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Thread: I am having issues teaching my 7 year old son to catch

  1. #1

    I am having issues teaching my 7 year old son to catch

    I am a third year Manager of Training School (T-Ball) age kids and now I am managing 7-8 year olds. I played baseball until I was 22 and was kind of a natural at a young age. I never had any fear issues with baseballs.

    My 7 year old son is in his third year of ball and in not very coordinated and also has a short attention span (don't they all).

    My problem is that he has problems catching the ball. I observe the following:

    1. 75% of the time he does not move or track the ball with his glove. If the ball is slightly away from his body (which I try to do intentionally so he doesn't catch one in the face) he lets the ball fly right past him.
    2. If the ball is coming at him, he flinches, backs away from the ball and/or turns his head as the ball is coming at him.

    I have had him lay on his back and drop balls at him to catch the ball (moderate success), I have gotten really close to him and underhanded tossed to him, used Incrediballs, and he can do ok.

    But at 30 feet distances and beyond, he has the above issues.

    Do you have any suggestions as to how best to correct or train from the tracking and fear issues?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mickey34 View Post
    My problem is that he has problems catching the ball. I observe the following:

    1. 75% of the time he does not move or track the ball with his glove. If the ball is slightly away from his body (which I try to do intentionally so he doesn't catch one in the face) he lets the ball fly right past him.
    2. If the ball is coming at him, he flinches, backs away from the ball and/or turns his head as the ball is coming at him.

    I have had him lay on his back and drop balls at him to catch the ball (moderate success), I have gotten really close to him and underhanded tossed to him, used Incrediballs, and he can do ok.

    But at 30 feet distances and beyond, he has the above issues.
    Have you checked his vision?

    Where are his eyes pointed on balls he misses?

  3. #3
    His vision is fine. He was tested for hearing and vision at school and he was normal.

    He will have issues in the future since his mother and I are near sighted.

    He tends not to watch the ball when coming at him. He sees it thrown to him but allows the ball to keep traveling without moving the glove. I think he figured out that it is easier to pick the ball up after it stops rolling then risk getting hit by it. Come to think of it, he can hit off the tee fairly well, but his swing changes entirely when pitched to him (instead of a slightly down or level swing, he loops the swing regardless of where the ball is).

    But I have noticed in the last week that he simply turns his head away from the ball entirely when it is almost on him and thrown directly to him. He has gotten hit on the body several times because of this.

    He fields grounders fine. His throwing has greatly improved as he is undestanding the mechanics of the throw. Its just I cant have a catch with him without him getting hit and getting frustrated.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mickey34 View Post
    But at 30 feet distances and beyond, he has the above issues.Do you have any suggestions as to how best to correct or train from the tracking and fear issues?Thanks!
    Play pass at 25'. Keep him where he's comfortable tweeking technique. At that age I teach thumbs tips together. Make up games that he can have a good time with. I used to use a point system with my boys (the youngest - now and adult- came home for Easter and we played catch a little with us both laughing while he kept track of his points). we would play dish rag catch in the kitchen. My wife used to make off like she was mad which made it more fun for the boys. 0- for a miss, 1-for a bobble, 2- for a catch. Don't concentrate on technique let him have fun and you'll find he may correct most of his own problems.
    "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jake Patterson View Post
    Play pass at 25'. Keep him where he's comfortable tweeking technique. At that age I teach thumbs tips together. Make up games that he can have a good time with. I used to use a point system with my boys (the youngest - now and adult- came home for Easter and we played catch a little with us both laughing while he kept track of his points). we would play dish rag catch in the kitchen. My wife used to make off like she was mad which made it more fun for the boys. 0- for a miss, 1-for a bobble, 2- for a catch. Don't concentrate on technique let him have fun and you'll find he may correct most of his own problems.
    Thank you! A simple teaching tool like that is something I never would have thought of.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by mickey34 View Post
    Thank you! A simple teaching tool like that is something I never would have thought of.
    My son really benefited from the velcro catch game. I t used a softer tenis ball, but helped with tracking and turning his glove correctly.

  7. #7
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    My boy and I always played a contest game as well. We would try and see how many we could catch in a row between the 2 of us.

    Also If he is scared of the ball start using wiffles balls then tennis balls. I like to throw it to the chest and have them catch the ball correctly. Once they start catching more then the drop then I start to move them around a little.

    Cally

  8. #8
    There are two things going on here. One, he's afraid of the ball. This is pretty common at this age and is probably directly related to his lack of confidence in his catching ability. Two, he hasn't developed the hand-eye coordination to catch the ball. Also common.

    Here's how I've dealt with this in the past:

    First you need to remove the fear. I'd recommend a rag ball - something that he absolutely, positively knows won't hurt him at all. Roll up an old pair of gym socks and wrap them with a rubber band or something. He should be able to take one right in the chest and just laugh. Make a game of it. Have a "sock ball fight".

    Once the fear is gone, you can concentrate on improving his hand-eye coordination. Toss the rag ball at him from 10-15 feet away (this can be done indoors). The object here is for him to use his glove to knock the ball down. He can hit it as hard or as soft as he wants. He can hit it back to you, hit it into the ground, or just let it bounce off his glove. You need to instruct him not to catch the ball. If he "accidentally" catches one, gently remind him he's not supposed to do that. Your goal here is to completely remove any pressure of catching the ball. If you get excited about a catch, he'll pick up on that and try to catch more. You will inadvertently be pressuring him to do something he's not capable of doing yet, which is counterproductive. Every time the glove makes some kind of contact with the ball, that's a success. Make sure you praise him when this happens. Get excited if he really smacks one. You can have him do this with the "thumbs together" method if you're teaching that. (This accomplishes two things - it improves hand-eye coordination, and it puts him on the offensive - now the ball is the target, instead of him. It's hard to be afraid of something you're smacking around.)

    As he gets better, move farther away. At some point you can switch to a "harder" ball like a tennis ball or a wiffle. Better yet, one of those pink bouncy balls that has some weight to it.

    Once he seems to be able to track the ball well, have him focus on hitting the ball with the inside of his glove. Tell him there's an eyeball right in the middle of his glove and the glove needs to be able to see the ball.

    At this point he'll probably start to "accidentally" catch a lot more. Act surprised and say "Hey, you're not supposed to be catching yet!" but don't otherwise encourage or discourage this. You still want to encourage him to hit the ball with the glove but you're not discouraging him from catching it.

    Before you know it, he'll be catching.

    By the way, you should see improvement within a few days but the overall process sometimes takes weeks. Be patient - it's worth it.
    Last edited by Jesse; 03-25-2008 at 05:24 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mickey34 View Post
    2. If the ball is coming at him, he flinches, backs away from the ball and/or turns his head as the ball is coming at him.


    At least he moves. My 5 year old stands there and lets it smack him.

    He has the same issues, of not tracking with his glove. If I throw it to his glove, he'll catch it more often than not, but if I'm off by just a little, he doesn't adjust.

  10. #10
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    A very good drill is to take a bouncy type ball, and play catch by bouncing the ball first on the ground, at a relatively close distance, so they learn to track the ball, with little fear of being hit. This will allow you to put the ball in many different spots, and not always have to throw it away from their face. You will also be able to work finger tips up as well as down.

  11. #11
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    Here is my 2 cents.

    Get rid of the glove, go to a school with a tennis ball.

    Let him throw against the wall and catch it with his bare hands.

    By throwing the ball first and watching it hit the wall it will help his eyes learn to track the ball back and forth.

    After doing this for a while start playing catch by rolling the ball to each other

    i do believe this will help.

  12. #12
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    I learned the same way as three A's says, with the tennis ball. It is effective, but there is a new way to help younger kids. What I do with some of the kids on my LL team is that I throw a ball high up in the air, and tell them to catch it. I start this with a tennis ball. Then a t-ball. Then a real ball. Gradually, he will become better. Then I would buy some training DVD's, and tape some games when he is older. Tell him to learn from pros and coaches, and what they are doing on screen. I wouldn't try this until he is at least 11 or above, as I know what younger kid's attention span is like! lol. At least it is a long term plan.
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