How to Teach Kids the Simple Basics of Hitting a Baseball
When teaching kids how to hit a baseball, the most important principle you have to keep in mind is to keep things simple. Kids get bored with long speeches and technicalities and they easily lose interest when you confuse them with jargon and complexities. It is also important to consider that not all kids have equal amounts of capability when it comes to little league hitting drills. It goes without saying that some will have a more natural talent for baseball than others. Still, everyone can learn the sport and learn valuable lessons in sportsmanship, physical fitness and teamwork. Most of all, never forget that baseball should be fun!
To become a successful hitter, one must have good hand-eye coordination. There are many ways to hit a baseball and each kid can adopt what is most suitable for her or him. To begin learning baseball the right way, however, all kids must start with the basics.
Getting the form and stance right is already halfway to hitting right. When coaching kids, the first thing you should teach is how to assume the regular batting stance from the feet up to the head, including the eyes. Specifically check that the placement of the player’s feet, knees, hips, shoulders, head, and eyes is right. A great way to start teaching stance is by letting the kids watch baseball videos, whether little league, minors, or the big league, so that they can become familiar with the proper batting stance. A lot of kids are talented in imitating or mimicking others. Also, they unconsciously absorb visual information faster, more than they do oral instruction especially when it comes to physical activities such as youth sports. Take advantage of the visual memory of kids as well as their inclination for video games and the internet. You can make use of YouTube or baseball computer games as instructional materials, making learning about baseball all the more fun.
A good exercise for developing and relating hip speed is to hold the bat behind the waste with hands placed on the opposite ends of the bat and assuming the normal batting stance. As a pitch is delivered, the player will have to execute a stride and a quick turn; with the aid of the bat the players should be able to turn the hips faster and finish in the right contact point position.
In sports, timing is everything. In hitting a baseball, the best exercises to develop proper timing are lead hand swings and follow hand swings. In lead hand swings, the player should concentrate on keeping the hand above the plane of the ball; if a player fails to execute this, a strike out or a pop out will usually ensue. In little league hitting drills, the player also has to turn the hips quickly and precisely on time to hit the ball successfully, as well as prevent the lead elbow from extending fully before contact; if not, a slow bat will result from the excess arm arc during the swing. Lead hand and follow hand swings develop timing and strength because both hands have to snap straight into the ball at precisely the same instant.
To enhance the quickness and strength of the hands, practice makes perfect. As is well known in baseball, hitting right is largely muscle memory, thus players have to work on developing that memory through constant practice. Basic practice can start with hitting a ball that is pitched or thrown 12 to 15 feet away from the batter, with the pitcher throwing the ball underhand on one-knee. After each swing, the batter should quickly return to the batting position.
Developing good habits is important to be efficient at baseball youth sports. The batter should learn to automatically step to the ball every time instead of stepping out of the plate or physically moving when hitting. This should come naturally to the player with enough practice.
The wrist and forearms are the only parts to be used when rotating the bat. To enhance bat control and speed, a good exercise is to make the players assume a contact position and let them roll the bat forward and backward, touching the shoulder to complete a full arc. A good average is 60 to 80 wrist rotations in a minute.
A one hand isolation drill helps develop hitting strength and skill. A pitcher or the coach softly tosses the ball waist high and the batter hits the ball using just the top hand and gripping the bat at the top similar to holding a tomahawk. The batter should hit the top of the ball and hit it onto the ground with the palm side down at all times. For the next exercise, the batter grips the bat with the bottom hand near the knob of the bat while assuming the regular position and hits the ball into the backstop with the palm side down at all times.
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For a quick bat swing, players should learn not to extend the arms too quickly. To teach this, you can set the player against a concrete wall or chain link fence at least 6 ft. tall. Their feet should be in parallel stance and a foot and a half away from the wall or at least a slightly bent arm’s length. The goal is to have the player take a slow motion cut and a stride parallel to the fence.
For more hitting power, players should develop an inward turn. To do this, you can break down your inward turn and players’ stance into four steps. In a stance position, have the players rocking back and forth from the catcher and the pitcher lifting each of their heels off the ground in a constant rhythm. The rhythm goes: pitcher, catcher, pitcher, catcher. You can also count out loud in fours (1, 2, 3, 4) as your players rock back and forth to help them develop a constant rhythm.