Playing baseball or softball with your child should be fun, but it can be stressful for any parent since catching using a baseball mitt isn’t something that naturally comes to a child. Instead, it’s a skill that needs to be taught for them to master it. If your kid is joining tee-ball or the little league, or if you’re simply trying to introduce them to a new sport to teach them how to catch correctly to prevent them from getting hurt and enjoy the sport to the fullest—while learning life skills they can bring as they get older.
Here are tips to consider when teaching baseball and softball to kids at home.
When teaching your kid how to play baseball and softball, the most crucial thing to remember is starting slow and steady. You can use a speed pitch radar gun to track the progress by measuring the speed of balls they throw and generally monitoring how more frequently they’re catching the balls—and expand from there.
Use Super Soft Training Baseballs
No matter your child’s age, never start teaching them to play baseball or softball using the sports’ actual balls as it may injure them in the long run. The best way you can teach them is by using soft training tee-balls or tennis balls as these typically have softer cores and are ‘squishy.’ Additionally, using softer balls makes it safer even if you toss it from a couple of feet away.
You’d naturally want to build up your kid’s confidence and let them enjoy the sports, but if the baseball or softball hurts them, it may scare them off from playing the game.
Enforce Pinkies and Thumbs Rule
This rule indicates that balls thrown below the waist need to get caught with pinkies right next to each other. And the ball should get thrown above the waist with the other hand next to the glove for the thumbs rule, leaving the thumbs right next to each other. Teaching your kid to catch this way lets them become more familiar with the movement, helping them correctly catch a baseball or softball.
Know When To Move On to Harder Practices
If you’re going to teach your child how to play baseball or softball, realize that you’re going to need patience—lots of it. In the start, stand only a couple of feet away and lob the ball to your kid or let them hold their gloves out and aim right for the gloves. Doing this increases their confidence and encourages them to participate. After your kid has caught several balls, make it more challenging by standing back a couple more feet away. Additionally, try keeping the ball away from your kid’s face and never forget to praise them when they catch the ball.
Although you’re just playing at home, it’s best to be prepared for any emergencies by having essentials on hand. These items include a fully-stocked first aid kit, extra water, practice plans you have the day for your child, and additional equipment like bats and baseballs.
Choose the Right ‘Drills’
There are several softball and baseball drills that you can let your kids try, but here are the best ones you can do with your child at home.
The Pop Fly
Kids are often apprehensive of catching a baseball since most think it’ll hit and hurt them. That’s why the drill catching ‘pop flies’ is a crucial one, helping kids catch ‘softer balls’ without worrying about getting hurt.
The Squash the Bug
This drill helps you teach a younger child to swing a bat.
Whether you’re looking to introduce your child to the world of baseball or softball or polish up your older kid’s skills in the pitch—following the tips mentioned can help you step up their performance and let them appreciate the sport more.