I have a son who is soon to be nine. He has recently started playing kid pitch, and, while he is one of the most aggressive kids on his team at the plate, he is also one of the most passive and tentative players on defense. He will routinely wait for the ball to come to him and avoid hard hit line-drives and grounders by not aligning himself in front of the ball and instead trying to catch it off to the side.
He has been hit by the ball more on defense than on offense. Am I correct in assuming that this is all stemming from a lack of confidence? What can I do to help give him his fielding confidence back or coach a more aggressive attitude toward defense, assuming that’s coachable.
COACH HENZE’S ANSWER
Thanks for the question!
Small world, but I am currently coaching the same age and we have also just started kid-pitch.
In all honesty, the best way to give a kid more confidence is simply to play a lot of catch and to hit many “easy” ground balls at him. The more he does these things (in a non-competitive environment), the more confident he will become.
Over the past year, the most important thing I have done with my kid, in baseball terms, is to play a ton of catch with him in our back yard. In all honesty, he has probably gotten 300% better this year at fielding because of it. He is now more confident than he has ever been with the glove.
As a rule, I typically don’t like to be complicated. I like things simple. This is the simplest way for you to help your 9-year-old. Simply take 20-30 minutes each night to play some catch. Not only will it help him on the baseball diamond, it will also help create a bond between you and him.
I hope this helps!