Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Common Youth Baseball Questions

Common Youth Baseball Questions

By Brian Schofield

Many kids develop a passion for the game of baseball at a very young age. When it happens it is a fun thing to witness. With their passion comes, excitement, competitiveness and curiosity. Young players are eager to succeed and anxiously try to absorb as much knowledge as they can about the game. This article will address some of the most common questions kids ask themselves soon after they pick up the game of baseball.

I just bought a new glove and I don't know what to do with it. My dad told me that I should oil it. My uncle told me to sleep on it. My coach told me to drive a car over it. What should I do?

I was at a Chicago Cub spring training one year and I asked one of the players about breaking in a new glove. He mentioned a few pointers that I'll share with you. He mentioned that most players have several gloves. Infielders will often have more than one that they use consistently. He said that all the old tips worked but the key was not about breaking it in immediately. It was more about how you treated the glove over a period time. Never get your glove wet. It changes the leather for the worse. Outfielders should have bigger gloves while infielders should have smaller gloves. I have played both infield and outfield and it was very handy to have two gloves. Infielders are all about the feel of the ball and getting it out of the glove quickly. If they have a deep web, it can interfere with the process. I am a fan of soft leather because it allows you to really feel the ball and the glove is light and flexible as well. Gloves can take years to mold to how you want them but they need to be treated correctly and treated to fit you and your situation. Oiling your glove is a great idea because it softens the leather and speeds up the process of it forming to your hand and style of play. If you'd like to put it under your mattress and sleep on it you certainly can but it's not a must. This will just make your glove more flexible. The more you play catch the more the glove will take shape and as that happens you'll soon get a feeling for how soft you want the leather to be and how flexible you want it.

People make fun of me and tell me I throw the ball like a girl. I don't even know what that means but I want to quit doing it. What am I doing wrong?

This is when you are doing what is called "short-arming" on each of your throws. When a player short-arms, he/she tends to release the ball too late. The elbow will be directly in front of the ball and all velocity is lost because you are not really using your shoulder anymore. To learn to throw correctly, first work on bringing the ball all the way back in an exaggerated fashion and try to release the ball earlier. It won't feel normal at first, but it will eventually start to feel natural. Try to release the ball behind your ear. The good news is that it can be corrected with proper practice. Make sure you are pointing with your front foot wherever you are throwing as "short-armers" tend to stand with their feet not moving when they throw.

I throw the ball all over the place. No matter where it seems like I'm aiming, I can never hit my target. What am I be doing wrong?

This is a very common problem for younger players. Here are some pointers I've used and coached over the years. First, always step toward your target. Players that throw incorrectly tend to throw across their body because they are not lined up correctly. Your front foot should point where you want the ball to go. Second, I coach to hold the ball across the seams when you throw it. If you throw the ball with the seams it will tend to cut or slide on you. This is how pitchers throw cut fastballs, so you probably should not do it when throwing to a base. Third, throw the ball in a consistent motion. If you are a good shooter in basketball, it is because of solid fundamentals that are practiced consistently. If you want to learn to throw a baseball correctly, you need to practice doing the same thing every time.

Brian Schofield is sr. writer for the baseball training site BigLeagueSkills.com

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