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  • Resources for coaching young kids (age 7)?

    I'll be coaching my son's coach-pitch LL team this year. He and most of his teammates are in first grade, roughly age 7 (perhaps some age 6 or 8).

    Are there any good, preferably free, resources out there that I can use to teach them proper hitting, throwing and catching fundamentals?

    At that age, it obviously can't be too complicated or technical, and it has to be fun for the kids. I'd love to get ahold of some good stuff so we can prepare them well with the fundamentals so they can have fun out there.

  • #2
    There are tons of threads on all of the above right here at this site. When I first started coaching, I checked out almost every book in three different libraries on coaching t-ball and youth baseball. I can honestly say I've gotten better quality information here than in those books. Not only that, but I picked up a few things from the books that were completely wrong. My oldest is still working on breaking some bad habits he picked up during the "book phase". Not saying everything is wrong, just that you have to be careful. Just because someone gets published doesn't mean they know what they're talking about.

    Around here if someone posts something wrong, there's always someone around to set them straight. It may seem tedious wading through the endless arguments, but that's how you learn.

    I will offer this tip: Kids learn through repetition. If you can figure out how to give each kid 5-10 reps right in a row, whether it's hitting, throwing, catching, fielding grounders, whatever, you'll see improvement that will blow you away. It's almost exponential compared to the old "one rep and rotate" method. The challenge is getting each kid his reps without neglecting everyone else. This is where good helpers and creative drills come in. You either need enough helpers that you can break up into several stations and keep the groups small, or drills that incorporate 2-3 different skills at different parts of the field (preferably with an assistant coach in each area). A lot of times I'll pull one kid and have him stand next to me and shag balls and put them in a bucket, and rotate him with someone else every so often. Most kids seem to enjoy this and it keeps them busy while you're drilling someone else.

    Something else I wish I had been told a couple years ago: In the beginning, your assistants may need almost as much coaching as the kids do. Don't assume they know what you want them to do, or that they will just jump in whenever they see something that needs doing. You need to communicate well and often and be clear in your expectations. When I'm working out a practice schedule, I make sure I assign each assistant with a specific duty during each phase, and then I print off a copy of the schedule and give it to them before practice. Early in the season, you may need to review it with them before starting. This can be done while one of your more experienced assistants gets the kids warmed up. This will make practice go much smoother.

    Comment


    • #3
      How young is too young?

      About a month ago I purchased and went through both Harold Reynolds baseball and Ripken Hitting. I also started reading about rotational hitting on a multitude of websites.

      I'm sold on the idea of rotational hitting, but at what age should kids start learning to hit this way? I'd like to think I could work with them to hit this way from the start so there are no bad habits to break, but so far I think that's a lot easier said than done.

      I bought a jugs soft toss and net and I've had that set up in my house for the last 2 weeks with my 6 & 7 year olds practicing. I've got a batting cage and jugs lite flite ready for the backyard when the weather breaks.

      I'm ready, willing, and able and would love to get some advice on what some of you would do. How much instruction should kids at this age get or to put it another way, are kids at this age capable of learning how to hit this way? And I don't just mean the exceptional kids. Can a team of kids at this level learn to hit this way? Would my 6 & 7 year old benefit from private instruction? Hitting camps? I want them to learn the right way, but I certainly don't want to detract from the fun of playing the game by making it too difficult.

      This will be my first year of coaching youth baseball, but I've coached four years of youth basketball. We get so little time to teach in basketball because so much is predicated on the availability of facilities. I feel like I can do so much more with baseball because we don't have that same limitation.

      I feel I can give 3 or 4 nights a week which would allow us to practice as a team and also split up on other nights and just work on hitting with the tee, soft toss, and pitching machine. (the league is pee wee baseball and they use a pitching machine for games).

      Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.

      Comment


      • #4
        Up to a certain age, the less you teach them the better. Put their feet in the right place, their hands in the right place, the ball in the right place, and tell them to swing hard. Don't try to teach a 6-7 yo "rotational hitting". Just put them in the right position and let them swing away. Rotational will take care of itself.

        Maybe someone will disagree, but that's been my experience. Most of the problems I see in this age are due to overcoaching. Just stand back and let them hit.

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        • #5
          To Jesse

          Jesse,

          You are so right!! If coaches and parents would leave kids alone when they are young they would develop a rotational swing all on their own. I like to call the rotational swing the natural swing. It is the natural way to swing but after years of being told to swing down, hands to the ball etc. they lose the ability to find their natural swing without learning and working their way back. Leave them alone and let them have fun! You will be surprised someday.

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          • #6
            Thanks guys. My only concern, which led to my posting, was based on the amount of repetition they are getting would they develop habits that would be even harder to break later.

            What is your feeling on when you would start teaching or instructing on the rotational swing?

            Comment


            • #7
              Stretching

              Thanks for the responses, guys. Very helpful. Does anyone know of any good, age-appropriate "drills" on the web?

              Five years ago, when my older son was in first grade, I coached his team. We had a pretty good training session with a local baseball academy/camp. I took some notes and put together a list of pointers, which I'd love to get some feedback on.

              I'll separate them into different messages to make them easier to follow.

              GENERAL: Keep your nose to the ball (as opposed to keeping your eye on the ball)!

              Stretching (10 count for each exercise, have a different kid count each time)

              Arms to back

              Arms across, touch face

              Big circles, thumbs down

              Little circles, thumbs down

              Touch toes

              Right over left

              Left over right

              Knee to chest

              Calves

              Cheek to floor

              Butterflies

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              • #8
                Running

                Running

                Run straight and back

                Practice takeoffs
                • Take the money with right hand and punch with left, while swinging left leg over right (big stride on first step)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Throwing

                  Throwing

                  Flip-flop wrists to loosen them up

                  Skateboard

                  Weight on back foot

                  Hold ball on four seams, loosely
                  • With however many fingers they need

                  Hands together

                  Thumbs down, separate

                  Tease the monkey, feed the elephant
                  • 90 degrees, hand above head, ball facing away (back)

                  Glove facing target, straight ahead

                  Big toe, little toe, shift weight

                  Throw, glove to chest

                  Swing leg over

                  Head ends out in front of lead leg

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Catching

                    Catching (general, not necessarily playing the catcher position)

                    Receiving position: knees bent, feet wider apart than shoulders

                    Thumbs together

                    Windshield wipers (sing the song)

                    If below belt, squat down and get it

                    If at feet, pinkies together

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                    • #11
                      Fielding

                      Fielding

                      Ready position

                      Glove out in front, open to sky

                      Creep forward with pitch, but not crouched down too much

                      Step right, step left, scoop forward with glove out in front of head
                      • make triangle

                      Slide right foot back, swing left foot into throwing position

                      Do throwing motion
                      • hands together, separate, etc.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hitting

                        Hitting

                        Ready position (basically the same for everything)

                        Toes pointed straight or slightly in (NOT out)

                        Weight on back foot

                        Keep hands in, close to body

                        Put bat on shoulder, then raise it above shoulder a few inches

                        When swinging, swivel hips forward and shift weight to front foot

                        No need to stride — keep feet where they are and just shift weight back to front

                        Use bottom (left, for righties) hand for power

                        Use top (right for righties) hand to guide bat

                        Have them set up without a bat at first

                        Then set up with bat and take practice swings

                        Swing forward and back quickly to develop muscle memory

                        Perhaps try swinging with only bottom hand to practice motion

                        Try with T or soft toss, then with pitching

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Skidiver,

                          If sanctioned Little League you should have received an email March/April newsletter, mine came yesterday. Within there is a link to the Coach Resource Center, you'll need an authentication code available from your league president. Doesn't break down hitting like this site but who does. There is a ton of info in catagories like coach's role, season planning, rules, skills, drills, conditioning... Some pretty good stuff especially for the age group you're talking about.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by skidiver View Post
                            Throwing

                            Tease the monkey, feed the elephant
                            • 90 degrees, hand above head, ball facing away (back)
                            FYI this is a dangerous cue and should not be taught. First, there is evidence that showing the ball to second base increases the risk of elbow injury. Instead, kids should be taught to show the ball to third base. This will reduce the strain on the elbow and won't take anything off the throw. Most of the kids I've worked with do this naturally so it's a non-issue.

                            Second, while you do pass through the high cocked position, you don't throw from the high cocked position. Starting the throw at the high cocked position...well, it just screws up their throw. I'm sure someone else could explain it better but all I know is that it doesn't work.

                            I know this from experience. Not knowing any better, I taught my oldest to throw this way, and it took a lot longer to break the habit than it took to create it.

                            Also, again, be careful not to coach them too much. Just get them lined up and in the right position and let their bodies figure out the rest. You may be surprised how quickly the "natural athlete" will appear if you just point them in the right direction and stand back. If a kid has to think of 5 different cues in order to throw a ball they're messed up before they even start. Same goes for hitting, fielding, catching, etc. Wait until they get one thing down before introducing them to the next thing.
                            Last edited by Jesse; 04-04-2008, 07:04 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by skidiver View Post
                              Hands together

                              Thumbs down, separate

                              Tease the monkey, feed the elephant
                              • 90 degrees, hand above head, ball facing away (back)
                              Teaching kids to throw this way will lead to elbow problems.
                              Hitting Coordinator for Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis.

                              I also work with the pitchers who are dealing with injury problems.

                              Comment

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