Common Baseball Fielding Question
My son will not get in front of ground balls or under fly balls when fielding. What to do?
Helping kids overcome fear of the ball, when fielding, as with when batting, is a top coaching goal with young, inexperienced baseball players; as kids, who fail to overcome that fear, have little chance of advancement up to higher levels of baseball.
Baseball Fielding Suggestions to Help Fearful Players
- Adults must realize that a ball hurts when hit by it, so fear in inexperienced players is common.
- Great patience is necessary as constantly telling young players to be unafraid and to” stay in there” is not the solution.
- Making a big point of their fear to them, and to others, is usually counter-productive because kids do not want to believe they are scared of the ball, even when they are.
- The best solution is to use a much softer ball until great confidence comes. For very young players, a “Nerf” type ball is great, at first, especially for getting under pop-ups. A tennis, whiffle or similar lighter weight ball is the way to begin for young kids, so that when they miss balls, they will not experience the pain, as when hit by a hard ball. It only takes one blow by a hard ball to create fear that they may never recover from. Additionally, use of this lightweight ball allows coaches to challenge players more, so they are ready for the speeds they will get in games.
- Practice with a softer ball should begin with line drive balls and fly balls, flipped, or thrown, at very short distances. Additionally, in order to get the effect of balls coming on a direct line, coaches should set on a knee and flip balls on an upward path towards the catcher. Throwing balls with an arc is not realistic for catching game like throws, for learning the correct glove work and for building the necessary confidence.
Other Baseball Fielding Tips for the Fearful
- Ground ball practice should begin at short distances and with rolled balls, and not with batted balls, as that is less intimidating to kids. Coaches should insist that male players wear a protective cup at all practices and games.
- Having players put full catching gear on for throwing and fielding practice is extreme, but may work for the some fearful players.
Gradually teaching and stressing the correct fielding footwork is necessary, also, without forcing it, until players build fielding confidence. Finally, players, who display a good amount of fear of the ball, by always steeping to the side of the ball, should be not play positions most likely to get fast and direct thrown balls. The positions most likely to receive those type throws are catcher and first base.