Monday, February 08, 2010

Using the Bare-Hand...


Being a father of a seven year old, I have found catching the baseball is the most difficult skill for players to become proficient. For some, it is down-right scary. Hitting and throwing are the easiest part of the game. That actually surprised me; I would have predicted hitting to be the hardest for a kid to master.

When you think about catching there are so many kinds of plays it may make your head spin. There is the basket-catch, palm-up catch, line drive catch, or the backhand catch. Hikes! At least hitting is straight forward: see the ball, hit the ball. It seems profoundly easy to a youngster compared to the variables of catching.

No matter how old they are or how they catch, every player needs to have hand strength. Younger kids, especially, need to have the power to get their glove closed at the point of contact. Older kids might choose to lift weights, squeeze tennis balls, or develop their forearms. All of these activities provide to a player’s strength to closing their hand.

Younger kids have a more difficult task. Weights are too heavy; they need a realistic approach to improving hand and finger strength. Having kids catch the ball with their bare “glove” hand is a good way to help develop the hand power needed to catch the ball.

Recently, I have started to experiment with this method. My son, who is very small for his age, uses a Decker Sports Training Glove. The glove is significantly smaller than a regular glove so he must squeeze his hand to make a catch. If not, the ball bounces out of the glove onto the ground. He has learned to use two hands on the catch, but some balls simply take him out of position to use both hands.

We use a cushioned ball when we play bare-handed catch. Since we started, he seems to have more control of his glove when we switch back. Obviously, bare-handed catch not only works strength but hand/eye coordination as well. Try it out for a few weeks and let me know if it makes a difference.



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