Provide 6 to 8 weeks of throwing before a tryout. Play catch with your child. Make sure he gets 30-40 throws at least every other day — 6 days per week would be optimal. Think of your kid’s arm as one big muscle — the more he throws, the stronger and more reliable his arm will get.
Provide 30-40 reps, 4 to 6 weeks of grounders. Roll them, or hit them. (4-5 times per week) Your kid will have to use his footwork to get in front of the ball and he’ll gain familiarity of how a ball spins and bounces as it travels to him. He can throw it back to you, OR if he has done enough throwing for the day then have him field the ball and set it aside before you hit another grounder.
Provide 30-50 swings off a tee, soft toss, or front flips. (3-4 times per week) It’s all about the reps — quality swings. Lots of them. The biggest mistake we see dads and coaches make is they get in a cage and immediately start overhand throwing batting practice and aren’t able to throw the ball in a consistent location in the strike zone. That’s where the tee, soft toss and front flips (underhand flips from 10-12 feet away behind and L-screen) come in. How is your child supposed to time the ball, not be worried about being hit by the ball, and build a swing when he only gets to swing at one out of every five pitches thrown?
TIMING IS KING: Throwing, fielding, and hitting all take an enormous amount of timing to be really good at them. Excellent timing will come with quality, consistent reps.
Here's the thing.....
As an ex-Major League Pitcher I hear this all the time from parents: “I just want my kid to have fun [playing baseball]”. I want the same for your child!
Often though, many kids just aren’t going to play at their true potential because of a nonexistent set of fundamentals hitting, fielding, and throwing, as these kids only play catch or hit a baseball once or twice before their tryouts.
Are you actually setting your kid up to have fun and have success?
My definition of fun on the baseball field is knowing where to go with the ball, being able to make consistent contact as a hitter, being able to hit my throwing target in the chest, and not have ground balls go through my legs. And if I pitch - having a proper set of mechanics that allow me to throw strikes.
I spend my days working with youth baseball players, and the one thing that goes through my mind all too often is, “Wow! Your child could have TONS of FUN if he had a highly experienced coach to provide the necessary amount of repetitions and a proper set of fundamentals. There’s tons of unlocked potential in this kid”
Here’s the number one MOST important thing you can do for your child if you want him to have FUN and progress playing baseball: PROVIDE QUALITY, CONSISTENT REPETITIONS — multiple times per week, 30-40 reps throwing, hitting, fielding. A lot of times team practices are not enough — too often I observe 1-2 hour youth practices where each kid gets less than 10 ground balls, throws across the infield/outfield, and only 15 swings…..that’s not enough for your child to really improve!
Book a 1-on-1 lesson and your kid will get more reps in 30-minutes than an entire team (combined) will get in a two-hour practice!
If you, as a parent, cannot play catch with your child, cannot get him hitting off a tee or doing soft toss, and cannot feed him/her ground balls then your child has a low chance of progressing or having as much fun as he should be having.
Someone needs to spend quality, consistent 1-on-1 time with your child giving him repetitions. The more the better. If you cannot do it as a parent, ask a sibling, find a relative, or hire a private instructor with a high level of playing experience.