For many young baseball players, the fear of being hit by a pitched ball can be a major obstacle in their development as hitters. Often, young pitchers lack control and throw with great velocity, which can intimidate and scare young hitters. This fear affects their swing mechanics, approach at the plate, and ultimately reduces their confidence and enjoyment of the game.
Younger players are more likely to freeze when a pitched ball is thrown at them and try to back away, which can result in getting hit in the side, front of the body, or even the face. Once a player has been hit a few times, it can be challenging to overcome those painful experiences.
To address this fear, coaches should teach kids the proper way of getting out of the way. Stepping in the bucket, a common technique used by young players to avoid getting hit, actually exposes the front of their body and face to the pitched ball. Instead, players should learn to pivot their feet, turn back to the pitcher, and point the tip of the bat to the ground when getting hit.
One effective drill is to stand 10-15 feet away from a player in the batter's box and use either tennis balls or soft incrediballs to throw pitches in the strike zone and at the hitter. The hitter can practice using proper mechanics when getting hit and only swing at the ball in the zone. By becoming comfortable with getting out of the way, young players will have much more confidence stepping up to the plate.
Overcoming the fear of being hit is an important step in the development of young baseball players. Coaches can help players by teaching them proper mechanics when getting hit and providing opportunities to practice in a safe and controlled environment. By doing so, players can regain their confidence and enjoy the game to its fullest potential.