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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Developing Hitters at an Early Age and I Mean Early

Developing Hitters at an Early Age and I Mean Early
By Jack Perconte

Hitting a ball may be difficult to do, but the thrill of hitting the ball solidly is a special moment for ballplayers, especially when children first begin to play baseball or softball. The sound of the crack of the bat, I mean the ping of the medal or the thud of the whiffle bat is an exhilarating moment for a young hitter. Whatever the sound, hitting a ball and then running the bases creates great pleasure for the little guy/girl. It is at this young age (3 - 7 years old), where a love for the game and the initial development of players' skill begins. It is never too early to begin developing hand-eye coordination in a young player. The following are ways to develop a baseball or softball hitter at a young age:

Ages 3 - 6

1. Keeping everyone and surroundings safe is a necessary priority. A whiffle ball and whiffle ball bat should be used at the very young ages. It is very common for youngsters to "let the bat fly" after contact and this can prove dangerous when using a real bat. The big barrel whiffle bat is great for producing contact but be sure the weight of the big barrel does not overwhelm the little one.
2. Using more than one ball when there is not a catcher is good so the player doesn't get bored or tired chasing and picking up missed balls.
3. A batting tee to place the ball on is good for beginners as long as the parent shows the young player where to place the tee (out front of hitter in direction of pitcher).
4. Pitching a ball to the hitter is also good (even at this young age) as long as it is done correctly.

A. Underhand from a close range is best.

B. If throwing overhand, parent should be on their knee.

C. Initially trying to hit the player's bat by watching the arc of their swing as often as possible is good when they are just beginning. This placement of the ball will give them the initial thrill of contact and confidence that they can do it.

D. Show excitement when they make contact and set up a short distance base for them to run to after contact, when room. Show them how to set the bat down after contact and before running.

E. Only play as long as the player is interested.

Ages 7 & 8

Baseball players can fall behind in skill development very quickly if they are not challenged some at these ages. With this in mind, here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. It is very important to avoid looping the ball into the hitter. Adults should throw from one or two knees to mimic a player of the same age pitching and to avoid putting an arc on the ball. Incorrect fundamentals are developed early in hitters when pitches are thrown with arcs on them. If a hitter cannot make contact because of the pitch speed (to avoid arc), then the pitcher should throw underhand from a close range to give the ball a level path to the hitter.
2. Hitters should move from the whiffle ball to a rag ball and a light aluminum bat at these ages.
3. Provide basic instruction and demonstration but keep it simple.
4. Never allow total frustration, if any, to develop with the young hitter. Try to hit their bat if possible with some pitches so the hitter can get a good feel for hitting and develop some confidence.
5. When contact comes more often, challenge the hitter slightly more with speed changes.
6. Adults should seek out a few basic hitting drills to begin the process of teaching the correct hitting fundamentals.
7. Attending an instructional program or two at this age may be advantageous for kids of parents who do not know baseball very well and for kids who really are excited about the game.
8. A positive, optimistic demeanor in actions and words are necessary for adults when working with young hitters.

Players should never get away from using a batting tee for swing development, even at the higher levels of baseball. Finally, I have seen many hitters develop a fear of being hit by the ball at these ages so using a safer ball is advised. In this manner, young players can learn good fundamentals and hand-eye coordination without fear, as well as the development of confidence.

"Playing major league baseball - cool; helping kids - priceless." Jack Perconte helps kids and their parents get through the complicated world of youth sports. He shares his playing, coaching and parenting experiences in his books, The Making of a Hitter and Raising an Athlete: How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills and Inspire a Love of Sport. Learn more at http://www.jackperconte.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jack_Perconte


Suggested Sites:

Baseball Coaching Digest
Youth Baseball Digest
Little League Digest
American Baseball Directory

1 comment:

  1. Good tips.
    A couple of more to add that probably should be on top of my list would be: Hit the ball out in front of the plate. If you are going to stay in baseball you have to be able to turn around a good fastball. To maximize your power you have to connect out in front of the plate with the bat.

    To meet the ball out in front you have to be aggressive. You will swing at bad pitches at times, especially if you are facing good pitchers. Professional baseball coaches, instructors and teachers tell their hitters to "Swing It". Being too patient as a young hitter will get you late on the fastball and an early exit from the game. www.coachandplaybaseball.com


Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick