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Thread: Breaking down/teaching the swing to 7/8 year old kids....

  1. #1

    Thumbs up Breaking down/teaching the swing to 7/8 year old kids....

    I have read a TON of different thoughts and ideas on this site about what to teach and how to teach it....Curious on what bullet points are essential to YOUR teachings for 7/8 year old kids as far as hitting is concerned. Stance, grip, weight shift, etc? What drills do you find are a must and what "cues" do you use to teach these skills? What drills do you incorporate to prevent common mistakes such as bat drag, or stepping into the bucket? Thanks in advance for the help....

  2. #2
    Job one is understanding the goal/efficient swing. Having a support group to discuss clips with and what the hitter is doing well and poor during the process helps too. As far as drills and points, I think, like medicine, it depends on the hitter. I don't believe a few drills fit all is the way to go.

  3. #3
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    Hip turn is most important IMO for 7-8. I like squish the bug because its easy, but not the best. Main thing is make it fun, and not too many varieties.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark H View Post
    Job one is understanding the goal/efficient swing. Having a support group to discuss clips with and what the hitter is doing well and poor during the process helps too. As far as drills and points, I think, like medicine, it depends on the hitter. I don't believe a few drills fit all is the way to go.
    I have found this to be true. Different kids have different abilities and flaws. Just wondering if there are some "meat and potato" drills that in your opinion are a must....

    Quote Originally Posted by LAball View Post
    Hip turn is most important IMO for 7-8. I like squish the bug because its easy, but not the best. Main thing is make it fun, and not too many varieties.
    I want to improve our team hitting, but also want to keep it fun for sure. I see the kids really enjoying BP and some if not all of the hitting drills. I am looking to continue helping them improve by using quality drills and technique, yet keeping it fun by having some different drills I can utilize to throw em some variety.... Ive found the front side bowling toss to be a great drill so far. What else have y'all found to be good for this age group?

  5. #5
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    I've worked a lot with this age group. After making sure a hitter has a good athletic stance, I first focus on hip rotation. I don't use the "squish the bug cue" because it's too easy for kids to turn in their back knee without rotating the hips. Instead I tell them to point their belly button at the pitcher. I have the kids rotate their hips with their bat behind them to get the feel of the rotation. In practice I do a lot of hitting off the tee and soft-toss where they first do a "half swing" followed by a full swing. By "half-swing" I mean they rotate their hips, get their back elbow connected, and keep the bat head back. The idea is to get these things ingrained in their muscle memory and to teach them that all of this happens before the bat head travels through the strike zone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by azmatsfan View Post
    By "half-swing" I mean they rotate their hips, get their back elbow connected, and keep the bat head back. The idea is to get these things ingrained in their muscle memory and to teach them that all of this happens before the bat head travels through the strike zone.
    I think this is a great drill/idea and can see how helpful it can be for the hitter. I believe that most hitters' problems are generated in this phase that you have isolated and this "half" drill is a great way to teach proper mechanics to that point without the kids being more concerned about "where and how hard they hit it".

    Nice job azmatsfan!

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    Quote Originally Posted by hitnpeas View Post
    What else have y'all found to be good for this age group?
    I like hit-a-stick for lower end batters and when you wana make techinical adjusments to the swing.

  8. #8
    I find many young kids don't load in preparation for the pitch so by the time they are swinging it is late. Then there is the angle of the bat which many have pointed back instead of at a 45 degree angle towards the head. Getting a proper stance and load and bat angle usually at least lets them get the bat around in time with the pitch.

  9. #9
    So if you were to start from scratch with a group of young kids (age 5-6), how would you describe the stance (in a general sense, I know each kid is different)?

    Where does the right elbow go? Up? Kept below the right shoulder? Even with the shoulder? Can it be tucked along your side?
    Where does the bat point? How flat, how upright?
    How do their knuckles line up?
    How is their weight distributed?
    How do I teach the rotational load? What is a good drill or visual?
    Should they limit their stride? How much is good?

    Maybe the better question is, for each question above, what is a "bad" technique to make sure they avoid?

    Thanks much.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherpa View Post
    So if you were to start from scratch with a group of young kids (age 5-6), how would you describe the stance (in a general sense, I know each kid is different)?

    Where does the right elbow go? Up? Kept below the right shoulder? Even with the shoulder? Can it be tucked along your side?
    Where does the bat point? How flat, how upright?
    How do their knuckles line up?
    How is their weight distributed?
    How do I teach the rotational load? What is a good drill or visual?
    Should they limit their stride? How much is good?

    Maybe the better question is, for each question above, what is a "bad" technique to make sure they avoid?

    Thanks much.
    keep it simple, balance in stance and a v set up with the arms for this age group. I wouldn't worry about the rest, let the kids natural ablility come out at this age. let em see a lot of wiffle balls.

    at 7 and 8 most these kids don't have the motor skills to have a perfect swing, some do but not many do. My boys team is now gonna be 9 this year, I will not start working with them a little more on technique, but only tiny bits at a time. As the body matures the more we can add.

    Cally
    Last edited by callyjr; 10-07-2008 at 10:39 PM.

  11. #11
    I am putting together a batting clinic for my players most are 10 but I have some 7-9 year olds as well. I am targeting the older kids for this session. I am asking parents to attend since I think they need to be involved at home with the drills and such. This is my first batting clinic with any team since working on PCR this summer with my son. Much of this is based on my experience with that process.

    I am thinking out loud with this thread but this is what I have so far:

    1. Selecting the right bat
    2. Gripping the bat
    3. Stance/posture
    4. Six steps to a great swing. There is a video on youtube that breaks down the swing, I think nicely, that I will ask them to look at.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1a_T1SKqzM
    5. Launch & Contact- PCR
    6. The importance of tilt

    7. Drills to Develop Swing
    A. Posture
    B. Hip Rotation Drill
    C. Broom against shoulder tilt drill
    D. Launch with connection drill
    E. Partial swing drill

    8. Drills to address common faults
    A. "Step Step Swing Drill" for weight transfer
    B. "Bucket Drill" to prevent front foot flaring
    D. "Front Arm Swing" to promote wrist uncocking
    E. "Deflated ball drill" between front lower arm and chest to maintain box
    F. "Mirror Mirror on the Wall Drill" to check for tilt and style while swinging in front of the mirror

    Now this looks like an awful lot, might have to break it into a couple of clinics.

    What am I missing? or doing wrong.

    I was also considering have them read Chris O'Leary's site article on Rotational hitting 101.
    Last edited by baseballdad; 10-08-2008 at 07:19 AM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by baseballdad View Post
    4. Six steps to a great swing. There is a video on youtube that breaks down the swing, I think nicely, that I will ask them to look at.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1a_T1SKqzM
    While this video isn't terrible, I'm not thrilled with...

    1. How he demonstrates the level swing at the point of contact (rather than tilt).
    2. How he focuses on extension.

    At least he understands that extension happens AFTER the POC.

    P.S. He does show some extension at the POC. "Driv(ing) the hands to the contact point" is a linear cue that is problematic because it can create disconnection.
    Last edited by Chris O'Leary; 10-08-2008 at 08:00 AM.

  13. #13
    I agree not perfect. But I am looking for something easily accessible to young kids that describes the full swing in a superficial way. I do like the fact that they separate launch and contact. Although they do not show it the way I would teach it (as you said they do not focus on tilt or connection) they show it as two parts of the swing so I can use that as a teaching point.

    Any suggestions on the other points?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherpa View Post
    So if you were to start from scratch with a group of young kids (age 5-6), how would you describe the stance (in a general sense, I know each kid is different)?

    Where does the right elbow go? Up? Kept below the right shoulder? Even with the shoulder? Can it be tucked along your side?
    Where does the bat point? How flat, how upright?
    How do their knuckles line up?
    How is their weight distributed?
    How do I teach the rotational load? What is a good drill or visual?
    Should they limit their stride? How much is good?

    Maybe the better question is, for each question above, what is a "bad" technique to make sure they avoid?

    Thanks much.
    Stance: I teach the kids the "gunfighter" stance or "ready position" with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent like a gunfighter ready to shoot. Then they use this same stance in the fiield, on base, and when at bat.

    Hands: I don't worry at this age to much about where the bat points, but stress that they need to keep there hands up and back. (Lined up with the back shoulder.) Beginners have a tendency to drop their hands to their hips or hold the bat by their chest.

    Stride: I don't teach the kids to stride at all. Some who have played before may have a stride. If they do, I work with it, but for the true beginners I only have them rotate. I've just found that if I teach the stride right away they tend to lunge at the ball and they don't rotate. As I said previously, I focus on the hip rotation by having them point their belly button at the pitcher. (I'm not a fan of teaching "squish the bug").

    These are all based on my experiences as what has worked and what hasn't with this age group. My youngest is 6, so I probably won't coach that age group again after this year, and I'm going to miss it. I know a lot of baseball coaches that won't coach until their kids are in coach pitch because the lower levels are beneath them, but it's those first couple years when kids develop a love for the game and learn good habits that will carry them into the future. Plus they're so darn cute.

  15. #15
    Uh, Chris, I think that video is terrible, with its focus on straightening the arms and stopping the body turn to get the arms out front.

    I think ASMatsfan's three points are very good and demonstrates (not like he's going to lie about it) that he has worked with kids in this age group. Age appropriate instruction is essential, and anything that encourages the kids to disconnect and use their pipe cleaner thin arms is doing them a disservice.

    Why I've seen to work best is to first get the hands and bat angle right. This simplest clue for you as a coach is to have them align the bat so that it is parallel to the upper arm of the front arm (say the left arm for righties). The back arm should be bent comfortably and not pinned to the side -- otherwise, it's not too critical how high the elbow is. It should look something like this

    Then, while the knees are slightly bent and the upper body is slightly tilted over, have the kids turn the back shoulder down and to the ball, sort of like they're trying to wrap their torso in a sheet. (Good drill for this: the "pole" or "broomstick" drill where you hold a broomstick parallel to the ground by threading it between your arms crossed in front of you in a "big grumpy indian chief" manner, then get in your normal stance and try to hit the ball off a tee that way.) The law of conservation of angular momentum will in and of itself bring the bathead around enough for even small kids to be able to get the ball to the outfield. Then, add in (a) load, (b) stride, (c) hip turn, and (d) arm and wrist snap as each kid is ready for it, and you'll be on to something.

  16. #16
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    Uh...yeah...agreed.....do not copy anything off that video if you are teaching your kids how to swing correctly. If you want to help that young of kids, work with them on some sort of fence drill so they understand to keep their hands and elbows in and after they get that, make sure you play home run derby off a tee, soft toss, their own fungo and live. Their bodies will teach their swings what they have to do to hit the ball hard and far...plus it's lots of fun.

  17. #17
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    Here is a great simple drill to teach a level swing. It was used by hall of famer Tony Gwynn.
    use a batting T and wiffle balls. If the ball whistles and "knuckles" off the T, it is a level swing. I think we need to keep thing simple - and what is more simple than this

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by b4uplayball View Post
    Here is a great simple drill to teach a level swing. It was used by hall of famer Tony Gwynn.
    use a batting T and wiffle balls. If the ball whistles and "knuckles" off the T, it is a level swing. I think we need to keep thing simple - and what is more simple than this
    It may be simple, but it's also wrong.

  19. #19
    We had our team batting clinic today for 7-10 year olds.
    I focused on grip, posture, load, step swing (didn't use the video based on the feedback here).
    Then I used the hip rotation drill posted previously here with the bat on the front of the tummy and hip rotation used to hit the ball off the tee. Then we did the broom at the shoulder drill with rotation and hitting the ball off the tee to show the tilt principle.

    Following the demonstration the players did three stations of 3 kids each.
    Tee 1. posture,load, step swing.
    Tee 2. hip rotation and broom drill
    Batting cage with coach pitch.

    Everyone seemed to enjoy it and learn something. It took about an hour to run.
    Last edited by baseballdad; 10-13-2008 at 07:29 AM.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by baseballdad View Post
    Tee 1. posture,load, step swing.
    Can you elaborate exactly what was taught in this Tee 1? Thanks

  21. #21
    The kids worked on their
    posture at the plate: feet placed greater than shoulder width, toes facing forward, knees bent, butt down, slight tilt of upper body over the plate. Arms up with bat held on angle with barrell facing towards the pitcher. Grip was also checked.

    Load: On cue from coach they would lift up their front foot heal to shift weight back,

    Step: A short step forward with front foot towards pitcher

    Swing: Tried to emphasize a compact smooth swing

    After each swing we had them stand up and return to their posture. Each kid got about a dozen swings taking about 10-15 minutes/ station. We rotated 3 x. There was a 15 minute intro to swinging going over the points practiced.

    On our team, many of the players were not loading as the pitcher was winding up so that they were always swinging late.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by baseballdad View Post
    On our team, many of the players were not loading as the pitcher was winding up so that they were always swinging late.
    just went and looked at some video, my boy loads as the ball is released and he isn't late to often anymore.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by callyjr View Post
    just went and looked at some video, my boy loads as the ball is released and he isn't late to often anymore.
    That is a better description of the timing we taught. Thanks.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris O'Leary View Post

    P.S. He does show some extension at the POC. "Driv(ing) the hands to the contact point" is a linear cue that is problematic because it can create disconnection.
    This jumped out at me while watching this too!

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