To older, more experienced ballplayers, catching a baseball is second nature. But for young athletes, it can be very intimidating at first. While the fundamentals can be taught to these players, getting over the initial fear of a swiftly moving baseball can be detrimental in their learning the basics of the game.
When you're teaching a young ballplayer how to catch a baseball, it's, first and foremost, very important to be positive and encouraging. You should also be sure to keep the following things in mind:
Two hands! – Perhaps the most important thing to instill in the minds of young baseball players is that they should always, no matter what, use two hands. It can be difficult to convince a youth athlete to break the habit of using one hand, since they see their heroes in Major League Baseball make tough, single-handed catches look routine every night, but once they understand the value of using the second hand, it'll be a habit they hopefully never break.
Watch the ball – A reaction to being afraid of the baseball is to look away. But despite the luck that Smalls has in "The Sandlot" when he closes his eyes and catches a high popup, it's crucial that ballplayers watch the baseball all the way into their glove.
Start soft – Because, let's face it, baseballs can hurt, start with something softer like a tennis ball. Once the player has gotten comfortable with the fundamental mechanics we just discussed when they're catching a tennis ball, start throwing them a baseball underhand and then move to regular catch.
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