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  • Fear and hitting

    My team of 9-10 year-old travel kids rip the wiffel balls we throw them pregame and then becomes much more tentative in the game, often pulling off the ball and swinging at bad pitches and hitting little dribblers. They look like different hitters.....It is early in the season, but I asked them to be honest after our game.....and almost every hand raised when I asked them "who has even a little fear of being hit by the ball when you are batting" We had a good talk about this and challenged them to have no fear. We give out (painted) stars on their caps for good plays and I said every kid who hit the ball hard in the next two games would earn a star...in a hope to get them a bit tougher. We'll see if it works.

    My guess is that this is a much more common problem (but well-hidden in many kids) Thoughts on this...and what you would do to combat it.

    Thanks

  • #2
    Originally posted by Swing Coach View Post
    My team of 9-10 year-old travel kids rip the wiffel balls we throw them pregame and then becomes much more tentative in the game, often pulling off the ball and swinging at bad pitches and hitting little dribblers. They look like different hitters.....It is early in the season, but I asked them to be honest after our game.....and almost every hand raised when I asked them "who has even a little fear of being hit by the ball when you are batting"...Thoughts on this...and what you would do to combat it.
    1. Teach them how to tell the difference between balls that are going to hit them and balls that are going to miss using foam balls.

    2. Teach them how to get out of the way of a pitch that's coming at them.

    3. Put cages on their helmets.
    Hitting Coordinator for Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis.

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

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    • #3
      What I did when I had my ten year olds afraid to get hit was I mixed RIF balls in with the regular balls for BP. Once in a while, I let one slip(not on purpose, this was my first year coaching and I sucked at throwing BP, I did hit them with the RIF balls on purpose sometimes) They eventually learned that it doesnt hurt that much, and that the free base is a good reward.

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      • #4
        I went from whiffle balls, 2 tennis balls, soft t-ball, then to hard baseballs....My 11 year old will rarely move from a pitch...I also threw behind him on occassion just to make them aware of it and to see that at that age it will happen....I also used different colored balls and had them call the color after it crossed the plate...then as he got comfortable...He would close his eyes and while I was in my wind up I would say open and he had to pick up the ball alot quicker...It worked great for him...I am currently doing it with my 7 year old...It takes alot of swings at live balls for that age to comy in the box and I dont mean pitches from a coach...we always let our pitchers pitch to the team...makes for some boring practices at that age but at least they are seeing live practice...But in BP if you are pitching dont make the confident you are not gonna hit them

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        • #5
          We tell our team at their very first practice that before they can do live batting they must first pass a hit by pitch drill where we show them either how to avoid being hit by a pitch, or the proper way to turn.

          Tentative batting can be very infectious in a team, you have to have a plan to deal with it.

          I normally explain to a team that being hit by a pitched ball is part of the game, it's not done on purpose, most pitchers don't have great control at their age.
          I tell them they have to have courage, every player in the majors has it, and it's an essential part of any sport.
          Courage is acting in spite of fear, you cannot have courage if you are not afraid. I make sure they understand this, that way they recognise it when it happens. You don't have to tell them what the opposite of courage is, they will figure that one out on their own.

          I praise them every time they avoid being hit by a pitch ( I noramlly shout "Ole" like they are some kind of matador). If they do get hit by a pitch I tell them it will take great courage to stand there the next time and wait for a strike to hit.

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          • #6
            See, that's great. You're not just teaching them about baseball, you're teaching them about life. Sometimes in life, you have to stand in there even though you know you might get hit. Some people go their whole life without learning that fundamental concept. That's what I love about sports, and baseball in particular.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Swing Coach View Post
              My team of 9-10 year-old travel kids rip the wiffel balls we throw them pregame and then becomes much more tentative in the game, often pulling off the ball and swinging at bad pitches and hitting little dribblers.
              Pregame warmup with wiffel balls only could be actually bad for the kids, as it has totall different feel between hitting wiffel ball and real bardball. The same dribblers swing could be a real good line drive with wiffel ball.

              Before the game I warmup my son this way.

              1) Hit a basketball off the tee for about 20 times. That makes him getting his hand action at contact ready.

              2) Tennis ball pitching. Throw real hard to him from the normal pitching distance(44' before rec ball, 48 before travel ball) for maybe 20 pitches.

              3) One round of soft toss with real baseball(~10) To just get him ready to hit the real baseball.

              1) Will make him swing hard with strong hand at the contact. 2) will get his timing and location and pitch recognition ready, 3) will fine tune his swing with the real baseball. Sometimes I also added L screen front toss after 3)
              Last edited by mightylakers; 05-16-2008, 09:51 AM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mightylakers View Post
                Pregame warmup with wiffel balls only could be actually bad for the kids, as it has totall different feel between hitting wiffel ball and real bardball. The same dribblers swing could be a real good line drive with wiffel ball.

                Before the game I warmup my son this way.

                1) Hit a basketball off the tee for about 20 times. That makes him getting his hand action at contact ready.

                2) Tennis ball pitching. Throw real hard to him from the normal pitching distance(44' before rec ball, 48 before travel ball) for maybe 20 pitches.

                3) One round of soft toss with real baseball(~10) To just get him ready to hit the real baseball.

                1) Will make him swing hard with strong hand at the contact. 2) will get his timing and location and pitch recognition ready, 3) will fine tune his swing with the real baseball. Sometimes I also added L screen front toss after 3)

                Can you tell me what the L-screen fron toss is?

                I soft toss whiffle balls to all my coach pitch team before everygame....at that age I feel its more about hand eye coordination and talking to them about there swing and what they should be thinking about in the batters box...which is what I tell each one....relax, quick hands, see it and hit it...See it and hit is all that should be said to young kids at game time...anymore and you should have said it at practice

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by dolphindan1 View Post
                  Can you tell me what the L-screen fron toss is?
                  Place the L-screen 10-15' in front of the batter. If you are RH, position the L-screen for a left hander. Sit on a bucket behind the taller portion of the screen and underhand toss to the batter (around the side of the screen) from a position in front of him.

                  I like to use a variation of the front toss...I move the L-screen further back, 30' or so, and set up the screen for my RH throw. I sit on a bucket behind the tall portion of the screen and throw overhand over the shorter part of the screen. I like how he can pick up my overhand arm motion, plus it allows me better pitch control and the ability to throw and then focus on his mechanics a little better than throwing actual BP from further back.

                  Hope this helps.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
                    1. Teach them how to tell the difference between balls that are going to hit them and balls that are going to miss using foam balls.

                    2. Teach them how to get out of the way of a pitch that's coming at them.

                    3. Put cages on their helmets.
                    A1- Or Green Tennis Balls, they can see them easier and understand how the ball is coming at them...and hiting them with the tennis ball is ok....

                    A2- Shoulder closest to pitcher raises up towards ear, TURN head immediately to catcher or toward backstop.... and wait for the ball to hit you...then walk it off.....that's all you can do....

                    A3- OK, then the day the kids CAN'T where cages? The fear is much worse...


                    Can a HS, College or Major Leaguer where a caged helmet?
                    the tribe will win it all before I die. I'm 36(when I origionally signed on to this board) now I'm 39 and still waiting!! Ahh!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mgervace View Post

                      Can a HS, College or Major Leaguer where a caged helmet?
                      I think so, but at the risk of having their manhood insulted.
                      See ball, hit ball.

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                      • #12
                        Some of this will be gone in a few years. However, if you would like to begin working on the mental side of dealing with fear with your little guys, here is an article I just wrote on that topic.
                        Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake. sigpic

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                        • #13
                          Its part of being a little kid. Most will be at least a little afraid but its if they use that fear to their advantage or not. As they mature they will either stay afraid (those usually leave the game) or realize it only hurts for a second if they get hit. I mean look at college and above .... pitchers throwing 85mph and up ... batters intentionally lean into the pitch weird, but its just about facing the fear. I mean a perfect example is my high school coach was stressing staying down on a bad bouncing ball .. hes says "the ball doesn't hurt or just for a second" and then has me THROW the ball at his chest... haha hardcore.

                          I mean I won't lie when I was young I saw an older kid on my team get hit in the face and have teeth knocked out .. that was scary but you eventually get past it.
                          “If there was ever a man born to be a hitter it was me.” - Ted Williams
                          "Didn't come up here to read. Came up here to hit." - Hank Aaron

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