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Re: middle schooler hitting problem


Posted by: skip (piks5@sbcglobal.net) on Mon May 7 09:19:32 2007


> I have an 8th grade player who was crushing the ball in practice. He had a 330' homer his first game but since then has been steadily going downhill. Main problem is he's now hitting routine pop flys for easy out to the center fielder-not line driving anymore at all. I'm not a coach, just a dad who is trying to help a frustrtaed son. What are some common mistakes I need to look for to help him out? Thanks
> Ernie

Ernie,
First thing is, does he really even have a "main problem" (ie, has he lapsed into a fault in his approach or his swing) or has he just had a few bad at-bats when maybe he wasn't really concentrating, or had the bad luck to have been fooled or forced by the count to take swings at tough pitches by a pitcher who happened to be either lucky/good at that moment.?
Let's compare kids to MLB. MLB hitters can go 0-10 or 0-20, but because of their track record and the long season (500-600 at-bats) they don't have to panic, and neither does their mgr.
But if kids on a M.S. team go 0-5, they and their dads start sweating, the parents of kids who are on the bench start licking their chops, and their coach is thinking maybe he needs someone else in the lineup.(unless, for whatever reason --- good resume, or has the appearance of being a great hitter, or has influential parents, etc.) the boy is on the "protected list".

I've been through this as a coach (travel) and a dad. It can't be helped, it's the reality of competetive school baseball where every at- bat is an "audition" in a season where there's not all that many games or at-bats to prove yourself, or "turn things around" if you have the misfortune of going 0 for 4.

Approach: remind your son that he should try to stay with whatever approach has worked for him in the past. For instance, if he's a great bad ball hitter, but has been asked to be selective, maybe indecision is making him a bit late in getting the barrel through the zone. If he's normally selective, maybe he's feeling he has to be a free swinger to avoid getting to 2-strike counts which might result in a strikeout that could put his playing time in jeopardy.

(One of my sons was an powerful AND selective hitter for 6 yrs in All=stars, where he knew his batting position was secure, but was a free-swinger in middle school, where he felt that he had to hit the ball (avoid BB or K's) in order to continually prove himself to coaches who didn't know him, ie., no track record).

The swing: As this site make very clear, the only real way to see if his swing has developed a glitch is to go to Costco [my advice] buy a $300 mini-DV camcorder, hide in the woods and tape his at=bats, and replay them in slo-mo. Live real-time swings are just a blur.

But maybe his approach and swing are fine, and he's just going through a "temporary unfortunate period", ie, mini slump, caused by bad luck and a few tough pitches and/or bad swings that mean nothing.

While you're puzzling this out under the pressure of the limited a.b./short season scenario, the best advice you can give him is tried and true: Go up to the plate looking to hit the ball hard up the middle.

I hope this helps,
Skip


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