Wednesday, September 17, 2008

From a Coach to the Parents:

This fall, I've been helping with a Fall League Prospect team. I was shocked at the lack of defensive skills. They didn't make an inordinate number of errors but they didn't make very many plays either. They didn’t know how to properly start or turn DP’s. I don’t think I saw anyone go to his backhand, field the ball, plant and throw. I have yet to see an infielder charge a ball and throw on the run. The outfielders took bad angles to balls and couldn't go back on flies.

Why is this? I contend that although parents spend thousands of dollars on private hitting and pitching instruction, they don’t get defensive instructions. Everyone is told when the kids are young, they must be allowed to play all the positions but none of them learn how to play “A” position. No one has taken them to a field and hit hundreds of balls to them at “A” position. No one has shown them proper techniques on various different situations that arise and then drilled them. You probably have all the knowledge necessary to teach any player ALL the defensive skills necessary at each position. I have taken our son to the field and hit him dozens of balls at shortstop. He did reps on each kind of play, to his right, to his left, charging and throwing on the run, starting and turning DP’s. If he started booting a few we would start over fielding simple 2-hoppers to regain confidence. Never practice failure. At the end of a session, I would tell him to feel free to “put some mustard” a few. By this I meant to be creative and “hot dog” a few. This is fun and what is important isn’t that proper mechanics be utilized, but that sometimes the play must be made as the circumstances dictate. This might mean a whirling 360 on a ball fielded way up the middle, a leaping “Jeter” in the hole or a flip behind the back to start the DP on a chop up the middle fielded in front of the bag. These plays were seldom ever called for in games but they are FUN to practice!

BTW, you are going to need a fungo bat to hit your young ballplayer quality defensive reps. Stop using his 29 inch bat! You are denting an expensive bat and look like a dork!

Catching skills are particularly important. Spend the time to help your young ballplayers to be quality defensive players. Seek out the knowledge necessary to train your young ballplayer in all the skills of the game.

There is more to defense than just catching the ball. He must make PLAYS!

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