Do's and Don'ts of Working with Young Ballplayers

- The quest for a great throw


Those who have found their way to this site , including myself, all share a common goal.  We want to maximize the success of the children we coach or parent.  That said, it is very difficult to make real progress with young children, improve skills, practice while keeping attention spans, and fight the through our own inner emotion (namely frustration and desire for instant gratification) while trying to help them.   We want them to be naturals and whip the baseball, when typically they throw like young kids learning how to throw.  We want them to practice until they get it right and we can make instant significant improvements, when in reality they lose attention after awhile and want to do something else that's fun at that moment.  We want them to be better than the other kids and find themselves on a glide slope to the high school team (alright, maybe not everyone is thinking this, but I know many are...even if its just a hope in the back of our minds).  Here are some tips on what to do to help them and maximize success without ruining relationships and making regretful mistakes.


Advice on the Do's 

  • Remember that time is on your side.  All progress will take time.  Throwing mechanics, accuracy and velocity will not change over night.  I had a young pitcher who struggled to throw strikes (like most) and now he's throwing strikes and 65 mph at age 11.  This took time, a lot of practice, and whole bunch of father / son time, which has provided great memories.
  • Start early and show interest yourself.  When children are very young, Dad is superman and Mom is the center of the universe.  They are interested in what you're interested in, so make sure to make time for baseball (and many other things) with them.
  • Keep it fun!  The more fun they have playing baseball, even if its just fun sports time in the backyard, the more they'll want to do it.  If we make it like a chore or fill the time with criticism, it will not help the cause.  Who wants to do chores or be criticized?
  • Incorporate the throwing drills, like the ones in the mechanics section on this site.  There are many resources to help with this.  Encourage good form.  Incorporate high praise for any and all aspects that are done correctly.  Work up to where they warm up with the drills before they play, even if your horsing around for fun.
  • Continue to highlight the positive (keeping it fun) and encourage areas for improvement, one at time.  


Don'ts

  • If you find yourself critiquing continuously, stop and try to keep it fun.  I've seen this push kids away from the game time and again.
  • Don't work on improvements without positive reinforcement first, even if your stretching to compliment them on one thing or another, do so.
  • Don't lose your temper.  What example would this set for them?
  • Don't get discouraged if they are not the best player.  Time is on your side, and puberty will be a big reset switch for everyone.
  • Don't stop working in the drills (like those on this site).  They work over time and I've seen them help kids tremendously over the course of a season if done correctly.
  • Don't keep blurting out comments on all the different things they need to improve.  This confuses them.  Work on one or two things at a time.


Goals

  • Spending quality time with them doing something you both like.
  • Having them learn the game  and form... progress enough to make a travel team.   There are so many teams now, anyone that continues to practice will find baseball somewhere.  Travel teams help keep it fun, encourage good form, encourage learning, and they make friends and have competitive fun.  Do this as early as possible as kids will progress dramatically over the course of each season.
  • ​Maximize their potential realizing everyone has a different maximum potential.  There are 7 million youth baseball players in the US, a fraction will make to high school (fairly attainable), a small fraction will make it to college (much harder), and hardly any will make it to MLB.  So with that in mind, a reasonable goal is to help them be good enough to play as they grow up and make memories doing so with a positive coach / parent that helps them maximize their potential (which is of course total domination....kidding, sort of). 

Baseball Throw 101

For Teaching Young Players who are Learning how to Throw!