Hitting kid pitch diificulty

My son is right handed and bats lefty. He used to hit from both sides but clearly prefers lefty to the point where during machine pitch last year he hit strictly lefty with a lot of contact and success. He just turned nine and is in kid pitch for the first time. It is still beginning of season (so no panic) but is struggling making contact. Strikeouts are adding up (I know this is common). Between inconsistent pitching and walks and a lot of foul tips putting him in hole a lot. I tell him him just to stay aggressive and try to swing at good pitches. He hits my pitches at batting practice well. We have worked on keeping hands and weight back on the slower pitches, and getting into hitting position early on the faster ten year olds with some success. Still hits a lot of pulled fouls, putting him into bad counts.

Any suggestions aside from patience and practice? 

Original Post

Tough to comment with out seeing his swing.  And I am sure you will get a couple dozen daddy experts just like me making all kinds of adjustments and changes.  If he is pulling a lot of balls, sounds like he is not letting the ball get deep.  continue to soft pitch to him and explain and work very hard on allowing the ball to get much deeper in the strike zone.  That is something ANY one should do hitting a ball.  But with him pulling the ball, it would help to start having him get to understand the concept.

Keep soft tossing to him though.  Keep working that hand eye contact.  Have him drive the knob.  If your unsure of how to correct his swing, there are a ton of hitting clinics that are perfect for a 9 year old.  But as a dad, stay positive.  If you get frustrated, so will your 9 year old.  Believe me.  I have learned a few things from mistakes as a father coaching his kid.  

 

He's 9?  Stop worrying and take him out for an ice cream after the game. Do not rehash or talk about the game while eating the ice cream.

Seriously it's not worth worrying about right now. He is adjusting to the inconsistency of kids pitching. He most likely just needs some time to adjust.  The less pressure you put on him the quicker he will figure it out. 

Agreed. We always keep it positive, and I never talk about hitting techniques with him. Just throw ball to him and let him hit. I know it will come around, just got some advice about a year ago on this site that helped. We eat a lot of ice cream after the game. Thanks for the reminder.

The first year or two of kid pitch can be painful to get through for both parents and kids.  Pitching is frequently terrible and hittable pitches can be few and far between.  Keep it fun in as many ways as possible.  It gets better from that point forward.  Not time for game hitting analysis.

At about your son's age we got something called a "hit-a-way" that we tied to the basketball goal so he could practice on his own.  Son is a righty, but he started hitting left on his own terms, just playing around.  It helped hand-eye coordination and dad didn't always have to take him to the field to hit.  Something like this:

http://www.dickssportinggoods....16slzuhtwybsbllxxtra

Son wound up being a switch hitter in high school and college

I remember part of the difficulty was the angle and speed of the ball.   Sounds like your son has the ability to hit faster straighter pitches off you.  Well those are coming from 45' away at 6-6.6' high and I would guess in mostly a straight line.  9YO pitching - as mentioned - is wildly inconsistent - probably closer to modified pitch softball where the ball starts at 4' and has an arc to the path.    At that age, I used to sit behind the L screen on a bucket and just lob the balls at the plate.  The one problem with that is then when you get a good pitcher that can throw "heat" (or what is heat for 9YO)...the timing will be off.  Just enjoy the time you have with him... regardless of the outcome.  At some point hanging with dad isn't gonna be cool.

he isn't hitting...do search, get him in the cage, make sure he is hitting everything between 15 and 25 degree launch angles, use your protractor to document results...have you checked the local show case circuit? get him in front D1 recruiters before he turns 12...if he is gonna make the MLB by 18 you are in jeopardy of falling behind schedule!!

Or you could try playing whiffle ball with him in the backyard between practice sessions, making him laugh while you are playing and falling in love with the game itself...have a bunch of his buddies over for all afternoon homerun derbies and whiffle games and burgers when you are finished!! give special bonus runs for bat flip creativity!!

To close to call!!

on a serious note, underhand soft toss off a bucket is great and don't be afraid to throw from knee if you feel you have to throw overhand. T work is underrated, most young kids don't do it...most older kids do it every day...

Flips from the side can help him adjust his eyes for "roughly", where the ball should get to over the plate.  As mentioned above, whiffle ball, is a terrific tool.  Use both standard size and golf ball size so you can adjust speeds on him.  This served as good warmups with my boys, which we could do in any area to get their eyes adjusted and create a level of discipline to stay back and wait for your pitch.  To make it fun and interesting I'd jump in there and let my boys pitch to me...at times laughable.

Besides that, kid pitch is brutal at that age..... it gets to a point where the kids swing high and low just to get a hit.

Two things generally happen around this age.

1. Hand eye coordination. The pitch is no longer coming from the angle of a 6 foot coach and it can mess with kids.  To combat this I would recommend two things, both with wiffle ball and bat.  1. Have HIM toss the ball up and hit it as it's coming down.  This will help him track it far better than you soft tossing to him.  2. As Gov suggested, you stand to the side and toss the ball at him and don't forget his knee area...this will also help him figure out where the ball is while he's swinging.  It's not enough to soft toss when kid pitch begins, he has to have a better connection and feel with the ball than it just coming straight on.  I think you will be surprised at how many he misses the ball that he tosses up himself. Once he is proficient at the wiffle ball concept you can take it to the real baseball concept....but again I strongly recommend HE toss it up and then hit it.

2. His swing may be too complicated.  The younger they are the more moving parts a kid has to his swing....and while that may have looked cool and been fine for coach pitch it can be the death of a kid's swing when they see live pitching.  For example, and this is a true example, batter is standing at the plate, he has his left leg back a good 6 inches from his right leg.  He has his left elbow up so high and back the batter can actually see his barrel of his own bat out of his left eye. He is also crouched down so far he appears about 2.5 feet tall.  By the time the ball got to the plate the kid had to bring his left foot forward, shift his weight back on his right leg, bring his elbow down and pull it forward, and he stood up another 1.5 feet.......all of that movement took a LOT of time and the kid couldn't figure out why he was swinging too late and either fouling or missing the ball entirely.  Well when you have to do 3-5 different things once the ball is released that takes a LOT of time, and time isn't something you have.

Good luck!

hudslefty posted:

My son is right handed and bats lefty. He used to hit from both sides but clearly prefers lefty to the point where during machine pitch last year he hit strictly lefty with a lot of contact and success. He just turned nine and is in kid pitch for the first time. It is still beginning of season (so no panic) but is struggling making contact. Strikeouts are adding up (I know this is common). Between inconsistent pitching and walks and a lot of foul tips putting him in hole a lot. I tell him him just to stay aggressive and try to swing at good pitches. He hits my pitches at batting practice well. We have worked on keeping hands and weight back on the slower pitches, and getting into hitting position early on the faster ten year olds with some success. Still hits a lot of pulled fouls, putting him into bad counts.

Any suggestions aside from patience and practice? 

First year of Kid pitch is exciting...and brutal at the same time.  

"Any suggestions aside from patience and practice?"

Not really. Just keep getting more reps -- off a tee, soft toss, wiffle  balls in the yard -- whatever is available. Anything that tracks pitches. Reps, reps, reps for as long as he's interested. 

 

PlayWithEffort posted:
hudslefty posted:

My son is right handed and bats lefty. He used to hit from both sides but clearly prefers lefty to the point where during machine pitch last year he hit strictly lefty with a lot of contact and success. He just turned nine and is in kid pitch for the first time. It is still beginning of season (so no panic) but is struggling making contact. Strikeouts are adding up (I know this is common). Between inconsistent pitching and walks and a lot of foul tips putting him in hole a lot. I tell him him just to stay aggressive and try to swing at good pitches. He hits my pitches at batting practice well. We have worked on keeping hands and weight back on the slower pitches, and getting into hitting position early on the faster ten year olds with some success. Still hits a lot of pulled fouls, putting him into bad counts.

Any suggestions aside from patience and practice? 

First year of Kid pitch is exciting...and brutal at the same time.  

"Any suggestions aside from patience and practice?"

Not really. Just keep getting more reps -- off a tee, soft toss, wiffle  balls in the yard -- whatever is available. Anything that tracks pitches. Reps, reps, reps for as long as he's interested. 

 

+1

A kid can throw too much, but can't hit too much, IMHO. Hit every day, especially off live pitching. He'll get better.

It's my opinion that 9yr olds shouldn't work on their game.  They should play!  Get creative and turn every drill into a game they play.  Soft toss on an open field.  Set cones and assign points.  Play many games.  Use ghost runners etc..  

Reps are key to hitting.  Just make the reps FUN!  

real green posted:

It's my opinion that 9yr olds shouldn't work on their game.  They should play!  Get creative and turn every drill into a game they play.  Soft toss on an open field.  Set cones and assign points.  Play many games.  Use ghost runners etc..  

Reps are key to hitting.  Just make the reps FUN!  

This is true.

I remember one day I found my two boys playing a game that involved pitching individual Skittles at each other as hard as they could and trying to hit them back where they came. I was sorry I had to put the kibosh on that.

For a long time we played a wiffle ball game in front of the house almost everyday before school. I'd pitch wiffles. A hard grounder that hit the house was a single, a line drive was a double, a ball that went over the roof was a homer.  Everything else was an out, and there was only one out per inning. We'd keep track of imaginary runners after every pitch and keep score. Maybe not as fun as trying to mash a Skittle back at your brother, but darn close.

Shoveit4Ks posted:

Keep him working from both sides of the plate. Son never played machine pitch, we got to enjoy coach pitch until 8 and then on to kid pitch. Always seemed to be a time limit game. Have fun, miss those days for sure. 

Agreed!

The good thing is that he'll hit from his primary side most of the time. 

I purposely made a son swing lefty just in case he ever wanted to switch hit. 

Take the time and focus your sons attention on learning the strike zone - in BP and in the games.  When to lay off, the swing differences (3-1 vs 0-2). Don't worry about calls or results, learn the zone (and when to expand it) - train the swing.

JCG posted:
real green posted:

It's my opinion that 9yr olds shouldn't work on their game.  They should play!  Get creative and turn every drill into a game they play.  Soft toss on an open field.  Set cones and assign points.  Play many games.  Use ghost runners etc..  

Reps are key to hitting.  Just make the reps FUN!  

This is true.

I remember one day I found my two boys playing a game that involved pitching individual Skittles at each other as hard as they could and trying to hit them back where they came. I was sorry I had to put the kibosh on that.

For a long time we played a wiffle ball game in front of the house almost everyday before school. I'd pitch wiffles. A hard grounder that hit the house was a single, a line drive was a double, a ball that went over the roof was a homer.  Everything else was an out, and there was only one out per inning. We'd keep track of imaginary runners after every pitch and keep score. Maybe not as fun as trying to mash a Skittle back at your brother, but darn close.

Perfect!  Great examples of games to play to keep the kids having fun, and by default, improving hand eye coordination.

My boys 2016 & 2018's created a whiffle ball camp business for 6-9 year olds...  They text Mom groups which field-park they'll be at, charge $10/kid, run games for an hour where my boys were the dedicated pitchers, - maybe 4-8 (max) kids, the Moms were busy at the adjacent playground with their younger ones watching..., $10.00 was a no brainer price, their kid was having a private party, fully engaged, and running around till he was exhausted.   They've done it for the past 4 yrs, these  little kids are now entering 11-12U baseball and can hit!  Anyway, just a side bar of having fun and developing ball players (Oh, and create a nice side business, did a few of them a week, put flyers on cars to generate business).  Turned into whiffle ball baseball parties....

 

There are, as expected, a lot of suggestions.  Even one tool who thinks sarcasm is useful. 

In the end most suggestions mean well and it may that particularly posters experience with his son.  

First:  Every hitter is different. Strength, bat speed, experience....   If you asked for a drill to say.... to keep hands from casting you would get more specific suggestions.  In the end with out eyes on, no one can really fix your issue.  From the sounds of it, he is pulling the ball.  For that, let the ball get deep, drive the knob and keep his back elbow connected. Make sure he isn't casting.  There is nothing wrong with trying to correct your sons swing at 9...  temper your expectations but there is no reason to not teach him the correct swing path, etc.  for those trying to act like your trying to get him MLB ready are ridiculous.  Takes a thousand reps to create muscle memory they say.   Why wait till he is ten and has bad habits before correcting them?  Stress the skills and form.  Teach him right so when he finally gets the size and speed and he wants to play at a higher level, he has the skill set.  With out watching your son, no one can really fix but just make suggestions 

We use to hit kernels of corn before a travel game at 12/u and 13/u.  At 9?  Maybe doesn't have the bat control.  As a dad soft toss and Tee work.  And make it fun!  As he gets older record it   So he can see his swing for himself.  And when a coach tells him to not open up and says don't have your head come out...   Does he even know what that means?  Ask him to tell the coach what it means   Be amazed how many kids shake their head yes but aren't follow the verbiage  

 

IMO-  Hope this helps  

 

Thank you to everyone for the abundance of replies. There are some great suggestions, and I found humor in the sarcasm.

To be clear- I am not one of those dads thinking his son is going to the bigs. I have refrained from year round baseball at this time-but he is interested in it as he sees some of his teamates ability that do that. I keep it fun (most of the time)  and My son does a variety of sports besides baseball like Water Polo, surfing, soccer, Jr. Lifeguards- that I only spectate. I do coach his baseball team (and his younger brothers) for a few years now, but like to ask questions on this forum as someone with a lot less knowledge of baseball and see the results.

 He has a particular knack and liking for baseball mentally and physically as he grows into his mighty 62 pound frame. He spends a lot of time doing it so I am seeking optimal ways to have fun and get him to improve. Every answer was helpful and I see some suggestions I can use for him and the rest of kids I coach, that I have not tried.

Again he is 9. I exposed him to hitting from both sides at an early age. He clearly prefers to hit lefty (he is right handed-throws right). It's worked for now. He is actually a little resistant to hitting righty. I like the fun whiffle ideas to incorporate right handed hitting, improve left hitting,  and be able to practice with younger son (different ability level-T-Ball) at same time.

I never discuss hitting technique with him other than asking him to try different things when I think they may help. He has no idea I keep track of his results, and have wife record some at bats from stands. We only discuss his hits and defensive gems after games-over a meal and a treat (Beer for dad). I was not panicking after the slow start and undersatnd the reality of adjusting to wonky kid pitch and umpire strike zones that are inconsistent. Every kid on team is having the same problem.We practice understanding of strike zone, pitch count, bunting, and with two strikes- if you can hit it-swing.

He is very competetive and just started a little slow. He is a catcher and infielder on a good team with almost every kid a year older than him and bats in the 2 hole. I am holding back learning to pitch until overall coordination comes together. Might just leave him as a catcher.-He loves catching-keeps him involved in game.

He started the season (3 games and some scrimmage-very small sample) hitting 2/13 with some hard ground outs, a line out, but 7 K's. He will come around. He is hitting a lot foul balls and tips putting him in the hole. I preach agressiveness with two strikes-cause the umpires have wide zones to move game along.

Thanks to all for the abundance of suggestion. I always get some decent feedback and humor from responses on this site and will continue to ask questions for coaching purposes.

Good luck.  Dont let anyone brow beat you for asking questions!  As long as you AND he are having fun!  Glad to hear that he is a catcher in the making!  We are a catching household here ourselves!  Anything I can do feel free to send me a message!  My son went from third to behind the plate when he was 8!  Never left it.  And I agree! He has ADD and being behind the plate was a way to keep him involved.  He LOVES it.  Takes a special kid to get back their and receive the ball.  To take a foul tip, block a ball with your forearms or ball off the chest, shake it off and then ask for more?  You have to be special!

 

 

You seem to have decent perspective and find value in various POV's so I'm going to push the envelope a bit.  When we are coaching our kids when they are young, we all like to think we have proper perspective and keep things age appropriate, only later to realize we were still a bit over the top.  Most of what you describe says you get it.  But forget about logging stats for a kid just entering kid pitch when the pitching (and everything else) is still really crappy.   

Have "hit ball hard" contests.  Put a semi-deflated basketball or soccer ball on the tee and have the players hit it as far as they can.  (If they don't get thru the ball, it kinda recoils and tells them what to do next time)  In our back yard, a garage with windows faces the lawn.  We played games with somewhat firm foam balls.  We offered every little neighborhood kid that played $5 if they could break a window (man, did they all try to hit the ball hard - and they sorta had to go oppo).   One of my sons is playing his senior college season.  My wife still sends him a pre-game text occasionally ... "break a window".

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