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CySeymour
06-13-2011, 12:05 PM
I am coaching a youth baseball team made up of 3rd & 4th graders. We've hit fairly well most of the season, but my players really struggle against pitchers who throw particulary fast. Now of course, these tend to be the best pitchers in the league, which you would imagine most kids would struggle against anyway. But as the coach, I can't just sit back and say "oh well, they are the best, what ya gonna do?"

So my question to my fellow RedsZoners, what suggestions would you have for this sutuation, other then setting up deeper in the box and choaking up?

Slyder
06-13-2011, 12:10 PM
I am coaching a youth baseball team made up of 3rd & 4th graders. We've hit fairly well most of the season, but my players really struggle against pitchers who throw particulary fast. Now of course, these tend to be the best pitchers in the league, which you would imagine most kids would struggle against anyway. But as the coach, I can't just sit back and say "oh well, they are the best, what ya gonna do?"

So my question to my fellow RedsZoners, what suggestions would you have for this sutuation, other then setting up deeper in the box and choaking up?

Do you have a pitching machine or batting cage to let them get more adjusted to higher speeds?

CySeymour
06-13-2011, 12:12 PM
Do you have a pitching machine or batting cage to let them get more adjusted to higher speeds?

I so wish, but no. Just my old man arm :(

I believe for the most part it is timing, since these kids aren't out there throwing changeups, curveballs, etc. Just the heat.

Johnny Footstool
06-13-2011, 12:15 PM
You could have them stand in the front of the batter's box when you are pitching to them during batting practice, and then move farther back in the box during the game.

BuckWild03
06-13-2011, 12:26 PM
When I was playing farm league baseball around that age, whenever we faced a particularly fast pitcher, it was more of an intimidation thing than anything else. Those pitchers were typically more physically developed, taller, bigger, stronger so just seeing them out there on the mound throwing what looked like 80mph back then was just plain scary. So that might be a good place to start with your kids.

My coaches always tried to use the saying "the harder it comes in, the harder it goes out" which I'm not sure ever worked but may also be worth a shot. :D

CySeymour
06-13-2011, 12:30 PM
When I was playing farm league baseball around that age, whenever we faced a particularly fast pitcher, it was more of an intimidation thing than anything else. Those pitchers were typically more physically developed, taller, bigger, stronger so just seeing them out there on the mound throwing what looked like 80mph back then was just plain scary. So that might be a good place to start with your kids.

My coaches always tried to use the saying "the harder it comes in, the harder it goes out" which I'm not sure ever worked but may also be worth a shot. :D

That's a good thought. I will give my players a ton of credit, they stood in against this guy on Saturday and took some generally good swings. Unfortunately, there is probably only 2 pitchers in our league who throw this hard, so timing is probably also an issue.

One drill I just remembered is throwing to them underhand from behind a screen from a close distance, to help their reaction. I may try that at practice.

The Voice of IH
06-13-2011, 12:40 PM
I am coaching a youth baseball team made up of 3rd & 4th graders. We've hit fairly well most of the season, but my players really struggle against pitchers who throw particulary fast. Now of course, these tend to be the best pitchers in the league, which you would imagine most kids would struggle against anyway. But as the coach, I can't just sit back and say "oh well, they are the best, what ya gonna do?"

So my question to my fellow RedsZoners, what suggestions would you have for this sutuation, other then setting up deeper in the box and choaking up?

The first time around everyone is going to struggle. It is just the lay of the land. But the next time around the big time players will step up.

I remember when I was playing for Indian Hill Rec, we faced this team from Norwood. This guy threw bullets, he was really good. The first time he shut us down pretty good. But in game two a few weeks later, Mr. Voice over here had three hits, a double and represented the winning run on third with less than two outs and the best hitter on the team at the plate. ALL HE HAD TO DO WAS MAKE CONTACT!

unfortunately he was unable to, and we would go on to lose the game, but your big time players will step up.

Redsfan320
06-13-2011, 01:31 PM
I play Juniors for Miami Little League this year, and there have only been a couple really hard throwers at this level. Really you've gotta get as far back in the box as you can, and just try to start your swing earlier with your core, so that by the time it gets there you don't just flail your arms and strike out or weakly tap it somewhere. Good luck with the team, baseball rocks!

320

Blimpie
06-14-2011, 04:51 PM
When facing a fast-throwing pitcher, find a clever way to teach them the following mantra:

"Elbow....knob....barrel...."

It sounds basic, but it really gets them to focus on throwing their hands and punching through with power using their top hand.

Spitball
06-14-2011, 05:39 PM
Hitting a fastball is largely about the timing, mechanics, and bat speed.

Timing should start while the pitcher is going into his delivery. If the batter waits until the ball is on its way, he will be behind the ball.

Mechanically, be sure the batter stays back on his back foot, thrusts the knob at the ball and snaps his wrists as he shifts and rotates his hips. Long arm swings are unproductive, especially against fastballs.

I believe swinging a weighted bat while warming up (not during an actual at bat) will improve bat speed when actually batting. The weighted bat will make their game bat feel lighter. I like to see players own a weighted bat that they can swing around at home. Also, make sure they are not using bats that are too heavy when batting in the game.

Good luck.

Johnny Footstool
06-14-2011, 06:25 PM
I believe swinging a weighted bat while warming up (not during an actual at bat) will improve bat speed when actually batting. The weighted bat will make their game bat feel lighter. I like to see players own a weighted bat that they can swing around at home. Also, make sure they are not using bats that are too heavy when batting in the game.

Good luck.

I saw a study stating that swinging the heavier bat in the on-deck circle fatigues the muscles and actually slows the swing down.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19593220

I think using a slightly lighter bat (maybe one ounce lighter) during the at-bat is a good idea.

Spitball
06-14-2011, 11:14 PM
I saw a study stating that swinging the heavier bat in the on-deck circle fatigues the muscles and actually slows the swing down.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19593220

I think using a slightly lighter bat (maybe one ounce lighter) during the at-bat is a good idea.

I've seen the studies, and I don't agree with them. I didn't click on your link, but the studies I have seen are based on very small sample sizes. One was based on fewer than twenty batters and the other was based on one batter. Even if it is only psychological, there is a nice feel to the regular bat after swinging the weighted bat. Swinging a heavy bat on a daily basis builds strength.

Red Leader
06-14-2011, 11:32 PM
I think letting your players hit in a cage with a machine that you can dial up to that speed is the best way for them to improve against the speed. They'll adjust quicker that way. If you don't have access to a machine, then my next choice would be soft toss. As you said put an L screen up about 4 feet away from them. Flip balls right to the heart of the strike zone. Make them attack the ball. That will speed up bat speed, OR at least identify those players that are really dragging their bat (which needs to be fixed on its own). You can also have the player stand in the box and throw soft toss from where the umpire would stand (about 3-4 feet behind them). You really have to have some pretty quick hands to hit a ball thats being thrown away from you. You have to be quick to catch up to it. It takes some practice, but it does increase bat speed.

Some general tips during in-game. 1) Stand as far back in the box as you can (duh), 2) If you have kids that have big leg lifts for timing steps, cut it out. Some coaches around this area are teaching not even having a timing step. Just rock inward with the front leg and then launch. This is better for hitting heat. Sometimes kids take such big timing steps that it actually slows them down and throws off their timing. 3) This may not help too much, but have your players call time between pitches. It rattles the pitcher a little sometimes and it allows the player to get as comfortable as possible in the box for each pitch.

Spitball
06-14-2011, 11:58 PM
I think letting your players hit in a cage with a machine that you can dial up to that speed is the best way for them to improve against the speed. They'll adjust quicker that way.

Crank up the machine. That definitely helps, but let them face a pitcher throwing, also. The process has to begin while timing the pitcher's delivery into the total activity. The pitching machine does not allow for the pitcher's delivery.

Red Leader
06-15-2011, 01:16 AM
Crank up the machine. That definitely helps, but let them face a pitcher throwing, also. The process has to begin while timing the pitcher's delivery into the total activity. The pitching machine does not allow for the pitcher's delivery.

Yes, obviously having someone pitch to them at that speed is the best option, then machine, then soft toss. I was assuming that was off the table since Big Klu said he had an old man arm. Working on their timing step is one thing you can do without throwing any pitches and that should help some of them a lot.

Another thing you could do is ask players on your team if they have an older brother, maybe a year or two older that could match the speed of the pitchers you are facing. See if they would come to practice and throw BP. Offer them a fountain drink or Icee after practice if they do.

Spitball
06-15-2011, 11:52 AM
Yes, obviously having someone pitch to them at that speed is the best option, then machine, then soft toss. I was assuming that was off the table since Big Klu said he had an old man arm. Working on their timing step is one thing you can do without throwing any pitches and that should help some of them a lot.

Another thing you could do is ask players on your team if they have an older brother, maybe a year or two older that could match the speed of the pitchers you are facing. See if they would come to practice and throw BP. Offer them a fountain drink or Icee after practice if they do.

Good idea. I didn't mean to discount the benefits of the pitching machine. It can be a great tool when developing and practicing hitting. Youth teams sometimes don't have access to one, so alternatives can be helpful.

Reds Freak
06-15-2011, 04:00 PM
Not much should change based on how hard a guy is throwing. I don't recommend changing where a hitter stands in the box. If he can cover the whole plate and is comfortable in a certain position in the box, keep him there no matter who is throwing.

The only thing I like to remind a hitter when he's facing a guy with a little more zip is to make sure he has his front foot down earlier. A swing can't start until your front foot is down and a lot of times kids struggle against a fast pitcher because they don't have their front foot down in time. Get your front foot down early, while keeping your weight evenly distrubted, and throw your hands at the ball.

Now, good luck drilling that into 3rd and 4th graders heads...

RBA
06-15-2011, 04:31 PM
Maybe you can contact a local batting cage place see if they would provide a reduce rate or even give your players some free time during non-peak hours. Or how about renting a pitching machine?

Or find some older high school kid that has a good arm and see if he wants to do some community service time as an assistant coach.

Or tweet Brandon Phillips and he might bring over Chapman to pitch to the kids. ;)

frenetic wave
06-16-2011, 09:34 AM
The only thing I like to remind a hitter when he's facing a guy with a little more zip is to make sure he has his front foot down earlier. A swing can't start until your front foot is down and a lot of times kids struggle against a fast pitcher because they don't have their front foot down in time. Get your front foot down early, while keeping your weight evenly distrubted, and throw your hands at the ball.

Now, good luck drilling that into 3rd and 4th graders heads...

This is your answer. Kids swing late on pitches not because they have slow swings but because they are planting their foot and starting their swings late. Get the kids used to having their front foot planted early just before the pitcher is to release the ball.

Like Freak said, at that age body control and mind control can be a bit tough to manage, so some kids might have trouble with timing and balance (and remembering).

CySeymour
06-17-2011, 02:48 PM
This is your answer. Kids swing late on pitches not because they have slow swings but because they are planting their foot and starting their swings late. Get the kids used to having their front foot planted early just before the pitcher is to release the ball.

Like Freak said, at that age body control and mind control can be a bit tough to manage, so some kids might have trouble with timing and balance (and remembering).

I agree...I think the front foot is the key. It usually isn't the issue of getting the bat through in time, it's getting started late because of that front foot.

Great peace of advice from you two!