Happy Monday to you. This past weekend an email came in from a dad/coach that I wanted to share with you. If you work with young baseball players or have a young athlete of your own, this email is worth a read.
“I get all your stuff and bought the full offering of materials, including the core workout stuff and have a question. I have a 9 year old. How would you recommend going about training kids that age? I was thinking of putting together some kind of program/progress chart so they could see their improvement and have little competitions. But I’m no expert, so I’m seeking any advise you may have and I hope this might be something you will find helpful and opportunistic for dissemination.”
Here was my response to Bill:
Bill, I’ve worked with this age group the last couple years as a pitching instructor twice a week. Here are some things that the boys this age NEED in order to get the most out of baseball.
1. Structure. This goes with any age, but the kids at this age need to know the rules, regs, and how things work at practice, each and every practice. Without this, you’ll spend time rounding up the troops more than you will teaching them. This is the same for your son. While the schedule doesn’t have to be rigid, it’s consistency that matters.
2. Fun. I played mini competitions all the time with the kids. One, because it’s fun. Two, because it simulates real game-like competitions. Some kids have a tough time failing at this age, so I use these mini competitions to teach winning/losing/trying your best and working hard. Same thing with your son. It’s got to be fun and he can have competitions with himself and chart those so that he can see improvements over the months.
3. The Message. The message you send the athletes/your son at this age will make a massive impact on how they learn to approach the game. For example, if you send the message that winning is most important, these young minds will block out most everything else except winning as the most important. My suggestion is to send the message of working hard, and development. It doesn’t matter the wins and losses at the end of the year, it only matters how we work. Focus, consistency, and hard work. This will help the young guys deal with losing, because as along as they are trying hard, they are getting better.
Teach youth baseball players the right way! Also learn the Mental Game of Baseball and why that is so critical to your success as a baseball player.