Sudden Fear of Baseball
How to get hit
Concerned mom asked: My 9 year old son played tball at age 5 and 6 years old, moved up to coach pitch for age 7, and we had to take a year off due to tight finances. So he missed a year of baseball.
When he was 7, he hit 70 % of the balls, was not afraid of the pitch, had a great batting stance, well balanced, determined.
He threw the ball well, grounded balls well then but had trouble with high balls.
Now he wanted to play ball again because he missed it. During practices it went well.
Now the season has started and he is all for the game. Has tons of fun out there. But come to find out, he's throwing with his whole body, not looking at the person he is throwing too either, although his distance has improved.
When he is up at bat, he tends to step out and towards the pitcher on every pitch because he says it is going to hit him.
I have tried to teach him if the ball is actually coming at him to turn into the catcher or duck, and that a ball coming over the plate directly he should be swinging at.
But he says he is afraid of the ball hitting him and they all look like they are going to hit him.
I'm at a loss as to what is going on, and he can't explain it. He says he's not afraid of the ball, he's afraid of the pitch. Any ideas?
Concerned mom of a baseball lover
Rick answered: Concerned mom, thank you for your question.
The situation you are going through is very common. I receive many questions dealing with it, thus I created a page on the site, fear of being hit.
You are on the right track in getting him to turn back towards the catcher when a ball is heading straight at him. While it won't keep the ball from hitting him, it does minimize the hit by absorbing it in larger muscle groups.
The page has some drills you can do with him, so that he can develop those skills in a nonthreatening environment. Working specifically on this technique will develop a confidence that he is able to take care of himself at the plate, hopefully freeing him up to think about hitting, so he can have fun.
Your son has reached the age where this occurs. T-ball and coach pitch are safe venues, chances are they will never get hit in those seasons.
Stepping into the next level, they are facing kids who are generally the pitcher because, at that point in time, they are bigger and throw harder than other kids.
While they are able to throw hard, that physical attribute does not always carry with it any semblance of control, thus batters are facing the realities of getting hit for the first time.
The fear is very real and can consume their every thought when they step in the batter's box. It sounds like your son is there right now.
When he says that every pitch looks like it is going to hit him, he truly believes that. He takes that image to the plate with him, and it overshadows any thoughts about hitting. He is in self preservation mode. His first move is away from the plate, thus dissipating his fear; but neutralizing any chance he may have of hitting the ball.
Certainly not an easy problem to work through; but virtually everyone who has played baseball went through this stage.
Below are two additional links to questions I have answered previously:
My son can't hit off a kid pitch, why?
Son can hit all day in practice, all kinds of pitches; but strikes out almost every time in a game situation.
You want to provide him with a lot of repetitions, recreating that movement to either turn back towards the catcher, or get on the ground.
The more repetitions he gets, the more confidence he will have. Progress from no ball, just his movements.
Add a rolled sock and throw it, to where he has to get out of the way, and hit him with the sock alternately as well.
Move to a real soft rubber ball, and finally to a tennis ball.
You are only interested in getting him comfortable with the movements, so he relates seeing the ball come at him with turn or drop.
He doesn't need to get hit with a baseball. That will only solidify his fears.
When he gets comfortable that he has a plan to help him survive in the box, the next step is to get him to focus on hitting. If he is looking for the baseball out of the pitcher's hand and tracking it with his eyes all the way to the plate, his concentration will be on hitting, not being hit. At that point, things will be looking up.
This is not a problem that is easy to fix; but it is fixable. Take your time, be patient and work through it with him. You will get where you, and he, want to be.
As you described his throwing issue, it sounds like he is just trying to throw the ball as hard, and as far as he can. When they do that, they generally step away with their non-throwing side foot,( the equivalent of stepping in the bucket as a hitter), which causes them to drop their elbow and the ball comes out the side of their hand.
The spin this puts on the baseball then turns the throw into a ball which slices away from their target. Also hard on the shoulder and elbow.
There are two throwing pages on the site:
Throwing is all about mechanics, for distance, accuracy and safety.
Everything players will do as they move through the different levels in this game will be tied to their ability to throw and catch a baseball.
Good luck as you move forward. You are not alone, virtually every parent of a baseball player, or softball player, has faced the things you are encountering.
If you have additional questions, please contact me. I would also like to hear how it is going for you and your son.
Yours in baseball,