Tips for Beginners: Baseball

“There are three things that America will be known for 2,000 years from now: the Constitution, jazz music, and Baseball. They’re the three most beautifully designed things this culture’s ever produced,” Dr. Gerald Early, Washington University.

If your child sparks an interest in one of America’s most historic games, there are some key tips and tricks that will make your child’s first time up at bat a memorable one. An introduction to the game of baseball may look like a game of catch in your backyard, a Yankees vs. Red Sox game on television, or maybe a classic move like Sandlot. Whatever way your child gets introduced to the game of baseball, one of the priorities that go into learning the game starts with familiarizing your child with the equipment.

A Glove That Fits

One of the most important parts of learning how to play baseball is getting a glove that fits. “Fits like a glove” is a saying that comes from breaking in and finding a proper glove that fits and feels just right. In order to catch and learn proper techniques, you must get a glove that fits properly. It’s common to think you should buy a glove that your child will grow into, but in order to get a feel for what it’s like to catch properly, it has to be the correct size. Once you get a glove, make sure you dedicate some time to breaking it in. The only way to break a glove in is to get outside and start playing catch. Although it may feel counter-intuitive, you wear your glove on your weaker hand so you can throw with your dominant hand. It will take some getting used to, so get outside and find a friend to play catch with.

[WATCH: Baseball skill and drills]

Game Of Catch

A good old game of catch does wonders. One of the easiest ways to get acclimated to baseball is to throw a baseball and catch a baseball with a glove. Getting your fingers and hands used to the feeling of a baseball, it’s size and how it travels in the air is key. It will take some getting used to, especially throwing it. Practice throwing the ball at a close distance and eventually you’ll gain some arm strength which will allow you to throw at a further distance.

A Bat That Fits

Similar to finding a glove that fits, finding a bat that is the appropriate size is important too. If you’re already signed up for a baseball league, make sure that the bat you purchase follows the rules of the league. Bats come in different materials like wood and aluminum so make sure the material is allowed in the league that your child is participating in. When you’re first starting out it’s best to get a lighter bat. Once you get a bat that fits, the hard part is learning how to hit a ball. Hitting a baseball requires proper technique and mechanics to make contact between the baseball and the bat.

How To Hit A Baseball

Before jumping right into a swing, get your stance down. Having a proper stance sets the foundation for everything else. Beginner baseball players should focus on their body positioning before their swing. Having a good stance sets yourself up for good swinging technique. Once you get the stance down, the grip on the baseball bat is essential. Don’t squeeze too tight, because naturally when you swing your grip will tighten to hold on to the bat. Your grip will likely change and evolve over time, but a good rule of thumb is to have your dominant hand on top and your less dominant hand on the bottom. Grips may be more in the middle for control or higher up on the bat for more power. Get a sense for what feels right and play around with your grip.

Swing On

When you are first learning a sport, keep trying. Don’t over-swing and aim for power at the beginning. Focus on swinging smoothly and lightly at first. Focusing on the ball and keeping an eye on it after it leaves the pitcher’s hand is critical to eventually hitting it. Get your hand-eye-coordination down first. Swing easy, and keep trying. Have a friend or a parent toss a ball to you and focus on making contact. Once you get some frequent reps in, have the person tossing the ball to you take further steps back. Keep your eye on the ball, and swing on!

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