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    At what age should kids start showing discipline at the plate, and not just hacking away at every pitch thrown to them?

    I have a six year old son who has become very consistent with making contact. The issue I'm seeing is that he swings at everything - no matter how bad the pitch is. Is this normal for this age? Honestly, I can't remember when I made this transition while growing up.

    I've started to emphasize the need to not swing at bad pitches, and lay off the bad pitches, but so far, it's not sinking in.

    Any suggestions?

  • #2
    At 6 yo just enjoy the ride and don't complicate the game.

    You have plenty of years left to start worrying. LOL

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Giode View Post
      At what age should kids start showing discipline at the plate, and not just hacking away at every pitch thrown to them?

      I have a six year old son who has become very consistent with making contact. The issue I'm seeing is that he swings at everything - no matter how bad the pitch is. Is this normal for this age? Honestly, I can't remember when I made this transition while growing up.

      I've started to emphasize the need to not swing at bad pitches, and lay off the bad pitches, but so far, it's not sinking in.

      Any suggestions?
      My point of view is that he is learning now what is hit able and what is not. My guy is 8 almost 9 and has just now developed a good approach at the plate.

      Comment


      • #4
        If he's hacking away at six he understands the game relative to his age. At 9/10 rec I hauled out my life size (relative to a 5 foot kid) chart of Ted Williams' hitting zone to discuss getting your pitch. But at any level of LL it's good to hack away after one strike due to some of the umpiring.

        http://ts3.mm.bing.net/images/thumbn...92428d6c81d9ee

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        • #5
          Let him swing!
          "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
          - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
          Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
            Let him swing!
            Agreed.

            There are sooooooooo (<--- that means a lot) many kids that quickly figure out that if you never swing you can get on base half of the time. When they start learning the "duck" and the "dip" for any pitch that might be letter high, it gets even worse.

            I have been actively trying to get our board to take measure to make our youngest youth leagues "swing leagues". I'm tired of seeing a 6:1 run:hit ratio where no one after batter #5 swings without having 2 strikes on them. IMO, it's both coached and learned through observation.

            We're not helping anyone with that.

            If the kid is swinging at pitches above his shoulders and below his knees, I would encourage some increased discipline. But, between the shoulders and knees, hack away.

            Seriously.

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            • #7
              Thanks guys - Very helpful replies.

              My first rule is that he's having fun, and he is. I guess I'm trying to teach him the correct way while young (keeping weight back, coiling his hips, keeping knees bent, etc...) so that it's all he knows as he gets older (and hopefully) more serious into baseball. Very easy to over complicate things though, and I'm trying to keep things on his level of understanding.

              I just wasn't sure at what age plate discipline is usually introduced, but you've answered that question. Sometimes it's painful to watch him swing at a ball two feet above his head, haha.

              TG643: I need to pick up one of those Williams strike zone charts. Thanks for the tip!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by CircleChange11 View Post
                If the kid is swinging at pitches above his shoulders and below his knees, I would encourage some increased discipline. But, between the shoulders and knees, hack away.
                Seriously.
                The way it is right now, if he's standing with a bat in his hand and someone is pitching, he's swinging regardless of where the pitched ball goes. More habit than anything. The truth is, he's a very good hitter, and if the ball is anywhere close to strike zone vicinity, he'll hit it 90% of the time. It's the "other" pitches I was curious about.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Giode View Post
                  The way it is right now, if he's standing with a bat in his hand and someone is pitching, he's swinging regardless of where the pitched ball goes. More habit than anything. The truth is, he's a very good hitter, and if the ball is anywhere close to strike zone vicinity, he'll hit it 90% of the time. It's the "other" pitches I was curious about.
                  First - I'm in agreement with the others who say to let him swing away.

                  But if you want to work on him being selective at the plate, maybe try this: In a session of BP, tell him not to swing at, say, the first ten pitches. Then he can hack away. Maybe just seeing a few go by intentionally will get him to be at least a little selective at what he swings at during a game.
                  Make sure the batters are striding, even on the pitches that they are not swinging at. But since he's six, the striding tip might be something to save until he's a little older. Don't complicate things.
                  Last edited by johnlanza; 06-12-2012, 04:33 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Giode View Post
                    The way it is right now, if he's standing with a bat in his hand and someone is pitching, he's swinging regardless of where the pitched ball goes. More habit than anything. The truth is, he's a very good hitter, and if the ball is anywhere close to strike zone vicinity, he'll hit it 90% of the time. It's the "other" pitches I was curious about.
                    I would start to talk about which pitches to swing at and practice at it. Make a game of it ...

                    1. Good take ... his point
                    2. bad take ... your point
                    3. Good swing ... his point
                    4. Bad swing ... your point

                    Loser buys ice cream (we all know dad is buying regardless), or picks the snack.

                    I would not start "keeping score" until you've done this for awhile.

                    We have the opposite "problem" with my kid. He won;t swing at a pitch that he doesn't really want to swing at, until 2 strikes. He WALKS a lot when we would prefer him to hit. But, I don't make a big issue out of it because if he got a cockshot early, he'd swing. And plate discipline later is really going to pay off. In BP, sometimes he will foul off a low and away pitch and he'll say "Aaaaah, oh well, gotta foul it off with 2 anyway."

                    We're already starting to see at 10U the "swingers" get exploited, especially on changeups and "spinners" in the dirt.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by CircleChange11 View Post
                      We're already starting to see at 10U the "swingers" get exploited, especially on changeups and "spinners" in the dirt.
                      I see a lot of the opposite (9u rec), especially when a generous umpire is calling balls and strikes... a "looker" will watch a couple go by that are in the zone. Then, the coach is hollering to swing at anything close and the looker swings and misses on something unhittable, or else gets rung up watching a borderline pitch. This was a pattern I saw with my son far too often last year.

                      Our league has a couple of factors that promote swinging over taking. One is a rule that requires that runs must be driven in from 3rd -- no advancing on a passed ball -- I think this rule promotes putting the ball in play over walking, because walks only result in runs when the bases are loaded, but a ball put in play can score in any situation. Also, the defense is lousy in our league, so good things almost always happen for the team that puts the ball in play.

                      IMO, at the young (8-9) ages, you may only see one decent pitch the whole at bat, so be ready to swing at it. The worst sin (IMO) for a youth batter is to watch a good pitch to hit go by. A batter is entitled to at least three swings, and any decent batter should be able to put the ball in play if he has three chances to swing at hittable pitches.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bbrages View Post
                        I see a lot of the opposite (9u rec), especially when a generous umpire is calling balls and strikes... a "looker" will watch a couple go by that are in the zone. Then, the coach is hollering to swing at anything close and the looker swings and misses on something unhittable, or else gets rung up watching a borderline pitch. This was a pattern I saw with my son far too often last year.
                        We see that in small doses. Given that 50% strikes is probably good or average in our rec league, not swinging until you have 2 strikes, [1] leads to lots of walks, and [2] drives up pitch counts like crazy.

                        Since we occasionally see the "3 games in 4 days" stuff, the combination of that and pitch counts, rest days, and lack of pitchers in the league due to coach pitch at 7-8, it can get ridiculous.

                        Our league has a couple of factors that promote swinging over taking. One is a rule that requires that runs must be driven in from 3rd -- no advancing on a passed ball -- I think this rule promotes putting the ball in play over walking, because walks only result in runs when the bases are loaded, but a ball put in play can score in any situation. Also, the defense is lousy in our league, so good things almost always happen for the team that puts the ball in play.
                        I personally, would LOVE this. Get ready to see 6-4 games instead of the 17-12 varieties. As I mentioned before, we got no hit earlier this year and almost WON the game by 10-run rule. We've thrown 2 no hitters (not shutouts of course), and last week we won 12-4 and the team didn't put a ball in play. Last night our opponent had two BIP, neither of which made it past the pitcher.

                        IMHO, if rec leagues want to play a significant role in the development of baseball players, then we'd/they'd better start looking at ways to improve the quality of play and development of skills rather than majoring in the exploitation of age group weaknesses and quick "fixes".

                        I have NO idea why any kid would want to catch at these ages. No one works with you. No one knows how to teach the position. Everyone yells at the catcher. Nevermind the pitcher throws 3 in the dirt, 4 over your head, but it's "your" fault that all the runs come in.

                        IMO, at the young (8-9) ages, you may only see one decent pitch the whole at bat, so be ready to swing at it. The worst sin (IMO) for a youth batter is to watch a good pitch to hit go by. A batter is entitled to at least three swings, and any decent batter should be able to put the ball in play if he has three chances to swing at hittable pitches.
                        Last night was very fun for us. Our team has pretty much struggled all year because the head coach and I are also the main coaches for the travel team. We don;t really pitch our kids in the rec league, because they need to pitch for the travel team, because almost all of the other rec league teams pitch the travel pitchers before our travel games. Anyway, we have been on an absolute tear lately, and the reason is that our non-travel players have gotten much better (I think the case could be made that our travel players have actually gotten worse due to the change of pace in rec league), and last night our non-travel batters pounded one of our better travel-pitchers. Triple off the fence, a kid's 1st home run, and our #11th batter's first LL Minors hit (a bloop over the 1B's head that tipped off his glove ... but it was a shot of the fence in our minds. We've worked all year trying to keep this guys from stepping out during the pitch.)

                        I do REALLY like the idea of runner from 3rd can only score on a BIP. I'll bring that up. It'll be met with the standard issue "but that's not real baseball" line to which I'll replay, "Neither is scoring 10 runs on no hits".

                        As a coach, there are plenty of times where I find myself "counting the outs", so I don;t have to watch the "action". Even when our team is winning, it's dreadful. In a game there might be 20 runs scored and 6 total hits.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CircleChange11 View Post
                          Since we occasionally see the "3 games in 4 days" stuff, the combination of that and pitch counts, rest days, and lack of pitchers in the league due to coach pitch at 7-8, it can get ridiculous.
                          This is the second year of kid pitch for us. The first year had a lot of walks, but I haven't seen a real walk-fest since. Our league plays about one game a week. So if you have a kid who can throw strikes most of the time, he can start every game. Perhaps not ideal for pitcher development, but it keeps the game moving and gives the batters something to swing at...

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                          • #14
                            --We transition from coach pitch (6-8) to a kid/coach pitch hybrid (7-9). There are no walks and no advancing on pitches that get by the catchers. If a kid throws 4 balls the coach takes over to finish pitching the at bat (the strikes still carry over). So runs only score on hits and we have baseball scores instead of football (seldom double digit scoring and our last game we won 1-0).

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                            • #15
                              FIRST year of coach pitch ball, if he shows, say, a 25% improvement in pitch selection and does not strike out a lot or pitches he should take, I say well done. Conversely, coach agains letting great pitches go by as well.

                              Second year, further the skill of pitch selection.

                              I developed our youngest's batting eye little by little, getting the most bank for my buck by throwing some bad pitches (usually outside or low) on purpose when I was pitching to him myself during BP.
                              "Herman Franks to Sal Yvars to Bobby Thomson. Ralph Branca to Bobby Thomson to Helen Rita... cue Russ Hodges."

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