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Thread: Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

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    .377 in 1905 CySeymour's Avatar
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    Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

    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 2-2 to Woodsen and here it comes...and it is swung on and missed! And Tom Browning has pitched a perfect game! Twenty-seven outs in a row, and he is being mobbed by his teammates, just to the thirdbase side of the mound.

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    Re: Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

    Quote Originally Posted by BigKlu View Post
    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?
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    .377 in 1905 CySeymour's Avatar
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    Re: Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

    Quote Originally Posted by Slyder View Post
    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.
    ...the 2-2 to Woodsen and here it comes...and it is swung on and missed! And Tom Browning has pitched a perfect game! Twenty-seven outs in a row, and he is being mobbed by his teammates, just to the thirdbase side of the mound.

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

    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.
    Last edited by Johnny Footstool; 06-13-2011 at 11:17 AM.
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    Re: Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

    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.

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    .377 in 1905 CySeymour's Avatar
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    Re: Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

    Quote Originally Posted by BuckWild03 View Post
    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.
    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 2-2 to Woodsen and here it comes...and it is swung on and missed! And Tom Browning has pitched a perfect game! Twenty-seven outs in a row, and he is being mobbed by his teammates, just to the thirdbase side of the mound.

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    Re: Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

    Quote Originally Posted by BigKlu View Post
    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.
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    Re: Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

    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!

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    Re: Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

    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.
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    Re: Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

    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.
    Last edited by Spitball; 06-14-2011 at 04:43 PM.
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    Re: Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

    Quote Originally Posted by Spitball View Post
    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.
    Last edited by Johnny Footstool; 06-14-2011 at 05:28 PM.
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    Re: Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Footstool View Post
    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.
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    Re: Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

    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.
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    Re: Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Leader View Post
    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.
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    Puffy's Daddy Red Leader's Avatar
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    Re: Youth hitters hitting fast pitchers

    Quote Originally Posted by Spitball View Post
    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.
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