June 8, 2020 - For the next two or three months I will he posting letters of baseball and softball data that can dictate the success or failure of every boy or girl playing those sports in Shelby County. The first three issues will deal with "common sense material" to some parents, but your children should he encouraged to read them, if only to help them understand the pitfalls they may encounter. Beginning with Issue # one, together we will dig deeper into the "realities of hitting." Hang with me and have some fun while you watch your kids learn.
Issued # One: How Much Sense Does This Make?
Two loving, well-intentioned parents take their ten-year-old son to a sporting goods store to buy that child a new bat — the very best bat possible — a bat that may cost as much as $400.
On the way home that child, beaming and clutching his newest best friend says, "wow, thanks, Mom and Dad — now I'll kill the ball."
The rest of the ride home is pure joy — the parents smiling and pleased with themselves, enjoying their son gawking at his newest best friend, the three of them excited about his first game that very night.
The next morning, the mother is preparing breakfast in silence, the father only half-reading his daily newspaper, and the child? In his bedroom stating at the ceiling.
Why the quiet? Why the solitude? What happened to the happiness of yesterday?
Well, it's like this. That boy's newest best friend really let him down last night - he struck out all three times at bat. Oh, his newest best friend almost got it right on one swing — it fouled off one pitch. But, the rest of the game? Swish — swish — swish!
Oh, and by the way, where is his newest best friend this morning?
Locked in the trunk of the car — all by itself — a total failure - a $400 flop!
Is that foolish — OR WHAT?
Would any caring responsible parent ever buy his ten-year-old son an expensive new rifle without making sure the boy was completely prepared to use it? Of course not!
Baseball Is no different.
Having proper, even superior equipment is great — really a boost to a kid's morale. But, as the old expression goes, "clothes don't make the man," similarly, "bats and gloves don't make the player."
Becoming a good or great baseball/softball player demands hard work, time, and total commitment to the sport.
Boys and girls become accomplished infielders by fielding hundreds upon hundreds of balls -- they becomes more mentally alert by knowing his every option before a play occurs -- they must become smarter and more prepared than their opponents.
To become a hitter, not merely a batter, they must come to understand that they cannot succeed to any great measure if they have faults in their setup, stance, stride, or swing.
AND — THEY CANNOT TEACH THEMSELVES!
So -- what do they do? Who do they turn to? Where can they find help?
The words "hitting instructor" are almost worthless.
Including the professional ranks, there are probably fewer than twenty-five truly capable hitting teachers in baseball today.
Sounds impossible to believe -- right? But, it's true.
Many highly paid major leaguers of today have more "faults/holes" in their setups, stances, strides, and swings than a pound of Swiss cheese. From their own beginnings they have adopted their own set of faults from coaches at every level in which they have played the game.
Because, most of their coaches were just that --- coaches, not teachers. And today's players are passing their own faults down to the grass roots --- the kids of today --- in their dreams the pros of tomorrow.
Coach? Teacher? Coaches tell players what to do. Teachers show them how to do it.
I will close out Issue # One with some really good advice for "new" parents, or parents whose child may be just beginning to play the game --- SELECTING A BASEBALL/SOFTBALL BAT.
Normal role of thumb: "Light is right!" WHY?
Even if a player is very strong, but especially if a player is quite frail, the use of a too heavy bat will create the following results:
1. To get a too heavy bat moving forward, the increased weight of the barrel will force a batter to commit his swing earlier than necessary.
2. A too heavy bat will create a bat lag, resulting in a slower reaction.
3. A heavy bat, certainly in the hands of a smaller player, will create a bat sag. In other words, a heavy bat, due to the extra weight in the barrel, will droop during the swing.
A good light bat will allow a batter to develop greater bat speed. That added bat speed will more than offset any power that a slower, heavier bat can offer.
Additionally, a good light bat is much easier to control, and it allows the batter to wait longer to commit his/her swing -- an asset to every batter who ever played the games.
Plus, a lighter bat will allow a batter to "check" his/her swing more easily on bad pitches, compared to a harder-to-control heavy bat.
When is a bat too heavy?
When you begin your swing, then immediately realize the pitch is not a strike, but you cannot stop the barrel before it enters the strike zone, that bat may be too heavy for you!
Talk to you soon.