January 20, 2011 So you want to teach your child baseball (part 2)
In part 1 of the so you want to teach your child baseball series, we learned about how to get started, getting a glove, bat, and ball. I’m going to assume you’ve got all that and are ready to head out to the back yard with your child for the first time. Remember: have fun, 0 expectations.
One of the toughest things for kids to get right out of the gates is how to throw the ball correctly. If you see a tee-ball game, you’ll see the kids stepping with the wrong foot, throwing with ‘chicken wings’ (their elbow below their shoulder, close to their body at release). It’s kind of adorable, but with 2 simple drills, you can actually correct that fairly quickly. Our local High School coach works with young kids alot and he’s got a great system for pre-throw routines. He uses lines, and a ‘T-form’ to help them get great habits when throwing.
Get on a line to throw!
Have them stand on a line that points to their target (you) with their throwing hand furthest from you. Remind them they do not have to keep both feet on the line after they throw. The back foot will come off the line and that is ok. The main reason for this is to help them understand that everything needs to line up and point at their target. When they take a step to throw, that front foot needs to stay on the line. Their glove hand needs to be pointing at the target, and their ball hand needs to be pointing AWAY from the target. This is the ‘power T’ position that they need to have for every throw. It keeps them lined up, and helps them understand which foot to step with. After they throw, make them square up to you to catch the ball. They’ll want to stay on the line, and that’s horrible fielding positioning. Plus it will make them think about setting back up again after they catch the ball.
No, I’m not talking about hitting. Your child will want to keep their elbow close to their body to throw. It’s a more comfortable, natural motion than the correct way where the elbow needs to be AT or above shoulder height. The elbow extended up is what allows them more velocity and power. Getting into the ‘power-T’ position will help get rid of the chicken wing habit. Grab their elbow and raise it to the correct position to help them feel where their elbow needs to be. Have them watch your elbow when you throw, and watch videos of professionals, to reinforce this mechanic.
Catching with a stop sign
A very good drill to start out with is simply playing catch with one of those velcro pads and a tennis ball. This teaches them they have to present their palms to the ball in order to catch it (make a stop sign with your hand). Make sure they put their ‘fingers to the sky’ on balls that are caught above the waist. Below the waist, make sure the fingers are pointing down when they catch the ball. After they have a good handle on how to turn their hand depending on where the ball is thrown, put the glove back on and make sure they are doing the same thing.
Thumbs and pinkies
Another way to help teach glove movement is by reminding them with ‘pinkies and thumbs’. When the ball is thrown above their waist, their thumbs need to be touching (or close). Teach them that the non-glove hand needs to be near to help secure the ball with two hands. Below the waist, make sure the pinkies are together.
Part 3 - Pop fly’s and grounders is coming soon!