TOO MUCH BASEBLL PRESSURE WILL ATTACK CONFIDENCE
QUESTION…My son (I think he was 12) usually pitched, but this game someone else was pitching and it
had not been “going” well. The score was tied; count was 3 balls, 2 strikes, and 2 outs in the bottom of the last inning, with the bases loaded.
The coach called a time out and went out to the mound as we thought to talk and calm down and encourage the pitcher. Instead, he made a switch and put my son in to pitch. There was only one pitch left. It was called a ball and the winning run was walked in. My son was the losing pitcher. Needless to say, he was hurt and felt terrible.
Is this a normal situation in kid’s baseball? Betty, South Dakota.
ANSWER… No, of course not. As a matter of fact, this is a new one for me, and I thought I had seen them all. This is unbelievable actually. Why would any mature adult coach do that? I guess the key word here is “adult”. What 12-year-old kid can come in and pitch one pitch after either sitting in the dugout all game or playing another position all game? It usually takes 2 or 3 batters or even more to warm up and feel comfortable and get into the rhythm of the game. Most kids would have thrown a ball. Is winning so important to him that he will risk this kind of a situation?
Bad move coach… Wrong move!
QUESTION… My son is in the 9th grade and is playing on the freshman school baseball team. He is one of the best fielders on the team and usually plays shortstop or 3rd base. Up until just recently he was a fair batter. (This is the weakest part of his game, and does need some work.) All of a sudden, he hit a dry spell and went from fair to “bad” as a hitter. The coach now has not let him bat in the games and uses a “designated hitter” in his place in the batting order. His confidence was already shaken but now that the coach pulls him out for a “DH” his confidence has hit an all time low. Help, what can we do?
ANSWER… first of all, I wish that wasn’t happening. Kids need confidence boosters, not self-assurance wreckers. Of course he has lost his poise when it comes to hitting. Now he is in a situation that if he does ever get the chance to hit in a game, he will feel an incredible amount of pressure to get a hit or make good contact. This is too much pressure. The coach needs to work with him and put in extra time to get his stroke and confidence back.
What about one of the pitchers on the team staying after for a short time to pitch some batting “live” practice? Does he have someone on the team that can help out?
Going to the batting cage is another idea. Not as good as live pitching, but a good place to get nice “meat” pitches and a good way to find his swing again. He can get in a lot of swings in a short amount of time.
Is there a hitting coach that you can hire for private lessons?
This might also be one of those times in life that you get to play the dad/coach and throw him pitches in the back yard or at the park. This is a great time for you to step up and be that encourager that he needs.
The key here is lots of repetitions swinging the bat.
Of you have questions or comments for Tom Kuyper, email: firstname.lastname@example.org