Q. Coaching: The greatest drill I can remember
A. I talked with a parent the other day who was discouraged about his son's performance on the baseball field. The kid is 13, and he is good at other sports. He couldn't understand why his athletic son was having trouble hitting, catching, and throwing the baseball in the games.
I explained: Baseball is different than most sports in that it takes more than just athleticism and aggression to play. There is a great amount of hand-eye coordination that is required and a certain level of fearlessness necessary in order to be successful.
What drills should I be doing with him?
My suggestion: Don't ask your son to come outside with you so you guys can work on some drills. Ask him to play catch. Just play some father-son catch. As he gains confidence and he's catching the ball, start to challenge him with some pop flies. Start out easy to let him experience success and gain confidence. Gradually throw the ball higher and higher. Also try throwing some wiffle balls at him and let him crank away. Give him different points for hitting the ball different places (past the tree, over the bush, to the sidewalk, etc.).
I remember my dad teaching my brother and me how to dive for balls. He didn't give us any pointers or explain any drill, he taught us a game. He wet down the grass in the back yard and created the game called "NEVER". He'd throw us challenging pop flies that might require a dive. Every ball we caught, we got a point. Right before he'd throw the ball up he'd look at us and say, "You'll never get this one." Oh yes we did, and we could have made the web gem defensive highlights on ESPN at the age of 7 if there were cameras filming us sliding across that wet grass. My brother and I would beg my dad to play NEVER. We were diving maniacs. That was the greatest "drill" I ever did with my dad. My second favorite drill was home run derby on the tennis courts with tennis balls.
Note: If you want your kid to have success on the field, it is more important for him to fall in love with the game than it is for him to go do drills when you tell him to. If you can get him to love baseball, you won't be able to keep him from going outside and practicing or playing. Find a way to make it fun.
Brian Berger, ABC Holiday Camp Director, Owner of Youth Baseball Edge