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I really can’t believe that anybody teaches throwing like this – even for really young kids; it’s just wrong and it creates bad habits. Putting ball next to your ear and throwing creates a pushing motion and costs much of power a kid has. Get them to extend their arms in both directions – like a half jumping jack. They should maintain flexibility and bend in their arms. Then just “high-five” to throw ball. If you’re teaching kids to throw from their ears, get some tapes.
There is a great line at end of movie A League of Their Own when a player is arguing with umpire about a called strike. The umpire says: “That pitch may be a ball tomorrow and it may have been a ball yesterday, but today it’s a strike!” Umpires do their best and they make mistakes – lots of them. We can’t control umpires and we need to accept that they are human and that they do their best. Of course, if they make a mistake with rules, there is no harm in pointing that out, but judgment calls are a different matter. Disputing them is a poor example for kids. Also, there is no need for parents to heckle umpires from stands. Coaches need to proactively make sure this isn’t happening every time they hear it.
This is another baseball myth – that a good fielder “charges ball”. What great fielders actually do is “play ball” instead of having “ball play them”. This may seem like a subtle distinction, but it’s huge to a kid who is trying to grasp fundamentals of fielding. Charging ball required them to run in at full speed and get to ball. In contrast, playing ball means that you’re trying to get it on right hop to make play. The only time a fielder really has to “charge” ball is on a dribbler or a bunt. Almost every other grounder will require reading hop and making play.
9.Turn Your Wrists
I still hear parents and coaches telling their kids to “roll their writs” as they swing bat. The proper position for hands at contact is palm up and palm down. During follow through, wrists will naturally turn, but it’s long after ball has been hit. Just a last note on hitting: kids will swing at bad pitches, including pitches over their head and in dirt. There’s a time to coach and a time to be a cheerleader. During at bat, a kid knows he just swung at a terrible pitch and he doesn’t need to hear it from stands or from his coach. After, you can work on strike zone and making sure that recognition is there.
10.Keep Your Eye on Ball
Of course, it’s crucial to watch ball, but we try to teach kids to watch ball with their nose instead of their eyes. For pitching, hitting, throwing and playing sports in general, keeping head from moving is a key to success. A player can waggle his or her head more or less freely and still technically "see" ball. They just won't be able to hit or catch it. In contrast, coaching to watch with your nose trains head to stay still, allowing eyes to focus. So instead, we say: “keep your nose on ball”.
That’s list of 10 things I hope not to hear this season. I doubt I’ll make it past first week, but it still sure promises to be a great year so let’s PLAY BALL!
Ken Kaiserman is the president of SportsKids.com ,a leading youth sports website featuring games, sports news, sports camp and league directories, community features, and the with over 150,000 products. Ken coaches youth football, basketball and baseball.He also serves on the local little league board of directors as well as the Park Advisory Board.