Coaching your own kid is tough. Coaching 5-year olds is tougher. So, the fact that I’m coaching my OWN 5-year old after building Dugout Captain for the last three years couldn’t be more perfect. For you…
Finally time to practice what I preach, and see our practice plans applied to “real life.” I can tell you this much, there are a lot of adjustments that need to be made. I skipped sliding practice that was scheduled for Practice Plan #4(?)… I’ve yet to toss a “fly ball” higher than 10 feet over a kid’s head… and we had to introduce machine-batting-practice way earlier that I had ever planned when I realized that our league uses the spring-loaded pitching machine at age-5.
Quick thought on that, one that I had at today’s practice (Monday, 2/26):
Option #1 – Involve the machine quickly, as painful as it can be, because the kids need to see pitches off the machine – same as they will see in games. Side note: We had less than three weeks of practice before our first game.
Option #2 – Stick to the development cycle of a young hitter, and move from tee –> soft toss –> front toss –> overhand and machine.
I think we may have moved into machine too quickly. The week before our first game, I had this moment: “Holy garbage, we’ve got a game in 6 days! We gotta get that machine out.” And so we started involving the machine into our batting practice stations. We always had a minimum of two other hitting stations, but I don’t think I pushed those other stations through the flow listed above quite nearly enough.
Even if quick, that gradual flow (tee –> soft toss –> front toss –> overhand –> machine) teaches ANTICIPATION. Truly, THAT is the biggest challenge hitting off the machine. How can we assist young athletes to learn to anticipate the pitch coming and thus start their swing appropriately? Well, I made an adjustment on the fly today and changed Heavy Ball Hitting (also a good progression and drill to teach athletes to swing-hard) to involve front toss rather the tee. So, I had my coach toss four wiffle balls underhand, from 15-feet or so directly in front of the hitter, and then put the basketball on the tee for a heavy ball hitting competition.
Alright, I’ve been working on a video blog, trying to capture thoughts and emotions along the way as I experience my first family baseball season. Life is so quick, I’ve got several to share.
Thursday – Final practice before first game, BEFORE thoughts:
Friday – Opening Night:
Saturday – Pre Game Thoughts:
Saturday – Post Game thoughts:
And here’s my final, really long, summary of all that Spring 2018 Coaching Clinics have taught me thus far. Some of the lessons learned overlap with my own team practice experience, but all is relevant to those coaching youth baseball.