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Thread: What are the best techniques for teaching baseball to a four-year-old?

  1. #1
    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
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    What are the best techniques for teaching baseball to a four-year-old?

    My son is not quite 4 yet and has taken a real shine to baseball.

    About 4-5 nights a week he asks me to go out with him and play baseball. Sometimes we play for 30 seconds, sometimes 45 or more minutes. I leave it up to him. Occasionally he'll rope Mom into catching or fielding so that our games have a bit of a faster pace. Once in awhile he'll drag Mom out there if I am unavailable.

    We generally hit off the T for a few minutes, I soft toss a few balls to him, and he hits underhand pitching and and slow "shot put" type tosses. This week we are learning to take a small step before swinging the bat. To my suprise he made this transition pretty easily. We do all this with a wiffle ball and Fred Flintstone type bat.

    We'll throw a tennis ball back and forth on the driveway so he can take grounders in the form of rollers or bouncers.

    I have made small bases so he knows which direction to run them in, as well as learned about the infield and outfield.

    We have a lot of fun when we play and only have a few basic rules:
    1) We never throw our bat
    2) when hitting we throw the ball back to the pitcher, we don't hit it with the bat
    3) He pays a decent bit of attention to our game
    4) He helps put the equipment away when we are done

    Basic fundementals are:
    1) Correct batting stance/setup
    2) Bend at knees to field grounders
    3) Target the receivers chest when throwing.

    I have no idea where to progress with the boy from here. Is it appropriate to move on to little metal bats and tennis balls or would I be better served to start him off with baseball sized whiffle balls and bats? I think the metal bats would be too heavy for him to swing, but I haven't tied it yet.

    Part of the joy he gets from our sessions is how far he can hit the ball, I'd be robbing him of some of that if we when to heavier equipment and mostly why I have been hesitant to introduce the heavier equipment.

    GL

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  3. #2
    Puffy's Daddy Red Leader's Avatar
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    Re: 4 year old

    My current youngest son (my wife is expecting in late August) is about the same age as your son. He will be 4 in September. I think it really differs by kid and you kind of have to read their body language to tell. My oldest was hitting with an aluminum bat in the batting cages by age 4. My soon to be 4 year old still enjoys hitting with the Fred Flintstone bat and a tennis ball. If you're letting him hit off of a tee, I'd think you could have him use a slightly more normal bat. They make real light t-ball bats now, some as light as 13 oz. That might be a good next step for him. If you are going to soft toss to him, I'd let him keep the bat he's using, but move back further when you pitch. That's the plan I've used with my youngest and he's still hitting pretty well and I've backed up to about 3 steps shy of where they throw for coach pitch. I've moved back slowly week by week, though and had some weeks where he struggled and I didn't move back at all until he "dominated" that distance.

    Also to add, if you do buy one of the aluminum t-ball bats and you notice that his swing is completely screwed up and his mechanics are awful because he's using every ounce of strength to get the bat around, switch back to the lighter whiffle ball bat. Kids at 3-4 years old aren't the strongest. Better to have him keep his good mechanics with a whiffle ball bat then screw his mechanics totally up by trying to swing a bat that is too heavy for him.

    The most important thing is that he enjoys himself, though. If by his body language he's telling you he's not having fun, quit and try another day. It's such a wonderful thing to play catch with your kids, though. I know. I'm addicted.
    Last edited by Red Leader; 05-25-2007 at 03:27 PM.
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  4. #3
    1st pick 2022 B.B. draft George Foster's Avatar
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    Re: 4 year old

    I would suggest you watch some baseball with him. I know he won't watch a whole game, but a couple of innings is great. You could explain plays to him, and point out how they are running to first, throwing the ball back to the pitcher, etc.

    I learned the game by watching a lot of baseball.
    Not this year...maybe a Wild Card

  5. #4
    Manliness Personified HumnHilghtFreel's Avatar
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    Re: 4 year old

    I'm close with my nephews and I watch them a lot. I've been showing one of them who's a little older than your son the nuances of the game. He got a new glove the other day and I went out and threw him some low underhand pop-ups and bounced him some grounders.

    I made sure to teach him to keep his glove down with a hand over it, like a venus fly trap and showed him how to shuffle his feet.

    For as young as he is, he caught on pretty quickly.

    My oldest nephew is in second grade and likes to try to take my head off hitting the wiffle ball back at me.

    I actually look forward to when they're a little older, as I've always wanted to try my hand at coaching.

  6. #5
    I hate the Cubs LoganBuck's Avatar
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    Re: 4 year old

    My oldest just started T Ball this year. I watched the first game last weekend. It was painful. My son played short and first base. We learned four things last week:

    1. Don't knock other kids down trying to get to the ball first.
    2. When playing first don't stand on the base waiting for the ball. Opposing baserunners would get there and stop before touching the base.
    3. Wait to swing the bat until after coach moves his head away.
    4. The correct order to run the bases is 1st 2nd 3rd Home then dugout. Not 1st 2nd 3rd Dugout.
    The Sox traded Bullfrog the only player they've got for Shottenhoffen. Four-eyes Shottenhoffen a utility infielder. They've got a whole team of utility infielders.

  7. #6
    Just The Big Picture macro's Avatar
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    Re: 4 year old

    gonelong, I can't believe you just posted this thread! My son will be four in August, and just yesterday I was thinking of making a very similar post. So, thanks for taking the lead!

    His play has been much less structured than yours. We haven't done any fielding, and although he has an accurate (if inconsistent) throw, I haven't really coached him on it. I've also had problems getting him to use proper batting stance. My dad said not to worry too much about it at this age, but rather to let him get used to making contact.

    He had been playing with the plastic stuff until Monday of this week, when I broke out the t-ball model aluminum bat and rubber t-balls. The results weren't nearly as good, and he got frustrated. I'm not sure now whether to stick with it or return to the plastic stuff.

    Anyway, I'll be looking forward to seeing what is said in this thread.

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: 4 year old

    Two words: Tom Emanski.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

  9. #8
    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: 4 year old

    No underhand pitching. Throw it slow, get down on a knee, but never underhand.
    Talent is God Given: be humble.
    Fame is man given: be thankful.
    Conceit is self given: be careful.

    John Wooden

  10. #9
    This one's for you Edd Heath's Avatar
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    Re: 4 year old

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDY IN CHAR NC View Post
    No underhand pitching. Throw it slow, get down on a knee, but never underhand.
    Exactly right - wait until they graduate to beer league softball. Plenty of time to hit that slow stuff.....

    I'm 6'5. My 5 yr old is a normal 5 yr old size. I stand and he hits what I pitch him. It's overhand.
    Some people play baseball. Baseball plays Jay Bruce.

  11. #10
    Member Highlifeman21's Avatar
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    Re: 4 year old

    Reinforce in the young lad that making outs are bad, acquiring bases is good.

  12. #11
    I hate the Cubs LoganBuck's Avatar
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    Re: 4 year old

    Quote Originally Posted by Highlifeman21 View Post
    Reinforce in the young lad that making outs are bad, acquiring bases is good.
    Also strikeouts ==== not so bad
    The Sox traded Bullfrog the only player they've got for Shottenhoffen. Four-eyes Shottenhoffen a utility infielder. They've got a whole team of utility infielders.

  13. #12
    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
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    Re: 4 year old

    Thanks for the input. We do watch some games together, but he doesn't seem all that interested in them on TV. Who can blame him with what his Dad watches? He'll watch a few batters and I'll try to get him one nugget of info when I have his attention.

    I found a thin wiffle ball bat in the attic yesterday, so after trimming the bushes this morning we gave it a try. He adjusted to it pretty quickly, though couldn't hit it as far. I think I am going to go out and see if I can find a T-Ball bat to get him started.

    He made me laugh today as he initiated a ground ball drill today while we were waiting for Mom to get ready ... brought me a ball and asked for some grounders in the living room. Ha Ha.

    I'd say he is a chip off the old block, but that'd be a lie. His old man's focus was always on hitting the ball.

    RIC, why no underhand? I think I have stumbled on this myself and have been tossing to him moslty with an overhand flip on bended knee, but I am interested in why you feel this way.

    GL

  14. #13
    Member Highlifeman21's Avatar
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    Re: 4 year old

    Quote Originally Posted by LoganBuck View Post
    Also strikeouts ==== not so bad
    I thought that was a given.... universally understood.

  15. #14
    Member Highlifeman21's Avatar
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    Re: 4 year old

    Quote Originally Posted by gonelong View Post
    Thanks for the input. We do watch some games together, but he doesn't seem all that interested in them on TV. Who can blame him with what his Dad watches? He'll watch a few batters and I'll try to get him one nugget of info when I have his attention.

    I found a thin wiffle ball bat in the attic yesterday, so after trimming the bushes this morning we gave it a try. He adjusted to it pretty quickly, though couldn't hit it as far. I think I am going to go out and see if I can find a T-Ball bat to get him started.

    He made me laugh today as he initiated a ground ball drill today while we were waiting for Mom to get ready ... brought me a ball and asked for some grounders in the living room. Ha Ha.

    I'd say he is a chip off the old block, but that'd be a lie. His old man's focus was always on hitting the ball.

    RIC, why no underhand? I think I have stumbled on this myself and have been tossing to him moslty with an overhand flip on bended knee, but I am interested in why you feel this way.

    GL
    Also, teach him to be a lefty, and once he's of suitable age, teach him some breaking stuff.

    There's a great market for lefty pitchers between the ages of 20 and 43, it seems.

  16. #15
    Just The Big Picture macro's Avatar
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    Re: What are the best techniques for teaching baseball to a four-year-old?

    gl, I edited your thread title in hopes that it might attract the attention of some who may have overlooked it last week.

    Here's a question that I don't think has been answered: At a little less than four years old, which is more important - to enforce a proper swing, even if it frustrates him, or to just let him hit the ball and have fun? At what age does teaching and enforcing a proper swing, even if it causes frustration and conflict, become essential?

    My son has a good stance, but uses a sort of hacking swing. He makes contact, but only when I throw it in on his hands, right where I know he's going to swing. Anything outside that small area, he will miss. Is this something that will be hard to unlearn later, even at this young age?


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