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  • Watching the ball....

    Suggestions on breaking kids of the habit of watching the ball after they hit it? My kids, as well as kids on their teams and other I see (8-10) seem to love to watch the ball. I'm not talking about after hitting nice shots (which they shouldn't do either). I'm talking about IF hits where watching the ball is causing them to slow down. Same thing when running the base paths. A coach will send or advance them and they are very concerned with the ball.

    Thanks

    Adam

  • #2
    First - even some MLBers continue to have this problem...

    I agree that the players who keep watching the ball after it's been hit is not a good thing. But I also like for them to at least peak to see if the grounder to the left side has gone thru to the outfield. And while they are already on the bases, I think it's a good sign to pick up where the ball has been hit so they can learn to use some of their own instincts. Obviously, this isn't appropriate for all baserunning situations.

    Of course, coaches can always pull out one of the one-liners that we use: "Don't watch the ball! Just run!"

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    • #3
      I usually say, "What are you looking at? Is there a cute girl over there?" That usually embarrasses them enough that they stop doing it. Of course, I'll be skinned alive if there's ever a girl playing shortstop for the other team.

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      • #4
        The problem is not "watching the ball", but instead not "running full speed". A player should know where the ball is always. The ball is what gets you out. When you teach young kids to "not watch the ball" you take away their instinct. Not good. Teach them to run full speed. They should be learning to advance themselves on the base path from an early age. They will soon learn that when the balls behind them to trust their base coaches.

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        • #5
          The solution is simple. I asked the kids if they liked being safe or out at first. I told them not watching the ball and running is more likely to make them safe.

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          • #6
            I always thought that it was impossible to run "full speed" while having your head cocked side-ways to look at the ball. Am I wrong? This year I coached 6U, so all year I told them "Dont look at the ball!". In a year or two (as they get older) I will probably start with the "take a quick look" approach.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by soceric View Post
              The problem is not "watching the ball", but instead not "running full speed". A player should know where the ball is always. The ball is what gets you out. When you teach young kids to "not watch the ball" you take away their instinct. Not good. Teach them to run full speed. They should be learning to advance themselves on the base path from an early age. They will soon learn that when the balls behind them to trust their base coaches.
              Yes, this is true. Players should not be taught to stare at the next base and listen to the coach. I mean, may be when they first start playing but at some point when they got older they should glance at the ball so that the runner, not the base coach, can make the decision.

              I know that sounds crazy, kind of like, "What? I thought you couldn't slide into first base" type of thing but it is accurate. I don't know what age kids should start glancing at the ball (it doesn't, or shouldn't, slow them down) but watching the ball is how base running instincts are developed. At higher levels, the base coaches tell the runner what to do (there are exceptions) only when the runner can't comfortably see the ball, like rounding third base.
              Major Figure

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              • #8
                Originally posted by omg View Post
                Yes, this is true. Players should not be taught to stare at the next base and listen to the coach. I mean, may be when they first start playing but at some point when they got older they should glance at the ball so that the runner, not the base coach, can make the decision.

                I know that sounds crazy, kind of like, "What? I thought you couldn't slide into first base" type of thing but it is accurate. I don't know what age kids should start glancing at the ball (it doesn't, or shouldn't, slow them down) but watching the ball is how base running instincts are developed. At higher levels, the base coaches tell the runner what to do (there are exceptions) only when the runner can't comfortably see the ball, like rounding third base.
                Agree 100%. Our teach is if the ball is in front of you then you'd decide..if its behind you pick up coach. Meaning make your decision which is way faster than hesitating and looking to a coach or listening for a command when you can see the play being made and how cleanly it is made. Let them make some mistakes when it is in front of them..similar to passed ball plays with runner on third..we try not to say anything other than the cue of "read the pitch in the dirt." Hitters we teach four or five hard steps then find the ball.

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                • #9
                  We play a lot of games during practice where we run on contact. There's a cone about 1/4 the way down the baseline. If the coach sees you looking at a ball after that cone you get no points for that hit. Later in the season they will lose points for watching

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                  • #10
                    Looking at the ball is important if another batter makes contact and you are trying to advance. But it's unnecessary if you are the hitter. The first base coach is going to indicate whether you should round the bag, and you're already going to have a good idea of the situation based on the contact you made. It's rare that you would hit a ball and need to look at it to determine what you're going to do after you reach first base.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by HeinekenMan View Post
                      Looking at the ball is important if another batter makes contact and you are trying to advance. But it's unnecessary if you are the hitter. The first base coach is going to indicate whether you should round the bag, and you're already going to have a good idea of the situation based on the contact you made. It's rare that you would hit a ball and need to look at it to determine what you're going to do after you reach first base.
                      No.. the batter rounds the bag on his own, because he knows where the ball is hit right out of the box. Good base runners take their angles right out of the box, and look for their double. Good base runners are going to second unless the defense does things right. As a base coach, you may be saying the same thing as the runner is doing, but good base runners are one step ahead of you.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by soceric View Post
                        No.. the batter rounds the bag on his own, because he knows where the ball is hit right out of the box. Good base runners take their angles right out of the box, and look for their double. Good base runners are going to second unless the defense does things right. As a base coach, you may be saying the same thing as the runner is doing, but good base runners are one step ahead of you.
                        Um, did you actually read what I wrote? The last sentence: It's rare that you would hit a ball and need to look at it to determine what you're going to do after you reach first base.

                        Now, you're saying that the hitter is going to know whether to round the base. Sure, if's a fly ball to left field, that's true. And you won't need to look at it. You'll see it come off the bat and know right away where the ball is headed. We're talking about children. If you hit a hard bouncer to short, you have no way of knowing whether it will go through unless you stare at the ball and slow yourself down or listen to what your coach says.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by HeinekenMan View Post
                          Um, did you actually read what I wrote? The last sentence: It's rare that you would hit a ball and need to look at it to determine what you're going to do after you reach first base.

                          Now, you're saying that the hitter is going to know whether to round the base. Sure, if's a fly ball to left field, that's true. And you won't need to look at it. You'll see it come off the bat and know right away where the ball is headed. We're talking about children. If you hit a hard bouncer to short, you have no way of knowing whether it will go through unless you stare at the ball and slow yourself down or listen to what your coach says.
                          Not true. You should be teaching your hitters to be aggressive on the basepath. That puts pressure on the defense and they will make even more mistakes. If the ball goes into the outfield, they automatically know they will be rounding first. They are going hard down the 1B line and everything in the outfield is a double until they round the bag and see that the OF fielded the ball cleanly. If OF hasn't, they are already on their way to second. That should tell you how hard and far 1B should be rounded.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by soceric View Post
                            No.. the batter rounds the bag on his own, because he knows where the ball is hit right out of the box. Good base runners take their angles right out of the box, and look for their double. Good base runners are going to second unless the defense does things right. As a base coach, you may be saying the same thing as the runner is doing, but good base runners are one step ahead of you.
                            It's easy: on a flyball (even if it is going to be an out) or liner you round the bag and on a grounder you sprint straight towards the bag. no need to look for the ball you know if it is a grounder by feel or a short look at most.
                            I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

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                            • #15
                              Regardless, it's just a good habit to glance at the ball when running so that baseball instinct can be developed and the base runner can make most of the decisions, because they are split second decisions. It's true that the younger a player is the more the coach may make some of those decisions for him.

                              Good example: sacrifice fly opportunity, runner on third. The third base coach says "tag and score". Does the runner on third base stare at home and listen to the coach for the "go" signal? Or does he look at the ball and the fielder and determine for himself when the ball is caught? The best way is for the runner to look at the fielder. I know that many youth coaches, and maybe even some in high school or college, have the runner listen for the "go". It's not that big of a deal either way but the over riding principle is that the runner uses his eyes to make decisions.
                              Major Figure

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