What's the BEST Way to Chart the Progress of a Youngster?
I have an 8 year old son who loves the game. he waits at the door (dressed and bag in hand) for me to get home from work. my question, is it better to teach parts or all. we get to our local baseball training center about 3 to 4 times a week and use a mix of tee and pitched balls. his swing is ok, but he tends to move to a long swing when he hits anything not on a tee. what tools are avaiable to track his progress and set goals. i use video and record about 50 swings when see some change (good and bad).
Swing Smarter Response:
Here's a 10-U Hitting Mini-Clinic I did to help tie together the following content:
Wow Michael, how awesome that must make you feel, as a Dad, to have your son waiting for you to get home so he can practice! I LOVE to hear of that passion in a youngster because it reminds me of me when I was his age.
A word of caution, just be sure to go at "his" pace and at times, maybe temporarily hold him back (for vacations or whatever), so he doesn't burn himself out. This will keep him "hungry" to play and practice.
How to Measure Your Son's Progress...
Hmmmm, where to start ;)
Okay, let's begin with we have to move AWAY from working on swing results versus focusing more on swing goals.
In other words, we should NOT direct our aim at where the ball is going after contact, but is your son correctly executing what you guys are working on?
Say you're working on Vision with him, keeping his eyes behind the barrel at and through contact until he finishes his swing...then and only then can he pick his eyes up to track where the ball is in the outfield.
Your Feedback is Needed...
If he swings and misses but keeps his eyes behind the barrel until his swing finish, then that's an A+ swing. However, if he crushes it to the back of the batting cage on a line and melts a hole through the netting, but pulls his head and eyes towards the pull-side coaching box, then that's a failed swing. He didn't accomplish his swing goal.
You want to progress drills ONLY AFTER he can prove consistency with the swing goal, so start with dry swings, then move to tee work, then soft toss, and lastly short front toss or full pitch.
DO NOT progress him before he can master each step, or else it'll retard how fast his body "feels" a good swing. Typically, I progress my hitters after they can repeat the proper swing goal 10 times in a row.
What Hitting Concepts to Teach First?
You want to teach parts of the swing, like stance first...he should be able to step into the box with feet pointing straight ahead, feet about a bats width apart, straight line through the toes towards the pitcher, and not too close or far from the plate to where he gets jammed on an inside pitch or can't comfortably reach an outside one.
Once he get that, then we move onto Vision, which I mentioned above.
If he can keeps his eyes behind the barrel after contact without "peeking" to see where the ball is going, then we move onto Balance.
With balance, we want him to build on the skills he's already mastered, in addition to being able to hold their swing finish for 2-3 seconds without losing balance.
When he can do that, and only when, we move onto the sheer mechanics of the swing like hip thrust, spinal tilt, and back elbow row.
The reason we do this is because:
If the stance isn't set up properly, then he'll hit with a faulty foundation.
We all know we can't hit what we can't see, so Vision is HUGE!
And, if he can't hold a balanced finish, then he's probably swinging too hard.
When we move into specific technique, we want to start with how efficient the core and hips are swinging the bat, then once the lower half is working efficiently, then we move onto the limited upper half.