Doing Things the Right Way

As the 2014 baseball pre-season gets underway soon, I wanted to send some information on things to keep in mind if you are a player getting ready to put in some time preparing, or if you are a parent who will be working with your son this season.

A past article in the USA Today asked a question and then did some follow up research on: what is the MOST difficult skill in all of sports?  The conclusion was that hitting a round shaped baseball traveling at 80+mph with a round shaped bat is the single most difficult task in sports today.  An athletic body with decent build, quickness, and competitive mindset are just the beginnings of a good baseball player.  However these attributes alone will not develop a super star baseball player.  Our sport is one that requires so many different skill specific details to make a complete baseball player.  

Three months prior to the start of each season I spend two days per week working with my players in the specific areas of hitting, pitching, and fielding.  These skill areas need to develop over time and cannot be achieved without constant repetition over a long period of time.  I have seen the most athletic, strong, and quick athletes struggle to field a ground ball or fail to hit a baseball consistently, this occurs simply because not enough repetition has been practiced.  The key to this, however, is to practice the correct technique early on in a youth player’s development.  Each child’s body moves and works in a different way, and kids will adapt to what works best for them.  Usually the way kids discover technique is by watching professional players on TV or other kids in their little league.  Often times these techniques are not correct for the player and the child continues to practice repetitiously the incorrect technique, which is the single most detriment to a player’s skill development.  It takes 1000 correct repetitions of a skill technique to offset 1 bad habit!  This is why it is essential to provide your player with the correct skills, drills, and techniques as early as possible in their developmental years.

I recommend working through the skill and drill techniques over the course of a three to four week period, and focus only on one or two skills at a time to avoid overwhelming the young player.  Once the skill is mastered, then you can move on to teaching the next skill and repeating the process until all the skill areas are covered.

Do not over look to most important tool in a players bat bag: their attitude.  It all starts here, if an attitude is poor, it is like a cancer that spreads to the body eventually consuming the natural skills of the players.  When this player is consumed his poor attitude moves to others on the team and the downward spiral is inevitable.  Practice: start by teaching kids what you expect in the attitude department.  Never looking at or back talking to an umpire, when a player strikes out they are to run back to the dugout — not walk.  Players are never to appear lazy or just going through the motions, coaches and parents; you need to have consequences in place for when this occurs.  One would argue that this is just boys being boys — true, but our society needs these boys to become men, so that when they are 40 years old and raising a family their attitude will be mature, polite, hardworking, and appropriate.  If kids do not have this instilled in them at a young age, it is very tough to change later on in their life.  Parents step up to the plate and take charge in your kid’s lives, do not let them walk over you and react in saying that they are just being kids.

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