There are many different technical issues that young baseball players have when starting out but some seem to be a lot more common than others. Here are a few problems that are consistent with most kids and what you can do as a coach and/or parent to help steer them in the right direction.
Every person that’s ever thrown a ball has their own technique that is slightly different in some way than everybody else’s. However, even though everyone throws differently, many still have the same problems. The most common problem that I see with kids throwing the baseball is the direction their body is going in when they throw. What typically happens is players will direct their momentum towards their glove side, instead of having it all going towards their target. This can happen for many reasons but typically it has to do with their glove getting away from their body during the throw and pulling them away from their target instead of towards it. Once your glove starts moving away from your body as you throw, it’s likely that your momentum will follow in the same direction. The consequences for your momentum being directed in other places than your target are typically a loss of velocity as well as accuracy. So make sure that your youn baseball players are directing momentum towards their target whether it be a catcher or a teammate in the field.
hitting stride issues
Some teams do not have the luxury of having a coach at baseball practice for every position. Often times what happens is the coaches will be with the pitchers, infielders and outfielders, while the catchers are stuck catching balls for the infielders. If this is the case, you need to teach the catchers how they can coach themselves.
When catchers practice their skills, they shouldn’t practice anything for more than 10 minutes unless they‘re learning a new skill. The best way for a catcher to practice individual skills is 5-10 minutes at a time. Catchers can work on receiving, blocking and throwing, all for 5-10 minutes a practice. All of these skills can be practiced without the assistance of a coach. All that is needed is two or more catchers to work with each other.
Here are some drills that can be practiced every day:
Physically speaking, the most difficult part of being a catcher is blocking pitches. Blocking pitches can be mentally and physically draining but also very difficult to do well. It’s important to understand how to block a pitch and how to protect yourself. Here are some examples of how to accomplish each.
When blocking pitches, there is always a risk of injury. Catchers' equipment is there to protect the important parts of your body like your head, chest and knees. But there are a couple parts of your body that are important that equipment does not protect - your throwing hand and neck. Since these body parts are not protected, your job is to protect them yourself. There are two ways we can protect our throwing hand when blocking a pitch. One way is to hide it behind your glove; the other is to leave it behind you. Ideally, when you block a pitch you should have your bare hand behind your glove because it’s safe and it gives you the best opportunity to block the pitch. When protecting your neck, it’s important to tuck your chin into your body, allowing your mask to cover the area. These two techniques will decrease the risk of injury when blocking a pitch.
When developing younger baseball players, there are different techniques that can help you with different aspects of the game. Here are three tips that may help you with a youth baseball player's development:
1 - Practicing different positions
Most competitive young baseball players will have a primary position that they will stay at throughout a whole season or even their career because it’s what they’re best at (comfort for them) and what gives their team the best chance of winning (comfort for the coach). However, just because a player plays one position doesn’t mean they can’t and shouldn't practice others. It also doesn't mean it will be their best position later on after they have finished with their growth spurt. When they practice different positions they get the opportunity to use their bodies in different ways. The value of this is their body gets put in different situations which can allow them to develop different techniques - good for both long term athletic development as well as simply being more versatile. For example, if you have an outfielder, they will typically throw the ball with a long arm because of the importance of a strong throw rather than a quick release. If an outfielder spends some time practicing middle infield play however, they will have the opportunity to develop skills involving a quick release which may come in handy in some outfield situations...or if they have to play a game in the infield...or if someday a coach wants to see what they look like in the infield. In general, it would be a good idea for every player, regardless of primary position, to practice middle infield play because of the consistent opportunity to use their athleticism and put their body in different positions.
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Long term athletic development
Spring training camps are in full swing, which means baseball season is right around the corner! But don't be too hasty to ditch the gym in place for the field. In-season baseball strength and conditioning is an often over-looked and neglected aspect of a player's in-season routine. BIG MISTAKE!!!!
Here are 8 reasons why you should make strength and conditioning a priority this in-season:
1. Reduce Your Chance of Injury
The baseball season is long and hard on the body. Baseball is also, primarily, a one-sided activity (hitting and throwing). This repetitive motion on an athlete’s dominant side can lead to disaster if they are not prepared for the season or do not maintain their strength, mobility, and function throughout the season. A properly designed in-season baseball training program can take a proactive approach to avoiding common injuries and breakdowns throughout a playing season.
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