Red Sox great shares hitting tips to help your players
By Greg Bach
Hitting a baseball is one of the toughest things for kids to do in sports.
And teaching it is one of the biggest challenges for coaches, too.
So what’s the secret to helping kids become more productive performers at the plate?
SportingKid Live checked in with Nomar Garciaparra – six-time All-Star, two-time American League batting champion (he hit.372 and .357 to claim the crown in back-to-back seasons) and the owner of a sparkling .313 career batting average – to get his thoughts on the art of hitting.
Use his tips below to help youngsters on your team make better and more frequent contact and get on the coveted base paths more often.
The more thoughts players have swirling in their heads when they step to the plate, the greater the chance that they’ll be handcuffed by too much thinking and struggle to execute a fundamentally sound swing.
“Simplify it,” says Garciaparra. “If you tell a player ‘don’t do this’ it puts it in their mind. Instead, say ‘hey, what you need to do here,’ or ‘let’s drive the ball the other way, let’s drive the ball up the middle.’”
By directing the focus on what you want players thinking about their mind won’t be cluttered with bad thoughts that can compromise performance.
“Tell them what they need to do,” Garciaparra says. “So when they step in the box that’s what they’re thinking about and not the negative.”
IT’S ALL ABOUT CONFIDENCE
It’s vital that kids have confidence in themselves no matter what sport they are playing, and that certainly applies to when they are at the plate hitting, too.
The more confident kids are in their ability, the more likely they’ll enjoy greater success swinging the bat.
So it’s up to coaches to deliver messages dripping in positives, particularly if the youngster is really struggling to break out of a slump.
“When a player steps in that box first and foremost they better have confidence,” Garciparra says. “That’s what hitting is, it’s about being confident. Coaches can help players so when they step in there they have that confidence that when the ball is there they’re going to hit it. It’s as simple as that. See it and hit it; their focus should just be on that.”
Penn State basketball coach Patrick Chambers on using goals to keep young athletes focused, engaged and continually striving for improvement
Former Syracuse star Stephen Thompson on the importance of remaining even keeled during all the successes and failures that accompany competing
Motivating young athletes is a big part of coaching – and a challenging one, too. Use these tips to inspire and lead your team
Giving young athletes the chance to provide feedback, as well as self-reflect, is a powerful coaching technique. Drake women’s basketball coach Jennie Baranczyk tells how it’s done