One of the single most asked questions we get is "How do we go from coach pitch to kid pitch? This is so different!" You're exactly right. This is a tough transition, but you can use this time to develop your athlete, improve his/her confidence, and set him/her up for success.
Please know that you will have to face the time that your son/daughter will be afraid of the ball. Please do not make a big deal out of this. A player being afraid of a pitched ball is nothing new. This is a common problem to address since baseball/softball began. Here are the ways that you need to handle fear of the ball.
1. The very first and most important thing to teach is balance in the stance. The key to hitting is balance.
A. You must get your hitter to be twice their shoulders width in the hitting stance.
B. Teach that seventy percent of their weight is on the back leg.
C. Make sure that the back knee is slightly inside their back foot.
2. Throw batting practice using tennis balls.
A. Tennis balls are fantastic to teach hitting because a tennis ball reacts better than a baseball if correctly hit or poorly hit.
B. Without letting your hitter know, throw the ball inside and allow your son/daughter to avoid contact.
C. Make sure that your son/daughter is turning their front shoulder and face toward the umpire.
D. Gradually throw the ball even more inside every fifth or sixth ball.
E. You will see confidence swell. Even more important your son/daughter will become extremely confident that it is easy to protect themselves.
Help them understand that this is a new stage of learning because the pitchers are not going to be as skilled pitching to them as their coach. This is a good time to introduce Yes yes hitting and emphasize that being aggressive as a hitter will be seen as a positive even if they swing at a bad pitch. (This is the area of skill they have to continue to develop) teaching them that it is ok if they swing and miss will enable them to trust in themselves to keep learning to swing correctly without fear of disappointing you as the parent.
These are the two main areas of dealing with fear of getting hit. Teaching your athlete that he/she has the freedom to swing and miss and has time to learn the difference in a ball and strike without disappointing coaches or you will help the transition go more smoothly.
A player that is going from “Coach Pitch” to “Player Pitch” is in a huge transition both physically and mentally. Every player at this age will at some time become afraid of the ball. They have grown up with only an adult pitching the baseball. They feel safe because they have confidence in the adult that they will not make an errant pitch and hit them. Let’s face it: the ball is hard and when it hits, IT HURTS!
As a player, you must put your trust in yourself. Because you are an athlete and you have the proper balance at the plate, it is simple to get out of the way of an errant pitch. You have control over your own body, and you can move it.
As a hitter, your mind-set is that you are swinging the bat at every pitch until the pitch says stop your swing. Because you are balanced, it is easy for you to turn toward the umpire to get out of the way of an inside pitch. Because you are balanced, you can duck your head or move your feet to get out of the way of a wild pitch.
Only you can control the things that you can control. Control your body, have confidence in your ability to be an athlete that is balanced. Do not put your confidence in a person that you have no control over. Have confidence in yourself. If you do, you will be a very confident and successful hitter.