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 Don’t say these words to your young baseball or softball player

By:  Gary Stocker

The typical course of a routine baseball game contains many words and phrases that have come to mean certain things to certain people.  They are mostly harmless and mostly offered in the context of the rich traditions of the game.

Over the years, I have noted more use of these or similar words and phrases when our children play baseball or softball.  The meaning of these same words and phrases doesn’t have the same impact on someone who cannot yet understand the vernacular of the game. 

In order to provide our readers with a new perspective on teaching their children baseball/softball skills, I wanted to offer some guidance that I have used with the children our my teams.  The guidance below is not absolute; however, I would encourage you to take this perspective as you continue to teach your child sports skills – or any skills.

Swing harder.”  “Be a hitter.” “Drive this one.”  While these are historically useful phrases we here at baseball games, they offer almost no value to young children learning sports skills.  That kind of guidance is analogous to a math teacher encouraging her students by saying:  “Add those number.”  “Get those fractions.”; or, a piano teacher offering:  “Hit those keys.”  There is no substantive teaching that is taking place.  “Swing Harder” offers no measurable criteria to your young athlete.  He or she will never really know if they did ‘swing harder’.

Even if ‘swinging hard’ is accomplished the mechanics associated with that crude guidance will do little to consistently help your child hit a baseball or softball.

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