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January 15, 2015
Take Away the Fear Factor Card
Remove the ‘fear of failure’.
Do you think a ballplayer will reach their ability ceiling when they are afraid to make a mistake on the ballfield?
Do you want players to play timid and scared?
Do you want players to keep the bat on their shoulder because they are scared to get reprimanded for swinging at a bad pitch? The answers to all these questions would certainly be NO.
Then why can’ t we as youth baseball coaches and parents work to remove the ‘fear of failure’ in our kids? Well, we can only if we know how to communicate to our players. We will have to scrutinize every word that comes out of our mouth (and body language).
Ever hear a coach or parent yell to a hitter up to bat, “Be patient now, don’t help ‘em out—make it be right there—we need base runners (code for I would rather you get a walk).”
Sounds harmless and helpful, right? Wrong! A young batter takes this as, ‘I better be really careful here on this pitch because if I swing at the pitch and it is out of the zone I’m really going to get chewed out.” Do you think this player has any ‘fear of failure’ in their mind? You bet they do!
What if we said instead, “Hey, get it ready and let it fly—give this one your best swing!” Now, what is the player’s ‘fear of failure’ level? Pretty low or non-existent in fact. The player has been released to freely swing the bat without any hint of criticism on the horizon regardless of what happens.
This is how to play baseball. The win-at-all-cost crowd is much more likely to teach kids to play with a constant feeling of the ‘fear of failure’.
player development baseball people teach kids to play baseball. The win-at-all-cost crowd is much more likely to teach kids to play with a constant feeling of the ‘fear of failure’.
2015 TIP: Remove any ‘fear of failure’ when players take the field. Obviously, baseball is a game with a pretty high level of failure anyway. If players have freedom to play without the fear of a tongue lashing after every mistake they will be much more likely to play to their best potential and increase their enjoyment level.
2015 Parent TIP: Avoid the post-game dissection and critique on the ride home. This does nothing but breed more anxiety and ‘fear of failure’ next time out. Tell the kids how much you enjoyed watching them play today (and you love them).
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MLB & USA Baseball New Pitching GuidelinesMLB and USA Baseball just came out with new recommendations for pitchers. They also state some the reasons that pitching injuries are up.
This is a must read for all folks in youth baseball today.
I remember Dr. Andrews, who was one of pioneers in the ‘Tommy John’ surgery, saying what he does to the parents when they come into his office with a young son with a sore arm.
He gives them a marker and a big white board on the wall and tells them to write everything their kid has done in baseball and all their accomplishments up to now. He leaves them and returns to a board full of the problem.
He tells the parents, “This is why you are here. Your kid has pitched and played too much baseball without proper rest and pitch limits.” The new guidelines should go a long way to prevent many arm injuries down the road. MLB & USA Baseball Pitching Guidelines
There is NO Bunting in BaseballIn 12 and under baseball I don’t believe in bunting. It is certainly okay to introduce bunting at this age but in the big scheme of things it all boils down to how well one swings the bat and squaring up on the ball.
Bunting is not the highest priority for this age. The kids have to swing it. If they don’t its game-over and their careers will come to a premature end with a bunch of frustration along the way.
I have been coaching a youth team of 11 year olds this fall and I have not even shown or allowed anyone to bunt yet. Why? I don’t want to waste any time on stuff that will not keep kids in the game. Every at-bat in practice and games is swinging the bat. If they don’t hit---it’s Game-Over.
Plus, who wants to go your whole youth baseball career and never experience the thrill and feel of hitting a ball perfectly on the sweet spot. We faced a kid the other night that walked 4 times and never took a swing the entire game. What good was that but a wasted opportunity to swing-it! No Bunting in Baseball
Push-ups for WalksFYI: I have my players do five pushups if they get a walk. Why? I want them to look to swing at the first available pitch around the plate. It serves no purpose to walk or bunt at this age.
‘Ya, but Dave, kids have to have a good eye at the plate.” I say, “Becoming a hitter who can consistently swing it trumps having a good eye. If a kid has a good eye but cant hit the ball out of the infield then it is Game-Over.
Having a good eye at the plate can wait. The problem always comes back to the baseball parents that want to win more than develop hitters. Walks in youth baseball will help teams win games—but at what cost?
The price is costly because so many kids never get a chance to develop into real good hitters and this is an epidemic around the country. Win-at-all-costs parents have no idea how they are harming kids in having an opportunity to become a good hitter.
This is why I don’t allow bunting or send kids up to get a walk. Swing-it my friends—Swing-it!
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I often use the measuring stick by seeing how many of your ballplayers return to play the next year. Are you helping kids to get better, enjoy the game, and build on the experiences of being a good teammate?
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January 2015 Vol. 129 Additional Topics
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