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Scared At The Plate

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#1 CoachJohnD



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Posted 30 April 2010 - 05:35 AM

I coach a rec. team. Mostly 10 year olds with a few 9's and a few 11's. I have 3 kids (two 10's and one 9) who are not swinging the bats. 1 of which is really afraid. In the batting cage they are fine. Get them up against live kid pitching and they are pretty much frozen. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get them over this?


#2 hollad6636



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Posted 30 April 2010 - 06:05 PM

Coach John,

That is a tough one and it takes time and patience. One of the things you need to incorporate into your practice is a hitting station for hit by pitch. We call the station that and we sit down and talk with the kids and let them know that it is part of baseball because its not an if event but a when event or a reality of baseball. Most kids play dodge ball and love it. So in our talk we usually talk about how this is comparable to dodge ball only a little easier because the ball is smaller and the distance is greater than in dodge ball. This always seems to build a little confidence in them right from the start.

We feel that getting out of the way of a pitch is a fundamental "hitting skill" that all players need to learn in order to play baseball safely. In order to master this skill and develop confidence in the batters box, they must practice this skill just like they would any other fundamental skill that they need to learn.

We start off using tennis balls until they have developed some skill in evading the pitch. It is important they they turn away from the pitch while trying to evade it as there is going to be much less damage to a child on the shoulder or back than if they try and jump back and it hits them in the face.

I think if you implement this in your practices you will start to see a big change at the plate. Remember the idea here is to build confidence in their ability to evade

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

#3 Husker Fan

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 09:21 PM


That is common particulary in kids that haven't faced kid pitching before. I incorporate kid pitching against the batters in practices and in the cages to get them used to seeing this as much as possible. For example, in the cages, if we have two sides, we typically would have a coach throw BP on one side and a kid throwing BP on the other (there is a coach in the cage with him) and have batters hit from both cages. In practices outside the cage, we would have a batting station and incorporate a kid pitching. For example, have the kid throw 3 or 4 pitches and then the coach steps in to throw several pitches. Also, are you teaching bunting? At this age my teams were taught to bunt and this makes them turn and face the pitch which may help. Also, you didn't mention it but are the kids bailing out of the box or just not swinging? If it is not swinging, during BP with kid pitching start them out at 1 strike and they only get 3 or the next kid rotates in. Incentive to makes them swing. Even a swing at a bad ball is a start.

When we work with pitchers, one of the drills we use to get the pitchers used to batters is to have a kid stand at the plate but not swing or swing without a bat. This also helps the batters as they are seeing the ball and we have them call out if the pitch was a ball or a strike.

Good Luck

Husker Fan

#4 vshouse



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Posted 11 May 2010 - 09:22 AM

I coach a rec. team. Mostly 10 year olds with a few 9's and a few 11's. I have 3 kids (two 10's and one 9) who are not swinging the bats. 1 of which is really afraid. In the batting cage they are fine. Get them up against live kid pitching and they are pretty much frozen. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get them over this?


Coach John,
I've been coaching both leauge ball and select ball for over ten years now, when I get a kid that is afraid I work with them vigorously on bunting, once there comfortable bunting the swinging away part comes easy then.

#5 Coach Dykhoff

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 09:55 PM

First thing you need to do is figure out what is driving the fear. Is the player scared at the plate because he is afraid of getting hit by the pitch (Physical Stressor) or is he scared because he doesn't want to let down the team by striking out swinging (Emotional Stressor). By no means do I have a psychology degree, but I have noticed in youth sports most problems either stem from a Physical or Emotion stressor. Once you find out which group each of your players fall into you will be ale to fix the problem.

If you player falls into the "Physical Stressor" group you will need to work on their fundamentals to get them confident in their playing ability. The other repliers to this thread gave good drills to assist with this problem. If you would like more drills to assist with this feel free to private message me and I will send some material your way.

Now if you player falls into the "Emotional Stressor" group I would recommend you to read: CLICK HERE. This is a good article on how do deal with a player with emotional fears. This is a very touchy subject for someone that does not have a psychology degree but you can do your best to assist you player in copeing with this fear.

I hope this helps.
Coach Dykhoff of the Westminster Yankees (13-14)
Westminster Optomist Baseball Association
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Posted 23 September 2010 - 02:15 PM

A very common problem and I've seen it on my rec teams and travel teams over the years. Bottom line is you need to give the players a skill to ensure they are prepared to get out of the way of the ball if it's coming at them. Teaching them how to get out of the way correctly will usually give them confidence going forward to stand in and hit. Here is what I do:

1. Assume right handed batter. reverse for left handed.
2. Teach them the minute they see a ball coming toward them to turn to their right ducking their head and placing the end of the bat on the ground behind them. What I'm saying is they quickly turn to the right and teaching them to put the end of the bat on the ground will automatically make them bend over.
3. The player should now have his back to the pitcher and is bent over.
4. The players back is also at an angle so if he does get hit the ball will most likely just glance off the back and hit the screen. That obviously will hurt much less than if hit straight on.
5. Teaching kids to jump back out of the way is a sure fire way to get them hit very hard and keep them from standing in to hit.
This could be a little confusing to explain in an email so please reply back if you need further clarificaion. You might also check out other baseball coaching tips at our website: Youth Baseball InsiderMy link

#7 ProSwingBaseball



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Posted 11 October 2011 - 11:03 AM

Progressional hitting is another great approach. If you're working with a certain hitter, start slow and work up to it.

1.) Start off a Tee... about 10 swings.
2.) Move to front toss, they shouldn't be afraid at this point. Distance: about 15-20 feet.
3.) Move L-Screen back about 10 feet and start throwing SLOWLY overhand, if they aren't scared at this point then you can gradually move back every 10-15 pitches. If they ARE scared, slow down velocity so they can get used to it.

Note: It's the arm angle that is frightening. A right batter facing a righty pitcher can be afriad because the ball is released from behind the hitter's head and his line of vision. It crosses over the plate but the fear of seeing a throwing arm that's initially in line with their vision can be alarming.

You can do it... perseverance and support with your players!