one is correct or not is correct? They all work. Again just get the mechanical timing right and the minutia will automatically get correct.

    What exit spin do you teach? This may be a bad question to you if you do not emphasize this aspect, I do even with this age group and in time they all get it.

    "I'm also trying to figure out who the instructor is so I can figure out where he's coming from."

    Ask the widow if you can sit in on a lesson, I always accept coaches with concerns?

    Ursa major,

    Just trying to keep Chris from getting into some kind of confrontation later.
    If he talks to the instructor he might find out that they are on the same page
    or he might teach the instructor something or Chris may learn something?
    Either way the correct way to approach this is to get first hand info rather than second.

    I seemingly did not give a recommendation on whose swing to teach which there are Hundreds of variations from fully collapsed to slap with everything in between, The first statement has nothing to do with the other.
    Last edited by Dirtberry; 05-01-2008 at 09:44 AM.
    “the first left turn circuit”

  20. #20
    I guess what it comes down to is using the correct verbal cues for the age group. "Maintaining the box" works fine for my H.S. players, but means nothing to 8 year olds.

    Any other verbal cues or analogies that are good for the young kids?

    Thanks to all that have replied so far.

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    Since this thread has veered into discussions of more complex hitting theories I just want to reiterate to keep it simple. I've worked a lot teaching kids ages 7 - 10 how to hit, and have found that you can't bombard them with too much information at once. If you get the chance to work with each kid one-on-one I'd focus on just one thing whether it be stance, rotating the hips, keeping hands up, and don't worry about all the other flaws. Too often I've seen youth coaches tell a kid, "Wide stance, bend your knees, bat at a 45 degree angle, rotate your hips, squish the bug, don't pull your head, keep your right elbow slotted, keep both hands on the bat, and hit the ball out in front of the plate." The poor kids can't process all that information.

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    Quote Originally Posted by azmatsfan View Post
    Since this thread has veered into discussions of more complex hitting theories I just want to reiterate to keep it simple. I've worked a lot teaching kids ages 7 - 10 how to hit, and have found that you can't bombard them with too much information at once. If you get the chance to work with each kid one-on-one I'd focus on just one thing whether it be stance, rotating the hips, keeping hands up, and don't worry about all the other flaws. Too often I've seen youth coaches tell a kid, "Wide stance, bend your knees, bat at a 45 degree angle, rotate your hips, squish the bug, don't pull your head, keep your right elbow slotted, keep both hands on the bat, and hit the ball out in front of the plate." The poor kids can't process all that information.
    yes they can. My son is only 7 and can walk you through a video of my students swings and tell you what the kid is doing right or wrong. They are smarter then your giving them credit. He can also watch it live and pick out things from my students that need worked on.

    cally

  23. #23
    why not discuss it here so others can benefit?
    Quote Originally Posted by Jake Patterson View Post
    I am in the same situation. If you would like to discuss what I have found PM me your phone number and I will call you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtberry View Post
    “What I'm trying to do with this kid is to keep him from focusing on something that he shouldn't think about, and that will ruin his swing if he keeps trying to do it.”

    This is a waste of focus; always teach what they should be doing and not what they should not be doing. Just get all the pieces going in the right order. These kids do not think while swinging and the only thing that gets it right is correct repetition as early as possible.
    I have to deal with the root cause of the problem or he'll keep getting contradictory advice and just get confused.

    For all but outside pitches, connection at the point of contact is right and extension at the point of contact is wrong.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtberry View Post
    This is highly subjective, are you saying that Ichiro is doing it wrong?
    Ichiro's strategy -- and it is more of a strategy than a swing since he knows how to swing the traditional way -- will not work for most people.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtberry View Post
    While I do not teach his swing mechanics or Pete Roses they both produced MLB records! I do not believe saying one is correct or not is correct? They all work. Again just get the mechanical timing right and the minutia will automatically get correct.
    Some swings will only work for a few people.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtberry View Post
    What exit spin do you teach? This may be a bad question to you if you do not emphasize this aspect, I do even with this age group and in time they all get it.
    I don't teach spin since it's out of the hitter's control. Instead, it's dependent on the pitch. That's why it's easier to hit curveballs farther.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtberry View Post
    I seemingly did not give a recommendation on whose swing to teach which there are Hundreds of variations from fully collapsed to slap with everything in between, The first statement has nothing to do with the other.
    Just because there are variations at the youth level it doesn't mean that they all work at the major league level.

    IMO, as much as possible instructors should guide their students in the direction of the major league pattern.
    Last edited by Chris O'Leary; 05-01-2008 at 06:43 PM.

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    Chris said:

    "For all but outside pitches, connection at the point of contact is right and extension at the point of contact is wrong"

    I would say conection at contact is always ideal becasue you do not want to decelerate the bathead before contact and when there is disconnection, there iis deceleration.

    "extension" needs more definition. ?when bat lines up with forearm ?

    when bat and forearm line up with arm ?

    something else ? Lau's lead arm extension/top hand release ?

    I like the Williams slight up swing/push swing with back hand as power hand.

    Swing slightly up through contact, match plane, top wrist still unbroken or just starting to break.

    This requires a well loaded/twisted torso which is connected to well until contact.

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