Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Prepubescent Delusion Rule: Let Them Have Fun!

A repost of an article I wrote in 2008. Now after 8 years only 3 out of the 12 kids on my 9U travel team are playing high school ball.  Most of the team played until they were 13 then moved on  to other areas of interest such as music, art, other sports....  The lesson holds true...  Let them have fun while they can!

We’re all guilty of it. That moment when your prepubescent child makes a fabulous defensive play or hits a clutch ground rule double (just like Jeter) and the thought enters your mind… “Hey, Maybe This Kid Has Something”.

It’s so easy to be lead down this path. We’re parents. We want our kids to be happy, smart, successful, handsome, athletic, etc, etc. So when our 10 year shortstop dives and makes the defensive grab of the game we can’t help but have proud parental thoughts.

Now most of us keep these parental thoughts to ourselves which IMHO is the correct thing to do. However, some of us might elbow the dad next to us and say something like “WOW! Did you see that play. When he was 7 I knew the kid had something”. This is the parent that needs to WAKE UP!!...QUICKLY!

A friend of mine who coaches one of the best high school teams in our state gave me the greatest advice I could have ever received when I first started coaching my sons… He said “Any parent or coach who thinks they know what a kid is capable of before he or she goes through puberty is completely delusional”. I have used this as guiding words since I first heard them. When I watch the 11 year hold who can hardly reach 1st from 3rd base I say to myself… “wait until puberty”. When I see the small 10 year old who can hardly swing the -13 bat I say to myself… “wait until puberty”. Conversely when I witness the 12 year old who overpowers his peers with his 50’ fast ball I say to myself… well you know the mantra by now.

A few years back I decided to manage my son’s 9 year old travel team. It was a great group of kids. We won our share of games and actually managed to finish 2nd in a pretty large local tournament. The kids had a great time and learn a lot about the game…. anyway I digress… I remember while we were warming up the kids prior to our first game that season a dad I had asked to coach said to me in all sincerity “Coach, These are the boys we’ll be watching play high school baseball someday”. Luckily this was after my high school coach friend had enlightened me about the prepubescent delusion rule. I remember thinking “We have no idea what genetic cards have been dealt to these kids.” However, I simply replied “time will tell”.

Now it’s 5 years later and only 7 of the 12 are still playing baseball at 14 years old. Lacrosse stole away 3 of the kids and 2 others sadly decided not to play baseball. Of the 7 remaining, only 3 were fortunate enough to make the 8th grade baseball team. This is a real life example of why coaches and parents cannot and should not try to determine the athletic future of a 9 year old kid.

Now take the 10 year old all-star player, pitcher, shortstop, powerhitter, speedster. He’s 4 inches taller than his peers, knocking the ball out of the park every three games. This kid is destined to be a high school/college star right? Not necessarily. How about after his teammates go through puberty and catch up or even pass him in size, strength and coordination? This happens… all the time.

So.. what’s the lesson? While there are some attributes a child may show at a young age which might lend themselves to a particular sport.. all bets are off until the kid goes through puberty. Parents and Coaches who understand and adopt this philosophy will be more comfortable with providing a loose and fun baseball environment for their young player.

Coach Bob

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fun Drills for Tee Ball Practice

By Jim Bain

Don't believe kids in Tee-ball should be pushed to learn anything, that it's all just fun. Have you ever considered You are these kids first experience with playing baseball on a team, that you could very well be responsible for instilling the work ethic they may adhere to the rest of their life
Kids at this age have a very limited attention span, which is disconcerting sometimes, but is not an insurmountable issue, as long as we have a plan to handle it. Here are some suggestions which will help.

Suggestion 1. You're not a drill sergeant, but if you let the kids know from the beginning that you are the Coach (Teacher) and are to be listened to at all times, the kids will listen. Kids are anxious to please, but that's not saying they won't have their days of showing up to practice bouncing off the walls,

Suggestion 2. Kids will respond to what you expect. In other words, if you don't expect them to learn or work...they won't. But if you take the time and patience to teach and let them know you expect them to learn what you're teaching...they will try their best to learn it.

Suggestion 3. The Tee Ball Drills must be fun and interesting, which can be quite difficult at times, but you won't have to worry about that because I'm going to guide you through some basic practice drills.

Let's begin with the three basic issues Throwing, Catching and Hitting.

Throwing Tee Ball Drill: Always teach the basics in a team environment, teaching everybody the same thing at the same time.

Line the team up in a single line, semi circle and have them sit down where they all can see you. Then explain you're going to show them how to throw a baseball the proper way, always throw that little phrase in or else Little Johnny is going to let you know he already knows how to throw a baseball. * Be smarter than Johnny and cut him off at the pass. *

Show them you place your thumb under the baseball, with two or three fingers on top of it. Don't worry about explaining about the seams, that's a long ways off.

Eyes on the target. Legs at shoulder width apart, turn sideways your glove hand pointing towards the target, the throwing hand extended out backwards away from the target.

Step towards your target with the opposite foot of your throwing hand, pushing off your rear foot begin your throwing motion, ending with your weight on the forward foot. Release the ball and follow through with your arm motion.

Make it fun: Place a large basket, laundry or fruit basket at home plate. Have the players spread out in a semi circle along the infield perimeter. Have them try to throw the ball into the basket. You can split the team in half and keep score for the team who hits or gets the closest to the basket.

Catching Tee Ball Drill: Begin with catching ground balls, then proceed to catching bouncing balls. Using a baseball roll the ball to the player. Teach him / her to get down on the ball, watch the ball all the way into the glove and cover the ball into the glove with the bare hand.

To begin this drill, the player should not wear his / her glove. Using a rubber or tennis ball, gently bounce the ball to the player. Teach the player to try and catch the ball with both hands, but have them pay particular attention to the way their glove hand is turned depending on high or low they catch the ball. This will begin orientating them to how their hand should be with the glove on, but not being able to see their hand.

Make it fun: split the team in half, in a straight line facing one another. Have a player roll the baseball to the opposing player, who will catch the ball then return roll it back to the other player. Keep score of which team catches the most grounders. Go through the entire line twice.
Then switching to rubber or tennis balls, have them throw a 1 bouncer to each other. Keep score, 1 point if you catch the ball, minus 1 point if it's a bad throw.

Hitting Tee Ball Drill: Demonstrate the basics to the entire team before allowing them to begin hitting.

1. Show them the Proper way to hold a bat, hands together, no cross handed holds. Don't worry about talking about lining your knuckles up or anything more advanced than just holding the bat right.

2. Show them how to take a batting stance. Feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, bat held up with barrel behind their head. Hands and tee ball bat away from the body, good balance, looking at the tee,

3. Show them how to swing and hit the ball. Slight step forwards, eyes focused on the ball, level swing, weight transfer forward, extend arms and follow through after hitting the ball.

A little safety tip. Place a rag @ 4' away from them and instruct them to try to lay the bat down on as they make their last hit and run to first base. This will get them in the habit of laying the bat down and not throwing it.
Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on pitching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:
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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Care and Cleaning of Your Baseball Glove

By Peter V. John

Baseball glove care is often overlooked during the season and the off-season. Many players simply throw their gloves into their bags and walk away. To get the most out of your glove, one must take care of it in season and in the off-season.

Here are a few tips for caring for your baseball glove:

Keep it clean! Cleaning the glove periodically not only keeps it looking better, but it keeps the pores of the leather clear. Keep your glove dry, wipe off built up dirt with dry cloth. Never soak your glove in water or put it in a microwave oven to dry it off.

Keep the glove conditioned with proper baseball glove conditioner. This keeps the glove leather hydrated and supple. After all, a glove's leather was alive at one time. It's skin. While conditioning, you don't need much. Put a small amount of oil on a cloth and lightly rub in and coat the glove. Do not allow oils to soak in as this will cause the leather deteriorate faster.

Store a ball in the pocket of the glove. Whether it is in season or off-season, this will help keep the shape of the glove's pocket. Place a baseball or softball in the pocket and tie the glove shut with a rubber band or belt. A regular practice workout of at least 100 good tosses daily will continue to soften the glove and help mold the pocket to your hand.

Store the glove in room temperature. Extreme heat will cause it to dry out and become hard. Extreme cold will cause the glove to become hard and not pliable until it warms up. Keeping a baseball glove at a constant room temperature when it is not in use will keep it from deteriorating as quickly.

Keep the laces tight. Tighter laces keep the glove in shape. Loose laces are more susceptible to breakage and place tension on other parts of the glove, speeding its breakdown. This can result result in the glove becoming floppy and needing to be replaced sooner than it would otherwise.

Quickly replace any frayed or broken laces. Frayed laces will break quickly. Broken laces transfer the tension to other parts of the glove, usually the other laces. Added tensions to these laces cause them to stretch and break quicker.

Simply using your glove will keep it in good shape. The more play time your glove experiences, the better it will properly mold to your hand. Once your baseball glove is broken in, it will be ready to serve you for many seasons to come.

If you follow these tips, they will help maintain the longevity of your baseball glove and aid in helping you Make the Play!
Vinci manufactures a full line of baseball gloves and equipment. Find first baseman mitts, catcher's mitts and more. The Vinci baseball glove break in kit includes a wooden mallet, baseball glove conditioner, rubber bands and a plastic ball. Made for players of any level!
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