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How to Teach Young Children to Hit 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

I often share an important hitting example with parents in our Jelly Bean classes. I ask them to imagine their young child stepping up to his first at-bat. It is the moment every parent waits for. The excitement of the child's first opportunity to show his or her skill. When they do, low and behold, for many, their grip is wrong. Their hands are apart instead of together.

It seems so simple but it is an example of what is important when teaching young children to hit a baseball. Without help, it can be tricky to fix in a way that works so young children remember. 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 hitting process and the fundamental movements to keep in mind when teaching a young child to hit.

Baseball Prep

Girl breaking her caterpillar grip
Girl breaking her caterpillar grip | Source

Knowledge arises neither from objects nor the child, but from the interactions between the child and those objects.

— Jean Piaget, Cognitive Development Expert

How to Teach Young Children to Hit a Baseball - Teaching Video

"An all-too-common problem early learners experience in hitting is their hands do not always remain together when gripping the bat and they lose power and control in their swing."

— Dr. Brad Kayden, Early Learning Sports Development Expert

Proper Hand Position Instruction

Hitting kept simple
Hitting kept simple
Boy holding a baseball bat
Boy holding a baseball bat
Boy demonstrates Caterpilar Hands
Boy demonstrates Caterpilar Hands
Boy's fists apart on bat
Boy's fists apart on bat

Handedness of Children

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Hitting Kept Simple, Learning Made Fun

I invite you to try the Jelly Bean Way with your early learners. It offers a fun 3-step teaching approach that even includes a fun video aid that you can share with them. It can be a difference maker that will help young children seed the learning.

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: 5 Minutes

Equipment: Plastic bat (optional)

Level of Instructional Difficulty: Easy

Steps: 4

Ages Appropriate for: 2.5 years +

Keywords: hitting, baseball, batting, caterpillar, hands

Learning 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

Teach Young Children How to Hold a Bat Coaching Video

The Assessment

When I am speaking to young children, the assessment in terms of how to hold a baseball has become nothing less than a comedy routine.

Young children are smart. They must be given credit for being smart otherwise we begin treating them like they need us more than we need them. I love to give them credit by performing all the wrong ways to hold a bat. The response I get from many of them is usually funny for the parents to watch as it is me. You never know what they are going to say. And that is what makes it so fun.

It takes very little to think of different ways but the right way to hold a bat. What takes work is sounding convincing enough when you tell young children that holding the bat in these wrong ways is the right way to hold the bat.

The Jelly Bean Way offers a new spin on hitting that emphasizes a proper grip of the baseball bat. I will share the script that introduces our own original characters, JoJo Jelly Bean and Captain Caterpillar.

When you work with young children the assessment is as much about you as it is about them. Young children are watching you and making sure they can trust you before they go all in. Gaining their trust with young children often requires little more than a willingness to embarrass yourself. Be silly and fun and they will in turn give you their attention and respect.

Boys batting
Boys batting
Jimbo Jelly Bean
Jimbo Jelly Bean
Fielding kept simple
Fielding kept simple

Instruction

Step 1

Ask the kids, "Show me a fist" (extend yours out) Make another fist (again showing them). Then say, "Stack one fist on top of the other." (Again showing how it is done)

(Be excited) Ask, "Do you know what animal you just created?" (don't rush this, let them anticipate the answer) A CATERPILLAR!

Step 2

Help your child align all his knuckles. As you see their stacked fists, there will be four knuckles on one fist and four knuckles on the other. Getting down on their level, use your index finger but very much count with your eyes because they cannot see your finger. Start at the top knuckle and begin.

Count the knuckles,"1-2-3-4" and then on the other hand "5-6-7-8". Celebrate with them saying, "You did it, you've created a caterpillar."

Seed the learning by having early learners count Mom or Dad's fists - caterpillar segments. Children absolutely love doing this. Even if they don't count the caterpillar's segments correctly, the idea is that they are building understanding the understanding that their fists need to stay together.

Step 3

Show the children your fists together. Tell them, "When our fists are together the caterpillar is fixed."

Step three is to show children how to separate their fists, or essentially "break" the caterpillar. This is done by your example and actually saying, "Break it!" As you do it. It is best to overemphasize the movement by putting one fist below your belly button and the other over your head.

Then give the next instruction, saying "Fix it!"

Spend some time having fun breaking and fixing your caterpillars. Again this seeds the learning nicely so later when they needed, they can respond in kind automatically adjusting their grip when asked to "fix" their caterpillar.

Step 4

Finally, ask them the obvious question. So, what animal do we make when we hold a baseball bat? The answer, Caterpillars! Show me with your hands.

If you follow these three easy steps with your early learner, he will quickly and easily begin to understand the value of keeping his fists together and learning how to effectively grip a baseball bat.


Advanced Instruction

Controlling the Bat

Early learners, as they get older are able to understand and retain more. At about age four, it becomes possible to introduce more advanced instruction.

The following early learning script teaches bat control.

Step 1

Ask, "Where does the rain from?" The children will tell you, "Clouds."

Next ask, "Where are the clouds, (pointing up) ...high in the sky or (pointing down) ...low in the snow?" Children will tell you they are "High to the sky."

Step 2

Ask, "What do we use to hit a baseball?" Children will tell you, "A baseball bat."

Next ask, "Where is the top of the bat?" Let children locate it. You can cognitively challenge them by pointing and saying, "Is it here (bottom of bat)? Let children locate it and communicate where it is to you. Give them a voice.

Note: Have patience --The more you allow children to do the work, the more invested the they will be in the learning process and your coaching.

Step 3

Finally ask, "Where do we hold a baseball bat?" Again, let the child locate it. They will often point and not know what the handle is called. This is called the handle, can you say, handle? It is the handle of the baseball bat.

With safety in mind, distribute the baseball bats. Ask them to hold the bat high to the sky. Testing their bat control and mobility practice putting the bat down (e.g. on their shoulder) and then high-to-the-sky. Repeat this up and down motion 5x's prior to hitting from the tee.

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

© 2008 Dr Brad Kayden

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

      Thanks for the comments. Several requests for more information. Stay tune for more posts. Please refer to our website at www.jellybeansports.com.

    • profile image

      Brent Viger 6 years ago

      I am really struggling with getting my 6 year old to hit a ball. Would like more info on your program. My email address is bvigs7421@gmail.com

      Thanks!!

    • profile image

      Coach Michael 6 years ago

      Good info. Teaching cues do work best. I will try the catepillar. I use other cues to remind the players to align feet with plate, make sure they have plate coverage with the bat, and to load (shift weight back before swinging).

    • profile image

      Greg. 6 years ago

      Great advice, wish me luck.

    • profile image

      francisco  8 years ago

      tryiung to coach my 5 year old is hard could figure out how to explain to hold the bat awesome idea would love more info lhoustonf@yahoo.com

    • profile image

      Melissa Gough 8 years ago

      Would love more info on your program! Please email melissa@funfit.hk!

      Best, Melissa

    • profile image

      increase vertical 8 years ago

      I was still wondering at your info's ideas..Thanks for sharing the ideas..Its really a pertinent info..Thanks for the great Hub!Such a cool and nice to glance up this site