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Baseball fans, who only watch the professional game, probably think the game is easy. Major league baseball players make very difficult plays look easy. Nowhere is that more true than at first base, where it looks as though players simply catch balls thrown directly to them. Nothing is further from the truth, as it is often like trying to catch a fly out of midair.
Many times catching balls thrown to first baseman is like trying to hit there are curve balls, sinkers, sliders, change-ups and fastballs, of course. Because of this and because no one handles the ball on defense more besides the catcher, youth baseball coaches should place one of their most dependable glove players at first base.
As written about in the past a goal of youth baseball coaches is helping players avoid getting plunked by the ball at a young age before they learn to catch balls correctly. This is why use of softer balls with inexperienced players is a good coaching practice.
In order to mimic this type ball movement and to safely practice catching balls and balls thrown in the dirt, which is the most difficult play at first, coaches should begin by throwing whiffle balls to first baseman. Because missed balls will not hurt, this is a good way to have players practice balls in the dirt and balls that move. This is especially good practice on relatively windy days, as the wind will cause the ball to move a great deal, making players focus especially hard to catch them. In addition, because whiffle balls are so light, catching them requires great concentration, along with the closing of the glove at the exact correct moment, which is another good way to help kids learn to catch in general. Coaches will have to stand close to players inorder to get whiffle ball to players, or they can be hit at players with a bat, too.
As players gain confidence with whiffle balls, especially with trying to scoop balls correctly out of the dirt, coaches should do the same with a rag ball before doing the same with game balls. Learning the correct footwork, glove work and focus at first base is not as easy as it looks on TV, as with many other aspects of baseball.
After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.
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