The “X FACTOR” In Youth Baseball

May 26, 2017 by Anonymous in  baseball camps Youth Baseball Coach

The Prepared vs. The Unprepared

I was working on hitting with a 6 year old kid the other day. Just as a favor, one of our family friends asked me to work with her boy. This kid plays t-ball in Oklahoma and is a pretty good little player.

But as I was tossing the ball to him he kept swinging and missing. He said with the utmost confidence “I can’t do it”, even though he ended up foul tipping it, and then connecting with one a few tosses later.

It occurred to me that this particular kid, who is a pretty good player, had never attempted to hit a baseball that wasn’t on a tee! In fact, I’m not so sure he had ever practiced outside of baseball practice. This is what we are going to call the under-prepared player, and he is placed in a severe disadvantage.

On my circuit around the state talking with Youth Baseball Coaches about American Baseball Camps, I overheard a certain coach talking to his 7U team. He was cancelling practice for the next day because he didn’t want the kids to get sick with the cold-front (the forecast was 60 degrees).

This encounter helped me realize that the X FACTOR in youth baseball is getting better outside of organized baseball. You cannot rely on your 9 year old kid’s coach to develop him fully as a player. My friends’ kid practices maybe once or twice before the season, and then plays one game a week. I’m telling you, if your kid is only playing baseball when he has his uniform on, and mom is taking pictures, he is going to have a tough time being great.

When I was 3 years old, and this can be proven with video, I asked for & hit in a batting cage throwing 36 miles per hour. What kind of a 3 year old asks to do that on his birthday? This is because I grew up around baseball, I watched my brothers play, I watched my dad coach, and I was hungry to play! I played all the time, I threw the ball up to myself, and threw into a net when I didn’t have anyone to play catch with. I was always playing wiffle ball, and watching my brothers’ games. Do you think by the time I was 6 I didn’t believe in myself that I could hit a ball tossed to me? No I was the kid saying “I’m going to smoke this ball.”

The difference in baseball environments between myself and the aforementioned 6 year old is what I believe to be the X FACTOR in Youth Baseball. It is what can set your kid apart from the pack.

To demonstrate this further lets take two kids and you decide which one will be the dominant player on his team.

Player #1

Signs up for t-ball and is excited for his first practice.

Practices a couple times before his first game and spends approximately 1.5 hours a week playing.

Mom leaves his glove and bat in the car until the next game

Player #2

Signs up for t-ball with a comprehensive understanding of the game and how it works. Including an understanding of the force out rule.

Practices almost if-not everyday with friends or family in the backyard with a bat and a ball, or a broomstick and a tennis ball, anything they can get their hands on.

Sleeps with his glove on his nightstand, loves to play catch and have dad hit him ground balls and fly-balls in the backyard

The Highest Probability of Success

What I am saying is not that player #1 will never be successful, or that parents need to drill their kid to be like player #2. My point is that baseball is a sport that requires “reps.” Why do division 1 shortstops take 100 ground balls a day? Because it makes it so easy by the time they get one in the game that it becomes routine. It takes practice to become a great baseball player, you can’t just show up and rely on athleticism.

Baseball is a beautiful sport because it is proven that a kid that gets more reps outside of baseball will be better than a more athletic kid that doesn’t understand or practice the game.

You can’t make a kid love a sport, and you don’t want to be that baseball parent that is resented for trying to force work-ethic. But you can certainly help cultivate a baseball environment at home. Your kid will never be great if he is only doing baseball things at the field twice a week, with a practice every other.

The kids that have a passion for the game have been and always will be the best.

That is the X FACTOR in youth baseball, getting extra baseball reps outside of baseball practice/games.

“Those that fail to prepare are preparing to fail” – Ben Frankin

 

–  Blog written by an American Baseball Camps Coach

American Baseball Camps — Five Ways to Build Your Young Slugger Up

May 04, 2017

“Do you realize your son is playing the biggest self esteem destroying sport in the world” – Steve Springer

This couldn’t be more true, this game will knock your child down enough. Baseball parents! You have to find a way to build your kids up, trust us we’re active D1 players at big time programs and we STILL need encouragement from our parents! You love your son more than anything, here are 5 ways we think will really give him that confidence he needs to be successful in Baseball.

#5 Snap his slump by shaking things up.

We know from experience that the best way to get out of a slump is by shaking things up. Whether it’s getting him a new bat, his favorite seeds, or batting gloves, or even a new bat grip. Shaking things up always helped us feel fresh on the field. Mix up the way he prepares and practices. Maybe jam to his favorite songs on the way to the game. This also includes shaking up the way you talk to your kid during/after the game, which we cover in (#4).

#4 Adopt a “so what, next pitch” mentality

Never yell at him or show him up on the field. If he makes an error or strikes out in a big situation, the game is already beating him up enough. He doesn’t need you adding to the pressure. Teaching your child to have a short memory and turn the page after a mistake on the field will help him to not carry things over in life. You’re simply saying “so what” and moving on to the next pitch. There is no reason he should take a mistake into the next at bat or make an error in the field because he is thinking about his last strikeout. Teach him to say “so what.” He’s a kid and baseball is just a game. Keep it fun while he is young so you don’t run him out of the game. 

#3 Try focused drills and make them fun

“Be where your feet are” – Nick Saban

Inability to focus can hurt players and give away at bats. So try running drills that teach him to lock in and be in the moment. One of our favorite drills for this growing up was the “errors drill.” If you make an error your out and have to wait for the next game. This teaches focus and helped me lock in for every ground ball. Try fun incentives. If you can hit 3 balls in a row into the back net off of the tee we’ll get ice cream. Keep it fun and light and help him to play focused, and in the moment.

#2 Reward quality at-bats NOT hits

Steve Springer (mental game of baseball coach) is really the guy on this. If you are not following him yet on twitter as a baseball parent you should! We were required to listen to his audiobook at my division 1 program and it was huge for us! The idea of it is your child can’t control if he gets a hit or not, there are simply too many variables. So instead of rewarding hits (which are out of his control), try rewarding quality at-bats. So what does a quality at-bat consist of? Our D1 program considers the following a QUAB (Quality At-Bat).

Single 

Double

Triple

Home Run

Hit by Pitch

Catchers Interference

Walk

8 pitch at-bat 

Hard hit ball

Get him over

Sac Fly

Sac Bunt

RBI

So in a game where you have to stay positive, you can see that by rewarding quality at bats your slugger will be proud of himself MUCH more often! This will pay dividends for his play, trust us! 

#1 Keep the Game fun 

This game can beat you up and make you want to quit. But that didn’t exist in the sandlot/wiffle ball days when kids were just playing because they wanted to have fun and loved the game! Encourage your kid to play wiffle ball with his friends or try having a home run derby at the field he played at 2 years ago with a little shorter fence. Baseball parents have to make baseball fun again if they want their kid to be the best player he can possibly be!

     – Authors: Anonynous 1 & 2 (For NCAA reasons)

American Baseball Camps was created to make baseball fun again! It is ran by Division 1 players who know that having fun will heighten self- esteem and make kids play better on the field. Our camps feature slip n’ slide wiffle ball, pitching dunk tank, and campers’ choice baseball drills! Camp cities are: Wilmington NC, Phoenix, Wichita, KC, OKC, Tahlequah, & Tulsa.

Best Baseball Camps for Kids in Wichita Kansas

Apr 28, 2017

Outdoor recreation is on the rise once again! With all that’s going on these days, and all the technological stimuli association with being a kid, there is nothing better than letting him/her get outside and play America’s most fun game! So if he does want to put down the phone for a few days this summer, and you are looking for a great baseball camp to put him in, we have identified our 3 favorite in Wichita Kansas this summer!

Enjoy! And keep helping your kid have fun playing the game of baseball!

#3 Wichita Wingnuts Baseball Camp

Website: http://wichitawingnuts.com/about/fan-fun/camp/

Ran by: Wichita Wingnut Players & Coaches

Camp Dates: N/A

Duration Each Day: Day Camp

Facilities: Lawrence Dumont Stadium

Price: N/A

Ages: N/A

Coed: Yes

Email: scott@wichitawingnuts.com

From the Website: If you have a son or daughter interested in learning the game of baseball from some of the best local coaches around, get them signed up as soon as you can before all the spots are taken. Email scott@wichitawingnuts.com for details or go to our website and click here under the picture of the camp flyer to fill out the registration form and waiver. We are looking forward to having another great group of kids like the last couple of years. GO NUTS!!

There is very little information about their camp coming in summer 2017, and their camps can be very unorganized. This may not be the most fun camp your kid will go to all summer, but you can be sure he/she will receive some great baseball instruction.

#2 Todd Butler Baseball Camp

Website: http://www.wichitastatebaseballcamps.com/camps.

Ran by: Todd Butler (Head Coach WSU)

Camp Dates: N/A

Camp Duration: Day Camp

Facilities: Bombardier indoor practice facility

Price: N/A (estimated price $150)

Ages: *In concordance with NCAA rules (whatever that means)

Coed: *In concordance with NCAA rules (whatever that means)

From the Website: “Thank you for your interest in the Todd Butler’s Shocker Baseball Camps. We are proud to offer top baseball instruction. With several camps offered, you are sure to find a camp that fits every player’s baseball needs. Each player will receive instruction from the coaches of Wichita State as well as current and alumni players. We will demonstrate skills and provide instruction that will allow the player to continue to improve even after their camp experience is over.”

We list the Todd Butler Baseball Camp as the #3 best camp in Wichita because there really is a lot of value in getting D1 instruction. Todd Butler is the head coach of WSU, one of the best D1 baseball programs in the state. There are tons of benefits to getting your kid top instruction as he grows into (hopefully) a great baseball player.

#1 American Baseball Camps

Website: americanbaseballcamps.com

Ran by: Division 1 & Pro Baseball Players

Camp Dates: June 12th & 13th; June 26th & 27th; and August 2nd & 3rd.

Duration Each Day: 9am – 1pm (1st day); 9am – noon (2nd day)

Facilities: Robertson Field

Address: 4121 N. Seneca St, Wichita, KS 67204

Price: $129.99 (use coupon DOUBLEPLAY for 20% off)

Ages: (5-12)

Coed: Yes

Email: americanbaseballcamps@gmail.com

From the Website: American Baseball Academy’s mission is to make baseball fun again! Our team of Division 1 baseball players from all around the country seeks to teach, train, and inspire the future generation of baseball players. Our goal is to offer division 1 caliber instruction while encouraging baseball players to always have fun playing the greatest game in the world! We have camps all across the US. Our cities for the summer of 2017 are Wichita, KC, Tulsa, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Tahlequah, Wilmington (NC), and Pheonix.

Now this may seem a little biased*, but American Baseball Camps come in as our best baseball camp in Wichita Kansas this summer. It’s just much more professionally ran, more organized, and more fun than other camp options in Wichita. Players can play slip n’ slide wiffle ball, throw into the water dunk tank target dunking coaches, and even get players choice on the last fun game every day.

 

American Baseball Camps are the first camps with primary instruction from active D1 players. ABC’s mission is to make baseball fun again! They do this by providing the most fun baseball camp in America where they encourage players to have fun. Summer fun camps are coed, and for kids ages 12 and under. They feature slip n’ slide wiffle ball, pitching dunk tanks, and many many more fun baseball games and drills.

American Baseball Camps — 3 Quick Tips For Baseball Parents

May 11, 2017

#3 Help Build Good Nutrition Habits

One of the things that can set a great baseball player apart from the good ones is nutrition! Good eating habits can make a young ballplayer feel better and play better! (study) The best season I ever had in baseball was the one where I started eating right. They talk about it so much in Division 1 baseball, I really wish I would have known about it when I was a young player. That’s why we’re calling it “building” good nutrition habits. If you can teach your young ballplayer to eat right now, he won’t depart from it when he’s old.

#2 Watch Quality Baseball with your Kid

 

This is that “being a student of the game” thing that we’re always talking about. Every great baseball program in the country insists on its players that they watch MLB games. Why? It makes you a better ballplayer. Imagine your kid being the smartest baseball player with the highest baseball IQ on the field. Imagine how much better that will make him if he’s mentally one step ahead of the competition. How do you do that? You watch the best players play on the biggest stages. Go to a major league game if you can, or if you don’t want to spend big bucks, seek out college games in your area.

#1 Understand That During The Game is Not The Right Time

I was watching a my 13 year old cousin play the other day and he popped up to center field. Sitting by his mom she asked me if I thought his elbow was raised and that’s why he popped it up. BASEBALL PARENTS, I’ll tell you the same thing my division 1 coach tells us players, 99% of the time its not mechanical. Baseball lessons and an excessively growing industry of “hitting coaches” has got kids and parents thinking way too much about mechanics.

Even if it is mechanical, during the game is the last time he should be thinking about something like his elbow placement at contact. Save that stuff for when he is working off a tee in practice or in the off season. Trust me on this one, those are the times for mechanical adjustments. The only in-game adjustments he should be making are timing and confidence adjustments. What those might look like are as follows:

Timing adjustments – This should be the primary purpose of the on-deck circle. If you were out front your last at bat (like my cousin was when he popped up), you should try to start your load later. Differences in velocity on the mound should dictate when you start your load. If your kid is consistently out in front or late on fast balls, just encourage him to start earlier or start later. Timing adjustments are the most effective, and easiest ways to not make the same mistake twice in baseball.

Confidence adjustments – If your young slugger is lacking confidence, consider something different. At my D1 program they teach us the “octagon walk.” This is where you walk up to the plate with the biggest chest in the room and you hold the bat by the barrel as you walk. It is all about walking up to the plate with as much confidence as possible. Also look at helping him with his self-talk. Bad self-talk can be one of the biggest self-esteem destroyers for a young player. Build him up, and teach him to build himself up.

Just remember, good nutrition will make your little leaguer feel better and play better. Watching high-level baseball will teach him Baseball IQ that will take away many of the mental mistakes that plague young players. And finally, encourage the right kind of adjustments during the game. Mechanical overload will kill a young hitter and it will fill his mind with the wrong thoughts. Instead, encourage him to walk to the plate with confidence, and focus on timing up the pitcher, rather than the mechanics of his young/unrefined swing.

 

Blog provided by American Baseball Camps — ABC’s mission is to make baseball fun again so they provide great summer fun camps for kids ages 12 and under. If you will share this blog post and use coupon code: “blog” at checkout, you can receive 20% off your order!

American Baseball Camps have baseball camps in Tulsa, a baseball camp in Wichita, baseball camp in Wilmington, baseball camp in Dallas, baseball camp in KC, & baseball camp in Tahlequah! If you’re looking for something fun to do this summer, check out American Baseball Camps!

 

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