Teaching a Kid II- Electric Boogaloo- Hitting

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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Jan 10, 2004
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The 718
thanks so much for the fielding advice. She’s doing very well and is enjoying 3B/SS.

Now: hitting.

Without any real guidance except for me giving her the basics of the stance, she made good contact. Her first couple of games in organized softball she did well. But at some point she stopped making contact. It wasn’t so much a mechanical thing, although of course as a 9 yo playing for the first time her swing is awkward. She started waiting too long and swinging too late. I’ve hit with her a couple of times and with me prompting her to swing earlier she was doing fine. This morning before her game we were doing this and she was smashing line drives right back at me. But in the game she went 0 for 4 with 4Ks, 11/12 swinging strikes, all late swings.

Seems she loses confidence, hesitates, and it gets worse. I don’t want to be that guy yelling SWING at my daughter from the crowd.

What’s a good way to work on this?
 
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Old Fart Tree

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It may help to tell her to think about landing her stride foot (or if she’s not striding yet, starting her swing) just as the pitcher’s arm goes back.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Mar 26, 2005
23,411
thanks so much for the fielding advice. She’s doing very well and is enjoying 3B/SS.

Now: hitting.

Without any real guidance except for me giving her the basics of the stance, she made good contact. Her first couple of games in organized softball she did well. But at some point she stopped making contact. It wasn’t so much a mechanical thing, although of course as a 9 yo playing for the first time her swing is awkward. She started waiting too long and swinging too late. I’ve hit with her a couple of times and with me prompting her to swing earlier she was doing fine. This morning before her game we were doing this and she was smashing line drives right back at me. But in the game she went 0 for 4 with 4Ks, 11/12 swinging strikes, all late swings.

Seems she loses confidence, hesitates, and it gets worse. I don’t want to be that guy yelling SWING at my daughter from the crowd.

What’s a good way to work on this?
I took my 8 year old son to the batting cages the other day. He really enjoyed it and it seems to be a good way for a child to start to gauge pitches.
 

tonyandpals

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My 9yo son had an awful swing coming into this season. Would basically slash at everything from the left side, almost swinging down. He mad a lot of late contact but would be drill the ball into the ground foul. This year we (and his coaches) really worked to level out his swing, but the contact went away, pretty much any and all of it. It's just finally come around the last two games. We started working on the bat being and extension of his hands and arms. Thinking about 'catching' the ball with the bat. Even to the point of me pitching to him while he stood there with his glove on and faux swinging. I know it sounds awkward but it was more of a mindset and timing thing on when he needed to start reacting to the pitch. It seems to have helped a bit. This on top of just taking BP a few times a week.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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Jan 10, 2004
20,588
The 718
It may help to tell her to think about landing her stride foot (or if she’s not striding yet, starting her swing) just as the pitcher’s arm goes back.

See, here's the thing. She knows NOTHING of this. When I first started hitting with her, I had to start from scratch- stand perpendicular to the pitcher, back over your back shoulder, hands together, bend your knees a little. We haven't moved beyond that. Her league is great in terms of fun and camaraderie and there is no pressure, but the instruction is haphazard. They focus mainly on fielding and take the girls aside one at a time for a few swings of the bat with a coach. There's not enough time to get all of them in, so there have been days where she hasn't hit at all.

I need the most basic, basic, baby steps hitting instruction, probably for tee ball - she has hit off a tee but a, she doesn't like it, and b, like I said, she hits very well off a tee and when she makes contact but her timing is very late in games.

My wife pointed out something - when I pitch to her, I'm usually standing closer than the pitcher is in games (we have coach-pitching). I think that if I move back to game distance it will help with the timing. Still, I need some sort of instruction on the mechanics that will help things along without overwhelming her with contradictory advice and thinking about six body parts at once, like when I tried to learn golf (and failed miserably).

Any help would be appreciated - like I said the advice y'all have given me about fielding has been fantastic.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Mar 26, 2005
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So if I understand you correctly, she isn't striding at all and just swinging with her arms. When you pitch to her - fairly close up - she can make contact, but in a game, when the coach pitches from further out, she can't make contact.

To me, if it's just about contact, it's just a timing/repetition thing. I agree with your wife. When you practice with her, whenever she starts making regular contact, you should move back. You could also start with a larger ball and then work your way to a smaller ball. Also, since she is hitting line drives, you could talk to her about swing timing: i.e., "When do you start your swing when I'm pitching to you at a close distance," and as you move back, try to get her to wait a beat before swinging. So pitching from different distances as she practices with you should help.

If she is not striding, the only other thing I would think about right now is whether her swing is at least level.

Once she starts making consistent contact, you can move on to the intricacies of strides and rotations, etc.

Remember - there is nothing harder in sports than to hit a ball with a bat. We take it for granted now but it's still a really difficult thing for people to do.
 

Old Fart Tree

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  1. Pick up stride foot.
  2. Put down stride foot.
  3. Throw your hands at the ball. (Wherever the hands go, that's where the bat goes)

I'm not being snarky; it's really that simple. If timing is the issue, try mapping her timing to an action pattern that her brain observes. For example, if you're tossing to her underhand, I'm guessing that you hold the ball in front of you to show it to her, swing your arm back behind you as if you're going to throw a bowling ball, and then start your arm forward before releasing the ball. At a high level your stride foot should basically land just as the pitcher is releasing the ball, but at her current level, you're probably a step away from that. I'd suggest telling her "when you see my arm go back, you get ready to step. When you see my arm start to go forward, you step. When you see the ball leave my hand, you start your swing." And if that's still got her late, move up the steps a little. Make sense? I'm not sure if I'm helping or hurting here, so I'm sorry if it's not useful advice.
 

Saints Rest

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Watching my son's team over the last couple of seasons (he's now 7, but mostly playing with 8 year olds), I have witnessed my son's coach doing things that have really paid off for the kids.

1. Swing at a tee, with or without a ball.
2. Swing at soft-toss from close, including simply dropping the ball. Vary the speed and distance of soft-toss.
3. He draws lines in the dirt for the feet at the stance and for the stride. Make sure stride foot goes toward pitcher (no bailing out).
4. Focus on ball, not on pitcher.
5. Swing down on ball.
 

steveluck7

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May 10, 2007
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Burrillville, RI
I’ve coached my sons teams for 3 years now. 2 in Tball and this year in instructional. For hitting, we started with the feet / footwork. I’d do the same as noted above and draw lines in the dirt where they are to put their toes. I’d then tell them to push down on their back heel, to get them started “back”. I also spent time with each them setting their hands properly. Once I got them in the right stance, I’d use the term “load up” to get them to put themselves in that position. “Load up” also helped them focus on me and not the 20 parents screaming at every kid.
We then did a ton of soft toss using plastic golf balls. I did this to get them to realize how much they need to focus on the ball.
It worked pretty well for our kids. As the season went on, I moved back to where I was almost on the rubber when I was pitching to them. I also started throwing a little faster (the ball would come in straighter, as opposed to an arc) which helped a lot.

Lots of trial and error but those are some things that worked for our team.
 

BJBossman

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Dec 6, 2016
271
Watching my son's team over the last couple of seasons (he's now 7, but mostly playing with 8 year olds), I have witnessed my son's coach doing things that have really paid off for the kids.

1. Swing at a tee, with or without a ball.
2. Swing at soft-toss from close, including simply dropping the ball. Vary the speed and distance of soft-toss.
3. He draws lines in the dirt for the feet at the stance and for the stride. Make sure stride foot goes toward pitcher (no bailing out).
4. Focus on ball, not on pitcher.
5. Swing down on ball.
i agree with everything but 5. I will admit that 5 is easier to teach to kids though.

5 is one of those myths that has somehow survived. Look at the great hitters in both baseball and softball. They have the same swing.
 

LoweTek

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i agree with everything but 5. I will admit that 5 is easier to teach to kids though.

5 is one of those myths that has somehow survived. Look at the great hitters in both baseball and softball. They have the same swing.
Seconded. I was taught to swing level and although I did hit for average, I almost never got the ball in the air. Swing up, even Williams taught it.
 

Cumberland Blues

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Sep 9, 2001
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Yeah, I've found that the coaches who teach "swing down on the ball" to young kids are sold on this because they see their kids running around the bases all day. When kids are 7-8, like 15-20% of ground balls might turn into outs. The kids swinging this way are screwed when they get to the older levels where kids can actually field the ball.
 

BJBossman

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Dec 6, 2016
271
Yeah, I've found that the coaches who teach "swing down on the ball" to young kids are sold on this because they see their kids running around the bases all day. When kids are 7-8, like 15-20% of ground balls might turn into outs. The kids swinging this way are screwed when they get to the older levels where kids can actually field the ball.
The "stanford" swing.

It's also funny when you see coaches teach their pitchers to throw ground balls, and their hitters to also put the ball on the ground...