Skip to comments.Vanity: Little League Coaches Batting Gurus
Posted on 04/02/2013 10:00:23 AM PDT by DariusBane
I coach 11 U Baseball. My team, like most in this age group just can't hit. We do fine against pitchers that don't throw strikes. If they throw strikes we don't hit. Usually without even swinging. These guys hit in practice and in the cage. But in games they go down just looking. How to get them swinging in games?
Little help please?
Can you change the title from “battling” to the intended “batting”? Posted on BlackBerry and auto-complete once again threw a curve : )
Might be a psychology-thing. Fear of failure, and all that. I’d try to figure out a way to tell them that it’s better to go down swinging. Maybe set up a reward system?
They could probably still outhit the Cleveland Indians.
Parents at the games sometimes put real pressure on the Children
Parents can be great. They can also be real shiites at times!
Have a high school kid come in and let him throw some of his good stuff.
They may be focusing on the machine, which gives them some opportunity to guess where the ball is going to be.
If a high school kid comes in and is use to messing with batters he change things up and even point out how they might have hit that thing.
He can then encourage them to swing and you might double the number of times at bat practicing in one session.
Say from 10 opportunities to 20.
The Indians have cy young winner RA Dickey tonight at the Rogers Center. The knuckler can be a fickle pitch, if its on it’s awesome, if not it’s batting practice. Dickey is supposedly pretty good in domes.
Squish the bug. Look it up. Tell them the fans showed up to see them hit not walk. Swing the bat.
Nice! I have a highschool pitcher in mind now!
Not a coach, but can tell you what worked for me: Change the mindset to that of catching the ball with the bat. If you can catch you can hit. I was an 0 for season type little leaguer, but I could catch. Once I trained my mind to think of reaching out with the bat to catch the approaching ball, I was good. Or, maybe I simply concentrated better in connecting with the ball.
I also remember helpful was my coach telling us to pay attention to pitcher speed (do a 1-2 count, 2 being when the ball snaps into the catchers glove).
Thx! It wasn’t auto complete as it was “ Battiing”. We can chalk that up to 44 year old eyes using a blackberry.
Make them run laps for every strike they take.
That should get them swinging.
Teach them to look at the feet of the short stop and not the mound. This will get them to use their peripheral vision. This in tun bypasses the normal visual processes of the brain and lets the eye hand coordination take over instead of “thinking about it”.
In effect, you are teaching them to NOT watch the ball.
Teach them to feel it instead. I know it sounds crazy but it works.
I will be watching. Our game is rained out tonight.
That scares the hell out of me. Have you done this?
I have coached my kid’s baseball teams for many years and still keep stats for my youngest son’s middle school team. I can tell you the WORST thing for kids this age is a machine unless it is to warm them up. They get used to a ball coming in the same place and get complacent. What a machine can never duplicate is a kid with no control, which is what 90% of the pitchers at that age are. Even the best pitchers usually overpower hitters with fastballs that they can’t catch up to, but if you watch them throwing, they can’t hit the strike zone more than 50% of the time. Kids have to learn how to watch the ball and be patient. They have to learn to watch the pitcher throughout the game, especially while in the on deck circle. If they do and can learn when he throws something other than a fastball (which I hope most are not throwing anything but a fastball at that age), they will spot his tendencies and learn how to “think” at the plate. THAT is 90% of the battle. Learn how to be smart and be patient and your team will be a better batting team.
Here’s what YOU will have a hard time getting them to learn about being smarter, though: They WANT to hit. They see ESPN highlights of Josh Hamilton and dream of hitting a grand slam to win the game. As a result, they strike out more. With my son, that was one of his biggest problems. When I showed him stats on guys like Pete Rose and Babe Ruth, he was shocked to learn that Rose got on base a LOT more than did Babe and that Babe struck out so much. It also helped that I showed him how important his greatest asset (speed) was when he was on base. He never once got caught stealing last season and led the league in batting average at .626 for the season. He had ONE triple, 6 doubles and a ton of singles. BUT, he struck out only 4 times all season and walked or got hit by a pitch almost as many times as he hit singles. His biggest area of improvement was with 2 strikes on him. Even with a full count, he either made contact for a foul, got a hit to the opposite side of the field or walked. When he figured out getting on base was way more important to his team winning than him belting one to the fence, his hitting greatly improved. He had plenty of hard hit balls, but he has never once put it over the fence. He has one hopped it to the fence a few times, but never over.
Here is a great site for some tips:
I have used a lot of this stuff before and it really helps with the “mental” part of the game. It has been my experience coaching baseball at this age that kids who can learn to be patient and smart at the plate will get on base a whole lot more. Plus, I can tell you from personal experience that this mental “grooming” right now will help them tremendously when the get older and the pitchers get better.
I hope this helps!
Practice, practice, practice and in the words of Pete Rose “see the ball hit the ball”. The problem in LL is the kids don’t get a lot of swings. Enlist the aid of a few parents and help out at practice.
It’s still early in the season, you could probably trade most of them.....
Lol I have four lefties. I wish I could trade one of them for a right handed utility infielder!
I am jealous, I won’t get to see it. When he is on Dickey is awesome to watch. I saw the two back to back one hitters against the O’s and Rays last year, complete domination. Most of the time you don’t see the ball flutter and juke too much on TV but in both games it was visible, wiggling all over.
Here’s an awesome gif of the knuckler against tampa, I think this pitch was 81 mph. Yes, an 81mph knuckleball. The catcher closes his eyes and gets lucky catching it. It looks like something out of looney tunes, a true corkscrew.
Freegards, good luck with your team
Keep Mom & Dad away from your bench when the game starts.
Hubby used to torment our kid after every bad AB - took 2 seasons for Coach to ban him, but it worked like magic when it finally happened, not only for my kid, but on all the parents “checking on junior”.
Kids need to just play, parents need to shut up. The best will shine, but if they’re in it for the right reason, they will ALL have fun, learn about success and failure (and stay out of trouble, too)
My kiddie wound up getting 3 MVPs, two League Championships, and we’ve gotten calls and visits from scouts from two MLB organizations- and he’s only 14.
Make that five lefties.
I was a terrible batter as a little kid. I had terrible timing, and I was afraid of fastballs, worried I would get beaned.
Then one time I saw Rod Carew on TV talk about how he maintained such a high batting average over his career. It was a revelation for me.
1) He never took his eye off the ball. He ignored the pitcher, the other players, and the fans - ignored everything. Even when the ball was in the pitcher’s glove, he stared only at the ball
2) when the ball was thrown, he watched the laces on the baseball. I couldn’t believe that he could see the laces, but when I tried it, I found he was right - you can see the laces on the ball - especially when its coming at you at 60 mph (little league speeds) For me, as the batter, actually focusing on the laces slows the ball down, matrix-style. It is then easier to develop judgement on balls and strikes, as well as swing-timing. Confidence then builds on itself.
I found it is also easier to quickly judge when a mis-thrown ball is speeding towards my head! Made me much less afraid of being beaned, and kept me in the box.
Its difficult for young kids to focus on anything, so after giving this lesson, I have some exercises where I, as pitcher, hold the ball up. I tell the kids to follow it with their eyes, and LOOK FOR THE LACES - as I walk around the mound, or back and forth with the ball in my hand. It is training for them to focus, and watch the ball at all times. I then move from slower pitches up to faster, always emphasizing they look for the laces.
Worked for me as a kid, and I have had kids tell me it helps them as well.
Wow! That is a great experiance!
Dirll that the count is always 3-2.
In practice have them come up with count 3-2.
In a game play protect the plate.
Forget about all other batting stats, just keep:
hit, foul, strike out, walks.
Oh, and let me also add that getting some plastic golf balls, standing about 5 feet away and launching them at their chest from the SIDE (facing them in their stance in the batter’s box, not from a pitching mound) and letting them hit it to the field greatly increases their ability to track the ball. It also forces them to concentrate on the ball, not everything else.
I also had to teach my kids to watch the pitcher’s shoulder on his throwing arm for the delivery to be able to pick up the ball quicker. Most kids watch the pitcher’s head and then track over to his arm to try and get the ball, which puts them at a disadvantage with harder throwing pitchers.
One final thing I did that helped was to color in a big circle with different colors on several balls. I would see the color on the ball when I pitched it to them, but they had to tell me what color it was just by looking at the pitch. No hitting, just stand in the box and try to spot the colored circle as the ball was coming at them. If they got all the colors right, they were done. If not, they had to stand in there until they did.
Yep. Little leaguers aren't the only ones.The Arizona Diamondbacks had that same problem last year: every hitter wanted to hit a home run.
The kids need to understand that the important thing is to make contact. It's easier to make contact if you aren't swinging for the fences. JUST MAKE CONTACT. Meet the ball. When a hitter makes contact, good things happen. Especially at that age when their opponents' fielding skills haven't matured. An easy out can turn into an inside-the-park home run, LOL!
From a former little league coach.
1. Back elbow shoulder height. Kids tend to drop their elbow and as such cannot get around on the ball fast enough.
2. At this age, no one is throwing an effective curve ball. Have the player line up his front foot at the back of the plate. Kids tend to straddle the plate.
3. You can tell a scared batter by his swing. Instead of stepping into the ball, he will move his back leg further back. Swing will be weak at best.
4. Don’t swing at the ball. Swing through the ball.
5. You will love this one. Double Dutch. Teaches players to roll their wrists and gives them better footwork.
I don’t understand “double Dutch”
Husband coached our 4 sons at baseball (daughter softball): and all five basketball and soccer (til he had a heart attack 3 years ago—now he “keeps the book.”)
For baseball, over the years I have heard (and heard, and then heard some more) “fear of the ball” and ALWAYS keep your eye on the ball. Always. Step two helps over come fear one...afraid of getting hit keeps the kids backing off the plate and makes them develop all kinda of bad batting habits. Mid they learn to NEVER lose sight of the ball, they gain the confidence that they can get out of the way.
Don’t use a pitching machine and don’t YOU (or any warm up coach) throw at the kid’s bat during practice or warm up. Lollipop pitching doesn’t do 11 year old any good. Getting a HS player (pitcher preferably) to pitch a BP would be pretty useful too!
Good luck...and remember, “there’s no crying in baseball.” (Until you look for titanium bats’ price tags. Ouch!)
Cal Ripken’s books are the best when it comes to simplifying things for kids. I coached Little League for quite a while, from T-Ball with 5 year olds, right through to the 15 year olds and did it for two sons. For hitting, check their hands. Far too many kids grip the bat incorrectly, causing them to roll their wrists before or at the time of impact. Their “knocking knuckles” should be lined up when they have the bat in their hands. Stops you from gripping the bat too tightly and allows a free swing through the zone. Also helps keep your elbow up. “Knocking knuckles” (the ones you knock on a door with) along with the best advice you can ever give a hitter. “See the ball, hit the ball”.
I think it’s fear of striking out, which in reality is just another way to make an out but kids get all worked up about that. I’d have little guy crying on the bench after striking out and I would ask if they have rather hit into a double play.
Sometimes too umpires can incentivize not swinging if they call a really tight strike zone.
I was an assistant coach to a youth league manager who said he would rather see kids strike out swinging than walk on four straight pitches. He also never mentioned walks after the game but did talk about kids who hit the ball hard even if they made outs.
I know it goes against every FR precept where winning at all costs must be mandated at all ages, but it did get the kids to swing the bat.
And the boys did win more than they lost.
And his kid was an all-county third baseman last year.
A real good skill to acquire that isn't emphasized enough, is the ability to intentionally foul off good pitches with two strikes. If nothing else, it makes the pitcher work harder,
When I was a little leaguer our coach brought in a high schooler to pitch to us but, our catcher couldn’t handle his pitches. The coach came in but had a hard time with the crouch position so he pulled a cinder block behind the plate to sit on. Well, a foul tip and a pop hop caught his family jewels, “between a brick and a hard place”. He was taken away in an ambulance and didn’t return till midseason.
Oh yes. It was taught to me when I was a kid in my last year of little league. I went from a 0.0xx hitter to 0.200 over night. Had the family not moved to the boonies, I might have actually done something with baseball.
Later, I have coached the neighbor’s kid and he has the same issue. First he was too late with his swing. Then after getting yelled at, he just started taking pitches. Took him a little to un-learn the “keep your eye on the ball” but after about the 5th batting practice, he started to pick it up. I also had to untrain some other bad habits such as foot placement, stance and not crossing his hands but now he is a solid .275, sometimes .300 hitter. Now if I could just get his swing speed up.
I set the training up in different sessions. In all the sessions there was a cone at the short top position. In session one, they stood just outside the batting box and watched the cone. Another coach (parent) would watch the batter’s face to make sure they were keeping their eyes on the cone. Throw about 10 and then give the kid a break, repeat about 3 times each kid.
Session two is the same but this time just standing in the batters box in the hitting position - no swinging
Session three is the “bump” session. The idea is to bump the ball if they think it is in the strike zone. A bump is to swing but hold the bat at the plate and contact with the ball is not needed. Feed back on the ball being a strike or not is important on this step. Don’t use the term strike or ball. Tell the batter “in” or “out”. Don’t yell or say things like you should have or other words... just tell them “in” or “out”.
Session four is a full swing actually trying to hit. This is where they are actually trying to hit the ball. they don’t need speed or power in the swing, just make contact with the ball.
All the pitches up to this point should try to be strikes. Session five starts to add some outside / inside / high / low pitches to help train when NOT to swing.
I know it is scary from the coaching perspective as it goes against all that we have been taught. But it works. It will take a non-hitter and give them the speed of decision making to swing or not .... without them having to think about their hitting.
For the little ones, we even taught them to sing a ditty “Just a little Apple I’m going to splat. Here is the handle here is the bat”. Sing it to I’m a little tea pot. This will help them develop the rhythm of their swing. It also helps them to focus and ignore distractions.
One thing you could try, take your worst two or three hitters and work with them to see if it helps.
Only one disclaimer. It does not work for everyone. It does seem to work for those that do not respond to classic batting training methods.
Thatz Nutz! LOL
Double Dutch is a jump rope thing. Two people swing jump ropes and a person is in the middle jumping. Look at the you tube video of Double Dutch. Coaching baseball in th inner city, I had some girls from the local junior high school come in to work with my kids.
Also did it with my hockey teams. My players laughed at me until 3 young African American girls ran circles around them. By the third week, my kids were doing tricks and stuff. We would do it in the parking lot while warming up for games and the other team thought we were nuts.
One thing that isn’t taught much anymore is to throw your hands AT the ball. that bat will follow through. this makes it far easier to hit the ball. My son learned that...and has been the leading hitter on his teams ever since.
Also, they shouldn’t swing for the fences, they should TRY to hit ground balls, make the defense WORK.
My son’s first coach made kids that struck out looking, run a mile for each time. It ended that activity IMMEDIATELY.
You have ZERO chance of getting a hit if you don’t swing.
Another thing that cured my son’s fear of fastballs, was playing short stop. i used to take him out on the UNEVEN rough infields after practice, and hit line drives at him. You never knew where they would jump. He learned to block them with his body, and lost his fear of getting hit.
Well the beginners in our LL had the rule no walks. You had to hit to get on. Then for the regular LL, I had the on deck batter watch and swing at every pitch. Worked great for us - others ???
Rotate the outfielders/infielders as needed.
Baseball is a game of repetition and routine.
STRUCTURE your practices and enlist parents that are willing to help. Divide the kids up so that EVERYBODY is in as close to constant motion as possible.
Split the team into batting practice groups of about 4... Say, group 1 is in the cage while group 2 fields grounders on the infield and group 3 works on outfield skills. Rotate them. And make sure they get REPS REPS REPS.
As they become accustomed to the structure, start increasing the pace and even the intensity. The idea being you want the games to seem slow compared to the work they do in practice. What this will do is enable them to play with a lot of confidence.
Before you know it, you’ll be having to hold them back. I applied these principles to a 13-14 YO rec ball team last year and saw them go 11-1.
I then did it with a 13-14 all star team and after 2 weeks of practice, we were playing well enough to beat AA-level competitive ball teams.
True...even Little League has pitch counts!!!!