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I know my experience in professional ball tells me to look to swing at every pitch until your eyes tell you something different. Make up your mind to swing at every pitch before hand. The problem I see is a chronic epidemic in youth baseball coaching to destroy the aggressiveness in young hitters. Youth coaches are constantly implanting negative feedback before and after every pitch with continuous in-game over-coaching.
If a batter swings and misses there is an automatic onslaught of verbal and visual corrections from the coaches and parents. You pulled your head, you dipped your shoulder, you swung at the ball up here, you forgot to load, you didn't let the ball travel. Rarely if ever do you hear encouragement, "hey, great cut, way to swing it, thats the way to swing the bat, get it ready, swing it." It is all a verbal scolding and beat down every pitch.
On a foul ball the batter gets the same verbal lashing, "you are too early, let it travel, you're dipping again, eyes on the ball, make sure you load off that back leg." Really? They get the kids thinking so much that they become tentative and unaggressive--always hitting defensively afraid to make a mistake. Young hitters then begin to hesitate on pitches from the fear of messing up and receiving a scolding, and fail to get around on the good fastball. Hitters become chronically late on the fastball.
Not a single youth league coach ever recognizes that the hitters are late on the fastball. Never do coaches encourage hitters to get out front on the fastball. Oh, I did run into former major leaguer Herm Winningham one day while he was coaching the RBI team in Charleston, SC telling players to 'swing-it" and 'let if fly." I'm like wow, who said that? Then I recognized Herm and said okay a pro guy. I should have known. Calling all hitting coaches:
Editorial comments during an at bat which includes on deck, batters box, and the walk back to the bench after a K or out are all inappropriate. They do absolutely nothing but put doubt in a hitters thoughts. An an bat is a reaction and the result of a well trained/ingrained motor memory/nueral pathway. Comments by a coach are just ignorance or total lack of knowledge about the hitting process. That's why you don't hear loudmouth idiots yelling at Tiger Woods to keep his eye on the ball or his shoulder in while he's teeing off. And you don't hear a caddy yelling instructions at Phil Mickelson to make sure he brings his putter straight back before he putts. Years ago I adopted and applied the "all quiet during tee off" golf concept to hitters. Leave the editorial comments for tee work and soft toss. That's the only place to develop, change, or reinforce hitting mechanics properly. And you usually don't hear minor league or major league hitting coaches make editorial comments to hitters either. They know the deal.
Gregory, People would be amazed if they sat in the dugout of a professional game. Yes the pros do know the deal. Study the pro's. They are not always right but baseball is their business.
I like the 'all quiet during tee off' too.
By the way, I have never seen Chipper Jones stand on 3B holding the runner on...so why does every youth league team do it? Just throwing it out there.
Keep up the good work!
That a simple explanation of the overall quality of youth coaching. And spot on.
Dave, I also wondered about that holding the runner on third on. Aggravating to a degree. Mike Torres
Gregory, loved your reply to here to this thread. I would like your opinion on something, what age group do you coach where you implement this "all quiet"? During the actual game? What about general comments, we (I) use the same cues with all my guys "drive it", "it has to be a strike", "it has to hang", "get a good pitch and drive it". I will admit that I do sometimes (and I am being honest) make comments of corrections and to-date it has only been keeping the head in.
Just wanted your thoughts, because I might want to try this out for my HS (home-shcool) team and see what happens. They have had a losing season the last 3 years, this is my 1st year with them and we are 9-3 just coming off a 5 game winning streak which is huge for these guys.
Michael. Good questions. Quiet applies all the time. Let me ask you does Phil Mickelsons caddy hover over him on the tee box or the green and tell him to 'drive it', dont dip you shoulder, dont forget to load on that back leg." No. I wish every baseball coach could sit in professional baseball dugout during a game and see and hear what goes on. There is no direct coaching during an at-bat. Only 'come on you can do it' or 'be ready' or 'swing it' 'battle now with two strikes'. Only a few encouraging things but no reference to hitting instruction or 'make sure it is a strike'. You never want to cause any doubt in the hitters mind or give them extra stuff to think about.
I may be wrong, but I don't think Gregory is saying don't cheer lead, encourage or use verbal signs sometimes. I think the issue here is attempting to do hitting instruction in the heat of a game. I believe either it's too late or too early at that time while they need to be focused on the moment not mechanics.
Just as an aside, one of the things that I instruct my players and coaches to do is not encourage with the negative but with the positive. As opposed to, "Don't let it get away here," or "Don't lose him," for a pitcher or , "Just make contact" (which encourages being passive) for a hitter they need to turn it into a positive. "Get him here," or "Get yours," encourages the positive not the negative.
Totally agree here.
Great job Dave, especially about a hitter swinging and missing. Like you are implying, why turn it into a negative? I had a coach WAY back when I was 13. It was our first time playing on a regulation size field and many of us, myself included, were nervous. My Coach was a terrific human being but he did NOT have a great knowledge of baseball. The first day of practice he made one thing perfectly clear. He said, "I don't care if the ball is over your head or in the dirt, swing the bat!" I think our entire team benefited from this one strategy of his.
I'm well aware that swinging at pitches out of the strike zone is not a good thing but that wasn't his point. His point was that too many young players get up there, are afraid to swing, take 3 strikes and sit down. Of the count and the scoreboard permits, I definitely like the thought process of "think swing first and take second."(Better to be totally prepared to hit first and put on the brakes second.)
And I too like the thought process of congratulating a hitter on his good hack. "Great hack Nick." "That's the way to swing that bat Joey," etc. And to start over analyzing simply over a swing and a miss is not helping your hitter.
Larry, You are right on it as usual. Boy do I wish all youth coaches would take the approach of your 13 yr old coach. 'Swing-it" You will go as far in baseball as your bat takes you so you better let it fly.
In middle school volleyball my daughter played for a bump-set-spike coach. These are hard skills for this age. They would play against schools that would bump the ball over the net and in middle school that would win some games. But if you bump it over in high school you are going to get the ball spiked back in your face.
Same goes for hitting. You can get by for a while in youth baseball by getting walks, bunting and punchin-judy hitting. But to reach high school level you better be able to 'swing-it' a little.
Dave- Great post! I agree 1000% percent.