Fielding - Youngest
I coach a 5-8 year old novice team. What is the best thing to teach kids at this age regarding throwing (not pitching) the ball? There are different opinions in the league regarding this. Some say teach to throw with the arm straight, others are saying bend the elbow. Which is the proper way to get distance and accuracy as a fielder.
AThere's a big difference in mechanics between a well-executed outfielder's windmill/crow-hop throw and, say, a catcher's short-arm step-through throw. But there are some common factors that are important for distance and accuracy that need to be learned first.
1. Grip the seams. Work with your young players on finding the seams as they reach into their glove for the ball. They can practice this solo - have them throw the ball into their own glove, reach in and find seams with their fingertips.
2. Line up the body. Young kids tend to start out trying to throw with their bodies facing the target. Get them to keep the back foot back and the front foot towards the target.
3. Throw straight over the top. Make sure your kids aren't side-arming. You want the forearm to be in a nearly vertical plane as the arm arcs past the head (whether the elbow is extended or at 90 degrees.) This is for accuracy.
4. Get some back spin. A little flick of the fingers (on those seams) on release will give the ball backspin for lift without drift.
Now, the bent elbow question. At this age most kids will play most positions. I would first teach aim and accuracy over pure distance, so keep the elbow at or just slightly above the shoulder - no windmills.
QRelays from Four Outfielders
7-8 Little League w/4 outfielders; situation @defense w/man on 1st: with the ball hit out on the ss side to far left field, send the ss to cover 2nd base, the left center position becomes relay/cutoff, 2nd baseman backs up throw. Ball hit to left center, ss to 2nd, left fielder becomes relay/cutoff, same straight-line positioning. Use the same outfield positioning if the ball is hit out on the 2nd baseman's side (to right field),except the 2nd baseman covers the bag, ss backs up throw. Has any one ever tried this? Thanks.
AI'm sure it's been tried. And I'm also sure it might work. BUT (and it's a big but - actually 2 big buts)...
What we learn first sticks with us longest. And remember your young charges will move onward and upward into three-outfielder baseball - then what. They will have a useless coverage pattern drilled into them.
There'as also another reason that it might not be a good idea... It's best even at an early age to teach infielders to react to the direction of the hit. After all, on a ball to left field the SS's first responsibility is to try to get to the ball itself - then you're asking him to reverse directions to get all the way to second. Likewise the second baseman, if moving in the direction of the hit will naturally move to second base - why make him stand still?
QYoung Short Armers
I am a 8 year old baseball coach and I have three kids who are good for their ages but they short-arm the ball when they throw it.
AMy favorite tip for young players is to use simple phrases that are easy to remember... 'thumb to thigh then circle to the sky'. This will get them with theior hand over the ball to start, and a circle back to the launch position - should help open up the elbow to more than a right angle. Also work with them on 'shoulder to target' and 'squish the bug' with the back foot - so the body starts to make the throw and the circling arm follows. Don't do all this in one practice - separate sessions, be patient.