When you work with 120 youth baseball players in a night — week after week — you start to see some patterns emerge!
In this series “Tips on Coaching Youth Baseball” we’re going to talk about these patterns.
I’ll share what’s working for us, and I would also really love to hear about YOUR experience if you’ve dealt with these same issues. If you have your own tips to add, please comment below.
Pattern #1 – Glove Presentation
One of the most glaringly obvious patterns is the oh-so-common struggle to learn proper glove presentation.
I probably say “show your glove to the ball early”
or “fingers down”
or “pretend there is a light attached to the palm of your hand, shine that light on the ball as its rolling to you”
or “Quiet hands”
…a hundred times during practice.
Since these instructor-led practices involve 10 different youth baseball teams per night, I find myself repeating these phrases over and over.
Why does proper glove presentation matter?
I like to start here because if your infielder can present their glove to the ball properly, it will make an immediate difference in their fielding.
The two most important starting points for proper glove presentation are…
- Position – It’s almost 100% of young infielders who think their glove is fully open to the ball when in fact it’s not. When done correctly, they are allowing the full surface area of their glove to be open to the ball — which gives them a better chance to catch it.
- Timing / Sequence – So many young players make fielding a grounder more difficult by trying to catch a MOVING ball with a MOVING glove while we are MOVING our feet. That’s a lot of movement! For more info on the proper timing and sequence of glove presentation, I posted this video on the PBI YouTube channel)
So if infielders/outfielders are not doing those 2 things correctly, they’re going to struggle.
Helping our infielders think about having quiet hands with active feet will benefit them right away (this quick win is a great way to boost their confidence).
But even more importantly, it will become more and more impactful as hitters start to hit the ball harder.
Why is glove presentation such a common problem?
This SEEMS like a relatively easy instruction to follow. But, it can be challenging to some because…
- Having the hands at different rhythm from the feet is not easy for some (kind of like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. It can be difficult to separate body parts into different rhythms and motions.)
- Many fielders have an overactive glove. Instead of keeping their hands quiet during the fielding process, they have a natural timing movement with their hands that keeps them athletic but often happens too late.
- They think having movement with their glove makes them look smoother (in reality, the opposite is true)
Ways to Improve Glove Presentation
A few things we are trying that are producing success is…
During our on knee daily glove work we emphasize good glove hinge and presentation. The partner can’t role the ball until their partner has their glove open and presented properly. This has been a good daily reminder.
Once they get to their feet, sometimes the “glove stuff” can be forgotten about.
Again, as the partners roll the ball back and forth to each other, they have to present the glove properly before the partner rolls the ball.
Finally, during our ground ball session, we have our coaches wait for proper glove presentation before they hit a grounder.
In cases where an infielder is rolling their glove or patting too late to create some timing, we will usually have the infielder catch the ball with 1 hand.
(**Side note** – If we are having them field with 1 hand, I like to have them hold a baseball in their throwing hand. That creates a more natural fielding position than having the hand behind the back.)
For us, glove presentation has been a big issue that is relatively easy to fix and it yields quick, positive results for the kids. I love these quick wins because in a game of failure, the kids are able to see some quick improvement which creates confidence.
I always tell them that even if our footwork is not right, even if we pick the wrong hop, as long as we have the glove open to the ball, we have a chance to catch it.
Do you have any thoughts on teaching proper glove presentation? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comment section below
Next topic in the Tips on Coaching Youth Baseball series is all about the most neglected 10 minutes of practice. Here’s how to turbo charge your baseball practice catch routine
Yours in baseball,
ANNOUNCEMENT – Confident Infielder ADVANCED is coming soon! After more than a year in development, I have about one more day of filming to finish off the 100+ drills in this course. If you’re ready to get your “black belt” in infield defense, stay tuned!