Hitting Progressions, Rookie; Keep It Fun And Simple, Encouraging Them To Turn It Loose And Swing!
Hitting progressions, rookie; for younger players, tee ball and coach pitch ages, these progressions are more a matter of what you don't teach than what you do.
This age is baseball at its' purest.
They haven't had time to establish bad habits.
They are excited.
There is no pitcher to worry about, eliminating the fear of being struck with the ball.
No decisions to make regarding strike or ball.
They are so new there has been no opportunity, or need, to create reasons why they missed the ball.
Their basic concern is that they get to swing the bat.
For these youngsters starting out, it is a good practice to use as little motion in the batters' box as possible. The less motion created, the better chance they will achieve success.
Hitting Tips ~ From the Dugout
Goals and expectations ~ It is good to keep the goals attainable, success level high, keep it fun.
Limiting the number of steps for players to learn will help keep frustration levels low, increase the level of individual success, thus allowing them to keep the fun.
Sequence ~ Tee Ball / Coach Pitch
3 INITIAL STEPS
Stance / Setup.
Stance / Set Up
Good athletic position, feet slightly wider than shoulders, slight bend in knees.
Set up square to pitcher, head up and eyes level.
Elbows relaxed and down, hands and bat should "settle in" at chest level.
Knocking knuckles aligned. If correct, index fingers when pointed, should both point in the same direction, away from the player.
Stride first, then swing.
Stride on line, right back at the pitcher.
Keep your eyes on the ball.
Turn it loose, let it fly! Swing "through" the ball, not "to" the ball. Many young players stop their bat on contact.
Coaching Tips - Tee
Keep the tee low, so that the ball is below their waist.
Check their setup often. Young players will often stand in a different spot, pitch to pitch. They will also do so on a tee, swing to swing.
On the tee, younger players sometimes create extra movement with their hands, to start their swing. They might drop them or they may wrap the bat barrel behind their head, in an attempt to generate power. Both movements result in a looping swing, generally culminating in striking the tee.
If they are creating those hand movements, it is time to have them load their hands back, as they stride. It generates the power they are trying to achieve; but allows their bat to come through without looping.
For tee work, it works very well to talk batters through each step. A sequence for a group would be, STANCE - STEP - SWING, everybody swings at the same time, then loads another baseball on the tee. You are able to wait at any step to check and see if they are correct. It also provides a way to help them understand that they step, then swing ~ not step and swing.
If a player is contacting the tee, look for one of these three things:
Each of the three problems tend to create the same results:
Decrease in bat speed.
Long, looping swing.
Fly balls and pop flies, the two easiest outs to record on the field, with the exception of the strikeout.
A swing and a miss, which eventually leads to the easiest out to record, the strikeout.
Coaching Tips ~ Throwing Live
Throw from your throwing knee, to make your release point more realistic for the player.
Encourage them to stride early, when they see the pitcher take the ball back.
Allow them to focus on seeing the ball.
Remind them to swing through the ball.
Get them in the habit of swinging the bat, not watching pitches or waiting for that primo pitch ( GRIP IT AND RIP IT.)
If they are hitting ground balls and line drives - good. Pop flys, fly balls, swing and a miss - bad.
Most all of the negative results at this age can be traced to not striding on line ( stepping in the bucket ), dropping their hands, wrapping the bat, or not seeing the ball. Any one, or a combination.
Put players in a circle around a coach.
No pitch / no bat. Have players grip the thumb of their bottom hand, as if it were a bat. You can also have them point their index fingers, to see if their grip is good.
No pitch / with bat.
Tees ~ Keep ball below waist.
Hit'n stiks ~ These are excellent for younger players, as they get a lot of repetitions, with immediate feedback.
Short toss with whiffles, then safety or incrediballs.
Fun Games They Will Love
Kill The Coach
Players, each with a bat.
Players form a circle around the coach.
Spread the circle out, so that players have sufficient room on each side to swing the bat, without hitting someone.
Coach, standing in the center, pitches whiffle balls to each player in turn, around the circle.
Object is to get a line drive or ground ball which hits the coach.
When ball bag is empty, have players set their bats on the ground, go pick up whiffle balls.
Lots of fun, minimal equipment, easy to do. Players go wild when one of them manages to "hit the coach".
Drill Within The Game:
Get the players to look at your release point to first see the baseball.
Attempt to get them through load/stride, before you release the pitch.
Every now and then, don't release the ball, just to see if they are where they should be. They have a tendency to not stride, then hit; but wait to stride as they swing. This takes a lot of drill time to get correct.
Modified Whiffle Game
Players with bats.
Two throw down bases.
Set bases up in a home plate, first base scenario. Modify distance to fit your players and the whiffle.
Coach pitches to batters.
Divide players into two teams, one bats, one defense. Go one time through lineup, then swith offense/defense.
Batter hits whiffle, runs to first base. Run scored every time they beat the throw back to the pitcher.
Defense gets runner out by catching ball in the air, or throwing ball to pitcher, before batter touches first base.
Fun, competitive, starts the learning curve for the game itself.
Drill Within The Game
Check occasionally to see if hitters are getting their load/stride.