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How to Teach Young Children to Field a Baseball

Updated on September 11, 2017
Coach_Pickles profile image

Foremost expert in early learning in sports, Founder at Jelly Bean Sports, Father of 4, Masters in Human Relations, Educational Doctorate.

Introduction

The "alligator" position is an age-old baseball fielding coaching tradition. Taught for generations, it is when a child opens their arms wide and chomps the baseball as it enters their glove. The technique creates a fun visual young children can connect with and offers a basic enough introduction for them to easily remember what they've learned Unfortunately, it only offers them one part of a broader sports process and leaves them incomplete in their thinking about fielding.

It seems so simple but it is an example of how to effectively teach young children to field a baseball. Without help, it can be tricky to fix young children's thinking in a way that works so they remember what you teach them. In this hub, the goal is to keep sports simple and make learning fun. I set you up for coaching success as I share our fielding process and the fundamental movements to keep in mind when teaching young children how to field a baseball.



Baseball Prep

Boy fielding
Boy fielding | Source

If a child is intrigued by what he is learning, he will be a an active agent in developing his understanding rather than a passive consumer of knowledge.

— Thomas Likona, Author of The Psychology of Choice in Learning

How to Teach Young Children to Field a Baseball Teaching Video

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"For too long, we have taught young children in the same ways we teach older children and settled for the mediocre results of these ways."

— Dr. Brad Kayden, Early Learning in Sports Development Expert

3-Step Fielding Instruction

Fielding kept simple
Fielding kept simple | Source
boy ready to field a baseball
boy ready to field a baseball
boy fielding a baseball
boy fielding a baseball
boy touching a baseball to his belly button
boy touching a baseball to his belly button

Baseball Kept Simple, Fielding Made Fun

The Jelly Bean Way offers a new twist on this timeless baseball classic teaching. I will share the script that introduces our own original alligator, Ollie, who lives in, of all places, the North Pole.

If you like this Hubpage, I invite you to check out my others and to follow me to receive all the latest updates, coaching information and instructional resource on early learning in sports.

Thanks for the visit, enjoy the content! ~Brad a.k.a Coach Pickles :)

Lesson Overview

Teaching Time: 4 Minutes

# of Steps: 3 Easy Steps

Level of Instructional Difficulty: Easy

Ages Appropriate for: 2 years +

Keywords or phrases: Alligator Low-to-the-Snow, Belly button, Throw

Teaching Objectives

Parent/coach will:

  1. better understand how young children think about sports
  2. better understand how to modify teachings to fit the ways young children think about sports
  3. keep sports simple
  4. make learning fun

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Assessment

When working with young children, there is nothing they love more then bubbles. Bubbles are an excellent training aid because, other then being a little messy sometimes, they can serve many functions.

Children are magnetically attracted to bubbles so there is an opportunity to assess movement with bubbles. Children naturally want to pop the bubbles so you can watch how they do this, assertive and aggressive or slow and methodically. Some children are capable of staying with the confines of a drills parameters while others will want to be disruptive.

It is helpful to know the mindsets and skills of the types of young children you are working with. Without the assessment we, as coaches, are more prone to leading reactively instead of proactively. When you know what to expect from a drill based on the personalities you are working with, you can choose and organize your activities accordingly and spend less time managing behaviors. Aim for ideal outcomes by assessing the group you are working with at the front-end of the program you are coaching.


Girl with glove celebrates
Girl with glove celebrates
two hands
two hands | Source

Step One Teaching Graphic

Jelly Bean and alligator playing baseball in the snow
Jelly Bean and alligator playing baseball in the snow | Source

Step Two Teaching Graphic

Jelly Bean touching his belly button and alligator eating a snowball
Jelly Bean touching his belly button and alligator eating a snowball | Source

Step Three Teaching Graphic

Jelly Bean throwing a baseball with an alligator
Jelly Bean throwing a baseball with an alligator | Source
Hitting kept simple
Hitting kept simple | Source

Instruction

Without a glove or baseball, challenge children to create an alligator's mouth with their arms and hands.

  1. Begin by extending your left arm out, hand and palm down and then your right arm out, hand palm up.
  2. Proceed to open and close your alligators' mouth, each time you close clapping your hands together and saying, "CHOMP! CHOMP! CHOMP!"
  3. CHOMP! CHOMP! CHOMP! high and low and repeat several times to maximize the fun in learning.

Now, grab a glove and repeat.


Step 1

Begin by pointing to your chin and ask (if children are over three) "What is this?" If they don't know, tell them and then explain following, "Alligators have chins too. In order to eat baseballs they have to keep their chins low-to-the-snow."

Demonstrate how the ball rolls through the alligator's legs if they don't put their chin low-to-the-snow.

Next tell children, "Make your alligator with your glove and your hand and then let's put its chin low to the snow"

Demonstrate the alligator's chomping motion with them at ground level, low-to-the-snow.


Step 2

The next step is a critical one that is easy to teach but often missed when teaching young children how to field a baseball. What makes it so important is it describes the step between fielding and throwing that makes the difference between effective fielding and not. In adult ways of thinking, it is the transitional point between fielding and throwing that falls at the belly button

As the instructional diagram included here suggests, it is what, at the end of step 2, the outcome should look like. If you set it up as directed, it should not take kids long to master this step in the process.

You step 2 by saying and tracing the path of the ball along (i.e. outside) your own body, "Once the alligator eats the baseball, it goes in his mouth, down his throat and into his... (point to your belly and let the kids answer: Belly.

Repeat steps one and two several times.


Step 3

Roll them each a baseball or tennis ball reinforcing, "Alligator low to the snow," after the ball's been fielded tell children, "Belly button". They will then put the ball at their belly button simulating the ball entering the alligator's belly. And now it is time for step 3.

The last and final step is simply to say, "Throw."

Do not be too worried about the form of the throw, whether your child steps and then throws or where the ball goes. Focus exclusively on the 3-step fielding process. Later you can go back, add components, refine skills and put everything together the way it is supposed to be.

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"The best teachers and coaches teach children in ways children learn without even realizing they're doing so."

— Dr. Brad Kayden, Early Learning in Sport Development Expert

Early Learners in Sport

When you teach young children, ages 2-5, you are working with some of the most impressionable and resilient athletes in sports today. While many of these accolades are reserved for elite "adult" athletes in sports, it is young children who are performing phenomenal feats in sports we do not see.

With the dawn of each new day, they gracefully defy and overcome their many physical, emotional and mental limitations that are just a natural product of their immaturity. Sports offers young children constructive ways to overcome their limitations, develop and grow.

Fielding Instruction

Jo Jo Jelly Bean performs Dr. Kayden's 3-step fielding technique
Jo Jo Jelly Bean performs Dr. Kayden's 3-step fielding technique

Instructional Reminders


  • Have patience
  • Be hands-off in your coaching
  • Teach to all children not just the best learners
  • Be kind, avoid frustration...have patience

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    • profile image

      BC 5 years ago

      Great! Love the story. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Ammy Onda 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for the great site! Exactly what I was looking for. You are really filling a needed niche. I can hardly wait to use these great step-by-step instructions with my grandson who just started T-Ball. Really grateful!!! Thank you, thank you!

    • Coach_Pickles profile image
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      Dr Brad Kayden 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA / Chicago, IL

      I.V and D.M. Thanks. Good luck in your journey helping to give your child an edge playing baseball. Alligator low-to-the-snow, belly button, throw!

    • profile image

      David M 6 years ago

      I'd like to say that this review is wonderfull!

      Absolutely thanks, because now I can teach baseball the correct(?) way.

    • profile image

      increase vertical 8 years ago

      Excellent Reviews.. Good posts of articles and very nice Hub! Thanks for the sharing up your story.. Its very much useful for all of one..