Catching Fly Balls
I have coached for nearly 20 years, at nearly every level except MLB…And in that time, I have said this to countless numbers of people. I get the same puzzled look from each and every one of them, each and every time that I say it. With youth players, the hardest thing to teach them to do is catch a baseball.
Give me 99% of youth players under age 8.
-99 times out of 100, I can teach them to throw.
-99 times out of 100, I can teach them to hit.
-99 Times out of 100, I can teach them to field.
The one thing that absolutely drives me crazy, and gives me nightmares is the thought of teaching a young player how to catch a baseball.
Doesn’t seem to make sense when most people say that hitting a baseball is the toughest thing to do in sports. But that is later in life, when the pitching has reached a certain level.
Why is this so tough? There is so much brain-based judgement that is involved…So much more than with any other skill area of baseball. Youth players must learn to judge a fly ball, and more importantly, trust that judgement in order to not wear a baseball in the face. That is a lot to ask of a young player. And there must be a bit of fearlessness with the player, or you will never see results with catching a baseball. If they are afraid of the ball…Forget it until this changes, or you will drive yourself to quit coaching and start drinking.
When we roll a ball to a baby/toddler, they usually get in front of it and try to stop it, or at least slow it down. Adding air under the ball adds a whole different dimension. The eagerness often turns into confusion or fear of the unknown. They are afraid to wear it in the face…And as they get a little