Updated Saturday March 11, 2017 by Eric Achtien.
Focus of catching training at 5‐6 year old level: Catch every ball with two hands on glove in the center of body.
- Throw to kids at (their) chest height
- Teach players to catch with glove fingers pointing up or sideways, and other hand on back of glove (to help squeeze it). This shifts to one‐handed as their hand strength develops at age 8‐10, not before then.
- ‘Squeeze and freeze’: After (if!) the ball enters the glove, squeeze with both hands and ‘freeze’ the hands (momentarily) in place.
- For very early catchers: Start with two handed catches without a glove. If child can’t catch a soft underhand toss from 5’ with two bare hands most of the time, that eye‐hand coordination must be developed to that level before a baseball glove will be helpful.
- Ask parents to work on this each week for 15 min (say, 2x week) with their child. More is better. Catching comes with (and only with) practice, practice, practice.
For kids ‘scared of the ball’
- Kids may be ‘scared’ of incoming ball at any speed. This is expected for balls at high speed. It is a problem to overcome if exhibited for soft, easy tosses.
- Correct this early. Teach player: If scared, use glove to block ball. The glove will stop the ball. Don’t hide from it – then you can’t see where it is!
- Game to help overcome this: “Block the ball.” Toss soft underhand throws to player’s chest from short distance (e.g. 5 feet). Have the kid ‘whack’ (or ‘block’) the balls with his/her closed glove before they hit/get past him. Turn it into a game (they usually like this exercise). Repeat often, until the player’s eyes follow the ball every time without turning (averting) eyes or head. When they do this consistently without exhibiting aversion to the incoming ball, then they are ready to catch it with a glove. Then switch to ‘blocking with glove open’ – i.e., catching it—instead of ‘blocking the ball’.