|7-10 yr olds - The Formative Years|
Many baseball experts will say that these years are the most critical for developing proper fundamentals. It is true that these are vital years in the development of a young player, but your child can excel at baseball if they haven't played during or prior to these years.
If your child is just starting baseball at this age, now is the perfect time to teach the proper fundamentals. Kids at this age have begun to develop a certain sense of coordination and with proper instruction can become very effective at baseball. This will certainly help them enjoy the game more.
7-8 yr olds
Many youth leagues will have a coach or machine pitch for 7-8 year olds or a league might run a "graduated" T-ball scenario. Either way it is a good place to start but it can be difficult for a young player adjusting to hitting a moving ball. If the coach pitching (it could be underhand) can't find the plate, the young hitter may get frustrated.
A good suggestion if you are a coach pitching at this level, get down on one knee as you pitch and ideally throw overhand softly, not underhand. This helps the player identify the ball from a level closer to his eye level.
The main objective at this age is to grow their enthusiasm for the game. Hitting a moving baseball is very difficult to do, especially for a 7-8 year old who may have never played. Be patient AND positive at all times.
Make sure you take them to the fields to watch older kids play. Tell them they will be that good one day. Be positive, build their confidence and they will grow as players!
Play catch with your child, whenever you get a chance. If you haven't played before, it's alright! You both can learn together! Get a plastic bat and ball (wiffle ball) and pitch the ball to your child, and let them pitch to you too! The more they play the better they will become at the game.
As they learn to throw intruct them to keep their elbow high when they throw. This will help them learn proper throwing mechanics at an early age. Building the proper muscle memory at an early age will help them enjoy the game much more.
You will build wonderful memories with your child. Enjoy this time!
9-10 yr olds
Typically this is the age where youth baseball players begin pitching to each other. This presents its own set of challenges. Finding pitchers is a constant challenge at this level. My recommendation is to let EVERY kid on the team try pitching.
Do this at practice first, coming in to pitch for the first time in a game can be intimidating and downright scary for a young player. You might find a pitcher you never thought existed. Remember that at this level the most important thing is to throw strikes. If they can get it over the plate, they can pitch!
It's important to teach proper fundamentals at this age. Proper fundamentals will allow them to really grow as ball players. When they are younger, they may not remember the fundamentals as easily, but at this age they do. As a matter of fact, they are eager to learn.
This is still a great time to play catch and wiffle ball with your child. They may be better than you at this stage, but that's alright! Remember this is for them, not you!
Nurture their interest with positive support and encouragement and you will be amazed at their growth. They will learn to love the game.
Take them to a high school baseball game and let them watch the big kids. They should really enjoy this and bombard you with questions about the game.