Friday, April 16, 2010

Playing Whiffle Ball: A Youngster’s Best Tool to Improve

“Little Fenway” is probably the nicest whiffle ball field in the United States. Built in 2000, the field was constructed as a replica of the Boston Red Sox famous stadium. From pictures, the place looks absolutely awesome. The field, which opened on July 2, 2001, has been used by charities to help raise money for worthy causes. According to their website, the field has helped to raise almost 1 million dollars in charity donations.

Though many kids won’t get the chance to play at “Little Fenway” that should not interfere with their love of a long standing tradition….backyard whiffle ball. It is a game, played by family and friends, which has helped millions of kids fall in love with baseball. Not only that, but the game has helped propel players to pick up the small nuances that baseball has to terms of rules and regulations.

Baseball is a game that is peppered with rules. Playing whiffle ball help to assist younger players to learn the rules on the game. In their own backyard, players pick up the difference between a force or tag out. To start, they may even learn the simplest rule---what is a foul ball? These things can be tricky especially to someone new to the game. Baseball’s rules are complicated (aka…tagging up) so younger players have a large learning curve. Making mistakes in their own backyard provide kids with a safe, comfort zone.

Baserunning is another positive element of youngsters playing whiffle ball. Remember getting stuck in a pickle or having ghost runners? These learning tools are exactly what the kids need to make the game fun. Also, it let’s kids play without a full team letting them hit multiple times while running the bases. These adjustments help the game move fast, not allowing kids to get bored.

Moreover, playing defense against these baserunning situations require fielders to think quickly by mentally rehearsing the situation. Over time, players start to learn the difference between outs. They are able to read the spin and judge a flyball These real, game-like situations are the only methods that really encourage true development.

What about hitting? Developing proper swing mechanics is very important for young hitters. Whiffle ball participation allow players the chance to produce multiple repetitions at a varied ability level. All the characteristics of solid hitting mechanics should be incorporated like weight transfer, effective swing tilt, and extension into finish.

Pitchers may chose to pitch using an underhand or overhand delivery depending on the hitter’s skill level. Underhand pitching allows players time to incorporate good hitting mechanics. As players get more comfortable, an overhand style may be more appropriate. Using the overhand model, players receive less reaction time to the pitch making them swing harder and quicker at the ball.

In addition, older players may take on the challenge of varied speed pitching. Off-speed pitches are not part of basic hitting concepts, but more advanced levels. Also, pitchers may also choose to throw at multiple arm angles. Both of these methods greatly enhance a young player’s ability to learn some advanced hitting concepts.

Another major attribute backyard whiffle ball gives young players is there ability to handle failure. Baseball is a game immersed in failure where quality professional hitters only get on base 3 out of 10 times. One big concern at every level, especially youth baseball is how kids deal with striking out. Today, it is not uncommon to see helmets or bats thrown after a player strikes out. That type of behavior is not acceptable. Being able to handle failure should lead to improving overall sportsmanship concept.

Finally, being outdoors and having fun with friends naturally helps kids fall in love with the game. After everything is stripped away like techniques, mechanics, and rules having players love the game is the most important lesson these backyard games can teach. You are never too old to play!

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